• 18 Nov 2008 5:00 PM | Deleted user

    TriUPA sponsors Shanna Ward (Insight) and Janey Barnes (User-View) kindly provided these notes based on their viewing of Adaptive Path's recent virtual seminar, "How to be a UX Team of One?"

    A slidecast, templates, and links relevant to the seminar are available on Leah's website.


    The discussion began by trying to turn a new leaf, instead of feeling the shame of being a UX Team of One, take pride in being a UX Team of one. Often times this role can hold the most impact, but as a team of one the UX professional is often a jack of all trades and a master of none, really a generalist as opposed to a specialist in their field. These generalists often have to stand alone and need effective strategies to work with the other specialists, i.e. specific research teams, designers, marketers, development, etc. One of the challenges is knowing when and where to get involved into the development process. People with lots of experience tend to avoid being a team of one, but often this level of expertise helps in this situation. There are several stages of growing a UX group, the first and largest is to be interested, then moving into more comitted roles are invested, committed, engaged, and completely emerged.

    Stealth Skills for a UX Team of One

    1. Be Smart with Documentation
    2. Design Better than you Thought You Could
    3. Collaborate Like a Master
    4. Be Politically Correct

    1. Be Smart with Documentation:
    There is good documentation and bad documentation.

    Documentation can focus attention on the wrong thing. Documentation lends itself to “controlled ownership”, can provide an excuse/reason for procrastinating (e.g., I have to focus on the formatting of the documentation as opposed to the content), and can be an end unto itself.

    It's important to assess how the documentation is furthering UX goals and process...

    • Who is reading our documentation?
    • How long is the documentation?
    • How much cross referencing is needed?
    • Is the documentation overly glossed?
    • Is the documentation communicating an idea?

    Good documentation...

    • Works for multiple audiences
    • Tells its own story
    • Is quick to produce

    2. Design Better than you Thought You Could
    Sketching, simple pen and paper can have save time and is an excellent exploratory and refinement tool.

    • Exploratory sketching is the first step, in this step the goal is to generate lots and lots of ideas, some better than others. Using a 6-up template will help push development of several concepts. If you are stuck then play with words, pull out relevant words and design around them. Also having an inspiration library will help to generate additional ideas, these would include interesting shapes and concepts that help to get the creative juices flowing.
    • Refinement sketching is done after exploratory sketching, once several ideas are generated now is the time to refine these concepts. For this phase Leah recommended using a 1-up Template to help define the concept in a format where it is easy to share with others and can be used as a tool for discussion. Some sketching tips include: using weighted lines for emphasis, shading to decrease focus, and labels to add clarity and meaning.

    Once sketches are refined now is the time to share and get feedback, both positive and negative. Design is not an absolute, there is no right or wrong in design, just MY preference and YOUR preference.

    Resource: article on sketchboards.

    3. Collaborate Like a Master
    This is a critical step and is a helpful way to gain a broader perspective for solutions and serve as a way to critique already established ideas. There are three types of workshops that can be held...

    1) controlled review (boring and typical documentation review)

    2) collaborative review (all members review current concepts and actively generate new concepts and critique existing ones)

    3) collaborative design (this workshop is a bit more challenging to conduct, but with the right group this can be very effective.

    When conducting Collaborative Workshops be sure to...

    1. make sure there is enough time to conduct the research, this process shouldn't feel or be rushed
    2. invite all key players
    3. bring tools of the trade - sharpies, sticky notes, paper, pen, 1-ups, 6-ups, tape

    Structure of an effective Collaborative Workshop...

    1. Give paper/pen to everyone in the room (6-ups blank templates)
    2. Explain the design problem
    3. Give a set amount of time to solve and sketch the problem
    4. Make sure to walk around and help
    5. Discuss amongst the team

    Structure of an effective Sketchboard Workshop...

    1. Get large sheet of paper and place all current sketches in a structure (using tape and sticky notes), you want to be able to roll it up so it can be shared
    2. Review and collaborate with others, make sure you explain all ideas and encourage the group to articulate ideas

    The goal of these workshops is NOT approval, but rather discussion and critque of concepts. Negative feedback is a good thing and if you aren't getting it then push to receive it. Try holding a black hat session where for 30 minutes you collectively pick the ideas apart.

    4. Be Politically Savy
    As a UX Team of One we are not the only ones that care about user needs and goals, i.e.development, marketing, and researchers are all interested in users, we all just go about understanding and meeting those needs differently. Being an evalengist for users will often take more energy and yield little results. Try to do fun and engaging activities to illustrate the effectiveness of UX profession, i.e. engaging collaborative workshops, trading cards, posters. Or, get access to folks when they are a captive audience e.g., posters in a bathroom, lunch, cocktails. Design is a process that needs to be effectively promoted.

    For UX professionals that need to work remotely with team members Leah recommends using Concept Share.

  • 31 Oct 2008 5:00 PM | Deleted user

    What: World Usability Day celebration

    When: 6pm - 9pm - Thursday, November 13th 2008

    Where: Ruvane Auditorium at GSK

    Cost: Free to all! Food and drink will be served! Please sign up so we have an idea of how big the crowd will be.

    How: Register now:
    (if you're a TriUPA member, be sure to click "Login to Register" once you get to the RSVP page)

    About our event:
    TriUPA will celebrate World Usability Day this year on Thursday, November 13th, at GSK. We have created a program that centers around UPA's theme of transportation. We are fortunate to have three speakers who have worked in the transportation field and can enlighten us about the usablity challenges in products and services in that area. We have organized a Design Challenge, in which three teams are applying user-centered design to transportation problems. The teams will be presenting their results at WUD. You cannot afford to miss this year's WUD, so please sign up now!

    6 pm - 6:45 pm: Dinner and socializing. Make sure to check out our UX trading card game. Everyone who builds a complete set of cards will be eligible for a raffle!

    6:45 pm - 7:45 pm: Transportation and Usability:

    * Talk by Graham James, Professional Transportation Planner
    * Talk by Beth Mcgough, Human Factors Engineer, JCI, Michigan
    * Talk by Alex Hussain, Design Engineer, HumanCentric

    7:45 pm - 8 pm: Break and dessert.

    8 pm - 9 pm: Presentations by teams competing in the Design Challenge:

    * Modular design system for bus stops
    * Wayfinding and information displays for bus travel
    * And one more... (topic TBD)

    Presentation of prizes for UX Card game winner and Design Challenge winners.

    Thanks to TriUPA's sponsors for making our World Usability Day celebration possible:

    * Lulu
    * GSK
    * BlueCross BlueShield
    * Insight
    * Lenovo
    * Capstrat
    * User-View
    * SAS

  • 28 Oct 2008 5:00 PM | Deleted user

    Dr. Deborah Mayhew presented the second workshop in TriUPA's professional training series, "Designing for Efficiency." The workshop was held at CED on October 22nd, 2008.

    Dr. Mayhew helpfully sent us both mayhew_1dayefficiencytriupafinal.pdf and an Excel spreadsheet template for conducting keystroke-level efficiency studies.

    The workshop focused on helping UX professionals understand when and how to focus on efficiency as part of the user-centered design process.

    Some key points:

    • Efficiency requires consideration of cognitive, motor, and perceptual activities.
    • Efficiency should be the key design goal when:
      • Users are highly trained
      • Users perform tasks repetitively with a very high frequency
      • Tasks are generally structured and linear, with low variability
      • User time is at a premium
      • Efficiency has a strong impact on customer service
    • Designers can improve their focus on efficiency by:
      • Setting task efficiency goals (a simple, but often-neglected approach)
      • Following design guidelines and principles, addressing cognitive, motor, and perceptual aspects of human-computer interaction
      • Apply unique requirements analysis data

    • Three primary techniques for improving design efficiency include:
      • Keystroke level modeling
      • Efficiency heuristic evaluations
      • Efficiency-focused user studies

    Recommended reading:
    Web Form Design book

  • 20 Oct 2008 5:00 PM | Deleted user

    TriUPA's 2008 World Usability Day design challenge!

    Here's your chance to show off your UX and design skillz by attacking transportation design problems from a user-centered perspective. Form a team and meet other TriUPAians from around the Triangle. It's gonna be a blast... but you've got to sign up to get involved. Sign up before registration closes on 10/22/08!

    »» Sign up for the challenge!

    Summary of Challenge
    Oct 22nd: Registration deadline

    Volunteers from the TriUPA community register to participate in the design challenge. At this point all that is required is a commitment to participate, you don't need a team or a specific idea.

    Please sign up here.

    Oct 25th: Design Challenge Kickoff (at Viget Labs in Durham)

    • Registered volunteers meet to form teams and pick a design challenge.
    • Each team will have 4 or 5 practitioners each.
    • The design problem may be anything related to transportation. Including
      • How do humans interact with the following aspects of transportation:
        • Modes – automobiles, planes, trains and subways, boats, trucks, busses, bikes, animals, and more.
        • Infrastructure – roads, highways, bridges, tunnels, and more.
        • Technologies and resources supporting transportation – online travel advisory and ticketing, maps and more.
        • Security
        • Signage
      • How do the modes interact with each other?
      • How do transportation modes and issues impact our environment? How can being green improve usability of transportation?
      • How have accessibility issues and challenges been addressed by transportation?
      • Waiting (in traffic, for trains/buses/planes to arrive or depart, etc.) is a fundamental part of transportation. How can we improve the user experience of waiting in the context of transportation, particularly public transportation?
    • Teams will work on the design problem they pick from Oct 25th to Nov 13th. Each team must prepare a 15 minute presentation for WUD. The presentation must highlight the techniques used, artifacts generated, interesting findings, the final results.

    Nov 13th: WUD
    Teams will be asked to present their designs at an evening event on November 13th, hosted by GSK in RTP. Prizes will be awarded for innovation, practicality, environmental impact, and creativity.

  • 17 Oct 2008 5:00 PM | Deleted user

    Dr. Mayhew has been kind enough to provide a PDF copy of slides for her upcoming workshop.


  • 17 Sep 2008 5:00 PM | Deleted user


    TriUPA “Effective Prototyping” workshop from Abe Crystal on Vimeo.


    Todd Warfel (see his site,, for updates on prototyping, includes slides from previous presentations, and surveys on prototyping practices) presented "Effective Prototyping" on Monday, September 15th. This was TriUPA's first full-day workshop. Nearly 60 TriUPAians from around the Triangle attended. Special thanks to TriUPA's generous sponsors, who made this workshop (and all of TriUPA's events!) possible:

    • Lulu
    • GSK
    • BlueCross BlueShield
    • Insight
    • Lenovo
    • Capstrat
    • User-View
    • SAS

    Abe's take

    Here are some of my notes from the workshop. Please add your own comments, notes, and pictures on the TriUX blog!

    Todd emphasized the value of prototyping as a "generative process" that supports collaboration. Prototyping (as opposed to documentation/specification) supports "being on the same page" and creating new design ideas.

    He described MessageFirst's design process, known as DRIVE (discovery and research, interaction and visualization, engineering). In this process, "every system we build starts with sketches." MessageFirst emphasizes paper sketching and creates dozens or hundreds of paper skethches to explore ideas before moving into digital prototyping. Paper is "the least intimidating toolkit out there" and has the unique property that clients or stakeholders "can destroy it" (modify, annotate, etc.). This mutabiilty encourages the co-creation of design ideas.

    Sketches are best shared in a "design studio" process, in which designers present sketches, accept critique ("don't get attached to your designs"), and annotate/revise. In the workshop, we practiced this process by creating simple sketches and paper prototypes, then presenting them to the group for discussion and critique. Todd noted that this design studio process is underused in software design.

    Overall, MessageFirst focuses on creating ideas and discussion quickly through generative sketching. As the team works through a 6-8 week design cycle, weekly update/review meetings keep clients in the loop. Ultimately, "production-ready" HTML/CSS/Javascript are provided to clients, and the designers then work with the clients IT team to help make sure the design is implemented as they had envisioned.

    Todd presented six major types of prototypes...
    1. communication
    2. gauge flexibility
    3. sell ideas internally
    4. market to customers
    5. work through a design
    6. testing

    ... and eight guiding principles for prototyping:
    1. "know your audience" (e.g., design, engineering, sales, CEO) and intent (what focus? what level of fidelity?)

    2. "plan a little, prototype the rest" (and keep options open through rapid, low-fidelity media)

    3. "set expectations" (perhaps the most important principle... use kickoff meetings to explain the design process and educate clients about what type of work they will see and how it's used)

    4. "you can sketch" (be bold in using sketching, don't be fearful of aesthetic, and help clients understand your process, and the time and effort it involves)

    5. "it's a prototype, not the Mona Lisa" (find the right level of fidelity for your purposes)

    6. "if you can't make it, fake it" (e.g., simulate--rather than engineer--ajax transitions)

    7. "prototype only what you need" (match to scenarios/usability test script, and be open to leaving out certain features/functions)

    8. "reduce risk--prototype early and often" (analogous to agile methods)

    Todd also walked through some benefits of prototyping with analog/paper tools (including post-it notes, index cards, transparencies, etc.). Paper prototyping can be extremely fast, isn't constrained to pre-built UI widgets, and encourages modification/annotation of designs. Participants created paper prototypes of a social photo/video player, and presented them for discussion.

    Key take-aways:
    The workshop encouraged me to remember the importance of sketching and generative prototyping, and revitalize my design research process. I've heard Bill Buxton and others wax poetic about sketching, but looking back at my notebook shows weeks can pass with nary a paper sketch in sight. Todd's points reminded me I can sketch a lot more often, and generate more ideas by doing so.

    Similarly, the value of a "design studio"-style review process was apparent, and I agree that it's underused in many cases. I also like the idea that design feedback should be framed to focus on "what's positive/effective about this design?" first, and then "what could be improved or extended?"

    I believe the admonition to "set expectations" and explain to clients the time and effort involved in generative prototyping is right on target, applicable to almost any situation where clients/stakeholders aren't deeply familiar with UX methods.

    Resources mentioned:

    Upcoming workshop: Designing for Efficiency!

    Dr. Deborah Mayhew, editor of "Cost-justifying usability" (among many other books) will be hosted by TriUPA on October 22nd! Register for her workshop ("Designing for Efficiency" now at:

  • 04 Sep 2008 5:00 PM | Deleted user

    We are excited to announced the second event in TriUPA's new training series! These events will provide cutting-edge, industrial-strength, knock-your-socks-off UX training in TriUPA's four focus areas: usability testing, user research, interaction design, and information architecture.

    What: "Designing for Efficiency" -- a full-day workshop

    When: 9am - 5pm // Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

    Where: Council for Entrepreneurial Development

    Cost: $125 (TriUPA members) / $100 (TriUPA sponsors) / $50 (students)

    How: Register here:

    Capacity is limited--please register ASAP!

    About the Workshop
    This one-day course is aimed at anyone (developers, user interface designers, usability engineers, information architects, graphic designers, software end-users and end-user managers, marketers, trainers, etc.) who has an interest in helping their organization achieve end user productivity (i.e., efficiency) through the design of software tools.
    Coffee, drinks, and a full lunch will be served.About the Speaker
    Dr. Deborah J. Mayhew, internationally recognized consultant, author, speaker and teacher in software and Web usability engineering since 1981. Dr. Mayhew is known as an early pioneer in software and web usability testing and user interface design. Author of many books on usability and UCD.

  • 20 Aug 2008 5:00 PM | Deleted user

    Senior User Experience Researchers and Designers at The MathWorks (multiple positions).

    Come work at a great, stable company where:

    - The development organization understands and supports user centered design

    - User centered design happens on our products, our web site, *and* the internal tools our employees use to do their jobs

    - You can be part of a dynamic team of other usability specialists.

    - The company is profitable, growing, fun, and committed to changing the world with our products

    So what will you do?

    You will be responsible for providing user centered design activities related to several MathWorks product areas. You will work with teams to understand the user centered design needs of their projects and then develop creative solutions for meeting these needs.

    You will make recommendations to team members about what usability methods to use to answer their questions about users and design directions for their projects. You will work closely with the team members to help them develop user profiles and create task lists. You will help them create paper prototypes, and review online prototypes developed by others. If your skills lie in visual and interaction design, you'll take on design projects for your teams.

    You will run usability tests, conduct interviews, organize surveys, and complete any other usability assessments you think are appropriate. You will help the developers' record and interpret the results, and you will be responsible for making sure that the project team understands what users' feedback means. You will help the team decide what to do about feedback, and will provide input for design decisions based on that feedback. You will participate in documenting requirements and functional design specifications.


    - BA or MA in cognitive psychology, human factors, or related field, or equivalent experience

    - 4-8 years as a usability engineer in software development, with direct experience with a variety of usability methods

    - Knowledge of MathWorks products or Perforce a plus

    - Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.

    - Ability to balance needs of a large number of concurrent projects.

    All positions are located in Natick, Massachusetts.

    For more information or to submit your resume, please contact Amy Kidd, Manager of MathWorks Products Usability at


    About The MathWorks:

    Join us in accelerating the pace of discovery, innovation, and learning in engineering and science. At the MathWorks, we cultivate an enjoyable, participatory, and rational environment that nurtures individual growth, appreciates diversity, encourages initiative, values teamwork, shares success, and rewards excellence.

    The MathWorks, creator of MATLAB® and Simulink®, was founded in 1984 and currently employs more than 1,800 people worldwide. The company has been profitable every year since its inception and is privately held.

    Come join us!

  • 16 Aug 2008 5:00 PM | Deleted user

    Using Virtual, Immersive and Interactive Technologies in Research & Practice

    The Carolinas Chapter of ASIS&T (cc:asis&t) is pleased to announce an upcoming workshop Pushing Boundaries in Information Visualization to be held at the Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) in beautiful Chapel Hill, North Carolina on Saturday, September 13, 2008. The focus of this workshop is on current and developing technologies to enable more effective collaboration within professional and research environments.

    1) Showcase some of the innovative uses of technology in terms of virtual and immersive environments for interacting with information

    2) Generate attendee discussion around the use, integration and evaluation of such tools (i.e. how do we evaluate the use of these technologies? how can research improve practice? how can practice inform research, etc.)

    WHEN Saturday, September 13, 2008
    9:00 am – 4:30 pm

    WHERE Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI)
    UNC Campus – ITS Manning
    211 Manning Drive, Chapel Hill, NC 27599

    COST Free for ASIS&T members
    $50 non-members
    (ASIS&T student membership is only $40)

    REGISTER Online at
    Attendance limited to 45
    Payment must be received by Monday, September 8

    PARKING Ram's Head Parking Deck on Ridge Road north of Manning Drive; Dogwood Parking Deck, corner of Manning Drive and Hospital Drive, one block west of ITS Manning

    A number of researchers will demonstrate the ways in which they have been able to take advantage of current technologies in order to manage their collaborate projects and share research data using RENCI's facilities, including its high-tech Social Computing Room, an environment providing a full 360-degree display and allowing virtual, immersive, and interactive engagement for groups. Attendees may also experience haptic environments and multi-user online social environments that offer possibilities for further expanding virtual, immersive, and collaborative work.

    The program will feature a colorful mix of research projects ranging from electrical stimulation of the nervous system with cochlear implant, to scalable visualization of genealogy links, experiential look at the death penalty, visualizing activity on a busy website, and comparing human and yeast cell protein interaction networks. Attendees need not be familiar with the disciplines of these research projects – the program will expose you to the use of immersive and interactive technology across a range of disciplines and then encourage discussion about the possibilities.

    Breakfast, lunch and a delightful reception are included in the program – so please join us for this immersive and engaging program.

    asis&t is the Carolinas Chapter of the American Society for Information Science & Technology Join us on Facebook too

  • 24 Jul 2008 5:00 PM | Deleted user

    I am looking for two small software applications or modules to use in graduate and advanced undergraduate courses. Students will write documentation and online help for the applications and then test them. Of course, I can always look around for freeware or shareware utilities that have minimal or no documentation, but I would prefer to find "real world" applications where students' docs, help, and tests could actually prove valuable to someone. These assignment will occur in October or November. If you have a small piece of code for which you would like user documentation and some testing, please let me know.

    Stan Dicks

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