A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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Agile Usability

RITE differs from a “traditional” usability test by emphasizing extremely rapid changes and verification of the effectiveness of these changes. Specifically, practitioners make changes to the UI (prototype or application) as soon as the problem is found and the solution spotted. Changes such renaming buttons, changing the text of menu items often happen before another participant arrives. More complicated, but obvious changes are made as rapidly as possible. This way the change can be tested as quickly as possible.

Levison, Mark. InfoQ (2008). Articles>Usability>Collaboration>Agile


Another Usability Tool: Marketing   (PDF)

Discusses how working closely with marketing can improve usability.

Swartz, Andrew. Serco (2005). Articles>Usability>Collaboration>Marketing


Apples and Oranges

Usability and design are two fields that collide more often than not. But why is that? Why can’t we all just get along and center our efforts around delivering a better product, a top-notch Web site or a user-friendly interface. Everybody would benefit from an open-minded, reciprocal understanding. Right?

Hilhorst, Didier P. Digital Web Magazine (2004). Articles>Usability>Design>Collaboration



Brainstorming is an individual or group process for generating alternative ideas or solutions for a specific topic. Good brainstorming focuses on the quantity and creativity of ideas: the quality of ideas is much less important than the sheer quantity. After ideas are generated, they are often grouped into categories and prioritized for subsequent research or application.

Usability Body of Knowledge (2007). Articles>Usability>Methods>Collaboration


Breaking Down the Silos: Usability Practitioners Meet Marketing Researchers

I often find that client companies keep two disciplines locked up in separate silos—usability research within IT and marketing research within the Marketing Services department. This can have a serious impact on the sharing of information relating to customer experience.

Kozatch, David. UXmatters (2008). Articles>Usability>Marketing>Collaboration


Can Collaboration Help Redefine Usability?   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)

A collaborative knowledge space would provide great value to the usability community. In particular it would: Help define the field and give it a presence that provides professionals and the public with a single source for theoretical, practical and speculative information about usability; encourage the integration of research and practice; invite colleagues in related fields to participate and share their perspectives; serve as a platform to advance our understanding of collaboration and knowledge management tools. Most of the tools needed to implement a collaborative knowledge space are already available and there are a number of related activities already underway that could feed into this project. It would be a great deal of work but I believe it would also yield a great deal of benefit.

Kreitzberg, Charles B. Journal of Usability Studies (2006). Articles>Usability>Collaboration


Can Collaboration Help Redefine Usability?   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)

There are countless usability blogs, message boards and listservers. But to my knowledge, no one has attempted to integrate all this information into a single, collaborative knowledge space. I believe that creating such a knowledge space would be of immense benefit to the usability profession and would be a wonderful platform on which to refine our understanding of social computing and knowledge management.

Kreitzberg, Charles B. Journal of Usability Studies (2006). Articles>Collaboration>Usability>Help


CEOs and Usability

Talking to a CEO about usability can be wonderful or terrifying. The difference between raging success and total failure comes down to understanding exactly what the CEO needs to know and then adjusting your usability message to fit. This article explains how to understand various contexts, and in turn, how to position your usability message.

Rhodes, John S. and Daniel Szuc. Apogee (2006). Articles>Management>Usability>Collaboration


Collaboration Sessions: How to Lead Multidisciplinary Teams, Generate Buy-In, and Create Unified Design Views in Compressed Timeframes

I have participated in, led, and suffered major website redesign efforts. Whether at process-heavy consultancies, notable product companies, or design studios, all teams experience the same points of pain: late feedback, lack of common design vision, and complaints that individuals or teams didn’t have enough input.

Verhage, Sasha. Boxes and Arrows (2005). Articles>Collaboration>Usability>User Centered Design


Collaborative User Testing: Less Bias, Better Research

hen Capra studied 44 usability practitioners’ evaluations of pre-recorded sessions, this wasn’t observed. The evaluators, made up of experienced researchers and graduate students, reported problems that overlapped at an unexpectedly low rate—just 22 percent. Different evaluators found different problems, and assigned different levels of severity to them. She concluded that the role of evaluator was more important than previously acknowledged in the design and UX community. If complete and objective results couldn’t be achieved even by usability professionals who were evaluating the same recordings, what can we expect from unspecialized teams planning, conducting, and evaluating user testing?

Kholmatova, Alla. List Apart, A (2014). Articles>Usability>Testing>Collaboration


Getting Feedback on Usability

It's common for people at all levels of a company, and in all company departments, to comment on the usability of the product or company web site and give suggestions on how to improve it. But debates over usability and strategies for redesign can get quite contentious and time consuming.

Cauvin, Roger L. Cauvin (2010). Articles>Usability>Collaboration


How Product Teams Benefit from Usability

Product teams can leverage usability in three simple ways. First, usability can disambiguate requirements. Second, it can push a product closer to perfection with a small investment. Finally, usability helps product teams inform the organization about potential and expected support issues.

Rhodes, John S. Apogee (2006). Articles>Usability>Collaboration


Institutionalising Usability: Ways to Embed Usability in Your Company or Organisation

Trying to embed usability in an organisation needs more than persuasive, logical arguments. You also need to appeal to managers' emotions and political ambitions. This article describes five successful strategies that we've seen work in companies large and small.

Travis, David. UserFocus (2005). Articles>Usability>Collaboration>Workplace


Intra- and Inter-Cultural Usability in Computer-Supported Collaboration   (peer-reviewed)

In this paper, we argue for an increased scope of universal design to encompass usability and accessibility for not only users with physical disabilities but also for users from different cultures. Towards this end, we present an empirical evaluation of cultural usability in computer-supported collaboration. The premise of this research is that perception and appropriation of socio-technical affordances vary across cultures. In an experimental study with a computer-supported collaborative learning environment, pairs of participants from similar and different cultures (American-American, American-Chinese, and Chinese-Chinese) appropriated affordances and produced technological intersubjectivity. Cultural usability was analyzed through the use of performance and satisfaction measures. The results show a systemic variation in efficiency, effectiveness, and satisfaction between the two cultural groups. Implications of these findings for the research and practice of usability, in general, and cultural usability, in particular, are discussed in this paper.

(2010). Articles>Collaboration>Usability>Universal Usability


It’s Not a Training Issue

To these stakeholders, it seemed easier to change users’ behavior than to change the design of their notoriously problematic, difficult to modify, internal enterprise application—and actually solve its problems. The application’s design problems seemed so insurmountable to them that training looked like an attractive alternative to improving its user interface. Since the application’s users were employees of their company, it was easy for stakeholders to take the position that they’d just have to adapt. What’s the best way to respond to people who think training is a solution for usability problems?

Ross, Jim. UXmatters (2010). Articles>Usability>Project Management>Collaboration


Learning from the Work of Others

Rolf Molich has conducted two experiments comparing the work of different usability teams, examining their practices, and looking for patterns and differences. His experiments provide extremely valuable material for sharpening individual usability practices.

Schroeder, Will. User Interface Engineering (2002). Articles>Usability>Collaboration


The Most Non-Boring Article About The UPA Board Ever

A quick overview of the Usability Professionals Association Board--what functions it performs, how it's structured, and who's currently performing what role.

Sherman, Paul J. Usability Professionals Association (2006). Articles>Usability>Collaboration


QuikScan: An Innovative Approach to Support Document Use in Meetings   (PDF)

QuikScan is a set of summarizing and highlighting techniques that enable readers to quickly find information in documents. The foremost goal of the QuikScan Project is to improve the quality of business meetings by supporting attendees who must deliberate over documents they may not have carefully read. We envision QuikScan as a new career path for professional editors.

Zhou, Quan and David K. Farkas. STC Proceedings (2006). Articles>Collaboration>Methods>Usability


Shopping for Ideas at UPA Idea Markets

Ever feel that the best part of a conference happens between sessions? Ulf Andersson did. So, in the 1970s, he created a format for conference sessions called an 'Idea Market.' Attendees are free to roam from one idea station to the next, until they find a topic that grabs their attention. 'Activators' at each station stir up lively discourse on a variety of subjects in an interactive, fluid session. I had attended Idea Markets at other conferences and thought that they might be perfectly suited to UPA conferences because of the potential for getting practitioners buzzing about a variety of topics. So, I submitted a proposal to conduct an Idea Market at UPA in 2002 as a special type of 'panel' session. The reviewers had a tough time grasping the concept. Fortunately, the panel co-chairs went with it, and the first-ever Idea Market launched successfully.

Chisnell, Dana E. Usability Professionals Association (2003). Articles>Collaboration>Usability


Solving Usability Arguments – Beware of Bikeshedding

Big changes and big ideas usually sail through the group with little effort. This is because many do not feel comfortable challenging another persons authority on these big complex ideas–they feel they don’t have enough of a clue. But when the discussion gets down to the little things, the discussion degenerates as everyone has something to say. This is called bikeshedding and it’s dangerous.

Feedback Army (2010). Articles>Web Design>Collaboration>Usability


Strategic Usability: Partnering Business, Engineering and Ease of Use

The shift to internalizing usability for an organization can be accelerated by thinking about usability from a strategic, instead of tactical, perspective. Tactical use of usability engineering is responsive and isolated, focusing on adjustments to existing designs, often late in the schedule. Strategic use of usability or user research is proactive and integrated, improving decision making at many levels of project and business planning. To make the transition from tactical to strategic work, a usability engineer needs to develop partners and champions within the heart of an organization. It can often take several projects releases, and the cultivation of multiple partnerships with key players in an organization for this change to come to fruition.

Berkun, Scott. ScottBerkun.com (2002). Articles>Usability>Collaboration


Team USA: The USAbility Team   (PDF)

Most companies want to be recognized for producing usable products, for the quality of products must be high if they are to be accepted into today's competitive market. However, usability planning relies on interaction with other departments and their members. In other words, the most successful way to ensure product usability is to set up a test team consisting of representatives from various departments. This paper details the members of that test team and discusses their overall responsibilities in the testing process.

Dorazio, Patti A. STC Proceedings (1993). Articles>Usability>Collaboration>SMEs


Usability Team Structures

There are two basic alternatives for structuring a usability/UCD group within an organization: members of the group can be centralized in a single department, or, members can be distributed among development teams.

. Usability Body of Knowledge (2007). Articles>Usability>Project Management>Collaboration


Web Pages, Interactive Interfaces and Worm Holes: The Next Generation of User Interface Designers   (PDF)

Working in teams has its challenges. What would you do if you were part of a team that included software engineers, usability professionals, managers, teachers and elementary school students? What would you do if the team had to learn about web technology and user interface design in a few short weeks and then apply that skill to creating a web page ? Well, we had fun, and we achieved our goal. Join our panel discussion to hear more about an exciting project between members of IBM’s S/390 team and local elementary schools from Hyde Park, New York.

Bahruth, Carol, Kirsten Brunner, David Hans, Vikki Hanast and Cheryl Loughlin. STC Proceedings (1999). Articles>Collaboration>Web Design>Usability


What Kind of Teamwork Improves Usability?

Professionals are increasingly working in networked teams where electronic media and asynchronous communication play an important role. So how can communication behaviours in these contexts predict usability? Do efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction in the communication process lead to the same for the resulting documentation?

Edwards, Kirstie. Usability Professionals Association (2005). Articles>Documentation>Collaboration>Usability



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