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Kevin Arthur does user experience research and design. This blog is a personal project and the opinions here are strictly my own.

Usability Books
  • Cost-Justifying Usability, Second Edition: An Update for the Internet Age, Second Edition (Interactive Technologies)
    Cost-Justifying Usability, Second Edition: An Update for the Internet Age, Second Edition (Interactive Technologies)
    Morgan Kaufmann
  • Designing for the Digital Age: How to Create Human-Centered Products and Services
    Designing for the Digital Age: How to Create Human-Centered Products and Services
    by Kim Goodwin
  • Designing Gestural Interfaces
    Designing Gestural Interfaces
    by Dan Saffer
  • Designing Interactions
    Designing Interactions
    by Bill Moggridge
  • The Design of Design: Essays from a Computer Scientist
    The Design of Design: Essays from a Computer Scientist
    by Frederick P. Brooks
  • The Design of Everyday Things
    The Design of Everyday Things
    by Donald A. Norman
  • The Design of Future Things: Author of The Design of Everyday Things
    The Design of Future Things: Author of The Design of Everyday Things
    by Donald A. Norman
  • Designing the iPhone User Experience: A User-Centered Approach to Sketching and Prototyping iPhone Apps
    Designing the iPhone User Experience: A User-Centered Approach to Sketching and Prototyping iPhone Apps
    by Suzanne Ginsburg
  • Designing the Mobile User Experience
    Designing the Mobile User Experience
    by Barbara Ballard
  • Designing with the Mind in Mind: Simple Guide to Understanding User Interface Design Rules
    Designing with the Mind in Mind: Simple Guide to Understanding User Interface Design Rules
    by Jeff Johnson
  • Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things
    Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things
    by Donald A. Norman
  • Handbook of Usability Testing: Howto Plan, Design, and Conduct Effective Tests
    Handbook of Usability Testing: Howto Plan, Design, and Conduct Effective Tests
    by Jeffrey Rubin, Dana Chisnell
  • The Human-Computer Interaction Handbook: Fundamentals, Evolving Technologies and Emerging Applications, Second Edition (Human Factors and Ergonomics)
    The Human-Computer Interaction Handbook: Fundamentals, Evolving Technologies and Emerging Applications, Second Edition (Human Factors and Ergonomics)
    CRC Press
  • The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity
    The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity
    by Alan Cooper
  • Measuring the User Experience: Collecting, Analyzing, and Presenting Usability Metrics (Interactive Technologies)
    Measuring the User Experience: Collecting, Analyzing, and Presenting Usability Metrics (Interactive Technologies)
    by Thomas Tullis, William Albert
  • Moderating Usability Tests: Principles and Practices for Interacting (Interactive Technologies)
    Moderating Usability Tests: Principles and Practices for Interacting (Interactive Technologies)
    by Joseph S. Dumas, Beth A. Loring
  • Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems
    Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems
    by Steve Krug
  • Sketching User Experiences: Getting the Design Right and the Right Design (Interactive Technologies)
    Sketching User Experiences: Getting the Design Right and the Right Design (Interactive Technologies)
    by Bill Buxton
  • Tapworthy: Designing Great iPhone Apps
    Tapworthy: Designing Great iPhone Apps
    by Josh Clark
  • Text Entry Systems: Mobility, Accessibility, Universality (Morgan Kaufmann Series in Interactive Technologies)
    Text Entry Systems: Mobility, Accessibility, Universality (Morgan Kaufmann Series in Interactive Technologies)
    by I. Scott MacKenzie, Kumiko Tanaka-Ishii
  • The Trouble with Computers: Usefulness, Usability, and Productivity
    The Trouble with Computers: Usefulness, Usability, and Productivity
    by Thomas K. Landauer
  • Usability Engineering
    Usability Engineering
    by Jakob Nielsen
  • The Usability Engineering Lifecycle: A Practitioner's Handbook for User Interface Design (Interactive Technologies)
    The Usability Engineering Lifecycle: A Practitioner's Handbook for User Interface Design (Interactive Technologies)
    by Deborah J. Mayhew
  • User-Centered Design Stories: Real-World UCD Case Studies (Interactive Technologies)
    User-Centered Design Stories: Real-World UCD Case Studies (Interactive Technologies)
    by Carol Righi, Janice James
  • Usability Testing Essentials: Ready, Set...Test!
    Usability Testing Essentials: Ready, Set...Test!
    by Carol M. Barnum
Wednesday
Feb272008

Multitouch Gestures vs. TouchPad Size

This MacWorld article about yesterday's MacBook Pro announcement mentions something that I think most of the media coverage has missed:

There is one significant difference between the MultiTouch capabilities
on the MacBook Air and the new MacBook Pro models. While the Air
features a larger trackpad, the revamped MacBook Pro line-up retains
the existing trackpad size.

The question of touchpad size and how it affects the usabilty of multitouch gestures is a good one.  When these gestures start showing up in PC designs the differences may become more apparent.  The MacBook Pro's trackpad is already larger than many PC touchpads so I don't think Apple has much to worry about, but  some of today's PC touchpads may not give people with large hands enough space to do pinch gestures, for example.  The implications of size for scrolling and swipe gestures aren't as obvious.  I'm involved in researching these issues and hope to report more here in the future.

Tuesday
Feb262008

Mighty Mouse and Affordances

Mightymouse200
Many people still think Apple is a "one-button mouse" company.   Is it because the mighty mouse offers no physical cues to the buttons?  That's what David Morgenstern at ZDNet suggests: Is Apple's Mighty Mouse Too Smart for its own Good?  There are actually four buttons, not counting the scroll wheel: two at the lower sides and two on the top, which are differentiated left from right using capacitive sensing (see Apple's page on Mighty Mouse design).

The Apple TrackPad has a similar issue.  There's only one physical button but you can control-tap or double-tap to get right-button functionality.  Still lots of people comment on it having only one button.

I doubt many Mac users get stuck because of this, but it doesn't help shed the "one-button" myth.  I use a mighty mouse on my mac at home and like its design, except that the right pinky button is far too easy to accidentally click.  (I never use those two extra buttons anyway, nor have I ever felt the need to use the extra buttons on Microsoft or Logitech mice.)

Tuesday
Feb262008

Research Project on Haptics and the iPhone

This is some great work by researchers in the Multimodal Interaction Group at the University of Glasgow.  They've built prototype software that adds haptic feedback to the iPhone's virtual keyboard.  They've also conducted and published studies about the performance gained with haptic feedback on touchscreen typing (it's not clear if that work uses this software or other prototypes).

Project page: iphone-haptics.

(Via PhoneMag, TUAW.)

Wednesday
Feb202008

Next-Gen PC Design Contest Features Lots of Touch

Screen1
The finalists for the 2007-08 Next-Gen PC Design Contest are now up for public voting (February 15 - March 15).  The contest is sponsored by Microsoft and the ISDA.

I like the Touch-horizon (pictured) with its full touch/haptic interface and old-fashioned binder shape, and the tactile-interface Zen computer for the visually impaired.

I agree with Core77 that the wearable-worm-necklace Momenta is creepy, and the i-grow computer for babies seems completely unnecessary.

Tuesday
Feb192008

Apple Multitouch Gesture Patent Application

012019gesture4_400
MacRumors has posted some figures from a new patent application submitted by Apple that describes a lot of new, user-configurable multitouch gestures in OS X.

Link: Apple depicts advanced multitouch gesturing control panel in OS X (MacRumors), via Putting people first.

As with many patent applications, this doesn't really mean Apple is going to do this.  Some of these look pretty awkward, and there's a big learning trade-off with abstract gestures.  It'll be interesting to see how far they go with this.

Monday
Feb112008

Microsoft Ribbon UI and Touch

I hadn't thought before that the new "ribbon" user-interface in Microsoft Office might be better for touch interfaces, but it makes sense.  From InfoWorld:

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said Monday that
the Windows application platform is to be fitted with "Fluent UI"
ribbon capabilities now offered in Office 2007.

The ribbon UI presents a new interface in Office 2007. "We usability-tested it massively, and fortunatel, it has had a very strong positive reaction," Gates said during a keynote presentation the 2008 Office System Developer Conference
in San Jose, Calif. "We in the next version of Windows will be using
this Fluent UI quite a bit across a number of applications," he said.
"It turns out it's a user interface that works very well for the pen
and touch [interfaces] as well as being a better way of revealing
application functionality."

Link: Gates pledges more ribbon UI capabilities for Windows.

Sunday
Feb102008

Studying Circular Scrolling on TouchPads

Synaptics has a new, circular scrolling gesture for TouchPads coming out soon and we in the usability group have done some evaluations of it as part of the development process.  (The technology is officially called ChiralMotion™; here is some marketing literature if you're interested.)  Chiral scrolling is like the circular scrolling people are familiar
with from iPods and other devices, though it's a little more
sophisticated in that you're not constrained to a fixed circle (and it has some other nice technical properties that I won't go into here).

We
have a short "work-in-progress" paper to appear in the CHI 2008
conference proceedings that describes some of this work on evaluating the technique.  We compared
the new circular scrolling gesture with an existing linear scrolling gesture available
with Synaptics TouchPads called "virtual scrolling," which works by
scrolling when you swipe your finger within a dedicated scroll zone at
the side of the TouchPad (or at the bottom for horizontal scrolling).

Here is a copy of the paper: Evaluating Touch Gestures for Scrolling on Notebook Computers (pdf).  This is preliminary work has some limitations because it was small.  We've since improved on the methods and are planning more, larger studies that test additional devices.

Coming up with good quantitative measures of scrolling performance is still a fairly open research problem.  We used a document scrolling task, implemented in a web browser, that's similar to some  previous work within the HCI community (see the paper for references).  In each trial, the user scrolls from the top or bottom of a document to find a highlighted line, and we measure the time it takes, which turns out to depend linearly on the number of lines to the target.

Subjective user impressions and other qualitative measures are also important -- we used a questionnaire in addition to the timed task in this study.

Sunday
Feb102008

Touch and Haptics White Papers

Immersion Corporation has a couple of good white papers on recent research regarding touch interfaces with haptic feedback:

Saturday
Feb092008

IxDA's Interaction 08

Core77 is blogging the Interaction 08 conference happening now in Savannah, GA.  Their first post is here.

Wednesday
Feb062008

CNN goes Multitouch

CNN's on-air use of Perceptive Pixel's multitouch wall for election coverage: a new milestone for user interfaces or a new milestone for hype?

It's a great technology but is this really effective TV -- to show someone using it, on a screen with bad glare, no less?  Here's some YouTube video:

More at Washington Post, via O'Reilly Radar.

Wired also has a wrap-up of gadgets seen in Tuesday election coverage, including Microsoft's Surface on CBS: Super Tuesday Gadgets.