UXPA Publications

User Experience Magazine: Volume 10, Issue 3, 2011

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Volume 10, Issue 3, 2011

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Featured Articles



Featured Articles: Designing for Social Change


Design Like da Vinci: Sketching Lessons from the Original Renaissance Man
By Brian Sullivan

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Leonardo da Vinci is the archetype of a Renaissance man—painter, sculptor, architect, scientist, mathematician, civil engineer, inventor, geologist, writer, and more. Da Vinci’s arguably greatest legacy is his 13,000+ pages of sketches. After studying his sketchbooks and drawing inspiration from Michael Gelb’s book entitled How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci (2000), Brian Sullivan developed a set of principles that could be used by UX designers. In this article, he describes the following six lessons:

  1. Strive for quantity
  2. Annotate your sketches
  3. Sketch separately, review together
  4. Engage your imagination
  5. Defer judgment
  6. Use positive judgment first

Engaging Users in Product Design: Bridging the Gap from Insight to Strategy
By Mike Katz, Beverly Freeman, and Kerry Hebert

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Formative research methods such as customer visits yield a wealth of rich data, but teams often lack a sufficient understanding and plan for translating the insights into product strategy. This article describes a solution to this challenge that entails partnering with a cohort of users throughout a rapid 5-phase research and design process. This approach is premised on the notion that the best way to create solutions for your audience is to understand their needs, brainstorm solutions with them, and then present solutions to them for feedback and iteration. The result is a product vision that is both informed and refined through customer insights.


Separate but Unequal: Web Interfaces for People with Disabilities
By Jonathan Lazar and Brian Wentz

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Websites often state that if you are a user with a disability, you should use an alternate version, despite the fact that websites can be designed so that the same site is usable for both people with and without disabilities. Jonathan Lazar and Brian Wentz have identified four categories of so-called “separate but equal” interfaces:

  1. Websites that have a separate, mobile version which is suggested as the accessible version
  2. Websites that have an older and a newer version, one of which (typically the older one) is recommended as accessible
  3. Text-only website versions
  4. Web-based applications requiring specific plug-ins or other proprietary and inaccessible software to view the full content


SUStisfied? Little-Known System Usability Scale Facts
By Jeff Sauro

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The System Usability Scale (SUS) developed by John Brooke in 1986 is the most widely used questionnaire for measuring perceptions of usability. The scale consists of ten statements with responses ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). In celebration of the 25th anniversary of SUS, Jeff Sauro discusses ten interesting facts about SUS not everyone knows:

  1. SUS measures both usability and learnability.
  2. SUS is at least as reliable as commercial questionnaires.
  3. The average SUS score is 68.
  4. SUS scores are not percentages.
  5. SUS can’t diagnose usability problems.
  6. The positively and negatively worded items hurt more than help.
  7. Difficult tasks lower SUS scores by 8% on average.
  8. SUS scores predict customer loyalty.
  9. Familiarity results in higher SUS scores.
  10. Five seconds with a system generates stable SUS scores.

From One Student to Another: Advice for Beginning a Career in User Experience
By Chelsey Glasson

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Transitioning from academia to industry can be difficult for new UX professionals. In an effort to help those just embarking on a UX career, this article provides tips on how to avoid common mistakes junior UX professionals make when seeking employment. Specifically, Chelsey Glasson focuses on networking, building your confidence, volunteering, creating an online portfolio, and honing your business skills.


Designing with a Service Perspective: A Bronx Tale
By Laura Keller

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Service design is an emerging field that user experience professionals and business thought leaders can leverage to increase the impact of their work. In 2009, MISI Company entered an international design competition to envision the revitalization of the long neglected but once beautiful Bronx Grand Concourse. We were out of our element competing against international teams of architects, urban planners and interior designers. We were the only entrants to actually listen and learn from the ‘users’ of the Concourse. Most importantly, we reframed the design problem to be more about the service relationship between the city and its people.

This article explains the holistic, service-oriented and community-centered approach to envisioning the 4-mile Bronx Grand Concourse and what prompted the sponsors of the design competition, Design Trust for Public Space and the Bronx Museum of the Arts, to recognize the proposal as one of the best. What's intriguing about this story is the opportunity for a city to envision itself as a 'service' to its people and the ramifications of that shift in perspective. Subsequently, we learned lessons from the competition that we’re applying in our daily experience design work.


Helping Students Go to College: Lessons Learned from the KnowHow2GO Public Service Campaign
By Aaron Houssian

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Launched in 2007, the KnowHow2GO campaign aims to increase the number of people with college degrees. This multimedia effort includes a variety of public service advertisements that encourage 8th, 9th, and 10th graders to prepare for college. Aaron Houssian was asked to help with the social media part of the campaign. He dove into the work with the energy and naiveté natural to a young UX professional ready to change the world, only to find out that the organization did not work quite the way he thought. This article describes his journey and three main lessons he learned along the way:

  • Get to know the players
  • Get a champion
  • Understand the users

How Was It for You? Helping People Describe Their Experiences
By Hilary Palmén

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Feelings play a critical role in encouraging people to use a product or service. Designs that produce desirable feelings are generally more successful. We collect descriptive evidence of these feelings using think-aloud protocols, observations, interviews, and questionnaires. But capturing these feelings and communicating them to stakeholders is not always easy. This article introduces the Look-and-Feel Tool which consists of a number of adjectives participants can use to describe their experience. Once the appropriate adjectives have been selected, participants are asked to explain their choices. The tool is quick to administer and the results are easy to analyze and communicate in an engaging way.


Power in Numbers: Measuring Usability with Web Analytics
By Michael Beasley

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Web analytics deserves a place in the toolkit of every usability professional working with websites. It gives you another way to approach problems, helps you communicate the value of your work, and makes it easier for you to hold yourself accountable. It does this by providing another source of quantitative data, one with quick access to information about what users are doing on your website. This article discusses what can be measured through web analytics and how to choose specific user actions on a website to measure.


WUD in Manila: An Interview with Regnard Raquedan
Interview conducted by J.O. Bugental

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Editor J.O. Bugental interviews Manila-based consultant Regnard Raquedan, who has hosted events for World Usability Day, starting with the first WUD in 2005. The small Filipino UX community finds the day an opportunity to validate their UX efforts and build relationships within the community.



Editor’s Note: Short and Tweet
By Aga Bojko

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What’s News: Voice Recognition Technology Aiming Higher
By R. Alex Schumacher
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On the Edge: Branding the User Experience
By Aaron Marcus

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Book Review: A Book That Talks
Reviewed by Gerry Gaffney

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Practical Speech User Interface Design by James R. Lewis


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