UX Booth’s “The Grammar of Interactivity”

Interesting Blog Posts

The UX booth blog published an article recently discussing the  Grammar of Interactivity.  I highly recommend the read.  It’s quick and informative.

In particular, I really liked the distinction they made between when to use “You or Your” versus “My or I” when designing an interaction between user and website.  Use “you” or “your” when the website wants the user to do something.  For example, “choose your state” or “write your comment here”.  Use “My” or “I” when the user is telling the website what to do such as, “Save my work and quit” or “Search for my printer”.

 

Wilty-Wilt is a delightful phrase for testing what type of button you need and stands for “would you like to?/I would like to”. The acronym for their test (WYLTIWLT) reminds me of the WWJD question and even made me come up with an answer: What would Jesus do? Build a better experience!

Discussion on Five Different Interface Types

Breakthrough Ideas

This article discusses the different types of interfaces that we are going to be confronting in the future as well as ones that have already invaded our market.  It is nice to see them all (at least the ones we can come up with for now) in one place.  The article identifies five different interfaces beyond our current mouse point and click interfaces; multi-touch, gesture, voice recognition, eye tracking, and brain computer interface. Its interesting to consider how we went from a simple click of hte mouse, to the finger swiping on ipad screens or the scrolling on track pads.  While the gesture technology hasn’t come quite as far as to be in our daily lives, it has been integrated more into other aspects.  We went from a stationary controller for gaming, to the wiimote which allowed us to gesture, to the kinect which tracks our body movements. (results may vary on this).  This is extraordinary when you consider it. It has happened in the span of just a few years really. It reminds me though of the radio quite from Douglas Adam’s “The HitchHikers Guide to the Galaxy. ”

A loud clatter of gunk music flooded through the Heart of Gold cabin as Zaphod searched the sub-etha radio wave bands for news of himself. The machine was rather difficult to operate. For years radios had been operated by means of pressing buttons and turning dials; then as the technology became more sophisticated the controls were made touch-sensitive–you merely had to brush the panels with your fingers; now all you had to do was wave your hand in the general direction of the components and hope. It saved a lot of muscular expenditure, of course, but meant that you had to sit infuriatingly still if you wanted to keep listening to the same program.

I certainly hope that we don’t sacrifice the usability of the item in exchange for the novelty of its interface. But, we shall see.

We have voice interface technologies that have been expanded (Siri for example, who still has some problems but how awesome is it to ask a non-sentient object a question and receive an answer? Maybe not the right one, but it still responds!)  Eye tracking is used in research for the most part ( for now) My fear with eye tracking interfaces though is how you control it.  Do you flick your eyes? Is it just staring at an instruction? Blinking? We shall have to see.

The final one is the Brain computer interface and this is one that I am very excited for.  We already have those people who are cyborgs in their own right, people using special computerized lens to actually see after losing an eye.  The implications are so much more than just convenience.  Think of the speed of our interactions! The firing of synapses could be the speed at which we interact and just imagine the possibilities! Imagine losing your arm and leg, and having it replaced and never batting an eye because to you, its only the loss of responding feeling in the limb you have to deal with.  You can control it just as normal. And who knows, when your arm responds at the speed of synapses, maybe your thoughts that there should be feeling could result in actual feeling?

This article was written in 2010 but I feel its still very relevant.  We have not come to complete grips with the future of interface design and while I imagine there has been more than a little research done, it has not truly entered the consumer market.  I look forward to seeing these new interfaces begin to sneak more into our daily lives.

If you want to read it for yourself, Its located at this site. Tech News Daily

Oreo’s Usability

Usability Examples

I recently was enjoying some Oreos and on a whim decided to look up their website. (Writing a blog post about the usability of the cookie would be far too short, I’d write crunch, crunch, and then it would be done) The design is brightly colored and fun. Oreo is celebrating their 100th anniversary and  the main banner is decorated with confetti and is the main focal point of the page.

There is a button you can click that takes you to a website devoted just to that but its not very interesting. You can watch a video where people talk about how much they love oreos but mostly its just a repositioning and repeating of the main links on the home page.

So lets say I want to contact Oreo to tell them I think they’re awesome.  Where do I go? Well, I can use social media since their little icons are situated at the top right of the page. Well, thats convenient but lets try a more formal method, maybe there is more formal contact info at the bottom…

Oh, hey, more social media at the bottom.  Seems rather redundant to have it twice but maybe they just want to make sure…

Ok, three separate sections on the home page just for social media.  I understand Oreo, you want us to use your social media. I just want your company contact information!  There is nothing on the main page that indicates who I can contact about Oreo unless I do it via social media. Lets try Products.

Well, now I am at Nabisco world.  Nabisco owns Oreo, I remember that so thats fine and there’s a contact us link! Hurray!

What is this? Who is Mondelez affiliates Inc? Its webpage conveniently opens to a FAQ but that answer is not evident here.  There is however a link on the left side that states “Email Us” But I have to choose a subject and none of them are close to what I want. Oh well, Oreo, I just won’t compliment you then. I had to hunt for your contact information through Oreo’s site, then Nabisco, and then got to Mondelez Affiliates, and then you make me choose a subject heading.  Too much work. No compliment for you! I’ll just eat another cookie! (Try the fudge cremes,  they are delightfully addicting)

Good usability, Google Drive

Usability Examples

I am rather fond of minimalism.  I like having to put forth the least amount of effort to achieve my goals.  Something that I am rather fond of is Google Drive.  Not only is cloud technology incredibily convenient in that I can access it beyond my own computer, but its being utilized in a way that is simply perfect for me.  There are no frills, nor major issues with signing up and in fact, once you have your gmail account, you’re good to go! To the left there is a menu with two main icons, a create button and an upload button.  The upload button is a little hard-drive I think but the arrow that points upwards, as if pointing from the hard-drive to the computer, is super helpful, indicating “hey, take a file from your hard-drive and put it in here!”  Then, if you click on it you get the ability to upload your files from your computer or another drive.  It uploads and appears in the list.  Super convenient and to the point.  My kind of usability.  You can even organize them according to the date they were modified and organize them into folders.

If you don’t have a google drive, you should get one.  Never hurts to back things up and it’s super easy to use.

Nov. 7th reading.

Reading Response

This weeks reading was regarding analysis and reporting your evaluation.

Chapter 16 was rather boring and I don’t think the authors said anything that really stood out.  I suppose the concept of a symptom versus a problem was interesting but the rest of the chapter seemed to read more like, “How do you analyze data? You analyze it.”  I understand it is difficult to describe the process of analysis but I found this rather uninteresting.

Chapter 17 brought up the CIF standard of reporting which is essentially the normal standard of reporting so nothing really new there.  The CIF for qualitative research was basically, “it depends” though.  The chapter also notes you can report individual problems and can include video clips if they are important.  I am not certain who is reading this and are happy they now have permission to use video clips in their report.  It also goes into how you should cater your report to your audience and not use jargon.  You also shouldn’t demean your audience and avoid blaming.

Both this weeks and last weeks seemed to be more of the use your common sense chapters.  I was not really impressed by these as I don’t think they actually gave any really good advice other than common sense.  I think I would search elsewhere for tips on how to create my report.

Usability of Election touch screen voting machines

Usability Examples

For this week usability example I decided to describe the voting machine I used on Saturday. (early voting, yay!)

I was dreading going on Saturday since it meant there would be tons of people trying to do what I was doing, avoiding having to go vote on a work/class day.  The first center I tried had a giant line that I stood in for fifteen minutes without stepping an inch.  I decided to abandon it and try a different center.  The next place was much better and I stood in line to get my driver’s license read by the polling worker and have her ask me if I lived at the address she pulled up on her laptop.  I confirmed, she stuck a little credit card with an electronic chip embedded in it into a little holder plugged into her laptop.  She waited a minute and then handed me back both my cards. This new card she handed me was my Voter Access Card and apparently contained some data that would allow the polling computer to know that I was voting and not allow my information data to be used again. (to prevent people from voting at multiple places with the same demographic information) I then went and stood in another line for a while, about ten minutes.  I briefly wondered what would happen if I built up a giant static shock from my wool coat and zapped the card.

This center had four polling booths surrounded by little blue dividers blocking my choices from other people.  This machine was a touch screen computer than instructed me to put my Voter access card in the prominent card holder on the side of the screen.  I slid the Voter Access card into the machine.  It took it and held it so I couldn’t take it back out and mess up by ballot until I was done. (I assumed this part, I heard it click when I pushed it in and the design didn’t look like I could really mess with it when it was in there)  The screen then instructed me how to use the touch screen and correct mistakes if I made them.  It cautioned me that my ballot would not be cast until the very end when I pushed the “Cast Ballot Now” button.  This button did not appear until I had reviewed all my choices. (preventing the error of casting your ballot before you were done)

The first thing it displayed was the ability to vote straight ticket. This is where you vote based off a party rather than for each individual candidate. I chose not to vote straight ticket and clicked next to be taken to the presidential Ballot. I then used my finger to select my candidates whom I wished to vote for from the list.  I did not write in a candidate for the entire ballot so I don’t know if that option brought up a touch screen keyboard or how that would have worked. If you didn’t vote for a section, at the summary part of the process that section would show up in red and say “not voted”. (Or something similar, I’m not certain what the words were but it was all in red while all the others I had voted for were in blue)

The font was very legible and large enough that I think just about anyone would be able to read it easily.  It also made certain to illustrate very clearly what the position was and who the candidates were.

 

I did have some trouble with the calibration of my machine.  It twice selected someone else for me when I touched the correct “buttons”. From the muttered, “damnit” from the person next to me, I suspect it did that to them too.

After I had made all my selections and there were no more positions to vote for the screen displayed my voting summary.  After I scrolled through my choices double checking, the “Cast Ballot Now” button appeared.  I pushed the button the screen paused and then thanked me and instructed me to take my Voter Access card which audibly clicked as it was freed.  I passed my card to the polling worker and got my “I voted today” sticker.

Overall, it was interesting experience.  This is the second time I’ve been able to vote in a presidential election.  The first time I filled in a scan-tron sheet ballot and then fed it into a little machine that told me “Thank you, your vote has been counted”.  That was one bit of feedback that amused me, and I wished that the touch screens had included that at the end.  I found it easy to correct mistakes on the touch screen and even if the calibration was slightly off, it wasn’t entirely annoying.  The concept of the electronic cards as a precaution also was interesting.  They reused the cards over and over, rewriting them with the new voter’s information.  I personally found the voting machine very usable and was rather impressed by its clean and clear screen designs.

The only thing that I worried about was the elderly’s ability to use the touch screens. An elderly woman had to stand up out of her wheelchair in order to see the screen.  Also, I worry that they won’t understand touch screen systems fully nor how to correct mistakes.   I felt relaxed while I voted and I hope that the elderly aren’t put off by the touch screen technology.
There is also the issue of hacking to change votes.  I fully admit I don’t know anything about the process, but I know it can be done and with fully electronic means, there is no back up plan if the votes are compromised.  As much as I found the touch screen nifty, I think it would be safer to use a mix of paper and electronic.

 

Overall, good usability for our generation but maybe not the safest way to collect votes.