Abstracts

Session 1

Making the Case for Usability

Carol Barnum, Professor of Information Design and Co-Director of the Usability Center, Southern Polytechnic State University, and author of Usability Testing and Research

This is the story of a company that went from a single request for a late-stage usability test of its product to a user-centered design process that builds usability into product development every step of the way. Most companies are quite secretive about the fact they conducted usability testing on its products, so we never get to see what the issues were for users and how products improved as a result. This story is different. Using screen captures, video clips, and metrics of performance improvement and cost savings, I can share the ways in which the product and the development process improved, along with the company's bottom line.

Session 2

Useful, Usable, AND Desirable: How One Washer Changed the Face of Laundry

Laura Vennie, Usability Specialist, Whirlpool; Sara Ulius Sabel, Usability Specialist, Whirlpool

For many, doing the laundry is complicated, time-consuming drudgery. A necessary evil, it is not typically an activity that one looks forward to each week. At least, that was largely the case until Whirlpool Corporation unveiled the Duet(R) Fabric Care System — a front loading washer and dryer pair that offered consumers a visually compelling, easy to use, high performance alternative to traditional "white box" laundry appliances. This talk explores how a user-centered research and design process was used at Whirlpool Corporation to develop a product that shook-up the laundry industry and radically altered the way that users think about laundry.

Session 3

Accessibility Experts Lead the Way to Profits by Design

Stephen Blosser, Assistive Technology Specialist at the MSU Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities (RCPD) and Client Advocacy Office; Michael J. Hudson, Director, MSU Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities (RCPD)

Many products being produced today are not accessible to people with disabilities. Machines, appliances and tools that require human interaction are being redesigned and mass produced at an ever increasing rate. The way we live our lives (cook, wash our cloths, drive our car, communicate, run the farm, continue our employment, etc.) is changing on a daily basis.

Persons with disabilities are being left out of the design loop. While some guidelines are available to help, such as ADA and Web consortiums, these do not always answer questions about how persons with disabilities will utilize new innovative features and control techniques. This presentation will describe the "Talking Washer/Dryer" that is designed to be accessible to persons with visual impairments and be cost effective. A new usability service (Accessibility Experts) available in Michigan will also be presented that provides a solution to the need for persons with disabilities to be involved in the design and usability testing of products.

Session 4

Recommender Systems: User Experience and System Issues

Joseph Konstan, Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Minnesota, and author of Word of Mouse: The Marketing Power of Collaborative Filtering

Over the past decade, recommender systems employing collaborative filtering technology have evolved from research proofs-of-concept to commonplace components of e-commerce web sites and direct marketing. At the same time, research has moved forward to embrace more sophisticated algorithms and more detailed exploration of both the user experience and online community issues. This talk reviews recent highlights from the decade-old GroupLens Research Project, including an overview of the techniques used in recommendation and recent results on the social and design issues surrounding participation in online communities.