• 16 May 2006 5:00 PM | Anonymous
    Forwarded from Lourdes Cueva Chacón: Come join a discussion that explores the benefits and unpacks the mystery behind personas. Personas are a type of user profile that has emerged as a best practice in web and software design, but about which little concrete information is available. What exactly is a persona? When are they useful, and when are they not? How do you create them? Specifically, how do you make sure they're representative of actual users, and not just an exercise in creative writing? And once you have personas, what can you actually do with them? Robert Barlow-Busch from Quarry Integrated Communications will answer these questions by sharing experiences from a variety of client projects conducted over the past 5 years. This talk will be a special presentation for TriUPA and IxDA members and friends since Robert is giving a full-day persona design workshop on June 8th. (Read more details in our next post). In advance of this event, you can read about one of the case studies Robert will discuss and download some example personas from Quarry's website (examples). About Quarry and the presenter: Robert is the Practice Director of Interaction Design at Quarry Integrated Communications, a marketing and design agency. Although its Interaction Design and Usability group is based in Waterloo, Ontario, Quarry has just relocated its US headquarters to Durham and looks forward to building some ties with the professional community in RTP. Robert and Quarry are long-time members of the UPA and frequent presenters at the annual conference and at chapter meetings, speaking on topics such as the basics of usability testing, personas, and how marketing and usability could work more closely together (yes, it's true: they can!). Robert has about 15 years experience across a variety of industries in Canada, the US, and Europe. After a particularly frustrating client meeting in 2001, in which nobody could agree who the customer was, Robert introduced personas to Quarry's design process. The team's work since then caught the attention of Forrester Research, who has identified Quarry as source of expertise in their report Where to Get Help With Persona Projects. Also, look for an invited chapter by Robert in The Persona Lifecycle, the first book to give an in-depth look at the practice of personas. When: Wednesday, June 7th at 6:00pm Where: Lulu Press Inc 800 Aviation Pkwy Suite 300 Morrisville, NC 27560 Map to Event Starting with this event, the coordinators are recommending places for participants to meet before and after the event. Before, in case you need to have some food in order to survive such a long day, and after, in case you want to keep chatting on the topic or just have a drink with your TriUPA fellows. So here our recommendations: Before event: (Map to) Village Deli Morrisville, just 2 blocks from Lulu. Feel free to bring your food to Lulu. After hours venue: (Map to) El Meson Mexican Restaurant
  • 08 May 2006 5:00 PM | Anonymous
    Daniel A. Reed, a world-renowned authority on high-performance computing, will offer a glimpse of 2016 and the wonders (and annoyances) that new technologies are likely to bring over the next decade in a presentation Tuesday, May 30, on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. Computing the Future: Release 2016
  • 06 May 2006 5:00 PM | Anonymous

    I attended CHI 2006 in Montreal from April 24 - 27. CHI is the major conference for HCI research (in the broadest sense, ranging from input and interaction techniques to field studies of complex work situations). It also attracts a large community of practitioners, particularly from the major software and hardware companies. Attendance was estimated at 2,400+, which is up significantly from the past few years, implying a relatively robust tech industry, along with growing interest in HCI and UX. Recruiting was notably robust. Microsoft had so many job postings they needed a 3-ring binder to hold them all. Google, Yahoo, eBay and SAP also had large recruiting presences. Some thoughts from the sessions I attended: The Route to the Sea for User Value This panel, with managers from Oracle, Intuit, World Savings Bank, and Sony/Ericsson, addressed the perennial challenge of integrating effective UX work into product development processes. Jeremy Ashley (Oracle) argued strongly that "we [UX professionals] have to have influence"--we must work with and persuade complementary groups (such as documentation and performance engineering) of UX's importance. More broadly, we must assume accountability for UX, "no matter what." Blaming other groups for not accepting the UX perspective is self-defeating. Perhaps the best approach, said Janice Rohn (World Savings Bank), is to "start in the boardroom" by understanding executives' goals. The challenge is that while "nobody in the corporate world says usability isn't important, they don't understand what it entails." The range and depth of work required to create great user experiences is still widely unappreciated. UX practitioners need to build relationships with engineering and product development executives to help bridge this gap. Ultimately, the goal is to make UX practices ubiquitous, so that "it's not just UX saying it's important to improve the navigation, it's the business saying it's important to improve the navigation." Until we reach that product-development utopia, said Lisa Anderson (Intuit) it's critical to "follow through on your passions." Don't give up on what you believe is right for users, despite the obstacles. Human-Information Interaction This panel addressed the provocative question of whether studying human information interaction (AKA behavior) should be separate from (but complementary to) HCI. Peter Pirolli and Stu Card made strong arguments for focusing on deeper theoretical issues such as what information structures best support people's cognitive functions, and how to represent information in large "information landscapes." Research needs to address these fundamental issues instead of just developing and testing new types of interfaces or interaction styles. (So, if anything, HCI should be a subset of HII). Tagging An example of HII research might be tagging and social bookmarking practices. A large panel featuring Josh Schacter of and George Furnas of Michigan debated the purposes and uses of tags. Definitions of "tag" included: "annotations," "loose associations," "rich ways of linking disparate objects" and "nicknames for groups of things." While many interesting ideas were proposed (including the idea that tags are the harbinger of widespread growth of communities around metadata), I had the sense that our understanding of how tags are used is still limited. Discussion focused on recall (AKA refindability) and "distribution" (social sharing of tagged information). But answers are missing to the broad questions, What are tags used for? and Are tagging systems effective? So, developing a deep understanding of tagging practices and what underlying information problems these practices are addressing could be a significant contribution to "HII." This contribution, in turn, would support the develop of new interfaces for the creation and use of tags. Some recommended readings:


  • 03 Apr 2006 5:00 PM | Anonymous
    I attended the ASIS&T IA Summit in Vancouver from March 24th - 27th. The Summit is a playground for IA's of all stripes, from metadata specialists to management consultants. It was a lot of fun, and many interesting ideas were discussed in the three parallel sessions and in the hallways. Here are some of the thoughts that stuck with me...
    THE CHANGING NATURE OF AUTHORITY.David Weinberger's keynote asked "What's up with knowledge?" He took a (humorous) sledgehammer to the foundations of information and library science, including the infamous DIKW (data - information - knowledge - wisdom) model. In his view, DIKW gets causality backwards--one needs knowledge and wisdom to get useful information, not the other way around. At the same time, he argued, traditional sources (the New York Times serving as poster boy) favor authority over transparency, whereas the new open, collaboratively-created sources (Wikipedia, standing in for a host of "social media" sites like Digg,, and the blogosphere as a whole) favor transparency. In particular, Wikipedia represents "publicly negotiated knowledge" as opposed to the private (elite) construction of knowledge by mass media instiutions and traditional publishers.
    There is a dramatic change building: the ability of institutions to impose authority through carefully-constructed representations is dissipating, soon to disappear entirely. Peter Morville noted in the Q&A that large corporate and government sites often seek to express authority through IA. But next-generation IA is radically decentralized, incorporating many points of view expressed through blogs, tags, and so forth, thereby pushing authority to the edge of the network. As a result, IA's need to expand their scope to consider the broad, socio-cultural impact of their design work.
    As Weinberger noted, Dewey thought he was doing God's work through classification, representing one true view of the world. The current landscape of IA, on the other hand, is distinctly postmodern, recognizing many socially-structured views. Despite many efforts to make IA into a postivist, quantified science, it appears the future may be resoutely interpretivist--understanding how the organization and representation of information intertwines with culture.
    At the end of the conference, a "5-minute madness" session allowed anyone to speak their mind. One speaker noted the need to explore how and why information forms have evolved over time. Perhaps such work will helps us understand how information forms (from books to Web 2.0) transmit and influence culture and authority.
    IA AND RESEARCH.The idea of turning IA into science isn't dead, of course. The Summit featured a whole double-length panel on the topic of IA and research. Don Turnbull identified four areas that could be considered central to IA research: classification, information-seeking behavior, metadata and semantics, and design methods. He proposed creating an open-access Journal of Information Architecture. Keith Instone argued for generating research questions from practice and creating partnerships between IA's and researchers. Peter Morville and Nancy Kaplan argue for "going beyond findability" to address all aspects of information interaction.
    It is this last point that resonated for me. Research that informs IA practice is being conducted all the time, it just goes by many different names: information behavior, search strategies, hypertext, credibility and persuasion, personal information management, information literacy, and of course the all-encompassing "HCI." In my view, IA practice should seek to integrate (and mediate among) different methods (information science, usability, design research, human factors, HCI, management, marketing, etc.). IA research should integrate (and mediate) different disciplines (information science, HCI, communications, business, behavioral and social science).
    A great example of this challenge was suggested by Donna Maurer's presentation on Lakoff for IA's. Lakoff distinguishes between the classical view of categories ("abstract containers with strict borders") and the modern psychological view based on prototypes and family resemblance (a robin is a better example of a bird than a penguin), as developed by Rosch and revised by Medin and others. Cognitive science research is rigorous. Some of the results are fascinating. But how can it be applied to the design problem--making complex, large-scale information spaces accessible and useful--that IA's grapple with? For example, what are the implications of naive categorization theory for information-seeking behavior and personal information management? How would this connection inform IA practice? I believe integrating and applying social and behavioral science results to IA problems could reinvigorate both IA practice and social science research.
  • 30 Mar 2006 5:00 PM | Anonymous
    I gave a talk at the recent IA Summit in Vancouver entitled "Facets are fundamental: rethinking information architecture frameworks." My talk notes and slides are now available for anyone interested. Update: A review of my talk has been posted at Boxes and Arrows. -Abe
  • 20 Mar 2006 5:00 PM | Anonymous

    "Do you really want to know what I think?" We assured her we did and were met with an outpouring of frustration related to the new design. While she immediately agreed it was better for consumers, she complained that the bottle was designed in a way that made her job significantly harder, even claiming it took her twice the time to fulfill prescriptions. More specficially, she complained about the inset area in which the label needed to be applied. If not applied just right, it was impossible to insert the info card. That led her to then complain about the card itself. She noted that it took significant time to make as they needed to be folded "just right" and could be easily ruined. By her reaction, it seemed clear that no one had ever asked her what she thought about this tool which she used more than any other.
    An interesting counterpoint to all the fuss over Target's pill bottle design argues that a key user group--pharmacists--were overlooked.


  • 20 Mar 2006 5:00 PM | Anonymous

    Date: Tuesday, March 28th 2006

    Time: 6:00 PM

    Address: Johnny Carino’s in Southpoint

    Ready for the first UX Cocktail Hour sponsored by the TriUPA? It's here! Same great people gabbing about UX issues over dinner and drinks!

    Hope to see you there; please RSVP if you can make it.

  • 20 Mar 2006 5:00 PM | Anonymous
    Entrepreneurs Only Workshop: How to Build a Product People Will Buy
    Have lunch with Barry Beith of HumanCentric Technologies and Shimon Shmueli of Touch360, the founders of two design firms that are based in the Research Triangle. They'll share their perspectives on building products that sell and how entrepreneurs with a limited budget can utilize good design techniques without spending a fortune.
  • 23 Feb 2006 5:00 PM | Anonymous

    We met Wednesday, 2/22 at 6pm in the offices of Motricity. Rick Cecil, interim vice-president of the Triangle UPA chapter convened the meeting and introduced the elections.

    Four officers ran unopposed and were elected without dissent:

    • Rick Cecil (Motricity): President
      Responsibilities: overall direction; project management; events.
    • Abe Crystal (SILS): Vice President
      Responsibilities: Website and blog.
    • Janey Barnes (user-view): Treasurer
      Responsibilities: membership and financial management; incorporation.
    • Gershom Rogers (Cisco/SILS): Secretary
      Responsibilities: mentoring program.

    Our fearless leader, and newly installed president, Rick, then provided an overview of the chapter's goals and initiatives.

    The chapter will focus on building and supporting the local community of practitioners in these disciplines:

    • Usability Testing
    • User Research
    • Interaction Design
    • Information Architecture

    Specific initiatives will include:

    • Events planning. The core activity of the chapter is holding great events to bring people in the community together, and disseminate information and practices related to user experience work. Events may include:
    • Connecting people.
    • Recruiting more members and volunteers, and recognizing volunteers for their hard work.
    • Making 1:1 connections between professional peers.
    • Setting up mentoring relationships between professionals and students.
    • Informing the community. Building a great Website and blog to keep our members up-to-date, and reach out to new members.
    • Public relations. Getting the word out on user experience and its importance.
    • Cross-organization collaboration. Working with related organizations across the Triangle, e.g., CED.

    We welcome your feedback and participation as we continue to build the chapter and our community. Please comment on this post, or get in touch with any of the officers, with your questions and comments.


  • 17 Feb 2006 5:00 PM | Anonymous

    The TriUPA Planning Committee meeting is coming up next week on 2/22 @ 6PM @ Motricity.

    If you attended the meeting last Tuesday, you'll remember that I announced we would have online elections. Unfortunately, we're not going to be able to hold online elections. For various reasons, we need to incorporate the local chapter and can't collect dues until we have completed that process. However, we are going to proceed with elections on 2/22 so that we can capitalize on the momentum we've generated in the past couple of weeks.

    If you're interested in running or know someone who would be a good candidate, please let me know. The deadline for nominations is 2/21. (Available offices are President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary.) In addition to having the election, we're going to discuss our initiatives for the remainder of 2006, including

    • Event planning and organization
    • World Usability Day Planning Committee
    • Web site and blog
    • Volunteer Recruitment (Regional Ambassador program)
    • Cross-organization collaboration

    If you are interested in helping out on any of these initiatives, come on out to the meeting next Tuesday or email me. We appreciate all the help we can get!

    Hope to see you there!


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