Design and Usability Conferences 2011

I am hoping to make it to at least a few of these conferences this year.

SXSW South by Southwest Interactive

March 11-15, 2011, Austin, TX

Conference $675 ($1150 for all access)

Flight about $325

Hotel going fast! About 160 per night ($800)

Plus food stipend

Computer Human Interaction 2011

May 7-12, 2011, Vancouver, BC

conference cost $760 ($1360 late and for non-members)

flight about $600,

hotel 239 CAD per night ($1440)

plus food stipend

UPA 2011 , Usability Professionals Association

June 21- 24, 2011, Atlanta Georgia

conference cost $695 ($895 for non-members)

flight about $500,

hotel 173 per night ($692)

plus food stipend

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Journal of Usability Studies calling for Co-Editor in Chief

Call for Candidates :
Co-Editor-In-Chief of the

Journal of Usability Studies

The Journal of Usability Studies (JUS), published by the Usability Professionals’ Association (UPA), seeks a Co-Editor-In-Chief to work with Joe Dumas who is taking over from the current Editor, Avi Parush.


The initial term is for three years, JUS is published online four times a year.


The Co-Editors-in-Chief are responsible for all aspects of publication associated with maintaining the Journal of Usability Studies as the premier journal of its kind dedicated to promoting and enhancing practice, research, and education related to usability, user-centered design, and user experience. The Co-Editors-in-Chief are responsible for the journal’s reputation as publishing the best scholarship in these areas. They do this by soliciting and accepting submissions, organizing peer reviews of submissions, making final decisions on submissions, providing substantive editing when needed, and overseeing the online publication of journal issues.


·    In partnership with the other Co-Editor-in-Chief , the Director of Publications, and the UPA Board define the overall strategic direction for the journal in order to effectively meet the needs of UPA members and advance the field

·   Provide leadership to achieve the goals determined by that strategic direction

·    Work cooperatively with the other Co-Editor-in-Chief

·   Actively solicit manuscripts for the journal

·   Recruit qualified manuscript reviewers and leverage their experience to enhance journal quality

·   Conduct initial screening of all manuscripts and forward those that meet criteria on to selected  reviewers

·   Serve as the primary liaison to authors

·  Work with authors to revise manuscripts based on reviewers’ comments and your own recommendations for improvement (e.g., clarity, development of ideas, scholarly accuracy, overall quality, and compliance with publication guidelines)

·   Ensure that decisions regarding publication are timely, fair, unbiased, and justified

·   Coordinate journal production with the other Co-Editor-in-Chief and the managing editor to ensure four full issues per year on a regular production schedule, assuming content meets the journal’s quality standards

·   Develop ancillary materials such as style guidelines and templates for authors and reviewers

Relationship with UPA

The Co-Editors-in-Chief will report monthly on the status of the journal to the UPA Director of Publications and will surface critical editorial issues as needed. The Co-Editors-in-Chief will summarize the status of the journal for the UPA Board once a year.


The Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal must possess the following attributes:

·   Advanced degree in a field related to usability studies, PhD preferred

·   Demonstrated knowledge of research design, statistical methods, and the state-of-the art in HCI research and practice

·   Fluent in written and spoken English at the level of being able to edit for clarity.

·   A history of publishing in peer-reviewed publications

·   A history of reviewing submissions for journals or proceedings

·   Proven experience and familiarity with the usability discipline, either as a researcher or a practitioner

·   A demonstrated capability of showing fairness in the resolution of disputes

·   Strong links to other professionals in the field who might contribute material and/or assist with reviews and editing

·   A proven record of editorial management, an important advantage

How to apply

Deadline to apply: October 15, 2010.

What to send:

·   resume

·   supporting materials that highlight your qualification for this position, such as examples of reviews, publications or teaching assignments that show knowledge of research design or HCI practices

·   names, phone numbers, and email addresses of three references who would be willing to discuss your qualifications

Where to send it:

Susan Dray, UPA Director of Publications:

with a .cc to John Kasper, Executive Director of UPA:

If you have questions please contact :  Susan Dray

Usability Professionals′ Association (UPA)

140 N. Bloomingdale Road, Bloomingdale, IL 60108-1017 USA
Tel: +1.630.980.4997 – Fax: +1.630.351.8490
UPA Website:
World Usability Day:

User-Centered Design (UCD) 6 Methods

If your company is not thinking about the end user, you are likely to be left behind in the race for the most popular (read: usable) product in your industry.

Here are 6 methods used in UCD from an article on webcredible by Tim Fidgeon.

User-centered design (UCD) is a project approach that puts the intended users of a site at the centre of its design and development. It does this by talking directly to the user at key points in the project to make sure the site will deliver upon their requirements.

The stages are carried out in an iterative fashion, with the cycle being repeated until the project’s usability objectives have been attained. This makes it critical that the participants in these methods accurately reflect the profile of your actual users.

ISO 13407 outlines four essential activities in a user-centered design project:

* Requirements gathering – Understanding and specifying the context of use
* Requirements specification – Specifying the user and organisational requirements
* Design – Producing designs and prototypes
* Evaluation – Carrying out user-based assessment of the site

The following is a typical top-level characterization of the most popular user-centered design methods:

Method Cost Output Sample size When to use
Focus groups Low Non-statistical Low Requirements gathering
Usability testing High Statistical & non-statistical Low Design & evaluation
Card Sorting High Statistical High Design
Participatory design Low Non-statistical Low Design
Questionnaires Low Statistical High Requirements gathering & evaluation
Interviews High Non-statistical Low Requirements gathering & evaluation

Focus groups

What are they?

A focus group20 involves encouraging an invited group of intended/actual users of a site (i.e. participants) to share their thoughts, feelings, attitudes and ideas on a certain subject.

Organising focus groups within an organisation can also be very useful in getting buy-in to a project from within that company.

When to use

Focus groups are most often used as an input to design. They generally produce non-statistical data and are a good means of getting information about a domain (e.g. what peoples’ tasks involve).


It’s necessary to have an experienced moderator and analyst for a focus group to be effective.

Usability testing

What is it?

Usability testing21 sessions evaluate a site by collecting data from people as they use it. A person is invited to attend a session in which they’ll be asked to perform a series of tasks while a moderator takes note of any difficulties they encounter.

Users can be asked to follow the think-aloud protocol which asks them to verbalise what they’re doing and why they’re doing it.

You can also time users to see how long it takes them to complete tasks, which is a good measure of efficiency (although you should bear in mind that using the ‘think aloud’ protocol will slow users down considerably).

Two specialists’ time is normally required per session – one to moderate, one to note problems.

When to use

Usability testing can be used as an input to design or at the end of a project. It represents an excellent way finding out what the most likely usability problems with a site are likely to be.

Usability testing can be used generate non-statistical or statistical data.


Usability testing requires some form of design to be available to test – even if it’s only on paper. Testing works best if it focuses either on gathering non-statistical feedback on a design through ‘talk aloud’ or statistical measures.

Card sorting

What is it?

Card sorting22 is a method for suggesting intuitive structures/categories. A participant is presented with an unsorted pack of index cards. Each card has a statement written on it that relates to a page of the site.

The participant is asked to sort these cards into groups and then to name these groups. The results of multiple individual sorts are then combined and analysed statistically.

When to use

Card sorting is usually used as an input to design. It’s an excellent way of suggesting good categories for a site’s content and deriving its information architecture.

Card sorting can be used generate statistical data.


Providing participants with a trial run on some easy cards (e.g. sports, animals, etc.) can reassure about what they are expected to do and result in a more productive session.

Participatory design

What is it?

Participatory design does not just ask users opinions on design issues, but actively involves them in the design and decision-making processes.

When to use

Participatory design is usually used within a mini-project to generate prototypes that feed into an overall project’s design process.

An example would be a participatory design workshop in which developers, designers and users work together to design an initial prototype. This initial prototype would then feed into a more traditional design process.

Projects which only utilise participatory design are very rare.


Participatory design sessions can be very fluid and require an experienced moderator with thorough knowledge of the domain to guide them.


What are they?

Questionnaires are a means of asking users for their responses to a pre-defined set of questions and are a good way of generating statistical data.

When to use

Questionnaires are usually employed when a design team:

* Can only gain remote access to users of a site
* Is seeking a larger sample size than can be realistically achieved through direct contact

It is for this reason that questionnaires are usually administered through post or electronic means.


Questionnaires allow statistical analysis of results, which can increase a study’s credibility through its scientific appearance. This makes it all the more important that the questionnaire is well-designed and asks non-biased questions.


What are they?

An interview usually involves one interviewer speaking to one participant at a time.

The advantages of an interview are that a participant’s unique point of view can be explored in detail. It is also the case that any misunderstandings between the interviewer and the participant are likely to be quickly identified and addressed.

The output of an interview is almost exclusively non-statistical – it’s critical that reports of interviews are carefully analysed by experienced practitioners.

When to use

Interviews are usually employed early in the design process in order to gain a more detailed understanding of a domain/area of activity or specific requirements.


Interviewing places a high premium on the experience and skill of the interviewer and analyst.


This has been an introduction to the major user-centered design methods. It’s vital to remember that although each can be extremely valuable, using them in the right way, for the right reasons and at the right time is critical.

Exactly which method to use, and when and how to use it will differ from project to project.

In addition to putting these methods into practice, companies can take these 3 steps to increase user centered processes.

Human Factors International (HFI) has an upcoming free webinar to discuss how companies can get certified as a User Centered Organization based on their maturity model. They have also released a white paper on how to certify your usability practice and your designs.CPU-CUD_Conversation

User Experience Magazine Vol 9 Issue 1 had some great articles about user centered maturity models which outlined several ways companies are measuring the integration of usability into their design and development processes.

World Usability Day 2010

World Usability Day Fun Facts

World Usability 2010: Communications

Communications is the theme for World Usability Day 2010. World Usability Day 2010 will serve as an impetus to creating greater awareness for designs, products and services that improve and facilitate communications around the world.This year’s events and forums will focus on how products and services impact communications. Programs will examine all products and services used in the communication process including: cellular phones, mobile devices, social media, email, video, and perhaps other exciting technologies that may not have hit the mainstream!

World Usability Day was founded in 2005 as an initiative of the UPA to ensure that services and products important to human life are easier to access and simpler to use. Each year, on the second Thursday of November, over 200 events are organized in more than 40 countries around the world to raise awareness for the general public, and to train professionals in the tools and issues central to good usability research, development, and practice.

WUD is about making our world work better. It’s about “Making Life Easy” and user friendly. Much of today’s technology is too hard to use. A cell phone should be as easy to use as a doorknob. To humanize a world that uses technology as an infrastructure for communication, education, healthcare, transportation, government, entertainment, work and other areas, we must develop these technologies in a way that serves people first.

Let World Usability Day 2010 be your impetus to create greater awareness for designs, products and services that improve the sustainability of our world. Be the one to bring the word to your company and community this year. Join us and get involved in World Usability Day 2010!

Contact information

Elizabeth Rosenzweig – Founder/Director, , +1-617-244-6905

Amy K. Ballard – Project Manager, , +1-608-291-2388

Nicole A. Tafoya – Sponsorship, , +1-630-980-4997

International UPA 2010 Conference: Research Themes and Trends

UPA International Conference 2010

I was not able to attend this year’s conference, but was involved in its planning and was excited to see the presentations that occurred.

I just read a review of Research Themes and Trends by Michael Hawley posted on UX Magazine.

He split the sessions he was able to attend into categories:

Optimizing and Extending Existing Research Methods presentations included optimizing testing to occur in a week or less, which I find reminiscent of Steve Krug’s recent book, Rocket Surgery Made Easy. Another described methods to combine web analytics with usability testing to create richer data sets through quantitative and qualitative data.

The Importance of Storytelling There was a presentation on InfoPal, a way for subjects to share their thoughts ‘diaries’ through multimodal processes using not only a written diary, but also recordings, pictures, drawings, voice memos etc to provide more information to researchers as well as improve the participants’ ability to share their thoughts in more places and in more ways. A discussion around how to use stories from users to help stakeholders understand more clearly what their product needs to provide.

Eyetracking Continues to Evolve and discussion has moved beyond whether or not it is a useful tool and now focuses on what results are most useful to usability professionals and how best to analyze those results.

Research Beyond Usability There were several meetings that discussed the continuing desire by designers and researchers to provide delightful, easy interfaces and create products that take the psychology of happiness into account.

Maturing the Profession Possibly the most important aspect of what we do at the UPA conferences is work towards helping to promote our goals and profession. We are striving to make our research more scientific while not losing the ‘art’ of usability research and the study presented (where different teams found very different results) brought the results of opinions in usability research into stark focus. Mentoring of not only junior associates but colleagues in our workplaces was also presented.

The next UPA conference:

UPA 2011 International ConferenceAtlanta, Georgia

The 2011 conference will be held at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta, Georgia from June 20-24th.