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Indhold (det samme begge dage)

This talk critically examines the role of usability engineering and user-centered design practices in industrial web-development. Drawing on their experience from MSN Hotmail, the speakers will discuss the nature and process of user research in industry by focusing especially on the research and reporting skills necessary for gaining influence in a fast-paced environment made up of a variety of professions. As a part of this discussion the speakers will also address potential short-comings in standard HCI curriculums in order to meet these requirements. Furthermore, the speakers will address a number of "myths" about UI design and usability engineering, most notably that it is a practice dealing mainly with making computer systems easy to use. Although ease of use is obviously a goal for all software designers, the speakers argue that UI design and usability engineering primarily deals with designing behaviors (system behaviors and human behaviors) and that UI groups utilize a particular set of skills to further strategic business goals.

Following the discussion of the nature of research data and the necessary skills to effectively produce and communicate it to influence product decisions, the speakers will give examples of the user research that MSN Hotmail has been conducting within the last year. They will focus on the need to understand the context in which your software is going to operate, including current customer values and behaviors. Contextual data of this kind is necessary to make informed decisions regarding product planning, interaction design and UI design. But it is also necessary to effectively tie together converging lines of data from sales, marketing, metrics, and usability research. The speakers will discuss how they have performed contextual research and how they have synthesized data in the form of personas - targeted Hotmail users.

Throughout the talk the speakers will present examples from their work at MSN Hotmail, including internal discussions about research data, video-clips from field work and usability studies, and the Hotmail personas. However, due to the confidential nature of some of the information, the actual content of selected parts of this material will be altered by the speakers.

The talk is expected to last approximately 3 hours, including 1 hour for questions/answers and discussion.

Anbefalet litteratur

  • Alan Cooper: The Inmates Are Running the Asylum. Why High-Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity.

    In this book Alan Cooper discusses his Goal-Directed Design methodology, focusing especially on the concept of personas.

  • Paco Underhill: Why We Buy. The Science of Shopping

    This is great book for researchers in almost any field conducting ethnographic research as a way to inform product development. Although Paco Underhill and his detailed-oriented band of retail researchers deal with "the science of shopping" the associations to web design (and associated user research) are clear and inspiring.

  • Lesley Brenner and Joanna Bawa: The Politics of Usability. A Practical Guide to Designing Usable Systems in Industry.

    This is a book that critically examines the nature of usability engineering in industrial settings, including the cost-effectiveness of specific methodologies.

  • Randolph Bias and Deborah Mayhew: Cost-Justifying Usability.

    This book provides structured techniques by which usability engineers and their managers can quantify the costs and benefits of a projected new product in order to make a convincing case for investment to the business types in the company.

Other references will follow the talk.

UCD @ Hotmail