Abstracts

Day One - Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Pre-conference Tutorial A

Web Usability for Older Adults

Ann Chadwick-Dias, Principal Human Factors Engineer, Fidelity Investments; Donna Tedesco, Usability Specialist, Fidelity Investments; Tom Tullis, Senior Vice President, Human Interface Design, Fidelity Investments

This tutorial will provide an overview of the important lessons learned from research conducted with older adults at Fidelity Investments in the past three years. The Human Interface Design Team at Fidelity Investments has had more than 120 users over the age of 50 come into its labs for research sessions. The tutorial will be structured as follows:

  • Description of each lesson learned (usability issue)
  • Video clips from research sessions demonstrating each issue
  • Hands-on exercise simulating each issue (each person will have a PC)
  • Design strategies to address each issue

Pre-conference Tutorial B

The Usability Evaluation Experience, Session A

Dave Mitropoulos-Rundus, Technology Architect, Compuware Corporation; Sumanth Muthyala, Usability Engineer, Compuware Corporation

This tutorial provides attendees with an understanding of usability evaluation methods. It surveys several popular methods used today, including usability testing; demonstrates the techniques; identifies appropriate usages; and drives home an understanding of the pros and cons of each approach. Attendees will be able to try out and compare techniques with mentoring. The session goal is to survey a range of usability methods, in a condensed one-day session, reinforcing the strengths, weaknesses, and appropriate applications of each. Participants will learn more about the methods through the class participation exercises, where each participant will have an opportunity to sample one or more of the methods, compare the data, and determine the product direction that is derived from each. Participants will take away a strong understanding of how, as well as when, to apply these methods, and how to effectively apply the results to their work. This tutorial is geared for people who are new to the area of usability engineering and for usability engineers who have not yet explored the wide range of usability evaluation methods other than usability testing.

Pre-conference Tutorial C

Corporate Web Accessibility Implementation Strategies

Sarah J. Swierenga, Director, Usability/Accessibility Research and Consulting, Michigan State University; Jesse L. Walker, Human Factors Psychologist, University of Dayton Research Institute

This tutorial provides attendees with an understanding of usability evaluation methods. It surveys several popular methods used today, including usability testing; demonstrates the techniques; identifies appropriate usages; and drives home an understanding of the pros and cons of each approach. Attendees will be able to try out and compare techniques with mentoring. The session goal is to survey a range of usability methods, in a condensed one-day session, reinforcing the strengths, weaknesses, and appropriate applications of each. Participants will learn more about the methods through the class participation exercises, where each participant will have an opportunity to sample one or more of the methods, compare the data, and determine the product direction that is derived from each. Participants will take away a strong understanding of how, as well as when, to apply these methods, and how to effectively apply the results to their work. This tutorial is geared for people who are new to the area of usability engineering and for usability engineers who have not yet explored the wide range of usability evaluation methods other than usability testing.

Presentation 1

Methods and Tools in Designing Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities

Mike Paciello, President, The Paciello Group

The key reason why most technology—current or emerging—is not suitable or usable by people with disabilities is simple: Users with disabilities are rarely, if ever, integrated into the development process in a product lifecycle. This presentation discusses evaluation methods and tools that easily and effectively engage people with disabilities in the processes of user interface design and usability testing.

Presentation 2

Field Research and Laboratory Studies: Partners in Usability

Stephanie Rosenbaum, President and Founder, Tec-Ed, Inc.; Laurie Kantner, Senior Usability Researcher, Tec-Ed, Inc.

Are you intrigued by Jane Goodall's work with chimpanzees? Can you envision yourself as Margaret Mead in Coming of Age in Samoa? You can apply the field research methods of anthropology to design more successful products, systems, and Web sites. Field usability research involves observing people in their own environments—workplaces, homes, and schools—to learn their natural behavior. Field research complements laboratory testing to create a balanced user research program: Lab studies measure and compare user performance, while field studies show us aspects of audience behavior, related to context of use and environmental constraints, that can't be observed in a usability lab. In this presentation, case histories illustrate when to choose a lab study and when to conduct field research, depending on your design issues and research goals.

Tutorial D

Usability & Accessibility: Driving Web Development through Success Metrics

Tom Brinck, Chief Usability Officer, Diamond Bullet Design

With a set of case studies in health care, education, and government, we'll discuss systematic processes for delivering Web sites with high usability and accessibility. Success in site design and development hinges on meeting real goals for both the organization and the end users. Metrics, measured throughout the development process, capture progress on meeting goals and enable comparison with other sites and assurance that our own site redevelopment will result in a better experience. Typical metrics, such as time to perform tasks, success rate in finding information, and user's ratings of a site, not only provide a sense of how well the site is working, but in their measurement, we are able to diagnose problems of usability and accessibility that provide roadblocks to effective use. Our case studies will illustrate how common usability and accessibility problems were discovered and resolved, and how this process saves time by reducing uncertainty and risk in development.

Tutorial E

The Usability Evaluation Experience, Session B

Dave Mitropoulos-Rundus, Technology Architect, Compuware Corporation; Sumanth Muthyala, Usability Engineer, Compuware Corporation

This tutorial provides attendees with an understanding of usability evaluation methods. It surveys several popular methods used today, including usability testing; demonstrates the techniques; identifies appropriate usages; and drives home an understanding of the pros and cons of each approach. Attendees will be able to try out and compare techniques with mentoring. The session goal is to survey a range of usability methods, in a condensed one-day session, reinforcing the strengths, weaknesses, and appropriate applications of each. Participants will learn more about the methods through the class participation exercises, where each participant will have an opportunity to sample one or more of the methods, compare the data, and determine the product direction that is derived from each. Participants will take away a strong understanding of how, as well as when, to apply these methods, and how to effectively apply the results to their work. This tutorial is geared for people who are new to the area of usability engineering and for usability engineers who have not yet explored the wide range of usability evaluation methods other than usability testing.

Presentation 3

The Latest Web Usability Findings from Fidelity Investments' Lab

Tom Tullis, Senior Vice President, Human Interface Design, Fidelity Investments

This presentation will highlight some of the latest findings related to Web usability and accessibility from the Usability Labs at Fidelity Investments. Fidelity's Human Interface Design department conducts about 50 different usability studies per year, some of which are targeted to specific Web development projects (for internal or external use) and some of which are more strategic in nature. This talk focuses on studies conducted in the past year and the “lessons learned” from them, including some answers to the following questions:

  • What do users spend time looking at on a Web page vs. what do they ignore? Evidence from our latest eye-tracking study indicating how users scan Web pages today.
  • Does user-centered design actually make a difference? Data from a case study in which we conducted a usability test of an existing Web site, went through a user-centered redesign process of the site, and then conducted a comparable usability test of the new site.
  • How reliable are the results from a usability test? Evidence from a study in which we had two experienced usability teams independently conduct a usability test of the same Web site. How much commonality was there between the two test reports?
  • What are the most effective navigation mechanisms for a Web site? Evidence from a large-scale study in which six different approaches to navigation (drop-down menus, fly-out menus, tables of contents, etc.) were evaluated with over 700 participants using the same site contents.
  • Does a haptic mouse help older adults use the Web? Data from a study in which we compared the performance of older adults on a Web site when using a normal mouse vs. a mouse that vibrates when it is over a link. What about providing much more obvious visual highlighting of links on mouseover?
  • How can you improve the usability of a Web site for users with low vision? Lessons learned from a series of very recent usability studies with low-vision Web users. Since many low-vision users don't want to “give up” on the visual interface, what can we do to make it work better for them?
  • How can you improve the usability of a Web site for older adults? Results from a series of studies we're now completing in which we are evaluating the use of visual and auditory help features on a Web site, intended mainly to assist older adults in completing their tasks.

When possible, these studies and their findings are illustrated with video clips from the actual usability tests.

Presentation 4

Information Architecture: From Wire Frames to Business Strategy

Keith Instone, Information Architect, IBM

What is information architecture and how do you do it? See examples of IA in action in the form of wireframes and other work products. Hear stories about how one information architect navigates corporate culture to help the company to give customers what they need. Participate in a discussion about how IA relates to usability, accessibility, technology and the total user experience.

Keynote Speaker (Day 1)

Oops, They Forgot the Usability: Elections as a Case Study

Whitney Quesenbery, Principal Consultant, Whitney Interactive Design, LLC, President, Usability Professionals' Association

An election is a perfect usability case study. It brings together large numbers of diverse voters, an unfamiliar interface, and an outcome that shapes the future of our society. With such a seemingly simple task, usability was not on the curriculum for elections officials. However, despite the focus on technology and security, it was poor information design and usability in the 2000 Palm Beach ballot that taught us all new words like “chad” (hanging or pregnant). This opportunity mirrors the challenges that usability advocates face every day. New voting system standards from IEEE may include usability requirements for the first time, but the real challenge is persuading elections officials to include information design, user interface skills, and usability as a routine part of the job of running an election.

Day Two - Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Presentation 5

Theory and Practice of Community-Based Usability: Reports from the Field

Jeff Grabill, Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Professional Writing, Co-Director of Writing in Digital Environments (WIDE) Research Center, Michigan State University

Observers of community computing initiatives note that they are plagued by problems of usability and productivity. One reason is that the computer interfaces and tools used in community contexts were designed for use in other contexts (e.g., business settings). Additionally, there is often very little support in community settings for people who want to be productive with advanced information technologies—to write, to create media, to design their own interfaces and tools. One method of intervention in this situation is to conduct community-situated inquiries of computer interfaces. But what does this research look like? This presentation will lay out theories and approaches that inform community usability inquiries, and use cases of past research projects to illustrate the necessity (and limitations) of this type of usability research.

Presentation 6

Strategic User Research: Partnering with Customers to Compete Effectively

Christina Wodtke, Information Architect

Observers of community computing initiatives note that they are plagued by problems of usability and productivity. One reason is that the computer interfaces and tools used in community contexts were designed for use in other contexts (e.g., business settings). Additionally, there is often very little support in community settings for people who want to be productive with advanced information technologies—to write, to create media, to design their own interfaces and tools. One method of intervention in this situation is to conduct community-situated inquiries of computer interfaces. But what does this research look like? This presentation will lay out theories and approaches that inform community usability inquiries, and use cases of past research projects to illustrate the necessity (and limitations) of this type of usability research.

Tutorial F

Making the Business Case

Susan Weinschenk, Chief of Technical Staff, Human Factors International

How do you make the case for usability and accessibility in hard dollars and cents? How can you convince others that your efforts are aligned with the needs of the organization? And how do you engage in usability in a cost-effective way?

This tutorial includes:

  1. The ROI (return on investment) of usability and accessibility
    • What's the bottom line? How to set, track, and achieve measurable goals
    • Different ways to experience and think about RO
    • Case studies
  2. Sustainable usability
    • How to effectively apply usability on an enterprise level
    • How to make usability and accessibility initiatives "stick"
    • Making your work re-usable
  3. Your roadmap to usability Nirvana
    • Assessing your organization's usability maturity level
    • Mapping your organization's usability vision and evolution
    • Practical advice on "getting there".

Presentation 7

Internet Use in Low-Income Families: Findings from the HomeNetToo Project

Linda A. Jackson, Professor of Psychology, Michigan State University

HomeNetToo is a multi-year research project to study how low-income families use the Internet at home and how using the Internet influences their lives. The project is funded by the National Science Foundation. Most of the 120 adult participants were African American (67%), female (80%), never married (42%), and had household incomes of less than $15,000 annually (49%). Most of the 140 children were African American (83%), male (58%), and 13 years old. Findings from HomeNetToo indicate that low-income families make good use of the Internet, logging in for about 30 minutes daily. Most of this time is spent searching for information on the Web, rather than e-mailing. Children in the project who used the Internet more subsequently had higher grade point averages and higher scores on standardized tests of reading achievement than did children who used it less. Other findings based on a separate sample of 140 African American adults suggest that designing the interface to better match user preferences may influence how well health information is learned. Future research is planned to examine how Internet use influences academic performance and how interface design influences learning in low-income children and adults.

Presentation 8

Modern Web Development: Improving Usability, Accessibility, and Efficiency with Structured Semantic Markup and Cascading Style Sheets

Nate Koechley, Senior Web Developer for Platform Design, Yahoo! Inc.

Modern Web development is actually a misnomer. HTML has been around since 1992, and CSS is now more than 10 years old. Discussion of the proper use of these technologies is a recent development, however, and opens the door to a more usable Internet for all. By maximizing the semantics and structure of the HTML, we're able to construct a meaningful and powerful core experience. Accurate markup ensures base accessibility and device interoperability. Considerate CSS enhances this foundation for an improved user experience regardless of device, medium, or ability. CSS and HTML combine to produce lightweight content that renders progressively and provides a fast and productive experience. In this clean world, semantics combine with styling to improve everything from hyperlinks to form elements. The first third of this talk will introduce these technologies and describe key principles. With the balance of the time, we'll look at real-world examples and best practices that are making a difference on the Web today.

Keynote Speaker (Day 2)

The Art and Science of Persuasion

Susan Weinschenk, Chief of Technical Staff, Human Factors International

In our roles as usability and accessibility change agents we most often have to persuade. Many of us are not in a position to mandate, but instead have to convince others of an alternate method of working. Dr. Susan Weinschenk offers insights from her 25 years of experience in the field, as well as from the research in psychology on human behavior. Find out: What are the most effective ways to persuade?

Presentation 9

The Ethics of User-Centered Design: From Minor Dilemmas to Life or Death

Chauncey E. Wilson, HCI Architect, WilDesign Consulting

The practice of user-centered design (UCD) involves many ethical trade-offs. Some ethical issues are obvious, such as protecting our participants from physical or mental harm. Other ethical issues, like the language we use to present results to management (how do we slant the results to highlight what we feel is critical to the success of a product?), the choice of tasks for a test, the extent to which we prompt participants in a lab study, and the degree to which we tell our clients about the limitations of our research methods, confront us nearly every day. In this session I present a taxonomy of ethical issues that confront UCD practitioners, discuss both common and extraordinary ethical scenarios, and provide some heuristics for making trade-offs when you find yourself in the throes of ethical dilemmas.

Presentation 10

The Role of Accessibility in Human Persuasion

John Eulenberg, Professor, Department of Audiology and Speech Sciences and Department of Linguistics, Germanic, Slavic, Asian, and African Languages, Director, Artificial Language Laboratory, Michigan State University

The proposition is simple: Enabling technologies do more than provide certain people with new ways of doing things that they otherwise could not do. Enabling technologies change belief systems and reconstruct reality. In other words, assistive technology is a technology of persuasion and therefore a source of underlying political change.In this graphic presentation, we explore some of the ways in which assistive technology has impinged upon the fabric of society and how even small increments in ease of communication or physical access can be agents of persuasion.This session will draw upon the work of the Artificial Language Laboratory at Michigan State University and the Laboratory's partners in providing pathways to human expression through the application of computer science, electronics, mechanical engineering, and linguistics.

Tutorial G

Usability Testing for Accessibility

Mary Grossnickle, Senior Usability Specialist, Human Factors International

The goal of evaluating for accessibility, i.e., assessing a product's usability from the perspective of users with disabilities, is to ensure that a product is both usable and accessible. A product that technically conforms to accessibility standards is not necessarily a usable product. To reach the goal of usable accessibility, evaluation must include the experience of people with disabilities. Including people with disabilities in a usability evaluation does not involve developing an entirely new usability testing methodology. Usability professionals can evaluate accessibility by using standard usability testing protocols, with a few modifications for including participants with disabilities. Planning a usability test that includes participants with disabilities involves determining participant characteristics (e.g., range and types of disabilities to include in the evaluation), recruiting participants, choosing the best location, and scheduling the right amount of time. Critical steps in preparing for the test include producing test materials in alternative formats, ensuring the accessibility of the facility, and becoming familiar with the assistive technologies that will be used during testing. When conducting the test, following simple guidelines in regard to interacting with people with disabilities will help lead to a successful experience. Setting up the room to accommodate assistive devices, personal assistants, and service animals are details that are easily overlooked. There are specific considerations to keep in mind when participants are completing the tasks, as well as when the moderator is collecting data, compensating participants, and writing about people with disabilities. Including participants with disabilities in usability testing, whether in a formal usability test or a short informal evaluation, will result in valuable feedback and a more accessible and usable product.

Presentation 11

Practical Policy Change Strategies: Infusing Web Accessibility into the Organizational Environment

Charmane K. Corcoran, Information and Accessibility Specialist, Michigan State University

This presentation addresses how to introduce a change in policy into an organization from the people and practical side of the policy. It involves understanding the organization's communication before and after the policy development. It involves easements into existing frameworks of doing business, including how different people use technology, how we train people, how we talk about the work we do, how we assess new products for purchase, and how to take an organizational systems approach to Web accessibility. The talk will give the participants ideas to consider in trying to infuse Web accessibility into their organizations.

Presentation 12

Moving Beyond "Using to Do": Broadening the Mandate for Usability Professionals to Include Lifestyle Interfaces

Bill Hart-Davidson, Assistant Professor and Co-Director of the Writing in Digital Environments (WIDE) Research Center, Michigan State University

One of the characteristic features of technological development in the last decade is the full-scale entry of information technologies into the personal realm. As networked software applications and digital devices of all types are built with the express purpose of connecting their users to information and to others, technologies formerly associated only with high-tech workplaces have become part of the daily routines of many North Americans, regardless of their work affiliations. Along with this migration of information technology to the personal is a shift in the overall aims that users bring to use situations. Simply put, users employ sophisticated information technologies not only to get things done, but also to live the sort of life they envision for themselves on a personal, emotional, and interpersonal level. Users are using information technologies to be, or to become, who they are. These shifts have begun to influence a broader mandate for usability professionals to look beyond the rational, procedural models of use that have characterized our design and evaluation practices. This presentation will suggest some ways to prepare usability professionals for these new challenges using examples and video clips taken from a recent design studio course taught by the presenter.