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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.

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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
« Some pluses and minuses of gestural interfaces | Main | Back-of-device interaction on tablets »
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.

Reader Comments (4)

My new HP Envy touchpad lets you double-tap the upper left corner to toggle it on and off. It also does pretty good palm rejection.
March 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSeraph_ben
Glad to hear you like that feature. Of course with the on-off button in that spot there's a tiny risk that you'll *accidentally* shut off your touchpad by tapping it with our palm. I'm curious to know whether that ever happens in practice...
March 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKevin Arthur
I have a Compaq CQ42 that also lets me double-tap to toggle on/off. It's a really cool feature and brings fun to the toggle process (makes me feel like playing piano).I've never accidentally shut off the touchpad - in fact it's a bit insensitive. Sometimes I have to try a few times and get frustrated eventually...

(By the way I found your blog really inspiring!)
April 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterShanyin

cool

July 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterwatch

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