Human-Computer-Human Interactions

Something about that strikes me. I like the fact that it points out the interfaces and blockades we have with each other as we depend more and more on the devices, be they mobile or not, that we carry around with us everyday. using them instead of, to augment or to avoid interactions with other humans.

we interface with the machine. the machine interfaces often with another machine (or two) and then interfaces with another human. the new internet age game of telephone. what gets lost is… well…the humanness of the interaction.

Mobile Test Strategies

In the process of developing applications for mobile devices, professionals are finding that the traditional methods of testing do not always apply. A recent white paper published by Macadamian outlines some key areas to be aware of.

When planning your testing effort for a mobile device application, in addition to the usual functional testing, it is also important to consider the following areas and how they differ from desktop or regular web applications:

  1. User Interface Testing – mobile devices have unique user interfaces like smaller screens that can be re-oriented, touchscreens and soft keyboards, and navigation methods like hard keys and trackballs.
  2. External Factors Testing – mobile device applications must also contend with interactions and interruptions from other device features like various network connection types, SD cards, phone calls, and assorted device settings.
  3. Stress Testing – mobile device applications have much less overall device memory and power available so must handle themselves very efficiently.
  4. Security Testing – mobile device security will become more and more important as the user base grows, so it is essential to test the security of your mobile web applications, sensitive data storage, and how your application behaves under various device permission schemes.
  5. Emulator Use – Emulators can be a great asset when it comes to achieving testing coverage on multiple devices, but your test plan must also respect the fact that sometimes there is just no substitute for the real thing.

I recommend downloading the paper and I am looking forward to additional papers on usability testing for mobile they are planning on publishing.

Business Travel is Obsolete

While traveling in general can be a mixed bag. You know, with the trials and tribulations that come with arranging transportation, sleeping in ANY bed not your own, etc.  Traveling when required for work is obsolete in all but the most specialized of cases.

I think the biggest difference is that it is not really an option to bring along my family and after spending a whole weekend with my 1 year old, I really feel this is a downfall of business travel. Who wants to have an experience that only you can experience? I did the “after college backpacking” thing…I’m over it, really. Besides, the sterile hotels we tend to stay in are a far cry from the shared youth hostels of my youth which provided enough material for at least a year’s worth of blog posts (not to be included here).

Another point is that there is always the “acceptable expenses” hanging over your head. I mean, who decides how much I’ll eat at breakfast vs lunch or dinner? Why is a glass of wine not acceptable as a beverage? Have you ever been to Europe?

Long hours- I think there just really isn’t a justification for travel anymore; Especially with my industry. I am more than equipped to provide my clients with remote research…In every instance other than what I am doing this week…which is  focus groups. It is really hard to run a focus group from a remote location. That being said, I can do nearly every other type of research without setting foot in the same city with the users. This makes traveling for work a vestige of a bygone era.

What about the horrible affect on the environment with the cars, trains, planes and paper created of our traveling? I thought the internet was supposed to help us decrease my carbon footprint. It doesn’t change my culpability just because “my boss asked me to go.” Lets try to leave something for the next generation, shall we?

Cisco has created the Telepresence Rooms. I’ve used them. Amazing. With these, truly, it is like being there. Really no need to travel. Until they invent the transporters of Star Trek, I vote that I stay in my home town until the family is in need of a tropical vacation.

Thoughts from fellow travelers?

Focus Group Philosophy

While traditional usability testing has been the bulk of my recent work, there is a special place in my heart for focus groups.

I think it stems from the enjoyment I got from teaching as well as all the groups I ran as a counselor and facilitator.

I just get so excited watching a group dynamic and getting to hear so many opinions in such a short amount of time.

While I am completely aware of the limitations and downsides of peers affecting the statements of others, I will always keep focus groups in my usability toolbox.