User Interface Engineering Roadshow Portland

Today I had the pleasure of attending an all day workshop with usability maven Jared Spool. He talked about designing great user experiences and I’ll be thinking about what he said in relation to my projects for work, the whole DCPL and libraries in general.

Once I sort it all out I’ll likely post about it, but I thought I’d put up my (totally unedited) notes so you could see the types of things we talked about.

looking at the bigger picture of designing user experience from an execution standpoint

can’t say “hey everybody, go be innovative” and expect them to do it

studied companies that were creating great experiences and compared to those that weren’t

SanDisk sansa
-they thought it was going to be huge. it is actually very very nice. no one bought it, even though the ipod is technically inferior.


iTunes. [jenny would be squirming] you can’t do anything on the device itself, you must use the PC. $.99 songs. apple turned it into a fashion statement. the “genius” will help you. there are no zune stores. —> the ipod is a complete, and great, experience.

8 years ago they weren’t in the music selling business at all, now they’re selling 1,000,000,000 songs per year.

blockbuster total access online DVD service. how many of you subscribe? 5 netflix? 80% of the room

netflix has kidnapped blockbuster’s business in just a few years. and it is just a website whereas w/ blockbuster you can find a physical store if you want.

netflix says that 85% of new subscribers say an existing subscriber recommended them [this applies to me]

93% of subscribers evangelize Netflix to friends & family [again]

— experience design disasters —

big box retailer loses 20% of revenue after spending $100 million on redesign

employee revolt after firm launches new intranet

!! improved design can lead to a big reduction in page views because people find stuff faster !!

– designers can think of usability issues and come up with correct answers. nondesigners need to test to find the correct answers. this also happens with chicken sexing too. sexers can predict the sex of baby chicks with 95% accuracy even though chicks display no outward signs of gender. you too can be trained to be a chicken sexer but no one knows how to teach it. other areas where this phenomena occurs: estimating baby weight (from midwives), detecting enemy planes in WWII, making sushi (there’s something not quite there when you try to make it yourself. chefs just work next to sushi chefs until they absorb it).

the brain can learn things while the process isn’t open to introspection

in this instance, people learn by being next to people who know what they’re doing [hmm, cross-training in libraries? inter library exchange?] gladwell says it takes about 10,000 hours [!]

ask someone what makes netflix so great. jared has spoken to about 200 and no one has mentioned the IA of the website. they also won’t mention the popups (nor naming ajax). they also won’t mention social networking (people don’t even notice their using social networking) [that’s good]

— the great netflix experience is invisible. bad design is apparent.

[various web foibles]

the guy putting info into the database determines part of the user experience

look at fare explanation screens at united, american, vs southwest [yeah!]. southwest has awesome copy writing.

experience design:
information architecture
usability practices
design process management
copy writing
interaction design
visual design (not just aesthetics, but communicating priority too)
editing & curating (what goes in, what is left out)
also? (enterprise skills)
domain knowledge
business knowledge
social networks
use cases
agile methods

since teams are becoming smaller, they must be multi-disciplinary

FEMA disaster chart. response leads to…disaster!

good experience design is cultural. essential components =
good communications
clear focus on vision (what are you building)
the right people (hiring is the #1 thing that predicts success or failure)
feedback loops
fast iterations [websites, library services]

making fast iterations happen
eliminate major redesigns! [krug] break designs into small chunks
big emphasis on feedback mechanism, collect tons of info
get everyone involved

what would you have to do to make your product the next ipod/netflix of your industry?
-three questions determine whether you will or won’t
1. Can everyone on the team describe the experience of using your design five years from now?
2. In the last six weeks, have you spent more than two hours watching someone use your design?
-best organizations do it weekly
3. In the last six weeks have you rewarded a team member for creating a major design failure?

? from audience: learning from observation. how do you convince a boss to let you observe people for five years?

response: skills vs talents. find people with talents and up their skills.
this is nothing new. apprenticeship.

good experience design is good for employees and customers
-it is necessary for employees to understand everything

## netflix put a call center in hillsboro oregon. how did they choose that location? they determined that the people in hillsboro and surrounding were the friendliest people they could find.
– commitment to UX culture

? from audience: how do you create a culture of UX?
response: first you need to collect people’s current experiences so you understand why it is important. then talk about mistakes openly

? from audience: what format do you use to collect people’s experiences?
response: depends on what type of stuff you need. behaviors? opinions?

############PART TWO

team market maturity
new functionality & technology —> just creating stuff. what you’re creating is new and novel or you’ve locked your users in. [libraries not in this place]

features —> products get sophisticated [libraries beyond this]

experience —> so many features it is overwhelming, must respond. ( google screen vs. altavista, basecamp vs MS project [libraries probably here] [see pdf for UX activities] **customers lean towards competitors with simpler UX**
UX activities = identify essential functionality and experience

commodity —> what you build is part of a larger product (UPS info on amazon, google maps in websites) [sounds good to me]

there are only five things executives care about
increase revenue
decrease expenses [*]
increase new customer base [*]
increase existing customer business [*]
how engaged are you with the brand?
increase shareholder value [* making worth known to communities / decision makers]

primary design decision style
unintended [default in libraries]
self (37 signals, “we’re designing for ourselves”)
genius (based on past experience and research…not one “genius” doing the work)
activity-focused (what is the best way for people to do X)
user focused (experiential issues, creating personas)


1.Can everyone on the team describe the experience of using your design five years from now?

-how do you make one of these statements?

making a vision statement for EXPERIENCE, not the product
your statement should not be able to describe every other product (or even experience)
won’t be exciting to others outside of your company
different from your mission statement
should have measurable items

apple’s 1987 knowledge navigator video [wow, compare to participatory libraries and lankes’ scapes]

what’s in a good vision statement?
lists current experience (if people aren’t aware of it)
insights and innovation comes from studying differences
research not 100% necessary, but having it avoids opinion wars

steps for making a vison
ID the design agents
conduct research
craft personas and scenarios
script envisionment
produce it



the skill of magic!
inspiration came from his son who is a professional magician

illusion = separating the user’s model from the designer’s model
but in design we’re supposed to design for the user, right?
these are not mutually exclusive

complexity fades into the background, simplicity appears in the foreground

–the role of perception–

the role of delight and the kano model
excitement! generators!

delight by whimsicality (fairy doors of ann arbor)
more human, less sterile

delight by attention (the picture of your ipod with its color and its name, flickr home page with relevant info, suggesting towns next to ones they don’t have hotels in)

delight by functionality (providing a great product,,

**must have basic functionality before you can concentrate on delight**

2 thoughts on “User Interface Engineering Roadshow Portland”

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