Thoughts 3: Research Phase

Today I learned: Design processes are not as simple as they seem.

We’ve read in class about Cooper’s Goal-Directed Design Process and a Pervasive Design Process, but today we tried to applying it to a hypothetical project in which we created a pizza-ordering app.

I though I had a good grasp on what to do. After all, we were only focusing on the research phase of the design: determining persona hypotheses and what to do for data collection and sampling. But it seemed that deciding on which method to employ wasn’t that obvious, nor which questions to ask.

I imagine that any part of the design process is done better with more practice. Books may describe what a designer has the options of doing and how to do it, but the designer may not completely grasp the extent of the method until actually applying it to a situation. Lesson learned.

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Thoughts 2: Accessibility Is Not A Checklist

“The principle behind all design is human dignity.”
~ Richard Buchanan, Keynote presentation at Interaction ’11

After last week’s presentations in class, I’d like to share a great video to supplement Quincy and my presentation on Accessibility:

Learn more about Jimmy Chandler: http://www.ixda.org/resources/jimmy-chandler-accessibility-not-checklist

In this video, Jimmy Chandler discusses accessibility problems and solutions in a fun and interesting way. He brings up concepts we’ve discussed in class, but also provides 10 quick tips on how to improve your product’s accessibility. Chandler even suggests a solution for the mean-error-message issue on forms that the class discussed last week. He really does put things into perspective, and his talk is pretty inspiring while still being entertaining, so I would be sure to check it out.

Personally, I find accessibility very important. My interest stems from my grandmother living with my family for most of my life, and I really can’t imagine her not being able to do something. She’s the most talkative and friendly person I’ve ever met; everyone (including guests) at the new health care center she stays at knows her by name. She’s also the reason I wanted to focus my thesis on the elderly.

Thoughts 1

Last week in class, we talked about main ideas from our readings and tried to make sense of all the terms thrown at us such as usability, user experience design, and so on. Many of the terms I have already come across before, but discussion did prove to organize them in a better way.

When told to group the terms ourselves, I tried to look at all the terms we had and group them in some way or another before putting it into any sort of hierarchy. I noticed that we had a lot of principles listed such as visibility, mapping, feedback, etc. We also had specific metrics that could be measured, and different types of design listed that could be seen as different approaches. But left were other items such as user research and personas, that really seem to be part of the design process than anything else.

Before we grouped items together, I had thought that “usability” was the over arching topic. I figured that all these design approaches, metrics, principles were about making a product easy to learn and easy to use. But after grouping, usability ended up being a part of user-centered design (along with other items), which ended up being under design as a whole. My partner and I almost took the entire hirarchy as a process, where UxD was a small branch of design, that led to usability testing, where the final product was a user interface/product. I’m sure there are many other ways to look at it but here is the web my partner and I concocted:

UxD Web

I thought Dr. V really explained it best:
– Goal-directed design is an approach: it is a philosophy and way of viewing the world.
– Design is a process, a recipe. It has certain steps you take.
– User-centered design has a set of principles.

Web2.0

When it comes to Web 2.0, defining such can be a difficult task. Here is an overview of three articles that attempt to do so, but in different ways:

O’Reilly writes on What is Web 2.0?, that the web is a platform for serving software and web applications. He feels that instead of the processing power of hardware, power is given to the data that is shared and not bound to a single location due to cloud computing. Any SAAS are easily accessible online and can be updated quickly, and because light web programming models are important to Web2.0, collaboration from users is facilitated, creating a philosophy of user control.

McAfee, however, discusses the breakdown of Enterprise 2.0 in Enterprise 2.0: The Dawn of Emergent Collaboration [PDF]. He felt that Enterprise 2.0 was comprised of SLATES (Search, Links, Authoring, Tasks, Extensions, and Signals) and mentioned how communication channels were different to platforms.

Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship by Boyd and Ellison tries to distinguish between Social Network Sites vs Social Networking Sites. They say that because a network involves your own group of friends, and networking involves meeting strangers, that the two are very different things. They also defined SNSs to have the following things: a profile, friend’s list, and a publicly viewable friend list.

My first reaction to these attempts at defining Web2.0 is that it’s seems like a bit to absorb. I’ve been introduced to a whole new set of terminology: the long tail, architecture of participation, SLATES, etc. But when trying to decide what definition is better, I seem to focus on the commonality between them: power to the people.

Web2.0, regardless of whether its SAAS, Enterprise 2.0, or social network sites, is clearly user-driven in lots of ways. O’Reilly describes it well when he says that data is power. Because Web 2.0 involves networking, users are given power to carry out SLATES and collaborate and communicate to advance Web2.0 companies, social networks, etc. It facilitates productivity on the web and encourages user participation in not only social aspects but in ways to improve and move products and services forward. Content is being generated by the people and widely visible to all in identity and communication, and more content increases the amount of people that view it and can elaborate on it, creating one large communication circle. But I guess that’s so great about the internet – it brings people together in interesting ways. 🙂