UPA Publications

User Experience Magazine: Volume 5, Issue 2, 2006

User Experience magazine cover Volume 5, Issue 2, 2006

Volume 5, Issue 2, 2006

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Feature Articles



Radio Frequency Identification: Nearly Invisible, Almost Everywhere
By Thomas G. Holzman

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This article describes the role that user experience professionals can play in advancing public acceptance of revolutionary technologies, using radio frequency identification (RFID) as an example. Although RFID technology has existed for decades, only recently has it become technologically and economically practical for widespread use, presenting exciting opportunities for user experience professionals to help lead its application to everyday tasks. Many laboratories have advanced development projects underway for RFID applications, and some applications, such as RFID for paying tolls and paying at the gas pump, are already publicly available.

Because of their many potential touch points for this technology, retail stores present a particularly rich context for studying how user experience can influence the success of this technology. Examples from retail, including shopper, employee, and organizational perspectives illustrate the many facets of introducing a new technology that must be considered if the technology is to succeed in providing benefits and addressing areas of resistance.

A deep knowledge of users and organizations is required to determine how to set up the technology for success in a particular context of use. This knowledge includes user interface design, but must also include knowledge of user beliefs about the technology (whether founded in fact or myth) as well as user and organizational objectives that must be addressed if the users and purchasing organizations are going to embrace it.

Finally, in addition to their roles in helping determine how the technology will be delivered to users, usability professionals can also help prepare users for its arrival by developing effective messaging and training programs that anticipate user needs and questions and highlight the benefits of the technology.

Additional reading

  • Distinguishing between friendly and enemy aircraft with radio transponders during World War II was the precursor of current RFID technology applications. For more on using technology against friendly fire during wartime, see the Wisconsin Technology Network's October 12, 2005 article Efforts to Avoid ‘Friendly Fire' Spawned Ancestor of Today's RFID.
  • Work toward developing standards has occurred at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Auto-ID Center and the Center's successor organization, the Auto-ID Labs, as well as at an industry-supported organization known as EPCglobal Inc. TM , to which some of the functions of the Auto-ID Center were transferred. The Uniform Code Council and EAN International (the two leading organizations for barcode standards) formed EPCglobal to advance the Electronic Product Code TM (EPC) and its associated standards for uniquely identifying objects with RFID.
  • See “Radio Frequency Identification Device Technology (RFID)” July 2005 white paper from the Institution of Electrical Engineers for information about RFID privacy concerns and some of the false assumptions on which these concerns are based.
  • More on New Songdo City, South Korea.

  • More on the University of Washington's research on helping caregivers monitor elderly individuals.

Communication Gap: Designing an Interface for Chinese Migrant Workers
By Neema Moraveji, Rania Ho, David Huynh, and Leizhong Zhang

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This sketch aims to better understand the process of designing products that fit the Chinese cultural framework, and keep attuned to China-specific design issues by addressing a specific social concern facing modern China .

This project targets migrant working parents living in China's urban centers and proposes a system for them to communicate with their children who remain at home in rural villages. A specific design problem is used as a vehicle to uncover more fundamental and broadly applicable issues of designing for the Chinese. A design sketch of this system is presented, as are the more fundamental issues that our design process uncovered. These issues include difficulties in Chinese character input, interfaces on a Chinese scale, and the Chinese people's sense of privacy.



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Usability Practice in China: An Update HTML page(HTML)
By Zhengjie Liu

Usability Opportunities in China HTML page(HTML)
By Cindy Lu

Usability is still in its infancy in China. However, China has opened up to the world to catch up with the industry trend—making technologies work for people and business.

This article highlights key questions that came from two training sessions on user-centered design (UCD) the author conducted in China. These questions provide a snapshot of current UCD practice in China . The author also discusses opportunities in China for usability professionals in various areas such as employment, consulting, training, etc. In addition, the author discusses some challenges that result from cultural beliefs and background that western consultants have to face, such as limited budget, “Do It Yourself” philosophy, and the importance of credentials.

The purpose of this article is to help western consultants who are interested in the Chinese market to better understand the needs of Chinese companies in integrating and practicing UCD as part of their business processes. The author hopes to provide useful information to western consultants to deal with culture challenges. The author believes that China has opened up to the world and opportunities are there for the global usability community. China can benefit tremendously from the global usability professional community.


Usability Engineering in Hong Kong HTML page(HTML)
By Daniel Szuc and Josephine Wong


Usability Engineering in Japan HTML page(HTML)
By Masaaki Kurosu

In this article, the historical background and the current status of usability activity in Japan are introduced, and the future of usability activity is also discussed.

Additional reading

  • ISO 9241-11 (1998) "Ergonomic Requirements for Office Work with Visual Display Terminals (VDTs) - Guidance on Usability"
  • ISO 13407 (1999) "Human-Centred Design Processes for Interactive Systems"
  • ISO/TR 18529 (2000) "Ergonomics - Ergonomics of Human-System Interaction - Human-Centred Descriptions"
  • Kurosu, M., Itoh, M., and Tokitsu, T. (1999) “User Engineering” (in Japanese) Kyoritsu-shuppan
  • Kurosu, M., Kobayashi, T., Yoshitake, R., Takahashi, H., Urokohara, H., & Sato, D. (2004) "Trends in Usability Research and Activities in Japan " International Journal of HCI
  • Nielsen, J. (1994) "Usability Engineering" Morgan Kaufmann
  • Norman, D.A. (1988) “The Psychology of Everyday Things” Basic Books

Usability in New Zealand HTML page(HTML)
By Sam Ng and Trent Mankelow

Usability is a young industry in New Zealand . For example, the University of Waikato Usability Lab was the first dedicated usability facility in New Zealand, and it was started a scant four years ago.

However, usability is currently riding a wave of popularity. It has grown quickly among design and software vendors as both a service and a product differentiation tool. The number of practitioners, especially practicing consultants, has grown. In addition, large, innovative organizations are starting to invest in usability studies. The “wave” has cumulated with the establishment of a New Zealand chapter of the Usability Professionals' Association (UPA) with three branches in different parts of the country.

This growth is set to continue. In the future we expect to see more companies hiring internal usability consultants and developing strategic, cross-channel usability programs. We expect that most experienced usability professionals will continue to come from overseas, until New Zealand-based education catches up with demand.



Editor's Note
User Experience: Go East, Young Man or Woman
By Aaron Marcus

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Additional reading

What's News
Speck-tacular Computers
By Tema Frank

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More on Speck-tacular Computers


The View from Here
What Kind of Person Would Want to Do Usability?
By Cliff Anderson

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Additional reading

  • For a critique of Myers-Briggs, see Gladwell, Malcolm. September 20, 2004. Personality Plus. The New Yorker.
  • Otto Krueger and Janet Thuesen. 1988. Type Talk: The 16 Personality Types That Determine How We Live, Love, and Work. New York: Dell Publishing.
  • David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates. 1984. Please Understand Me. Del Mar, CA: Prometheus Nemesis Book Company.
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