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The UX Book: Process and Guidelines for Ensuring a Quality User Experience aims to help readers learn how to create and refine interaction designs that ensure a quality user experience (UX). The book seeks to expand the concept of traditional usability to a broader notion of user experience; to provide a hands-on, practical guide to best practices and established principles in a UX lifecycle; and to describe a pragmatic process for managing the overall development effort.
The book provides an iterative and evaluation-centered UX lifecycle template, called the Wheel, for interaction design. Key concepts discussed include contextual inquiry and analysis; extracting interaction design requirements; constructing design-informing models; design production; UX goals, metrics, and targets; prototyping; UX evaluation; the interaction cycle and the user action framework; and UX design guidelines.
This book will be useful to anyone interested in learning more about creating interaction designs to ensure a quality user experience. These include interaction designers, graphic designers, usability analysts, software engineers, programmers, systems analysts, software quality-assurance specialists, human factors engineers, cognitive psychologists, cosmic psychics, trainers, technical writers, documentation specialists, marketing personnel, and project managers.
A very broad approach to user experience through its components—usability, usefulness, and emotional impact with special attention to lightweight methods such as rapid UX evaluation techniques and an agile UX development process
Universal applicability of processes, principles, and guidelines—not just for GUIs and the Web, but for all kinds of interaction and devices: embodied interaction, mobile devices, ATMs, refrigerators, and elevator controls, and even highway signage
Extensive design guidelines applied in the context of the various kinds of affordances necessary to support all aspects of interaction
Real-world stories and contributions from accomplished UX practitioners
A practical guide to best practices and established principles in UX
A lifecycle template that can be instantiated and tailored to a given project, for a given type of system development, on a given budget
"The book is brimming with advanced knowledge for perfecting written communication in our mobile digital age… If you write anything at all (you send emails, don’t you?), you need to grab a copy of Letting Go of the Words and keep it close at hand…This book has joined my writer’s bookshelf as a valued aid I refer to every day."—TechWhirl.com, January 21, 2014
Rex Hartson is a pioneer researcher, teacher, and practitioner-consultant in HCI and UX. He is the founding faculty member of HCI (in 1979) in the Department of Computer Science at Virginia Tech. With Deborah Hix, he was co-author of one of the first books to emphasize the usability engineering process, Developing user interfaces: Ensuring usability through product & process. Hartson has been principle investigator or co-PI at Virginia Tech on a large number of research grants and has published many journal articles, conference papers, and book chapters. He has presented many tutorials, invited lectures, workshops, seminars, and international talks. He was editor or co-editor for Advances in Human-Computer Interaction, Volumes 1-4, Ablex Publishing Co., Norwood, NJ. His HCI practice is grounded in over 30 years of consulting and user experience engineering training for dozens of clients in business, industry, government, and the military.
Pardha S. Pyla is a Senior User Experience Specialist and Interaction Design Team Lead at Bloomberg LP. Before that he was a researcher and a UX consultant. As an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Computer Science at Virginia Tech he worked on user experience methodologies and taught graduate and undergraduate courses in HCI and Software Engineering. He is a pioneer researcher in the area of bridging the gaps between software engineering and UX engineering lifecycle processes.
Fine art and pizza delivery, what we do falls neatly in between. – David Letterman
After reading this chapter, you will:
1. Recognize the pervasiveness of computing in our lives
2. Be cognizant of the changing nature of computing and interaction and the need to design for it
3. Understand the traditional concept of usability and its roots
4. Have a working definition of user experience, what it is and is not
5. Understand the components of user experience, especially emotional impact
6. Recognize the importance of articulating a business case for user experience
1.1 UBIQUITOUS INTERACTION
1.1.1 Desktops, Graphical User Interfaces, and the Web Are Still Here and Growing
The "old-fashioned" desktop, laptop, and network-based computing systems are alive and well and seem to be everywhere, an expanding presence in our lives. And domain-complex systems are still the bread and butter of many business, industry, and government operations. Most businesses are, sometimes precariously, dependent on these well-established kinds of computing. Web addresses are commonplace in advertisements on television and in magazines. The foreseeable future is still full of tasks associated with "doing computing," for example, word processing, database management, storing and retrieving information, spreadsheet management. Although it is exciting to think about all the new computing systems and interaction styles, we will need to use processes for creating and refining basic computing applications and interaction styles for years to come.
1.1.2 The Changing Concept of Computing
That said, computing has now gone well beyond desktop and laptop computers, well beyond graphical user interfaces and the Web; computing has become far more ubiquitous (Weiser, 1991). Computer systems are being worn by people and embedded within appliances, homes, offices, stereos and entertainment systems, vehicles, and roads. Computation and interaction are also finding their way into walls, furniture, and objects we carry (briefcases, purses, wallets, wrist watches, PDAs, cellphones). In the 2Wear project (Lalis, Karypidis, & Savidis, 2005), mobile computing elements are combined in different ways by short-distance wireless communication so that system behavior and functionality adapt to different user devices and different usage locations. The eGadget project (Kameas & Mavrommati, 2005) similarly features self-reconfiguring artifacts, each with its own sensing, processing, and communication abilities.
Sometimes, when these devices can be strapped on one's wrist or in some way attached to a person's clothing, for example, embedded in a shoe, they are called wearable computers. In a project at MIT, volunteer soldiers were instrumented with sensors that could be worn as part of their clothing, to monitor heart rate, body temperature, and other parameters, to detect the onset of hypothermia (Zieniewicz et al., 2002).
"Smart-its" (Gellersen, 2005) are embedded devices containing microprocessors, sensors, actuators, and wireless communication to offer additional functionality to everyday physical world artifacts that we all "interact" with as we use them in familiar human activities. A simple example is a set of car keys that help us track them so we can find them if they are lost.
Another example of embedding computing artifacts involves uniquely tagging everyday objects such as milk and groceries using inexpensive machine-readable identifiers. It is then possible to detect changes in those artifacts automatically. For example, using this technology it is possible to remotely poll a refrigerator using a mobile phone to determine what items need to be picked up from the grocery store on the way home (Ye & Qiu, 2003). In a project at MIT that is exactly what happened, or at least was envisioned: shoes were instrumented so that, as the wearer gets the milk out for breakfast in the morning, sensors note that the milk is getting low. Approaching the grocery store on the way home, the system speaks via a tiny earphone, reminding of the need to pick up some milk (Schmandt, 1995).
Most of the user–computer interaction attendant to this ubiquitous computing in everyday contexts is taking place without keyboards, mice, or monitors. As Cooper(2004) says, you do not need a traditional user interface to have interaction.
Practical applications in business already reveal the almost unlimited potential for commercial application. Gershman and Fano (2005) cite an example of a smart railcar that can keep track of and report on its own location, state of repair, whether it is loaded or empty, and its routing, billing, and security status (including aspects affecting homeland security). Imagine the promise this shows for improved efficiency and cost savings over the mostly manual and error-prone methods currently used to keep track of railroad cars.
Proof-of-concept applications in research labs are making possible what was science fiction only a few years ago. Work at the MIT Media Lab (Paradiso, 2005), based on the earlier "Smart Matter" initiative at Xerox PARC, employs sensate media (Paradiso, Lifton, & Broxton, 2004) arranged as surfaces tiled with dense sensor networks, in the manner of biological skin, containing multi modal receptors and sensors. The goal is to use this kind of embedded and distributed computing to emulate living, sensitive tissue in applications such as robotics, telemedicine, and prosthetics. Their Tribble (Tactile Reactive Interface Built By Linked Elements) is an interesting testbed using a spherical structure of these nodes that can sense pressure, temperature, sound, illumination, and tactile stimulations and can respond with sound, vibration, and light.
More and more applications that were in research labs are now moving into commercial adoption. For example, robots in more specialized applications than just housecleaning or babysitting are gaining in numbers (Scholtz, 2005). There are robotic applications for healthcare rehabilitation, including systems to encourage severely disabled children to interact with their environment (Lathan, Brisben, & Safos, 2005), robotic products to assist the elderly (Forlizzi, 2005), robots as laboratory hosts and museum docents (Sidner & Lee, 2005), robot devices for urban search and rescue (Murphy, 2005), and, of course, robotic rover vehicles for unmanned space missions (Hamner et al., 2005).
1.1.3 The Changing Concept of Interaction
Sitting in front of a desktop or laptop usually conveys a feeling of "doing computing" to users. Users are aware of interacting with a computer and interaction is purposeful: for exchanging information, for getting work done, for learning, for play or entertainment, or just for exploring.
When we drive a car we are using the car's built-in computer and maybe even a GPS, but we do not think of ourselves as "doing computing." Tscheligi (2005) paraphrases Mark Weiser: "the world is not a desktop." Perhaps the most notable and most recognizable (by the public) example of interaction away from the desktop is seen in mobile communications. With an obviously enormous market potential, mobile communications are perhaps the fastest growing area of ubiquitous computing with personal devices and also represent one of the most intense areas of designing for a quality user experience (Clubb, 2007; Kangas & Kinnunen, 2005; Macdonald, 2004; Venkatesh, Ramesh, & Massey, 2003).
As an aside, it is interesting that even the way these devices are presented to the public reveals underlying attitudes and perspectives with respect to user-centeredness. For example, among the synonyms for the device, "cellphone" refers to their current implementation technology, while "mobile phone" refers to a user capability.
Interaction, however, is doing more than just reappearing in different devices such as we see in Web access via mobile phone. Weiser (1991) said "... the most profound technologies are those that disappear." Russell, Streitz, and Winograd (2005) also talk about the disappearing computer—not computers that are departing or ceasing to exist, but disappearing in the sense of becoming unobtrusive and unremarkable. They use the example of electric motors, which are part of many machines we use daily, yet we almost never think about electric motors per se. They talk about "making computers disappear into the walls and interstices of our living and working spaces."
When this happens, it is sometimes called "ambient intelligence," the goal of considerable research and development aimed at the home living environment. In the HomeLab of Philips Research in the Netherlands (Markopoulos et al., 2005), researchers believe "that ambient intelligence technology will mediate, permeate, and become an inseparable common of our everyday social interactions at work or at leisure."
In these embedded systems, of course, the computer only seems to disappear. The computer is still there somewhere and in some form, and the challenge is to design the interaction so that the computer remains invisible or unobtrusive and interaction appears to be with the artifacts, such as the walls, directly. So, with embedded computing, certainly the need for a quality user experience does not disappear. Imagine embedded computing with a design that leads to poor usability; users will be clueless and will not have even the familiar menus and icons to find their way!
Even interaction via olfactory senses, that is, aromatic output is suggested for human–computer interaction (HCI)(Kaye, 2004), based on the claim that the sense of smell, well used in ordinary daily life, is a human sense underused in HCI.
So far, our changing concepts of interaction have involved at least some kind of computation element, even if it is embedded electronic devices that do very specialized computation. Given the many different definitions of "interaction" in the HCI literature, we turned to the English definition of the word: mutual or reciprocal action, effect, or influence, as adapted from Dictionary.com. So, interaction involves an exchange, but is definitely not limited to computer systems.
In the realm of user experience, this concept of mutual effect implies that interaction must be considered within a context or environment shared between system and user. User input, if accepted by the system, causes a change in the internal system state and both user and system can cause changes in the external world, for example, move a mechanical part or adjust another system.
The user's part of interaction is often expressed through explicit user actions, used to direct the interaction toward a goal. A user-related input to a system in his or her environment can also be extracted or sensed by the environment, without a deliberate or conscious action by the user. For example, a "smart wall," a wall with ambient intelligence, can proactively extract inputs it needs from a user by sensing the user's presence and identifying the user with something like radio-frequency identification technology instead of just responding to a user's input actions. It is still user–system interaction, only the system is controlling the inputs. Here the dictionary definition given earlier, relating technology to an effect or influence, definitely makes sense, with "action" being only part of that definition.
The system can also extract other inputs, absent any users, by sensing the min the state of its own environment, for example, a high-temperature warning sensor. It may then act to change its own internal state and, possibly, its external environment, for example, to adjust the temperature lower, without involving a user. This kind of automated system operation probably does not come under the aegis of human–machine interaction, although such a system would surely also involve human interaction for start-up, setting parameters, and other overall controls.
Are you a student aspiring to be a practitioner and a practitioner aspiring to do better? If you are, then this book is for you! Authors Rex Hartson and Pardha Pyla, have done an outstanding job of writing a book that can be used to create and refine interaction designs that ensure a quality user experience. Hartson and Pyla, begin by covering the traditional concept of usability and its roots. In addition, the authors describe the iterative, evaluation-centered UX lifecycle template and the whole interaction design process. Next, they show you how to prepare to undertake user research activities. The authors then, show you how to synthesize and manage work activity notes from raw contextual data. They continue by discussing how to extract interaction design requirements within the activity of understanding user work and needs. In addition, the authors show you how to construct design-informing models as the second span to bridge the gap between analysis and design. The authors then show you how to design a new- work practice and system. Then, they show you how to create conceptual designs from ecological, interaction, and emotional perspectives. In addition, the authors show you how to use requirements to drive design. Next, they establish operational targets for user experience to assess the level of success in your designs so that you know when you can move on to the next iteration. The authors then, show you how to make effective paper prototypes. They continue by showing you the strengths and weaknesses of various data collection techniques, such as critical incident identification, thinking aloud and questionnaires. In addition, the authors show you how to use questionnaires as a rapid UX evaluation method. Next, they discuss rigorous empirical UX evaluation methods, of which lab-based testing is the archetype example. The authors then show you how to run a lab-based evaluation: A step of rigorous UX evaluation. Then, they show you how to analyze data collected during an evaluation. Next, the reporting described by the authors is largely aimed at rigorous empirical methods, but much applies as well to rapid methods. They then show you how to select suitable UX evaluation methods. The authors continue by showing you how to recognize the drawbacks of agile SE methods from the UX perspective. In addition, they show you how to identify false affordances and how to avoid them in UX design. The authors then show you the stages of user actions within the Interaction Cycle. They continue by describing the difficulties in using and interpreting UX design guidelines. In addition, the authors show you how communication, coordination, and other factors form the foundation for success in SE-UX connections. Finally, they show you how to be a smart UX practitioner. This most excellent book takes a practical, applied, hans-on approach, based on the application of established and emerging practices, principles, and proven methods to ensure a quality user experience. Perhaps more importantly, the heart of this book is an iterative and evaluation-centered UX lifecycle template, called the Wheel, for interaction design.
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