RAA5: Usability of interactive systems: It will get worse before it gets better.


Johnson, J., & Henderson, A. (2012). Usability of interactive systems: It will get worse before it gets better. Journal of Usability Studies, 7 (3), 88–93.

I think what will be a better article to end this semester than an article about the history on Usability of interactive design and what is the trend for future interactive system. I never think this could be the case for Usability, but the result is surprising to me.

After 30 years of first CHI (Computer Human Interaction) conference, we can assume the world, especially in industry should clearly see the important of user-centered UX design. Many company are rushing to create these own UX design department over the decades. But this article’s literature indicates more and more cases company roll out new product with little or no consideration of interaction between the users and the company products.

Why would company do that? One good example the author listed, a brand new toaster with 14 different button and LED display. Really?! Companies need to roll out new product to drive sale, but companies do not need to scarify the user’s need. Users are not coming to buy a computer, but an useful product to fit their needs. Instead companies are trying to reshape the user’s thinking, if the product is hard to use, oh well it is assume that user made a mistake.

Top or Bottom: Your Choice?

Another cause of producing bad interactive product directly relate to UX designer’s decision making power in the company. In many companies decision making rely on manager or executive level, without a great support on UX design is hard for company to create pleasure to use product. And I can speak from my own experience, many time manager or maybe a project team comes seek help for advise on interactive design, but at the end, most of the suggestions are ignore and create product in their own opinion. Sometime even the same people come for help end up angry on the UX designer.

We should be a team, let UX designers do their part to help creating greater user experience, so that other team members can do what they are best. A great product can become a better product at the end.

[Images thanks to http://4.bp.blogspot.com/__GzFWVCm8Rw/SyjIGa20AdI/AAAAAAAADAY/J58pEVq-fU4/s1600/toaster3.jpg

http://www.cuisinart.com/share/images/products/zoom/cpt-440.jpg%5D

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RAA4: Developing a useful, user-friendly website for cancer patient follow-up


BARTLETT, Y.K., SELBY, D.L., NEWSHAM, A., KEDING, A., FORMAN, D., BROWN, J., VELIKOVA, G. and WRIGHT, P. (2012), Developing a useful, user-friendly website for cancer patient follow-up: users’ perspectives on ease of access and usefulness. European Journal of Cancer Care, 21: 747–757. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2354.2012.01357.x

It is so great to read that people who care about usability, and they are work actually help people, especially people in need. The research shows with the right approach even user with preferably physical follow-up by clinical specialist finds the website have many benefits to them.

Purpose:

Use the usability finding to create and evaluate a website for cancer patient follow-up to improve the ease of access and usefulness.

Method:

This study split into three parts of study:
1. Develop the follow-up website utilize the feedback from focus groups and interviews of outpatient of the hospital. And along with the help of a clinical IT specialist.
2. Collecting user data from the computer and Internet Usage Survey
3. A crossover study with patient with internet access. Tracking their website usage and finishing web survey, and follow up with telephone interview.

Analyze & Finding:

Part 1: Website development

14 females and 7 males participants, the developer need to combine the user experience with some concern about the bona fide (information copyright) nature of the website. Most important three elements to the user is a personalize login page with their own cancer-specific, a message question and answering system can provide easy feedback on specific question, and chat room to connect with local patients and professionals.

Part 2 Computer and Internet usage survey

Although 67% (238/353) patient consented, find out many participants still will prefer paper and face to face follow-up. And one finding indicate only employment status remained a significant predictor of Internet use. This is similar finding like my last RAA post.

Part 3 Crossover study and interview

Great feedback on the website follow-up system in all aspects of usability, feasibility and acceptability. Usability study from the beginning helps develop a user-centered web site to benefit and encourage user to utilize the web site.

From my stand point, many of these usability data are collected from volunteers patients, many times think about intuitive ways to interact with users, you will find  many resources is available to you.

RAA3: Culturability in Mobile Data Services


Boreum, C., Inseong, L., & Jinwoo, K. (2006). Culturability in Mobile Data Services: A Qualitative Study of the Relationship Between Cultural Characteristics and User-Experience Attributes. International Journal Of Human-Computer Interaction, 20(3), 171-203. doi:10.1207/s15327590ijhc2003_2

After reading this massive qualitative research articles, it gives a through of going through CGT 512 Class all over again. The research data and information can years to collect, and analyze all the data can take the same amount of time. But every part is well relate to article, researchers fellow a step by step approach give both the researchers and readers a good structure of the whole research. In this case, I am glad I can find an article which help me understand the whole process of usability testing and analyzing step by step, and the finding is promising.

Purpose:

Conduct qualitative study using usability testing and interviews and analyze the data in order to develop critical mobile design features across three different culture Korea, Japan, and Finland.

Method:

Grounded theory method is applied throughout the whole research. The researcher first did a test study on 5 participants, so they can better revise the research questions and process. During data gathering, researchers selected 24 participant from three different country Korea, Japan and Finland with only experience in their own country’s mobile device to conduct interviews using use case video clip along with different mobile user experience questions.

Analyze:

The data was carefully analyze with a like/dislike and mention by participant scale, and find relationship between during categories. Researchers focus on the culture dimension and user-experience attributes.

Finding:

Many interesting finding after systematically analyze all the data, first of all the Korean participants show, high contextuality, high uncertainty avoidance, and collectivist inclinations. They want to connect with friend with different way of sharing, and they also like detail of content, more information the better.

The Japanese participant reveal they are tend to be high contextuality, high uncertainty avoidance, and fairly high individualism. They don’t like to share their interest with others. They tend to find content fit their own individual need instead the need of everyone else.

Compare to the Korean and Japanese participants, the Finnish participants have the opposite characteristic with low contextuality, individualism, and low uncertainty avoidance. The Finish participant like to explore new content, and they are proud to be unique and like to show it to others.

And this general model show the different relationship between the culture dimension and user-experience attributes. Personally, I think there can be a better way to visualize these information. How will you visualize these relationship?

RAA #2: Incorporating culture in user-interface


Hisham, S., and Edwards, A. (2007). Incorporating culture in user-interface: a case study of older adults in Malaysia. Proceedings of Hypertext and hypermedia 2007, Manchester, UK, ACM, pp 145-14

Purpose:

This is a user-interface deign study on the Malaysian older adults, why and how they use computer application. In order to define design requirements to help encourage the usage and improve the user experience of the older adults.

Method:

There are too part of this study, the preliminary study randomly select seven adults to conduct interview, with questions address different background and level of computer literacy. The second field work part, researchers conduct more interviews. Six out of twelve participants was observed and told to use the think-aloud technic.

Main Find:

  1. Why
  • Most of the older adults use for work related tasks and connect with family and friend for convinence and less cost.
  • Most of the older adults have trouble use english user interface, they prefer in their first language
  1. How to improve user interface
    • Uses colorful graphics and moving picture
    • Not too much text
    • Graphic hyperlinks and button is easy to use than text hyperlink
    • Labelled icons are preferred to menus
    • Everyday word better receive than formal word
    • Malays older adult prefer Malays interface, Indian older adult prefer English interface
    • The existing icon are poor received by these user
    • A linear user-interface structure is better

Conclusion:

We can apply user and language rule to interface to attract and encourage target culture to use computer. Improvement localisation can increase target group’s acceptance to the specific computer application

It always interesting to me to read research done on different countries and minority group, many time, these people are the people as a society should care for more instead of ignoring them.

RAA 1: A Comparison of Usability Methods for Testing Interactive Health Technologies


Jaspers, M.W.M. 2009. “A Comparison of Usability Methods for Testing Interactive Health Technologies: Methodological aspects and Empirical Evidence.” International Journal of Medical Informatics 78 (2009): 340-353.

Purpose:

Jaspers  identifies two major types of expert evaluation: heuristic evaluation and cognitive walkthrough. Heuristic evaluation is a relatively efficient usability evaluation method with a high benefit-cost ratio, but requires high skills and usability experience of the evaluators to produce reliable results. Heuristic evaluation is widely used since it generally requires less resource than testing with users. But it is fundamentally different from usability testing. The cognitive walkthrough is a more structured approach than the heuristic evaluation with a stronger focus on the learnability of a computer application. The limitation is the required level of detail of task and user background descriptions for an adequate application of the latest version of the technique.

Method:

User-based testing methods include user performance measurements, log-file and keystroke analyses, cognitive workload assessments, satisfaction questionnaires, interviews and participatory evaluation. Among these methods, the participatory evaluation can give the clearest indication as why a certain interface aspect poses a problem to a user or how to improve the interface. For example, through talking or thinking aloud or in a retrospective interview, the participants can reveal the underlying causes for system usability problems encountered and participatory evaluation thus has more reliability. Scholars such as Jaspers regard “think aloud” as a very direct method to gain deep insight in the problems end users encounter in interaction with a system (340). Many also suggest that test participants need to be diverse but representative of the envisioned users.

Finding:

Heurstic evaluation have a higher benefit-cost ratio, but it require higher skill set in usability experience. The cognitive walkthrough  is more structure than Heurstic but need to have high level detail of task and background. And the think aloud technic is great way to get in-depth detail on problem which user are facing.

Continue discovery, research and hand on experience in this area of technology is a must.

RAA: Web Page design with Gestalt Principle


Lisa, G. (2008). Gestalt theory in interactive media design. Journal of Humanities & Social Science 2(1).

Web design is a young form of design, it only been around for a couple of decades since the invention of World Wide Web. The original gestalt concept defines, “A collection of physical, biological, psychological or symbolic entities that creates a unified concept, configuration or pattern which is greater than the sum of its parts (of a character, personality, or being).” In web design, gestalt concept means that when elements are combined together, they will act more effective to users than a single element with itself. There are many different principles derived from the gestalt concept. Proximity, similarity, symmetry, figure-ground and also closure are widely use in design especially in web design process.

Just like this simple example of continuation principle can help user to understand the web content pattern. If a web designer can combine many these principles and apply it to the web, it can greatly improve web usability for site users.

RAA: How to make content useful?


Halvorson, K. (2010) Content Strategy for the Web. “Chapter 1” Berkeley, CA: New Rider.

Usefulness is determined by the objectives and goals of the users (Halvorson 2006, 55). Taking web content as an example, if the content is not supporting fulfillment of those objectives and goals, the usefulness is lost. Thus usefulness is about the attributes of the website regarding the consumers’ need, whereas usability is about how efficiently and easily the content can be reached. A website can be well useful but it may not be reachable due to some organizational hindrance. Usability is also correlated with the structure and organization of the content (Halvorson 2006, 56). Yet when we talk about usability, usefulness is a precursor, or a necessary condition. Only when the website is both appropriate for the purpose and reachable to the users, would the value be improved. It is so easy for designer to add new contents to the web without a second thought. Think and plan before creating content for the web.