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Resources: UPA 2004 Idea Markets

Building a Usability Repository: Share your Wish List

Activator: Carol J. Smith, User Experience, Accenture; Joi L. Roberts, Consumer Experience Design, Motorola, Inc.; Jamie Still, Independent Consultant

Our group's overall impressions of this Idea Market were good. We had some very interesting conversations with the participants and some common themes came out of it. Some of the references were completely unrelated to usability (Sci-Fi and War books) though aspects of them were completely applicable to the work we do. The discussion did follow our plan, though we were unable to collect all the information that we set out to due to time constraints. Most questions worked well for participants, but when they didn’t they were unafraid of throwing them back at us (such as “if you were stranded on a desert island what resource would you want”).

Topics of ROI/Risk Management, and the Cross Pollination of Books and Organizations were stressed. Participants desired tools to be developed such as a prototyping tool (with more functionality than Canvas), a Website for a Usability Community Idea Exchange, and a short book on Do It Yourself/Quickstart-style to Usability. Standards such as Patterns were also discussed.

1. What’s missing from your library? (i.e. What’s your wish list?)
2. What tool or product do you wish someone had/would create to make your life as a practitioner easier and more effective?
3. What approach do you use to help you document UI requirements of specification documents?
4. What ROI methods have you used in justifying expenses for usability?
5. Besides using an agency, what recruiting methods do you/have you used for user testing? Have focus groups been used successfully?
6. What communities do you belong to?
7. What websites are good resources?
8. What type of organization do you have the most trouble communicating your usability goals/needs/ideas with?
9. Where do you perform usability testing (lab, conference room, cubicle, etc.)?
10. What tools do you use to log, organize and prioritize usability open issues?

Wish List:

1. Resources (Books/Articles)

  • Medical - Applicable to other Industries like usability
    • Medical Management of Networks
  • Usability in the Real World for Newbies
  • Examples of Project you Knew (start to finish – artifacts, mistakes, etc.)
  • Less focused on the Web and more on Product
  • Software Components that can be used that support usability (code snippets)
  • Do It Yourself (DIY) Books
    • Practical
    • “Do it Now”
    • Krug’s Book is an Exampl
    • Inspiring not scar
    • Evangelize the industry
    • About a half inch thick
  • If you have only one Resource developed, what would it be?
  • A UX Community Resource – sharing ideas and information – Features would be:
    • Online
    • People
    • Candid

2. Tools

  • Tool to capture categorize data (a repository that is searchable, indexable and available project wide).
  • Tool needed to capture legal implications – preparation for count cases.
  • OmniGraffle Pro for PC
  • Program that shows results for Card Sorting
  • Program that Combined the Functionality of:
    • Canvas
    • Sketchup
  • Good and Easy Lo-Fi Prototyping Tool
    • Purpose: to provide illustration for describing interaction design
    • Quick and Easy
    • Wireframe to decent pictures
    • Interface Elements Available
    • MS PowerPoint and Drawing Tools are too cumbersome/time intensive
  • Observation Tool:
    • Generic Severity Tool – related to non-usability (functionality)
    • Ease of Fixing Problem
    • Immediately or not and Severity
  • Matrix with Easy and Important Bugs First
  • Heuristics for existing product redesign situations

3. Standard set of guidelines for internal apps (searchable, indexable):

  • Best Practices
  • Widgets
  • Style Guide
  • Solutions Patterns
  • Corporate Brand Strategy

4. If your app were a living organism, how would a doctor know how to fix it?

  • History taking paradigms
  • ICU displays
  • Charting
  • How do they apply
  • Learning from errors
  • All of these are a resource for designers to understand domain space – procedural

5. ROI Topics – better stated as Risk Management?
Understand the needs of the audience for your ROI pitch
Security and Insurance issues? Talk to insurance companies to understand their issues

  • Risk management – cost of an accident
  • Minimize churn
  • Competitive Analysis / Intelligence
  • Cost Avoidance/Savings with Usability
  • What has this usability success saved us?
  • What has this usability bug/mistake cost us?
    • Wasted Development
    • Lost income
    • Duplicated effort

6. ROI Needs

  • ROI writings on internal apps (ie. Intranets, etc.) (Deb Mayhew)
  • But what about ROI for your company to engage usability/UCD in Development process?
  • Softer measures - user would be “angry”
  • Make sure #’s references aren’t Marketing hype (appropriate)

Use Now:

1. Resources (Books/Articles/Websites):


  • Five Patients: The Hospital Explained (Michael Crichton)
    • Chapter: How Physicians communicate with each other
    • Microsoft Guidelines Book (updated for most recent releases)
    • Java Guidelines Book (updated for most recent releases)
    • Psychology of Computer Programming (Weinberg)
    • Mythical Man Month (Frank Brooks)
  • Science Fiction
    • Ender’s Game (Stuart Card)
    • Neal Stephenson (various books - http://www.nealstephenson.com
  • How Buildings Learn (Steward Brand)
  • The Tipping Point (Malcolm Gladwell
  • Why We Buy: The Science Of Shopping (Paco Underhill)
  • Lessons Learned (War) and Real Time Training
    • Machiavelli (various books)
    • Every War Must End (Fred Ikle)
    • Sun Tzu (various books)
    • Daniel Bolger (various books)
    • Mastering the Art of War (Liang Zhuge)


  • Alan Coopers (E-newsletter/Article)
  • Reagan Communications Web Content Report
  • Defensive Design - 37 Signals Website
    • How to write and do wording for Messages/ Error
  • ACM Digital Library
  • SLACK – about basic survival on projects
  • www.hcibib.org
  • U-Test – Discussion Lis
  • Chiweb – Discussion List
  • Observing the User Experience (Mike Kuniavsky)

If you have only one Resource, what would it be?

  • Canvas (drawing program)
  • Don’t Make Me Think (Steve Krug)
  • Class and Course Notes

2. Tools:

  • Canvas (modified to be like Sketchup)
  • Sketchup
    • Architects – hand drawn
    • Allows you to flip back and forth – 3D=
  • OmniGraffle Pro
  • Denim (prototyping tool)
  • Excel Spreadshee
  • Lotus Notes
  • Card Sortin
    • EasySort
    • Boxes and Arrows xsl file for Card Sorting Results
    • Card Zort – card sorting virtual program

3. Organizations / Conferences:

  • Network Operations Group (NANOG.org and RIPE.org)
  • American Public Health Association (Risk Management Resource)
  • Army Center for Lessons Learned (Methodology for Recording mistakes = good)
  • DUX2003
  • CHI
  • UPA
  • UIE
  • HFES
  • SXSW
  • O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference
  • Ted
  • User Conference (Macromedia, Texas Instruments (T3), etc.)
  • Cross Pollination (Universities) Georgia Tech, CMU and Michigan, etc.

4. Industries:

  • Software Development Conferences
  • www.devguru.com

5. Usability Bug Priorities

  • Objectives compiled currently:
    • Bugs with Severity get approval
    • Bug is assigned though database
    • User Matrix – Usability Findings
    • Priority/Bug/Status of Bug # - in FileMaker
  • Risk with Litigation (medical issues)
  • Usability and Safety (people’s lives could be affected by usability Testing)
  • Miscalculation of Finances – unusable systems can create problems

6. Locations for current Testing:

  • Lab – but have the mirrors shaded so they don’t intimidate participants
  • On-Site – at participants location
    • PR value of doing this. You’ve come to your customer and you’re getting bonus points for it

7. When timelines or budgets are squeezed, what UCD processes or methods do you cut out first?

  • Training
  • Travel (field Studies)
  • Full Tests
  • What do you keep?
    • Depends on the project
    • Reasonable Workload considerations

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