If you haven’t already incorporated usability into your product design process, you might wonder why it is necessary. After all, it’s certainly possible to release a working, bug-free product without performing any usability work at all. But incorporating user-centered design principles can lead to a much-improved product in several areas.
Now that Cooper has an office in New York, we find ourselves using video conferencing much more than previously. I attend three recurring video conference meetings every week, plus several ad hoc ones. Just about every meeting involves technical difficulties, delay, confusion, and dissatisfaction for all the parties participating.
IBM’s Supercomputer Has Implications for Healthcare, Information Tech and More
Wouldn’t it be nice to have your very own supercomputer in your pocket?
If your laptop crashed while you were working on a major presentation, you could ask your portable expert to help diagnose the problem. If you wanted to bone up on Middle Eastern history, you could ask it to comb every document available and then wrap it all up in a simple summary (annotated, of course).
Some people think that usability is very costly and complex and that user tests should be reserved for the rare web design project with a huge budget and a lavish time schedule. Not true. Elaborate usability tests are a waste of resources. The best results come from testing no more than 5 users and running as many small tests as you can afford.
In earlier research, Tom Landauer and I showed that the number of usability problems found in a usability test with n users is:
where N is the total number of usability problems in the design and L is the proportion of usability problems discovered while testing a single user. The typical value of L is 31%, averaged across a large number of projects we studied. Plotting the curve for L=31% gives the following result:
The most striking truth of the curve is that zero users give zero insights.
Technology can transform education by simplifying access to great material, providing new approaches to learning, and offering a framework for assessing student progress and teacher effectiveness. A recent book looks at how technology is being used today and the barriers to change in the future.
Liberating Learning by Terry Moe and John Chubb is an important book that focuses on how technology will change K-12 education in the United States.
It looks at current efforts to use technology for online learning and to measure achievement. Although it acknowledges that there is a need for a lot of improvement, it sees great possibilities.
2010 appears to be a breakthrough year for gaming technologies. In case you haven’t heard, Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, and many others in the gaming industry have just announced their latest releases at this year’s E3 Expo in Los Angeles. The E3 press conferences revealed trends toward motion-based game controllers, 3D technologies, controller-less gaming, and an array of retro game titles that are back on the scene.
A critique of a common method used in video game usability research
Many video game usability practitioners employ a method to test usability within video games, called the ‘RITE’ method, short for Rapid Iterative Testing and Evaluation (RITE). Pioneered at Microsoft Games Studios and Microsoft Research, the RITE method has been adopted by many usability research organizations besides the teams at Microsoft.
While the RITE method has some advantages, such as the ‘rapid iterative’ ability to suggest changes to designers and test them in successive passes, it may fall short when looking for usability issues that lie beneath the surface.
But in his pursuit of conveying a realistic experience for players, he says his logical mind wasn’t taking into account enough what was going on in players’ heads.
“Gameplay is a psychological experience,” Meier acknowledged during his GDC keynote. Today he is director of creative development at Firaxis Games. “By acknowledging that gameplay is actually a psychological experience we … can end up with a better game.”
Meier outlined specific psychological elements that occur in players’ minds, such as “The Winner Paradox.” Game designers are supposed to give gamers a challenge, but the gamer at the same time expects to win. “In the real world you don’t always win, however in the world of games, you always win” in some capacity, Meier said.