UXPA Publications

User Experience Magazine: Volume 10, Issue 1, 2011

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Volume 10, Issue 1, 2011

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Featured Articles



Featured Articles: Children and Technology

MESS Days: Working with Children to Design and Deliver Worthwhile Mobile Experiences

By Janet C. Read

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In the Child Computer Interaction group at the University of Central Lancashire, Dr. Janet C. Read and colleagues conduct child-friendly user-centered design with entire school classes of children. The researchers are very aware of the tendency of children to be enthusiastic even about products they would not use, so they have developed highly interactive methods of eliciting requirements. Using techniques from theater and educational practices, they harness the energy and creativity of the children to capture ideas and reviews in innovative ways. This article discusses the techniques and key learnings from a recent project where the children helped envision, sketch, and protoype a mobile music application. The article concludes with a process which will help other design teams ensure success when designing with children.


Designing for Children: Supporting Positive Youth Development through Social Media

By Marina U. Bers

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How do we design digital spaces that support the positive development of children and teenagers? What are both the design elements of the technologies and the developmental and learning needs of the children? This article provides a model for guiding our designs by following 12 C’s:

  • Content creation to develop Competence
  • Creativity to build Confidence
  • Collaboration to foster Connection
  • Communication to support Caring
  • Community-building to promote Contribution
  • Choices of conduct to develop Character

In a digital era in which technology plays a role in most aspects of a child’s life, having competence and confidence to use computers for learning might be a necessary step, but not a goal in itself. Developing character traits that will serve children to use technology in a safe way to communicate and connect with others, and providing opportunities for children to make a better world through the use of their computational skills and new ways of thinking, is just as important.


Testing by Minors: Risk Prevention for UX Pros

By Elizabeth Brown

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This article provides a quick summary of the most important legal topics, which are important to know when children become usability participants – “minor” defined, informed consent, medical risks, offensive material, promotional uses, “reasonable” process, physical contact, parental access, recruiting from schools, damages, and payment.


You need an Outlet and a Browser: How Children Understand and Use the Internet

By Cynthia Cortez Kamishlian and Bill Albert

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Children are one of the largest groups on the Web today, with more than 68 million American teens online in 2009. Adults often assume that children are "naturals" at using the web. However, research reveals the opposite: children do not understand what the Internet is and are likely to believe everything they read online. When children search for information, they think the topmost links returned by a search engine are the most relevant, and are confused by online advertising and sponsored links. This article shares findings from a qualitative, exploratory study, combined with research findings of other researchers, to provide insights into the frustrations that young people encounter when using the Web.


Looking Closely at e-Learning: Vision Research Reveals Ways to Improve Children’s Experiences

By Rina Doherty

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Rina Doherty, a senior human factors engineer with one of Intel’s user experience groups, introduces the pioneering studies being conducted on children’s vision and computer display viewing. Speaking both as a user experience researcher and as a concerned parent, she weighs the visual comfort issues associated with children’s increased viewing of computer display screens against the benefits of e-learning.


The Story Behind the One Laptop per Child PC: An Interview with Yves Béhar

Interview conducted by Cynthia Cortez Kamishlian 

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Yves Béhar, the designer of the One Laptop per Child personal computer, in an interview with UX Magazine, talks about the benefits of working on a device built with a specific user in mind, the challenges of designing in the computer space, and the rewards of helping to create a product that children in developing nations will use to bring their learning home with them when they leave the classroom. His challenges included designing a $100 laptop that is not considered a lower-grade technology, but that will be welcomed by children and recognized as having been designed specificallyfor their needs. More than two million computers later, students are using the laptops in their classrooms and in their homes in countries such as Nigeria and Uruguay.


Designing for Children with ADHD: The Search for Guidelines for Non-Experts

By Lorna McKnight

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One of the fundamental principles of Human-Computer Interaction is to know your users. When designing for a particular user group, software designers are expected to take into account the needs and desires of that group, and produce software with appropriate usability and functionality. However, users within any group will be varied, and designers can often be unaware of the specific needs of minorities within these groups. What happens when we are asked to design for a group we are unfamiliar with? This article discusses the discovery process of designing for a condition such as ADHD without expert knowledge of the users affected, and suggests 15 guidelines that arose from this exploration.


Kidsteam: Co-designing Children’s Technologies with Children

By Greg Walsh

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Designing technologies for children takes more than making buttons bigger and using cute characters and wild colors. It takes an insight that adults don't have because they're not children in today's world. This problem is being addressed at Kidsteam, the intergenerational design group at the University of Maryland's Human-Computer Interaction Lab. At Kidsteam, adults and children work together to design new technologies for children through techniques like low-tech prototyping with arts and craft supplies and storyboarding with magic markers. For fourteen years, Kidsteam has been collaborating with real-world partners with the goal of giving a voice to children in the design process. We are currently building new tools to enable children and adults from around the world to participate in the design process online.


Keep It Simple. At First. Designing Game-Based Tools for Youth

By Sarah Chu and Constance Steinkuehler

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The video game industry has gained tremendous momentum through the past decade, during which games like Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft (WoW) have celebrated much financial success. WoW’s player base sits at 11.5 million subscribers, ranging from children to seniors worldwide. Numerous design strategies have been employed by Blizzard to achieve such broad appeal to an expanded audience of both individuals with vast gaming experience and those with little to none. To highlight the strategies used to provide an optimal user experience, this article offers four design heuristics drawn from a research study we conducted with adolescent boys who play WoW:

  • Keep the interface simple at first.
  • Introduce information and functions as users need them.
  • Minimize the amount of written information.
  • Allow for interface customization.

The heuristics described in this article are relevant for not only the design of video games like WoW, but can be more broadly considered in designing other games and technologies as well.



Editor’s Note: Combining Children, Technology, and Usability

By Cynthia Cortez Kamishlian

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What’s News: The New Reality – Coming Soon

By Dianne Ludwig
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The View from Here: Designing Technologies for Marginalized Children

By Juan Pablo Hourcade, Natasha Bullock-Rest, and Heidi Schelhowe

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Book Review: UX Storytelling

By Aaron Marcus

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