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Posts Tagged ‘Usability’

User Interface Design 2015 seminar

User Interface Design Seminar 2015

User Interface Design Seminar 2015, April 1st 2015, Den Bosch

Last Wednesday I  went to the User Interface Design 2015 seminar in Den Bosch, The Netherlands. A whole day of lectures (I followed 9!) about user interface design and the importance of UX. Most lectures were quite interesting though promotion of companies and services was certainly an aspect of the presentations as well.

A common theme in a lot of presentations was “lessons learned’, mostly on the importance of embedding user interface design and UX in the entire process of creating a product. Guido Stompff, a Communications Manager and Product Designer from Océ Technologies showed the results of a very thorough study for his PhD thesis. It convincingly answered the question “What do designers contribute to teams and organizations?”. The answer might surprise you: a whole lot more then design! His study (more here: http://designinteams.com/thesis-facilitating-team-cognition-how-designers-mirror-what-teams-do/) showed that a fundamental problem in multidisciplinary teams is the inability of people from the different disciplines to be able to communicate with each other. They just don’t speak each others language and you can’t document your way out (which many companies attempt). Why does this not always end up in disaster? In successful multidisciplinary projects, the (UX) designers were a key factor because they speak a common language! Great presentation. Makes you fear for companies running those kind of projects without designers though 😉

Two more presentations I liked very much: Leonne Kaldenbach and Anita Wierda from Nspyre showed the effects of the gap between industrial and consumer user experience and how to close it and Michel Varkevisser from Thales showed their experience in combining Agile (Scrum) and User Centered Design processes.

UI Design Principles training

April 12, 2014 Leave a comment

Last year, I have been working on my own design principles training (simply called “UI Design Principles”) for quite some time. In the last couple of months I gave the training a number of times to different groups, some internal, some external. What was common for all session was the enthusiastic response and participation of the course members, which made it a joy to share my knowledge!

image

The training is a 4 hour session on topics that help you to make a great GUI design. It features stuff like gestalt principles, Hicks & Fitts’s law, the working of the eye and the processing of images by our brain, progressive disclosure, responsiveness, forgiveness, etc. It is aimed at anyone who is active in the design of user interfaces in any way and it’s not about technology! So if you are a project leader, component owner, team leader, process engineer, architect, software engineer, etc. participating in creating a product with a user interface, this training can help you. If you are interested drop me, or ICT Automatisering, a message!

Amsterdam Usability Week

Nielsen Norman Group

Just returned from a few days at the Amsterdam Usability Week, organized by the Nielsen Norman Group (NN/g). This company was formed when the legendary Jakob Nielsen and Don Norman decided to join forces in 1998. The NN/g has become one of the most fore-standing research, training and consultancy firms in the world in the usability field, so when I heard they were coming to Amsterdam, I just had to go!

I attended 2 days of training:

  1. User Interface Principles Every Designer Must Know by Katie Sherwin and
  2. Wireframing and Prototyping by Kara Pernice.

Both were excellent and both instructors have great communication skills. Its not often a presenter can talk for a whole day in front of a screen and keep your attention till the last minute without you ever feeling bored, but both Katie and Kara can, the hours flew by like a Concord! Great stuff.

The design principles training touched on some of the subject I cover in my own training too (more on that later) and it even had some of the same sample images that I use which surprised me and made me smile! The Wireframing and prototyping training was very hands-on (especially in the afternoon) and teamwork was key. It was good fun and a perfect ending to a busy -information overload- week people had who attended all 5 days.

The NN/g does these usability weeks all over the world. If you do anything UI related, being a product owner, designer, coder, etc, I recommend you check them out!

Windows Explorer Annoyances – Part 1

Windows Explorer is one of the Windows applications I spent most time in. At work, we have a large collection of network drives, local drives and large folder structures. We still use Windows XP there. I get along with Windows Explorer in XP just fine. The only thing I really miss in XP (because the large amount of folders I have to move between constantly) is tabs in Windows Explorer. Luckily, there are 3rd party tools for that, like the QTTabBar extension (http://qttabbar.wikidot.com/) or the xplorer2 replacement (http://www.zabkat.com/).

But in Vista and Windows 7 the Explorer is ‘upgraded’. Now I love progress, especially in Windows Explorer, since I use that a lot, so anything that gets my work done quicker gets my blessing. And to be fair, a lot is indeed better (like the address bar) in Vista an 7. But that are some things that nag me so much, I just have to write about it! I have lots of usability issues with Windows Explorer in Windows 7, so this post is just the first of a series about it.

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SMS on iPhone

I’ve got an iPhone (the 3GS). I love it. It’s the most user friendly phone I’ve ever had. In fact, it’ so easy to use that I was a little bit disappointed when I just got it. I was looking forward to a weekend playing around with it to discover all its features at to set it up to my liking , but a couple of hours later, I had seen everything. Way different experience from Symbian (UIQ) where you keep discovering features that are hidden away in some obscure corner of the UI months after you got the phone!. But there are also quite a few stupid niggles with the iPhone  (must-resist-writing-about-iPhone4’s-antenna-issue). Today’s topic: the SMS application.

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Web applications are evil

As the web gets more mature and web technologies more advanced, more and more applications are ported from dedicated desktop applications to web applications. Those of us who work in (large) corporate environments have to deal with many web apps, for example to register worked hours, fill in planning estimates, do document archiving, lookup people in an internal phone book, etc.

Now, I do recognize that there are many scenarios where the advantages of web applications are too big to be ignored, but in a lot of cases they are not. At least not from a user centric viewpoint. And shouldn’t all applications be developed with the end-user in mind first?

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Hide extensions for known file types

June 27, 2010 1 comment

For every piece of software that communicates with human users, designers and programmers have to decide what level of technical detail they will dispense to the user. The proper approach is to make a profile of your target users and adjust the level to the technical knowledge they have. For example, if you make an IDE for computer programmers, the level can be much higher than when making an internet browser that is meant for the masses. For applications or environments that serve a wide range of users, such as operating systems for PC’s or mobile phones this is of course much harder.

One of the major mistakes Microsoft made (and still is making) in this area is the "Hide extensions for known file types" option in the Windows Explorer. When this is on (which is so by default), users don’t see extensions for files for which an application is registered to handle it. For example, "MyFile.txt" becomes "MyFile" because notepad is registered to open the file when you double-click it. I understand the basic reasoning about this; file name extensions are a technical means and the acronyms like .exe and .gif don’t mean anything to the non technical user, right?

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Blogspot vs WordPress

June 22, 2010 4 comments

First! Err… well, this is my genuine first post so forgive the corny opening. If you have read the “About this blog” page, you may have seen that these are my first steps into the blogging space. So, what better subject for a first article than the usability of blogging sites? First off, I decided that self hosted blogging or setting up my own website is not what I am looking for at this moment (I do not have the time), perhaps later. Secondly, I looked at the sites that offer a free blogging environment and after some experiments decided to go with either Blogspot.com (i.e. Google’s Blogger platform) or with WordPress.com (featuring the WordPress platform). There are already enough Blogger vs WordPress articles to be found (comparing features), but here is my take:

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