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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
Monday
Jan102011

New Book: Usability Testing Essentials

Carol Barnum's new book Usability Testing Essentials: Ready, Set... Test is excellent. You should check it out if you do usability testing or practice any kind of user-centered design process.

Sunday
Jan092011

Sony monitor with touch gestures in bezel

I think this is a first for PC monitors or TVs. It could help with the fingerprint problem and with making frequent gestures quicker to do. From Sony's press release:

Unique to the L Series, the multi-touch screen features technology which extends the touchable area of the screen to the LCD bezel. This technology provides simple access to everyday shortcuts enabling users to close windows, flip through web pages quickly and zoom by touching the black glass sections along the edge of the PC.

Via Gizmodo: Sony L Series VAIO Puts Multitouch Shortcuts on the Bezel and CNET: New Sony Vaio L Series all-in-one features clean new design, unique touch features.

Saturday
Jan082011

Microsoft Touch Mouse

Microsoft announced their Touch Mouse this week. It's a mouse with a capacitive sensing surface to allow gestures for scrolling, pinching, and manipulating windows.

I'm really looking forward to trying this. Microsoft Research has been experimenting with prototypes for multitouch mice for quite some time (see links below) and it'll be interesting to see what they've come up with. I've used Apple's multitouch mouse (Magic Mouse) and found it quite uncomfortable -- it didn't feel like a good physical fit for my hand and the gestures (except for scrolling) felt awkward. Their Magic Trackpad is much more pleasant to use.

Some links:

 

Saturday
Jan082011

Touchy Talk: The Rise of the Gesture 

Suzanne Ginsburg (author of Designing the iPhone User Experience) has a new blog about touch interfaces called Touchy Talk. Her first post is a good one about gestures: Is the button dead? The rise of the gesture.

Sunday
Nov072010

ACM Interactive Tabletops and Surfaces Proceedings Online

Papers from the ACM ITS 2010 conference are available online now: Technical Program. The conference is taking place this week in Germany.

Tuesday
Sep282010

Tactilis iPad app

Tactilis tries some interesting interaction ideas with gestures, popovers, menus, and other things. Here's a video demo:

(via TAT)

Sunday
Sep262010

Design For Mobile 2010

Barbara Ballard and her team put on a great conference this past week in Chicago. I learned much from the workshops and presentations.

Here are slides from my presentation: Evaluating Touch Gesture Usability - D4M 2010 (Slideshare).

Jody Thomas has collected many other slide sets and notes from the conference: Collected Design For Mobile Presentations. There will likely be a collection soon at the main conference web site also.

Saturday
Sep252010

Admin note & test post

I've moved this blog over to a new host (Squarespace). Links/feeds should continue to work. Thank you for reading. :)

Tuesday
Sep142010

Doing gestures well in your app

To balance out my previous post, here's an example of an iPhone app that's all about gestures and that does a good job: FlickTunes is one of many apps that let you control your music with gestures, which makes for a slightly safer experience while you're driving.

The app lets you swipe left/right for forward/backward, up/down for play/pause. There's a ton of other options (perhaps a few too many) for two- and three-finger gestures and for adjusting the display and gesture sensitivity. In my experience the gestures have been very reliable and responsive.

IMG_0029

My only complaint so far is that there seems to be a bug that causes it
to turn off shuffle occasionally, and apparently randomly. This happens
to me in iTunes too so maybe it's an Apple bug.

I learned of FlickTunes from Suzanne Ginsburg's excellent Designing the iPhone User Experience.

Sunday
Sep122010

How not to do gestures in your iPhone app

With apologies to this app's developer for a harsh critique of what's obviously meant to be a throwaway novelty app, here is the simplest example I've seen of mistakes made when using gestures in an iPhone app.

RPS Gestures (iTunes link) is a "gesture-based version of the classic" Rock Paper Scissors, a.k.a. Rochambeau. This version of the game lets you play paper by swiping, rock by tapping, and scissors by pinching.

Here is the interface. Can you spot a problem?


IMG_0173 

What's novel about this app compared to the 100's of other RPS apps (yes, there are that many) is that you have to make your play using gestures -- slide for paper, tap for rock, pinch for scissors. But that's the only way to do it. If you mistakenly tap on the nice big icon for paper you don't get paper, you get rock. This reviewer sums it up eloquently:

IMG_0174

As any good UX'er should do, I confirmed this issue with a totally (im)precise 1-minute usability study. I found that 100% of users shown this game for the first time, without having read the app store description, tapped on the icons rather than doing the gestures (sample-size = 1).

Some lessons here, about this issue and others with the app:


  • Don't give misleading cues. (Don't make the icons look so darn tappable; put the descriptions in a list or something and make the words "slide," "tap," and "pinch" more prominent.)

  • Don't make gestures the only way to perform actions. Many users just won't know to use them or will have difficulty. An exception is a creative novelty app like this, which is all about gestures. That's fine as long as you pay attention to these other details.

  • Give good feedback and if you're going to ask people to do the extra work of gestures, give them some sort of reward or eye candy that makes it fun. This app could give animated feedback of the gestures as you're doing them. Instead it doesn't show you any feedback until you complete a gesture.

  • Give people plenty of space to do the gestures. It's hard to do a pinch inside that blue square, which is what it looks you have to do (even though the app actually lets you do the gesture over the whole screen).

  • Make sure your gesture recognition is rock-solid (pardon the pun). I sometimes get paper in this app when I try for scissors. 


Okay, enough harshing on this poor app.

Via Google I also stumbled upon this fascinating site by independent game developer David Lovelace: RPS-101. It's a 101-gesture version of RPS -- "The most terrifyingly complex game ever." I look forward to the iPhone version!

Rps101_banner