A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Cooper Interaction Design

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Always Have a Backup Plan

By anticipating failures, and designing backup plans, you can minimize the impact of unexpected problems on the user.

Anderson, Gretchen. Cooper Interaction Design (2001). Design>Project Management>Planning


Beating the Checkout Blues

Depending on which research report you read, roughly 25% to 75% of online shoppers abandon their shopping carts before consummating the deal. Despite the disparity in numbers, all the research firms agree on one thing: that's way too many.

Greenwood, Wayne. Cooper Interaction Design (2001). Design>Web Design>Usability>E Commerce


Branding and the User Interface, Part 1: Brand Basics

Develops a foundation for future, more detailed discussions by introducing several key brand concepts.

Fortin, Nate. Cooper Interaction Design (2003). Articles>User Interface>Marketing


Branding and the User Interface, Part 2: Tips on New Media Branding: Behavior and Color

A look at how branding differs between traditional applications, like printed corporate collateral, and emerging new media applications, such as software user interfaces, with a focus on behavior and color.

Fortin, Nate. Cooper Interaction Design (2003). Articles>User Interface>User Centered Design


A Breath of Fresh Air

It takes research, humility, and skill to truly understand your customers well enough to serve them better than your competitors.

Cooper, Alan. Cooper Interaction Design (2002). Design>Web Design>Consulting>User Centered Design


Bridging the Gap Between Design and Engineering Cultures

Developers want details. They want information they can take back and talk about on their own. They want the space to decide, based on their own criteria, what is valuable and what is not. They make use of the divide between designers and developers to help maintain their boundaries.

Rodgers, Deborah. Cooper Interaction Design (2001). Articles>Presentations>Engineering


Bridging the Gap with Requirements Definition

Developing a new product or service is tricky. When everything goes well, the product can redefine a market or even create an entirely new one, to the benefit of its manufacturer and its consumers. When the product doesn't click with its audience, though, the costs—development, employee, manufacturing—can be staggering. How do you ensure that your new product doesn't flop? One effective method is to conduct a requirements definition phase before developing a new product.

Olshavsky, Ryan. Cooper Interaction Design (2002). Articles>Usability>Specifications


Can Programmers Do Interaction Design?

In most of the organizations we encounter during our consulting work, programmers tend to think they’re the best-qualified people to design the form and behavior of a product. In the absence of trained interaction designers, they may be right. They know from experience that no one else is going to think through all the implications of serving up that snippet of data in just the right way, and no one else questions the idea of programmers doing the interaction design because they assume it’s a technology problem. As a result, executives who lead technology initiatives believe that they already get interaction design for free from their programmers. In their opinion, having interaction designers is unnecessary; if the product happens to be hard to use, they assume the programmers just need some sensitivity training. Having programmers design the product is anything but free, though; it's ineffective, inefficient, and risky.

Goodwin, Kim. Cooper Interaction Design (2003). Design>User Interface>Interaction Design


Common Myths about Web Design

Some of the most common myths about Web design follow. These myths have found their way into business and technical organizations, and are--to some degree or other--taken at face value by management, marketing, engineering, and sometimes even Web designers themselves. The sooner you can disabuse your organization of these myths, the better.

Cooper, Alan and Robert Reimann. Cooper Interaction Design (2004). Design>Web Design


Content Management Systems: Don't Automate the Misery

Few organizations have seen much good come of content-management BPR initiatives so far. Of the many reasons for these failures, one stands out: these BPR initiatives—and the systems they spawn—are focused on realizing organizational objectives without sufficient regard for the context, habits, and goals of the people who will actually use the system.

Fore, David. Cooper Interaction Design (2001). Articles>Content Management>User Centered Design


Critic to Creator: Recognizing Good Design

All too often, people in our field focus so much on pointing out the egregious interaction design mistakes that make it to market, we forget to pay attention to the good design that exists. Not only does it make our profession look bad if we are always complaining, but it also makes us less effective.

Calde, Steve. Cooper Interaction Design (2003). Articles>Usability>User Centered Design>Interaction Design


Design Research: Why You Need It

Just as important as market research, design research is a necessary ingredient for creating, developing, and delivering a successful product. Marketers need solid market research to guide their decisions about product positioning, revenue potential, and target markets. Likewise, designers need solid design research to guide their decisions about the product's interaction framework, feature set, and overall appropriateness for its users.

Calde, Steve. Cooper Interaction Design (2003). Design>Usability>User Centered Design


Designing Products for Offshore Development

Although as an Interaction Designer I'm not involved in the actual development of the products I design, I find it increasingly clear that outsourcing creates a significant impact on the entire software design and construction process. Offshore development is in its infancy, but will continue to evolve to become an increasingly effective way to go about certain kinds of software construction. Based on recent project work, this article describes a number of observations worth considering as you ponder how outsourcing and offshore development may fit into your plans.

Cronin, Dave. Cooper Interaction Design (2004). Design>Usability>International>Offshoring


Features Talk, but Behaviors Close

Features are often the currency of software development and marketing, yet few people can agree on what exactly defines a feature. The term can be used to describe a particular piece of functionality, an entire set of functionality, a capability, or sometimes even a possibility.

Fore, David. Cooper Interaction Design (2003). Articles>Usability


Five Insights for Improving Product Development Cycle Success

When creating software and digital products, innovation typically spans many months, and it can become disrupted by unobservable or frequently changing business conditions that make it extremely difficult to form and evaluate viable options. When people can't see where they're going, they typically just stop. This is tragic with respect to innovation, since it is innovation that propels business and society forward.

Fleck, Pat. Cooper Interaction Design (2002). Design>Project Management


Five Ways to Get the Most from In-House Designers

Over the last two years, we've heard from increasing numbers of executives who want to bring interaction design in-house because they've realized how critical it is to product success. There are plenty of challenges involved in doing this, including hiring and training the right people. One of the challenges companies may not expect, though, is in deciding how to use those resources once they've been found.

Goodwin, Kim. Cooper Interaction Design (2003). Design>Project Management>Collaboration


Getting from Research to Personas: Harnessing the Power of Data

The usefulness of personas in defining and designing interactive products has become more widely accepted in the last few years, but a lack of published information has, unfortunately, left room for a lot of misconceptions about how personas are created, and about what information actually comprises a persona. Although space does not permit a full treatment of persona creation in this article, I hope to highlight a few essential points.

Goodwin, Kim. Cooper Interaction Design (2002). Articles>Usability>User Centered Design>Personas


Goal-Directed Content Management

Anecdotal evidence from within the CM industry indicates that CM implementations fail to meet corporate expectations about half of the time. Part of the reason for missed expectations could be poor usability.

Fore, David. Cooper Interaction Design (2002). Articles>Content Management>Usability


The Inmates are Running the Asylum

The classic rules of business management are rooted in the manufacturing traditions of the industrial age. Unfortunately, they have yet to address the new realities of the information age, in which products are no longer made from atoms but are mostly software, made only from the arrangements of bits.

Cooper, Alan. Cooper Interaction Design (2004). Articles>Information Design>User Centered Design


Innovate, One Step at a Time

During recessions, uncertainty prevails, and like a driver trying to weave his way along a mountain road in heavy fog, many businesspeople eventually tire and just pull their businesses over to what seems like a safe embankment, turn off their engines of innovation and progress, and wait for the fog to lift. But how long can one afford to sit on the roadside? At what point does it become riskier to do nothing than to proceed with caution? One has to wonder if there's a better way, a way to keep moving forward in measured, confident increments, rather than eventually creating an additional element of uncertainty by deferring innovation altogether.

Fleck, Pat. Cooper Interaction Design (2002). Design>Project Management


Innovating For Humans

Before starting to innovate, it is important to reflect on how different flavors of innovation are perceived by the people who will eventually use a product and what risks and opportunities are associated with each. Then comes the hard part: figuring out what the right innovations are and how to implement them.

Kinsolving, Ernest. Cooper Interaction Design (2001). Design>User Interface>User Centered Design


Interface Design as a Life or Death Proposition

While the FDA has always required thorough documentation of product development, recent initiatives have instituted a more prescriptive, design-focused procedure encouraging extensive user research at the beginning of the development process.

LeMoine, Doug. Cooper Interaction Design (2002). Design>User Interface>Usability>Biomedical


The Iteration Trap

Iteration without a good design foundation is a very risky method.

Cooper, Alan. Cooper Interaction Design (2001). Design>User Interface


Making Use of User Research

By focusing on how a product performs in the lab without broader knowledge of the user's environment and goals, measurement alone may be misleading. To get the most value and meaning out of user feedback it is important to choose the appropriate method for conducting and analyzing user research.

Anderson, Gretchen. Cooper Interaction Design (2001). Articles>Usability>User Centered Design


Making Your Design Real: The Form and Behavior Specification

Let's say your development organization has embraced design as a key to creating successful products. You've devoted time and energy to creating the perfect, goal-directed design for your product. Your programmers are ready and eager to start putting that design into code. So…now what? How do you communicate your design to your development team, accurately and in sufficient detail? One approach is to produce a Form & Behavior Specification.

Olshavsky, Ryan. Cooper Interaction Design (2003). Design>Project Management>User Interface



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