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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
Sunday
May022010

Testing

Sunday
Apr182010

Manual Deskterity: Pen + Touch [CHI 2010]

Pen_2B00_touch_2D00_banner

You've probably seen this video already, but here it is again if not... This is great work from Microsoft Research exploring the possibilities of combined pen and touch input. It was presented last week at the CHI 2010 conference.

You can read more about this work at Ken Hinckley's blog: Alpine Inker.

Or if you've got an ACM CHI membership, download the full paper here:

Manual deskterity: an
exploration of simultaneous pen + touch direct input

Authors: Ken Hinckley, Koji Yatani, Michel Pahud, Nicole Coddington, Jenny
Rodenhouse, Andy Wilson, Hrvoje Benko, Bill Buxton.

I didn't go to CHI but I've just started browsing through the proceedings. There are many, many touch-related papers and I'll try to highlight several of them here in the coming days.

(Image from Ken Hinckley's blog.)

Sunday
Apr042010

Don Norman on Gestures

Don Norman has posted an article he wrote for Interactions magazine about gestures and the "Natural User Interface." Here's an excerpt, though it's best to read the whole thing:

Gestural
systems are no different from any other form of interaction.
They need to follow the basic rules of interaction design, which means
well-defined
modes of expression, a clear conceptual model of the way they interact
with the
system, their consequences, and means of navigating unintended
consequences. As
a result, means of providing feedback, explicit hints as to possible
actions,
and guides for how they are to be conducted are required. Because
gestures are
unconstrained, they are apt to be performed in an ambiguous or
uninterruptable
manner, in which case constructive feedback is required to allow the
person to
learn the appropriate manner of performance and to understand what was
wrong
with their action. As with all systems, some undo mechanism will be
required in
situations where unintended actions or interpretations of gestures
create
undesirable states. And because gesturing is a natural, automatic
behavior, the
system has to be tuned to avoid false responses to movements that were
not
intended to be system inputs. Solving this problem might accidentally
cause
more misses, movements that were intended to be interpreted, but were
not.
Neither of these situations is common with keyboard, touchpad, pens, or
mouse
actions.

What
do I conclude? Gestures will form a valuable addition to our
repertoire of interaction techniques. But they need time to be better
developed, for us to understand how best to deploy them and for standard
conventions to develop so that the same gestures mean the same things in
different systems. And we need to develop the supporting infrastructure
to
handle guides, feedback, error correction, and the other consequences of
gestures, some of which can use well-known procedures, some of which
will be
novel.

Link: Natural User Interfaces are not Natural.

Saturday
Mar272010

Measuring Multitarget Selection Efficiency on Touch Interfaces

This is an interesting study from researchers at Berkeley published last year. Abstract:

Multitouch workstations support direct-touch, bimanual, and multifinger interaction. Previous studies have separately examined the benefits of these three interaction attributes over mouse-based interactions. In contrast, we present an empirical user study that considers these three interaction attributes together for a single task, such that we can quantify and compare the performances of each attribute. In our experiment users select multiple targets using either a mouse-based workstation equipped with one mouse, or a multitouch workstation using either one finger, two fingers (one from each hand), or multiple fingers. We find that the fastest multitouch condition is about twice as fast as the mouse-based workstation, independent of the number of targets. Direct-touch with one finger accounts for an average of 83% of the reduction in selection time. Bimanual interaction, using at least two fingers, one on each hand, accounts for the remaining reduction in selection time. Further, we find that for novice multitouch users there is no significant difference in selection time between using one finger on each hand and using any number of fingers for this task. Based on these observations we conclude with several design guidelines for developing multitouch user interfaces.

Link: Determining the Benefits of Direct-Touch, Bimanual, and Multifinger
Input on a Multitouch Workstation
.

Here are the guidelines they give (but please read the paper for the limitations/caveats).

Design Guidelines: Based on our experiment we recommend the following set of design guidelines for developing applications for multitouch workstations. Since our studies focus on multitarget selection, all of these guidelines are aimed at applications where target selection is the primary task.


  • A one finger direct-touch device delivers a large performance gain over a mouse-based device. For multitarget selection tasks even devices that detect only one point of touch contact can be effective.

  • Support for detecting two fingers will further improve performance, but support for detecting more than two fingers is unnecessary to improve multitarget selection performance.

  • Reserve same-hand multifinger usage for controlling multiple degrees of freedom or disambiguating gestures rather than for independent target selections.

  • Uniformly scaling up interfaces originally designed for desktop workstations for use with large display direct-touch devices is a viable strategy as long as targets are at least the size of a fingertip.


Full citation:

Determining the Benefits of Direct-Touch,
Bimanual, and Multifinger Input on a Multitouch Workstation


Kenrick Kin, Maneesh Agrawala, Tony
DeRose
. Graphics Interface 2009, May 2009. pp. 119-124.

Task

(Via multitouchup and google alerts.)

Wednesday
Mar242010

Luke W's writings on iPad design

Of the many blog posts written about the iPad by people who haven't yet touched one, Luke Wroblewski's stand out as well worth your time: iPad articles. He investigates the new UI design elements and discusses some parts of Apple's iPad design guidelines.

Wednesday
Mar242010

MOTO's simple touchscreen test, round 2

MOTO has done another benchmarking test comparing mobile touchscreens: Robot Touchscreen Analysis. (I wrote about the previous one here.) This time they've used a robot-controlled (simulated) finger instead of a human finger. The test involves drawing diagonal lines and looking at how linear the response is on the screen.

I think it's great to get data, but these results are being overhyped in my opinion. (And -- disclosure! -- I work at Synaptics, though I don't speak for Synaptics here.) This test measures one performance characteristic but misses others.

Tuesday
Mar092010

Touchscreens at the Clever Dog Lab

018a3a546b At the Clever Dog Lab in Vienna, researchers use a "computer-automated touchscreen testing procedure for studying learning, social, and physical cognition in the dog."

I learned about this in a radio documentary called King Solomon's Ring from CBC's Ideas show (you can find the audio here: Ideas podcast or on iTunes). The documentary was about ethology -- the study of animal behavior, and about Konrad Lorenz, one of the field's founders. King Solomon's Ring is also the name of a classic book by Lorenz.

The dogs use their noses to activate the touchscreen, and apparently dogs do it well but it takes some instruction. I'm guessing it's a little like touchscreen usability studies with humans, but with more screen wipes. From the page for dog owners interested in participating:

We employ the
computer-automated touch-screen testing procedure to study physical
cognitive abilities (knowledge of how the physical world works). But
first of all, it is necessary to find out whether dogs behave similarly
when they are confronted with a similar problem in reality and on the
screen.

From previous studies
we know that dogs are able to find a hidden object even if considerable
time has passed since they witnessed the hiding event. Dogs also show
typical errors in their searching behaviour when a human experimenter
hides the object. Thus, in this project, we want to investigate whether
dogs can solve a hide-and-seek task on the touch-screen and whether
they have similar error patterns on the touch-screen as in reality. I
test the dogs’ performance in ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ (Touch-screen)
conditions. In the virtual condition, I test them either with or
without the presence of a hiding agent.

Dogs need a
considerable amount of time to learn to work with the touch-screen. For
optimal learning performance they and they owners should visit the lab
at least once a week. A training occasion consists of 2-4 sessions.
Each session has 29 trials. The auto feeder gives a dog a dry food
pellet for every correct trial so a dog gets maximum 120 pellets per
training occasion (altogether a small cup of dry food). A training
occasion for a dog last from half an hour to one hour.

You can see a video of a dog doing a test at LiveScience, from a 2007 article: Dogs Do Well On Computers.

The lab has a web page showcasing some of their most enthusiastic study participants: Computer Freaks.

CDL_Logo_Coo_TINY

Monday
Mar082010

Some pluses and minuses of gestural interfaces

Plusminusesgesturalinterfaces

Nicholas Nova has a write-up of a recent Lift Lab seminar on gestural interfaces: Lift Seminar @ Imaginove about gestural interfaces (from which I grabbed the above slide). The talks were about free-form gestures in video games.

Sunday
Mar072010

TouchPad Accidents

Trackpad

I think I've posted this picture before -- it's from Steve Portigal's blog, from a post on input device workarounds. This user is obviously not too happy with the touchpad and with accidental contact causing problems. I recently saw a similar "fix" on a laptop belonging to a famous HCI professor. As someone who works at a company that makes touchpads, this is of course a bit embarrassing.

I was reminded of this again by a Lifehacker post about the latest Windows utility someone has written to help with the problem. Called Autohotkey, it disables your touchpad for a short time after you press a key.

Most touchpads in fact do something like this already (not just touchpads from Synaptics but from others as well), but it's obviously not enough. Accidental contact is a hard problem that is only getting worse as touchpads get larger. Not only is it a hard problem to solve, it's a hard problem to measure in a conventional usability test. It's something I've been involved with and hope to write more about here later.

If you're frustrated by your touchpad because of accidental contact, you're welcome to write a comment below or contact me. I'm interested in knowing more about the situations that cause the greatest trouble.

Monday
Mar012010

Back-of-device interaction on tablets

500x_dtk2100_touchstrip_rgb
More back-of-device touch interaction: Wacom's Cintiq tablet has touch-sensitive strips that let you control brush size, zooming, scrolling and canvas rotation.

Link: product page (via Gizmodo).

I love this idea and expect we'll be seeing a lot more like it soon.

This reminds me of steering wheel radio controls. I had a 2002 Mini Cooper that had the volume and tuning rocker switches on the back of the two spokes. You couldn't see them but you could easily operate them with your fingertips while your hands were on the wheel. I think the newer Minis have all the buttons on the front. I wonder if there was a discoverability problem. Do other cars have that back-of-the-wheel design for these buttons?

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