Archive for the 'Complete case study' Category

IA Summit Poster

Last weekend I showed the Characteristics poster at the IA Summit in Phoenix. Included are a couple of characteristic name changes, a new characteristic – “responsiveness” and a new “grocery shopping” full example. Here’s the PDF (this is the full-size poster).


The Experience of a Live Conference vs a Recorded Video

Preparations for the IA Summit in 2010 are underway (Jen Bohmbach and Livia Labate are chairing it) and recent discussions amongst the program committee got me thinking about the experience of attending a conference and seeing a presentation live vs seeing it afterward on video from your home /office. So here goes:

  • Informational: Both experiences are very informational – not much difference here.
  • Controllable: Control is very much in the hands of the presenter during the live session and much more so in the hands of the viewer for the video experience.
  • Social: The live experience is probably a more social experience, you’re typically sitting next to people – maybe even talking with them about the presentation.
  • Personal: Neither experience is very personal.
  • Scoped: Both experiences are well scoped – presentations typically focus on communicating something specific.
  • Learnable: Both experiences are very learnable – that’s generally the point of a presentation after all!
  • Configurable: Neither are very customizable, although a video presentation might allow things like viewing transcripts or even translations.
  • Adaptive: A video experience typically isn’t adaptive. However, a live presenter can be very adaptive – to the reception the audience is giving them, the time, even environmental factors (lighting, acoustics, etc).
  • Playful: A live presenter can do more to engage the audience directly with some fun activities.
  • Impartial: Although the topic may be the same, a live presenter has more opportunity to influence the audience because of the more direct and immediate delivery.
  • Connected: Both experiences may stand alone or be part of a set, however, a video experience might find it easier to more immediately connect the user to other similar experiences.
  • Sensory: A live presentation has the edge here, the physical nature allowing many more senses to be engaged than a video presentation.
  • Accessible: A video presentation is clearly much more accessible – you can view it from your home, office, or anywhere on a mobile device. In fact this characteristic is really the biggest differentiator between the two and the one that balances the advantages of “being there in person”.
  • Findable: The experiences can’t really be compared on this characteristic but they both face different challenges – anyone who has been to a conference must have had the experience of trying to find the right room, and who hasn’t been ‘lost’ on the web?

The UX of a printed book vs the Kindle

A colleague at work suggested I trying running the experience of reading a printed book and then a book on the Kindle through the characteristics, so here goes:

  • Informational: Printed books have a much higher resolution than the Kindle (300 DPI vs 167 PPI) and are unconstrained in size, unlike the Kindle’s 6″ or 9.7″ screen.  This gives the printed book an edge in the amount and complexity of information that can be displayed.  The Kindle, however, can hold over 1,500 books its modem allows instant access to over 300,000 titles.
  • Actionable: Printed books make no actions available, the Kindle on the other hand, allows readers to look-up terms, download other books, and more.
  • Social: Printed books have no social features (except perhaps writing in the margin – which is discouraged in most cases!).  The Kindle also has no social features – which is quite surprising considering what its capable of and who created it! Seth Godin has some great ideas that could move the Kindle up the social scale.
  • Personal: Printed books are usually very generic (identical for everyone), however, there are circumstances in which they can be personalized.  Our daughter, Abby, received a book on her first birthday that spelled out and used her name throughout.  The Kindle, as you might expect, offers a few more personalization features like bookmarking, annotations, loading your personal documents onto it, etc.
  • Scoped: Printed books are very narrow in scope, they present their text and pictures and nothing more.  The Kindle, on the other hand, as well as enabling you to read it like a printed book, lets you search, look-up words in a dictionary, gives you web access, it will even play music and read to you!
  • Learnable: I’m going to go out on a limb and explore an idea here by saying that a printed book is no more learnable than the Kindle.  They’re both self-directed experiences, however, the narrow scope and physical simplicity of a book makes its manipulation very comprehensible and controllable (see the principles of UX) vs the Kindle, which given its broader scope and electronic (stateful) nature has greater challenges to overcome (you don’t need to “switch on” a book!)
  • Configurable: Printed books are not configurable (maybe I can take the dust jacket off).  The Kindle, however, allows readers to change the text size (hmmm, is that the only way the Kindle is configurable?)
  • Adaptive: Neither printed book or the Kindle are adaptive (unless someone with a Kindle tells me otherwise?).  Perhaps an unintended adaptive aspect of a printed book might be that the more it gets opened at a certain page the more it will fall open at that page?
  • Playful: The printed format of a book isn’t very “fun” (of course the contents can be).  The Kindle shares this approach – the interface experience itself isn’t intended to be ‘fun’ – in fact its intended to be invisible: “Our top design objective was to make Kindle disappear–just like a physical book–so you can get lost in your reading, not the technology.”
  • Impartial: Printed books typically include a list of “other books by this author” and sometimes even a sample chapter from the next book in an attempt to influence the reader to buy another book.  Although I haven’t seen a Kindle for long enough, knowing Amazon i’m sure it turns these features “up to 11”.

These case studies are intended to explore the broad range of characteristics at a fairly shallow level for an experience.  I’ll also be diving into the details of individual characteristics in future posts. Please keep sending your ideas and comments!

The UX Characteristics of Cars

I was chatting with a couple of colleagues at work a few days ago about the “user experience” of cars, so I decided to run it through all ten of the characteristics.

  • Informational: The amount of information a car gives its driver is intentionally brief (compared to the amount of information it gives a technician who plugs in a diagnostic tool).
  • Actionable: Cars are meant to be driven – not just sat in. They actively support lots of actions.
  • Social: Driving a car is an individual experience. Some cars support social interaction by integrating features like curved mirrors so the driver can see backseat passengers and hands free phones, but that’s about all.
  • Personal: While cars are almost completely generic, some do have a few interesting personal features. My old BMW recognized my key fob from my wife’s and adjusted the seats, mirrors, AC and radio settings when unlocked (I loved this feature!)
  • Scoped: Cars have a fairly narrow scope, they get you from A to B, they move up the scale a little when they start to introduce things like DVD players, integrated phones, etc.
  • Learnable: Car controls are optimized for frequent, repeated use by self-directed, expert users.  That’s why people take lessons (with experts) to learn.
  • Configurable: Cars are not highly configurable (once you’ve bought one – the experience of buying one is more configurable).  You can move the seats forward/back/up/down, fold some seats and preset the radio but everything else is fixed.
  • Adaptive: Cars mostly exhibit static behavior, however there are a couple of interesting adaptive examples here.  Some cars are equipped with “adaptive steering” which turns the car more sharply at lower speeds and less at higher speeds when the steering wheel is turned the same amount.  My BMW had an adaptive automatic gearbox – it learned the driving style of the driver and adjusted its gear changes accordingly.
  • Playful: Driving a car can be a fun experience because of the thrill, excitement and danger they offer. A colleague of mine also mentioned a hybrid (I forget which) that praises the driver for an economical trip.
  • Impartial: The driving experience is fairly unbiased, cars don’t try to influence the choice of destination, for example. However, I suppose the nature of the car (Ferrari vs Mini-van) does influence the driving style!