Sunday, September 23, 2007

Day 2 of Oz-IA 2007

A more reasonable start to day 2 of the Oz-IA conference at 8:45am, and it was even a good presentation to start the day: Sharyn Varley of Eclipse talking about interaction design patterns. A very practical, case study-esque look at the use and practical application of patterns.

Building up the conceptual complexity for the day, Scott Parson's talk Exploring multidimensional tagging frameworks looked at the problem space that is tagging and the possible extension of tagging frameworks into multiple dimensions to address some of the drawbacks of tags.

Matt Hodgson's (from SMS) talk: Semantic analysis in IA took us through an introduction to the topic of linguistics & semantic analysis and their application to the construction of a taxonomy for a large-scale content project. Included a quick look at Connexor's semantic analysis tool - Machinese - and a look at Axure for prototyping.

After a short break, Donna Maurer spoke about ethics, professionalism and communities of practice in interaction design and information architecture. After some technical hurdles (mics, notes, thoughts) Donna spoke about:
  • really caring for our users;
  • designing for true inclusivity;
  • 'causing no harm';
  • making good design decisions;
  • respecting other people and their skills;
  • our actions influence others' perception of our profession;
  • providing value;
Some take-aways: building empathy with users of the systems under design is an important component of making good design choices; communicate understanding and meaning to decision-makers (outside of the team) so that they can make good selections; and much, much more.

After lunch, Gary Bunker and Gabriele Hermansson look at the challenge of conducting user research within virtual communities such as Second Life. Good applications of virtual worlds for user research are tasks like User interviews & workshops, training, whereas usability testing was ruled out early.

Research participants within Second Life were paid in 'Linden dollars' - the virtual world currency - the equivalent of around AUD$50. Issues around respectful behaviour, the peculiarities of virtual worlds (everybody flies!!), differences between online & offline running of the same techniques such as:
* online responses for much more concise and lacked elaboration;
* shorter sentences, more condensed & relevant;
* emotional expression requires 'extra work' on the part of the participant, however offline people tended not to be overly expressive either, although for different (e.g. self-conscious);
* less group interactions; more individual comments than offline environments
* less interaction between participants since latency between comments & response, and requires extra effort.

Some good insights here from Gary and Gabrielle.

[At this point I snuck off to watch the MotoGP round 15 telecast from Motegi in I missed James & James present their talks, but I heard they were good.]

An open session followed, and then the conference ended on a fairly bouyant note about the local IA/UxD scene. I'll be back next year :)

Day 1 of Oz-IA 2007

After an alarmingly early start to the conference (8:15!!), the day settled down to the rhythm of presentation-break-presentation-break.

We kicked off with a presentation by Liz & Andy from Fairfax Digital talking through the user experience design process for the recent redesign of the and Web sites. This was a great insight into the process of uxd at a large organisation, and the quality and candor of their commentary was exceptional.

Iain Barker took up the baton from Liz & Andy, running through an overview of recent research into the issue of visitor scrolling behaviour, browser window height, and the implications for interaction designers and information architects. Some really interesting insights into the issue of 'the fold' and how IA thinking might be adjusted to accommodate the disappearance of this myth.

Hural Inan from Bienalto Consulting took a tour through the use of web analytics to optimise landing page layout and content. ( I'll admit to not paying as much attention as I might have, as I was preparing my own presenation, which was up next...)

Next up your's truly talked through a number of statistical analysis concepts, examples & bad practice. And then lunch!! (Photo by Ruth Ellison)

ROI in Information Design was the post-lunch talk by David Sless from CRI. Aside from a very interesting look at the practice of information design, there was a very clear message to the conference to measure what we do. To paraphrase: if you don't measure it, you have no right to espouse the benefits of your work. There was also a bit of semantics about the distinction between usability testing and diagnostic testing, which I'm sure others in the room took more seriously than I did.

Stephen Collins' talk Love in an elevator was up next, looking at the role of IA and UxD in large organisations, which paired nicely with Faruk Avdi's introspective look at a history of projects within the Department of Education in NSW, and the role of external agencies & consultants in those projects.

Patrick Kennedy from StepTwo gave us a very interesting case study in coaching & mentoring an inexperienced UxD/IA team as they journey through a large-scale organisational site re-design. The presentation walked us through the process, challenges, tactics & learnings for the team and for Pat as the mentor.

And last up we had the opportunity to listen to Rashmi from talking about their ninja-style of iteration, release, iteration, release. An anti-process talk was a nice way to end the day, and very Web 2.0 :)

That was it for the serious stuff of the first day of the conference, and so it was off for a few drinks to wind down.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Conducting successful interviews...

New article by yours truly has appeared on UXMatters: "Conducting Successful Interviews With Project Stakeholders". Many, many pearls of wisdom - I think...

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Brand experience article translated into Spanish

An article I wrote a little while back has been had the cobwebs blown off and been translated into Spanish. The South American-edited interaction design online magazine - capire - has published a Spanish version of Brand Experience in User Experience design.

Experiencia de marca y diseƱo de experiencia de usuario