Articles & research papers

User Experience

Understanding the Experience of Social Network Sites

Social media in 2009, and social network sites in particular, reached new heights of popularity and adoption. It was no longer unusual for clients to request that designers ‘add Facebook’ to their respective sites, mainly for the purpose of increased engagement and community building for their brand as a part of a greater social marketing strategy. Although social networking sites have become commonplace, designers had not yet explored two important notions:

  1. What kind of social experience do social networking sites foster?
  2. Do social networking sites encourage community?

Understanding the Experience of Social Network Sites

The life cycle of a technology: Why it is so difficult for large companies to innovate

As Don Norman wrote “The Invisible Computer,” he was struck by a paradox. On the one hand, there is very substantial agreement that ease of use and understandability are important. Similarly, good industrial design, simple, short documentation, and convenient, pleasing products are superior. While ease of use and understandability seems to be important, on the other hand, much of the computer technology today violates all these things, and yet the companies prosper. In fact, Apple Computer, the one company that tried hardest to make products that were easy to use, understandable, with sophisticated aesthetics driving both graphical design on the screen and industrial design of the products, failed.

So why is it that good products can fail and inferior products can succeed? The story is complex: it takes a book to explain. But there are three themes.

One: A successful product must be balanced: marketing, technology, and user experience all play critical roles, but one cannot dominate the others.

Two: There is a big difference between infrastructure products, which he calls non-substitutable goods, and traditional products, substitutable goods. With traditional goods, a company can survive with a stable, but non-dominant market share. Coke and Pepsi both survive. Cereals and soaps have multiple brands. With infrastructure goods, there can be just one. MS-DOS won over the Macintosh OS, and that was that. MS-DOS transitioned to Windows, and the dominance continued. VHS tape triumphed over Beta. Most infrastructures are dictated by the government, which assures agreement to a single standard. When there is no standard, as in AM stereo or digital cellular options in the US, there is chaos.

Three: Different factors are important at different stages in the development of a technology. In the early days, technology dominates. Who cares if it is easy to use? All that matters is better, faster, cheaper, more powerful technology. In the middle stages, marketing dominates. And in the end, mature stages — where the technology is a commodity. User experience can dominate, user experience and marketing. As in soap and cereal. As in watches. Swatch sells its watches for their emotional appeal, not their accuracy: accuracy is taken for granted.

The life cycle of a technology: Why it is so difficult for large companies to innovate

ROIs on PhDs. How much are trailing letters worth to you?

Have you wondered whether earning a PhD would improve your lot? Mid-to Advanced career professionals often ask me if i think a PhD would be worth it for them. When they say “worth it,” they typically have two specific questions in mind:

  • Will having a PhD confer me more credibility and ability to move up in the workplace?
  • Will having trailing letters will result in a bigger salary?

The literal, simplistic answer is, “Yes, more credibility and 17K/year according to Sauro’s analysis of the recent UPA Salary Survey.” But, the real answer is probably no. Earning a PhD requires two things:

  1. The keen desire to spend roughly a decade thinking about ONE well-defined problem
  2. An enthusiasm to spend roughly a decade poor

ROIs on PhDs. How much are trailing letters worth to you?

The Psychologist’s View of UX Design

A psychologist by training and education, Dr. Susan Weinschenk takes research and knowledge about the brain, the visual system, memory, and motivation and extrapolate UX design principles from that. This article is a snapshot of the psychologist’s view of UX Design and describes the following:

  1. People Don’t Want to Work or Think More Than They Have To
  2. People Have Limitations
  3. People Make Mistakes
  4. Human Memory Is Complicated
  5. People are Social
  6. Attention
  7. People Crave Information
  8. Unconscious Processing
  9. People Create Mental Models
  10. Visual System

The Psychologist’s View of UX Design

UX Pond- a User Experience search engine

UX Pond is a search engine dedicated to user experience blogs, journals, discussion, UI patterns, and tools. That doesn’t mean it’s a cliquey club of bloggers scratching each other’s backs. The list of sites searched aims to encompass all relevant content.

UX Pond- a User Experience search engine

What every UX professional needs to know about statistics and usability tests.

It turns out you do need to know some math to work in user experience. Being in UX means that sooner or later you’re going to have to deal with data on user performance or satisfaction, typically from a usability test. Even if you restrict yourself to design and leave the user research to others, you’re going to have to review the results of user research to inform your design work, so you’re going to need some concepts for evaluating that data. Specifically, you need to know a thing or two about inferential statistics, the branch of statistics that helps you determine what you can reasonably conclude about your population of users based on what you’re seeing in your sample of users.

What every user experience professional needs to know about statistics and usability tests.

What You Need to Know About Eye Tracking

When you see a heatmap for the first time, you are probably so busy saying “wow!” that you forget to critically evaluate what you are seeing. It’s easy to feel intimidated. The technology involved is phenomenal. But this doesn’t mean all research done on an eye tracker is infallible– far from it. This talk is intended to give you a heads-up on how to think critically about eye tracking.

You may also view the presentation at Harry’s website, 90 percent of everything.

Design Research Guide

This site is designed to introduce design students and professionals to practical research methods for design projects. It is supposed to help you plan, perform and process your design research work so that the outcome of your design project can become smarter, sharper and more relevant.

Design Research Guide

All the top news on User Experience in one place

The following sites present to you the best user experience content on the web by aggregating RSS feeds from key UX websites around the web.

AllTop User Interface


User Experience Evaluation in Nokia

Nokia has a long history in designing for experiences, as mobile phones are very personal and experiental devices. We have established processes to take user needs and wants into account when designing new concepts, and we do various types of evaluations with real users during the development process. Experience evaluations are, however, an area we want to improve. In this paper, we describe the user experience evaluation practices in the different phases of Nokia product development process.
User Experience Evaluation in Nokia (PDF, 38 kb)