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I’m afraid we don’t have money for usability!

July 18, 2010

usability problemLast week I heard again what I hadn’t heard for a long while. It comes in different versions. Sometimes it is something like “Huum, you know, usability is important, but we need to focus on different things at the moment”. Other times, “I know usability is core, but we need to focus on development now. Later on, we will spend with usability”. What about, “I’m sure our software developers can have a look at our usability issues”? This post is not to discuss whether usability is important or not. I hope we are all convinced that it is important. What I would like to bring here is my concern about how much we, usability professionals, are prepared to work in situations where usability is not in the budget of a company, which by the way happens everyday, everywhere.

I am about to conclude my professional doctorate in User-System Interaction in The Netherlands. During this almost 2 years, I never had the need to convince anyone about the importance usability. They teach that! Most of the time I was in the university, people there know what they can get from usability activities. However this scenario of the dreams always annoyed me. This is not real! Now I am doing my internship and – for many reasons – usability has its space in my project. This is not real again. When I heard last week someone saying that the budget of a certain project has to be directed to development, sales, marketing and everything else, but usability activities, I thought: “Wow! Here we go back to reality!”. Working in a context where everyone is aware about how important usability is, money is always available, recruitment is done smoothly and time is not a problem is a really boring workplace. In October I will get my brand new degree and I will be back to the market. Maybe the meeting last week was a sign that I am approaching the times where usability has to fight for its space. I look forward to start fighting again! \o/ For the teacher, instructors or anyone who teaches usability, my message is to think about this. Teach people how to deal with situations where usability is not the most important/valued/focused thing, because we all know the value of it, but we also know that we need much more than that to have a product!

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World Usability Day 2010 is coming

July 14, 2010

World Usability Day edition 2010 is approaching. As every year, WUD has a theme that will lead the activities during that day. For this year communications is the theme. WUD 2010 will serve as an impetus to creating greater awareness for designs, products and services that improve and facilitate communications around the world. This year’s events and forums will focus on how products and services impact communications. Programs will examine all products and services used in the communication process including: cellular phones, mobile devices, social media, email, video, and perhaps other exciting technologies that may not have hit the mainstream!

If you never heard about World Usability Day, it was founded in 2005 as an initiative of the UPA to ensure that services and products important to human life are easier to access and simpler to use. Each year, on the second Thursday of November, over 200 events are organized in more than 40 countries around the world to raise awareness for the general public, and to train professionals in the tools and issues central to good usability research, development, and practice.

Let World Usability Day 2010 be your impetus to create greater awareness for designs, products and services that improve the sustainability of our world. Be the one to bring the word to your company and community this year. I strongly recommend you get involved in World Usability Day 2010! I have participated both as an attendant and as an organizer. Both experience were great! If you do not know what is planned to take place in your city, you should have a look at list of events programmed so far. If you do not find your city listed there, this should be your biggest motivation to find people close to you to organize the event in your city.

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DIS’10 here we go!

July 13, 2010


Tomaso Scherini, Toon van Craenendonck, Wenzhu Zou, Maurits Kaptein, and I got our paper accepted at DIS’10. Our paper is entitled Enhancing the Sleeping Quality of Partners Living Apart and describes the design case we carried out last year as part of USI program. I mentioned our design case in a previous post.

DIS’10 takes place in Aarhus (Denmark) between 16-20 August, 2010. We will attend it and I’ll be student volunteer there as well! \o/

You can have a look at the abstract of our paper below.

An increasing number of people report sleeping problems. In the present paper we describe Somnia: a system designed to support remote couples to fall asleep faster and to enhance their sleep quality. Following a user-centered design process, Somnia was designed and evaluated. Qualitative feedback after a two-week user study shows that Somnia succeeds in providing a sense of connectedness between partners when sleeping remotely. This sense of connectedness might lead to a more pleasant sleeping experience. Based on our findings we recommend designers of sleep related technologies to (a) incorporate the social aspects of sleep in their designs and (b) to focus on emotional arguments rather than rational arguments to influence sleeping habits.

In the future I will post our presentation here!

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Change by Design

July 13, 2010

Book: Change by design, by Tim Brown.
Nowadays I am reading Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation, by Tim Brown. He is CEO and president of IDEO. In this book, Tim describes the process that IDEO has been using for years now to help huge companies (e.g. Microsoft, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, and Steelcase) to innovate through design.

Design thinking is the concept underneath the whole book and is the topic that has inspired me recently. I hope you have the opportunity to read it! 😉

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Puma: innovating in your shoes box

April 19, 2010

Puma has just launched a new concept of shoes box. Putting together box and bag in only one product, Puma is giving a really cool example that innovation can happen everywhere. Moreover this is also a really nice example that innovation does not happen overnight. It took 21 months to Yves Béhar, the product designer of this concept, come up with this idea. The result is in the video below. Congratulations to everyone involved in this project!

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Envisioning Your Future in 2020

April 18, 2010

frog design developed a study for Forbes exploring how the world will be in 2020. The result, you will find in this website. And more information about the whole project you can find in frog website. Enjoy this really cool study!

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Usability labs from all over the world

April 11, 2010

Interesting post from Noldus.

Thirty one usability labs from all over the world, all recently built and in active use, take you on a photographic tour and show you how they designed their rooms, what equipment they use, and which software tools are used for data collection and analysis. The usability lab photo gallery covers a wide range of application domains, organizations and technology: from desktop software to mobile applications, from healthcare to military systems, from consumer electronics to office hardware, from focus groups and qualitative testing to physiological measurements and eye tracking, from corporate to educational facilities, from stationary to portable labs. Enjoy the tours!

http://www.noldus.com/labs