Triangle User Experience Professionals Association (TriUXPA)


  • 14 Apr 2012 5:00 PM | Richard Phelps

    In his "Telling the Right Stories with Data Visualizations" webinar, Noah Iliinsky shared a lot of great tips for making effective visualizations. Here are a few:

    • Find Iliinsky's chart about using visual encodings on his blog,

    • Try these sources for data for practicing visualizations:,, and

    • Tableau is a great tool for visual analytics that has good defaults. You can quickly iterate on graphics in Tableau. There's a free version, tableau public, but it can't be stored locally. Tableau only works in Windows, however.
    • Omnigraffle is great for diagrams, charts and hierarchies.

    • When you're not sure what story your data shows, seek trends, gaps and outliers, and explore.

    • Selecting the correct axes for displaying data is critical, and most people don't spend enough time on it.

  • 13 Apr 2012 5:00 PM | Richard Phelps

    TriUPA kicked off the TriUPA UX Book Club last Tuesday! At our inaugural meeting we had fried pickled okra (yum) and decided that we'd focus on books that had subject matter with practical application, but that weren't too technical. Since it's our first go, we settled on Luke Wrobkewski's "Mobile First" book (

    The Book Apart series tends to be well-written, interesting and short, so we're not biting off more than we can chew for our first book. We're planning on meeting up in a couple of months to discuss the book, and maybe even again after that to discuss some of what we've been able to do with what we've learned!

    Our kickoff meeting was a big success and we're looking forward to more folks joining in as they're interested. Go to with your inquiries and ideas, and to sign up for more information. You can also keep an eye on and @triupa on twitter, or contact me undefined Jake undefined at or @JacobGeibRosch on twitter.

    About 'Mobile First':
    Our industry’s long wait for the complete, strategic guide to mobile web design is finally over. Former Yahoo! design architect and co-creator of Bagcheck Luke Wroblewski knows more about mobile experience than the rest of us, and packs all he knows into this entertaining, to-the-point guidebook. Its data-driven strategies and battle tested techniques will make you a master of mobile undefined and improve your non-mobile design, too!

  • 30 Mar 2012 5:00 PM | Richard Phelps

    Mobile design is still in a state of invention, and designers should embrace the unknown, said Rachel Hinman at Tuesday's UIE webinar at SAS. She talked about three emergent mobile topics: shapeshifting, a brave NUI world, and comfortable computing.


    A lot of current mobile design is basically a scaled-down version of websites, Rachel said, which is not good. People use mobile devices everywhere, not just when seated at a desk. We should think of content for mobile devices as fluid like water, and not locked into pages. To account for different contexts of use on mobile devices, research and testing should be done in the "wild" as much as possible.

    A Brave NUI World

    We are currently between GUI (graphical user interface) and NUI (natural user interface), said Rachel, a researcher, designer and a recognized thought leader in mobile user experience. In the GUI model, computers as used as a tool for efficiency. This model requires users to recognize and recall the uses for buttons and menus. By contrast, NUI designs are fluid, unmediated and organic. The content is the star. People want to touch the content itself, not a button. Experiences unfold, which has given way to new and interesting design patterns:

    * nested doll: overview to detail (think iPhone)
    * hub and spoke: always goes back to the center (flipboard app)
    * bento box: many parts that interact with each other in different ways (tripadviser, kayak)
    * filtered view: bucket of information (think eye doctor: do you like this one, or this one?)

    If a web page is an information boulder, think of turning those boulders into information pebbles and reconstructing the experience for mobile devices.

    Comfortable Computing

    Mobile devices are the gateway drugs for ubiquitous computing, Rachel said. People associate the iPad with sociability and intimacy, and often watch movies or read books on them in bed or on the couch, for example. Using tablets like the iPad is often not about getting things done. "Say goodbye to 'Done,'" Rachel said. People are interested in exploring information on devices, and we need to invent new and more human ways for users to interact with information.

    Rachel Hinman is writing a book - also called "The Mobile Frontier" - to be published this year by Rosenfeld Media. She is also a Senior Research Scientist at the Nokia Research Center in Palo Alto, California.

    Here are the slides from the webinar:

  • 03 Mar 2012 5:00 PM | Richard Phelps

    Thanks to all of you who took the TriUPA survey last month! The executive council has been using the results to plan its events schedule to best meet the needs of the most people. Here are a few highlights:

    • 73 TriUPA contacts responded
    • The most optimal time for TriUPA events are 6 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays. The second best time was afternoons of the same days.
    • The top three cities for meeting were Raleigh (33%), Cary (32%) and RTP (15%)

    The top six UIE webinars were as follows:

    • Telling the Right Story with Data Visualizations and Noah Illinsky (64%)
    • The Mobile Frontier with Rachel Hinman (and in cooperation with Rosenfeld Media) (62%)
    • Designing Dashboards: The Do's, Don'ts and D'ohs with Hagan Rivers (59%)
    • The Art and Craft of User Research with Steve Portigal (57%)
    • The Design Choices You Make for Information with Brian Suda (57%)
    • Discussing Design: The Art of Critique and Adam Conner (45%)

    Please see the attached PDF for complete results.

     File Attachments
     Download file:

  • 12 Dec 2011 5:00 PM | Richard Phelps

    As we near the end of the year I would like to thank both the volunteers in the Executive Council and the TriUPA sponsors and members for making 2011 a fun and productive year. We sincerely hope that you benefited from the various community events and professional events. Since we are usability professionals we do like to get feedback. Please take a few minutes to give us feedback by answering a short survey.

    We have also put together an Executive Council for 2012-many thanks to all the volunteers. This year we were only able to get one person per available role so there is no ballot. The list of the Executive Council volunteer statements is attached.

    See you all next year!

    Mona Singh, Ph.D.
    President. TriUPA

    File Attachments
    Download file:
    2012 TriUPA Candidates Statements.docx

  • 11 Nov 2011 5:00 PM | Richard Phelps

    To all the folks who came to WUD last night, thank you! Hope you enjoyed it!

    If you couldn't make it, please check out Ryan Allis's slides from his presentation on scribd. It was an inspiring talk about design for social good.

  • 25 Sep 2011 5:00 PM | Richard Phelps

    Never fear! Here's Abe Crystal's pdf from the Myths and Misconceptions of Usability Testing event that took place on September 7. Enjoy.

    File Attachments
    Download file:
    Myths and Misconceptions of Usability Testing (TriUPA).pdf

  • 07 Sep 2011 5:00 PM | Richard Phelps


    From first concept to polished pixel, learn to create a mobile app that delights. This full-day course teaches you to "think mobile" by planning and creating app interfaces in tune with the psychology, culture, ergonomics, and context of an audience on the go. You'll learn to conceive and refine an app's interface and user experience in tune with the needs of a mobile audienceundefinedand their fingers and thumbs. You'll explore the practical principles of mobile and touchscreen design using examples from all major mobile platforms.

    Who it's for

    This class isn't (only) for geeks. The workshop's interdisciplinary approach is appropriate for everyone involved in the app design processundefineddesigners, programmers, managers, marketers, clients. The workshop takes a hands-on approach to intermediate and advanced design concepts but requires no specific technical knowhow. Experienced designers and newcomers alike will uncover the shifts in mindset and technique required to craft a great mobile app.

    What you'll learn

    The course will equip you to ask the right questions (and find the right answers) to make aesthetic, technical, and usability decisions that will make your apps a pleasure to use. You'll learn:

    • the key elements of the mobile mindset and what your audience expects of your app
    • the ergonomic demands of designing for touch
    • strategies for crafting your app's visual identity
    • techniques for introducing your app to your audience
    • how to work with gestures
    • how these rules apply (or don't) to the iPad and other tablet devices

    Register here:

    File Attachments
    Download file:
    Tapworthy Mobile Design and User Experience Workshop_0.pdf

  • 24 Jul 2011 5:00 PM | Richard Phelps

    Imagine a complex system with many different users, used in many environments, to support a continuum of activities from health and wellness to sickness to life and death emergencies. The system is the patient medical record. In today’s healthcare domain the patient medical record, more commonly known as the electronic medical record (EMR), or the broader version, the electronic health record (EHR), is in the spotlight.

    No matter what view you take of healthcare, you are going to find the EHR.

    Take the view of healthcare reform. The goals of healthcare reform are to make healthcare more affordable, hold insurers more accountable, expand coverage to all Americans and make the health system sustainable. The means to achieving this goal includes building systems that are used to document the medical treatment a patient receives, systems that talk to each other, and systems that improve quality of care that individual patients and populations of patients receive. One of those systems is the EHR.1

    Take the view of healthcare privacy and security. The Office for Civil Rights is responsible for protecting the privacy of our individually identifiable health information, HIPPA. This same office is responsible for setting national standards for the security of electronic protected health information. Those national standards are created and applied to the design, development, and use of EHRs so that a patient’s medical history, symptoms, diagnoses and treatments are only shared with appropriate clinicians and only shared with people that patients give permission.2

    Take the view of interoperability (information exchange). The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) is the government agency inside of Health and Human Services (a government agency) that is responsible for healthcare information technology. One of ONC’s Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) programs is focused on building the infrastructure so that the secure exchange of health information can take place with the goal of improved clinical care and reducing cost. That health information is the data in the patient’s EHR.3

    Who are the users of the EHR? Doctors, nurses, specialists, medical technicians, and patients, to name a few, are. For simplicity, let’s focus on doctors. Not all doctors are using EHRs. With the promise of patient data in an electronic format that is easily shared…patient data that can be searched, reviewed, graphed, manipulated, and studied in order to provide better quality of care… patient data that is easily portable so that when a patient changes doctors, moves or becomes ill while on vacation … a means by which the current doctor knows all the important medical information about the patient. Why wouldn’t a doctor use such a system?

    A number of reasons have been suggested to explain why doctors are not adopting and using of EHRs. One of those reasons is lack of usability.

    Usability is defined as the efficiency, effectiveness, and satisfaction with which a specific user can complete a specific task.

    EHRs lack USABILITY. Most EHRs are inefficient systems. Many EHRs are ineffective in some capacity. And users (doctors, nurses, specialists, medical technicians, patients, to name a few) are not satisfied with EHRs.

    Doctors describe and user researchers observe that many EHRs add hours of work to the doctor’s work day. In some EHRs it might take:

    • 10 mouse clicks to indicate “right hand,”
    • 5 additional clicks to indicate skin (as opposed to bone),
    • 3 clicks to get to place in the user interface to indicate rash,
    • 3 clicks to indicate “severe”,
    • 3 clicks to indicate “longer than one week”,
    • 3 clicks to indicate “red and swollen”,
    • 3 clicks and typing “2” to indicate a 2 inch area.
      Adding the clicks: 10 + 5+ 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 = too many clicks.

      Too many clicks in an era where the doctor should be able to click the right hand in a graphic of the body or where the doctor should be able to snap a picture to document a severe rash on the right hand.

    The lack of effectiveness of EHRS is seen in a number of areas. Effective EHRs will talk with other systems. However, many EHRs in a doctor’s office don’t talk to the EHR used at the local hospital. But let’s highlight another component of effectiveness. EHRs carry the promise of improved quality of care.

    According to Jeff Shuren5, from January 2008 to December 2010, the FDA received approximately 370 reports of adverse events or near misses related to healthcare information technology including EHRs. This number grossly underestimates the actual number of events that actually occur for a number of reasons; there is not a common reporting system for such errors, the FDA does not control or regulate EHRs, many EHR companies make EHR purchasers agree not to report or talk about the relationship of the EHR to an adverse event6.

    These reports of the adverse events were associated to EHRs in the following ways:

    • failure to adequately address interoperability with other technologies,
    • user error,
    • inadequate workplace practices,
    • design flaws,
    • failure to properly test the technology prior to distribution, upon installation or during maintenance (such as validation testing),
    • or failure to adequately address problems that can arise when people interface with machines.5

    In terms of satisfaction:

    • Added hours to the end of the work day,
    • multiple log ins into multiple systems that don’t talk to each other,
    • too many clicks,
    • potential errors if “I” am not thinking about the software--
      …where is there satisfaction?

    EHRs are in the spotlight… within the spotlight is a movement to improve the usability of EHRs. There are many avenues and opportunities to improve the usability of EHRs. Many of the companies that make EHRs are learning about usability and applying user centered design activities to improve the usability of an EHR. Physician practices and hospitals are including usability requirements in Requests for Proposals and procurement guidelines for EHRs. In addition, physician practices and hospitals are learning the value of conducting usability tests to inform purchase decisions. Professional organizations (e.g., Health Information Management Systems Society7 (HIMSS) and physician academies (e.g., Academy of Family Physicians) are educating their members about usability. Even the government is getting involved with the movement to improve the usability of EHRs. The ONC has described that usability will be included as criteria in the ONC’s Meaningful Use program and the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) recently released their proposed EHR Usability Evaluation Protocol8 which in some way yet to be defined will be the usability test method by which EHR usability will be measured according to the government.

    The usability of EHRs is in the spotlight. As usability professionals and patients, be proactive in assuring that the tools used to keep us healthy, to heal us in time of sickness and to help us survive life and death emergencies are efficient, effective, and satisfying…that EHRs are systems characterized by high usability!

    About the author
    Janey Barnes, PhD is a principal and human factors specialist at User-View, Inc. Janey is responsible for obtaining and managing projects and conducting state of the art user-centered design and evaluation for client programs. She has developed and taught human factors courses at universities and for professional organizations. Janey is affiliated with several professional organizations and participates in these organizations by making presentations and teaching workshops. Janey is active in the HIMSS Usability Taskforce. She is currently serving as the 2011 chair of the taskforce. In addition, Janey serves on the TriangleUPA Advisory Board.

    1, accessed July 7, 2011.

    2, accessed July 7, 2011.

    3, accessed July 7, 2011.

    4, accessed July 7, 2011.

    5, accessed July 7, 2011.

    6 Ross Koppel, David Kreda (2009), Health Care Information Technology Vendors' “Hold Harmless” Clause: Implications for Patients and Clinicians, JAMA.; 301(12):1276-1278.

    7, accessed July 7, 2011.

    8, accessed July 7, 2011

  • 08 Jul 2011 5:00 PM | Richard Phelps

    How do you most effectively visualize data so that it can be easily understood and readily interpreted? That was the topic of a 2 hour panel presentation and discussion sponsored by the TriUPA on Effective Data Visualization held at the NCSU Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI). Members of the panel were leaders in this field and included Christopher G. Healey, Ph.D. from NCSU, Sidharth Thakur, Ph.D. from RENCI and Lisa Whitman from SAS. The panel was moderated by Richard Phelps, Ph.D. from Unisys.

    “It has long been recognized that understanding visual perception is crucial to designing effective visualizations”, said Dr. Healey. “To address this need, we conduct controlled psychophysical experiments in collaboration with colleagues in Psychology to investigate how our visual system ‘sees’ fundamental properties of color, texture, and motion. These findings are used to build visualizations that harness the strengths and avoid the limitations of our visual system.”

    Dr. Thakur added, “Effective visualization of data has long been regarded as a grand challenge in the area of data visualization. Even as practitioners and researchers in the area actively explore principles and designs of successful visual representations, new challenges to understanding the effectiveness of visualizations have emerged due to democratization of visualization and due to our ability to serve complicated information on ubiquitous small and large display screens.”

    ”Bombarded by information from different avenues of technology, every day people are faced with the task of monitoring and making sense of increasingly large amounts of information,” said Lisa Whitman. “Dashboards are a popular method for organizing and displaying data so that the information can be monitored at-a-glance on one screen. Dashboard contents may include various forms of data visualizations, graphics, tables, and key performance indicators (KPIs). Dashboards can be an effective means of displaying actionable data to support decisions, but only if they are designed well with the goals and tasks of the user in mind.”

    Please feel free to download the full presentations by our panelists.


    Christopher G. Healey, Ph.D.
    Christopher G. Healey received a B.A. in Math from the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Canada, and a M.Sc. and Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California at Berkeley, he joined the Department of Computer Science at North Carolina State University, where he is currently an Associate Professor. His research interests include visualization, graphics, visual perception, and areas of applied mathematics, databases, artificial intelligence, and aesthetics related to visual and data analytics.

    Sidharth Thakur, Ph.D.
    Sidharth Thakur, Ph.D. is a Senior Researcher at RENCI where he focuses on applied information and scientific data visualization. Dr. Thakur is passionate about creating visualizations that allow scientists and researchers to explore new and exciting hypotheses about pressing research problems in their domains. During his three years at RENCI Dr. Thakur has developed visualization applications and techniques for a variety of disciplines and has published research articles on his work. Dr. Thakur’s current areas of focus are visualization of socio-economic and census data; analysis of spatial and temporal dynamics of molecular systems such as polymers and proteins; and analysis of geo-spatial data in weather and terrain modeling. Prior to joining RENCI Dr. Thakur obtained a doctorate in Computer Science from Indiana University Bloomington where he developed visual-analytical methods to explore geometry in high-dimensional spaces.

    Lisa Whitman
    Lisa Whitman has worked in usability for over ten years, analyzing user experiences and designing user interfaces for websites, software, and mobile applications. She has worked for SAS since 2005, and before that she has done usability research and design work for Lenovo, Distance Learning Systems Group, and Dunlap & Associates. Her current focus is designing software that enables SAS customers to build interactive dashboards which organize multiple data visualizations on one screen. She has presented her research at conferences including Human-Computer Interaction International and the Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. Lisa holds a degree in neuroscience, earned a Master’s degree in human factors psychology from California State University, Northridge, and is studying in the Human Factors and Ergonomics doctoral program at North Carolina State University.

    File Attachments
    Download file:

    Part1 Christopher G. Healey, Ph.D.(NCSU)-Effective Data Visualization Panel (5-25-2011).pdf
    Part1 Christopher G. Healey, Ph.D.(NCSU)-Effective Data Visualization Panel (5-25-2011).pdf
    Part 1 Lisa Whitman.pptx
    Part 2 Lisa Whitman.pptx
    Sidharth Thakur, Ph.D. (RENCI)-Effective Data Visualization Panel (5-25-2011).pptx

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