MSU UARC is shutting down effective June 30, 2021. We are no longer taking on new projects.


Morning Sessions (Concurrent)

Workshop: Session 1-A

Usability as a Tool for Capacity Building: Conducting Community-Based User Research

Jeff Grabill, Co-Director, MSU WIDE Research Center and Associate Professor, Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures

This workshop helps participants move common and well-understood practices and methods ("usability") into a less common domain of application, "the community." The workshop focuses on key contextual differences and resulting methodological decisions that researchers must make. Significant focus is given to usability as a way to help build capacity in communities.

Workshop: Session 1-B

Live Web Site Evaluations: Usability and Marketing Message

Dave Mitropoulos-Rundus, President, Michigan Usability Professionals' Association

Why is Web site usability important? In an informative and entertaining way, Mitropoulos-Rundus will demonstrate how and why it matters by conducting live evaluations of Web sites that have been submitted by attendees. The session provides a rare opportunity to interact with stakeholders and designers, and, time and bandwidth permitting, discuss your site. The interactive evaluations that occur in this session will reveal areas of excellence as well as opportunities for improvement. Most important, they will focus your attention on what's important for design and improvement of your Web sites.

If you are interested in having a particular site evaluated during this session (Web site must belong to you or the company you work for) send (1) address of Web site of interest, (2) your name and contact information, and (3) your affiliation with the site, in an E-mail to

Afternoon Sessions

Session 2

New Communication Technology for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People

Christopher Hunter, Director, Division on Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DODHH), Michigan Commission on Disability Concerns, Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth

Telecommunications and movie theatre access for deaf and hard of hearing people continue to improve. This presentation demonstrates the "Big Three Hot Tech"-including video relay/video remote interpreting, captioned telephone, and motion picture access (MOPIX)-that are widely used in the U.S.

Session 3

"Ford! Where's My Car?" — The Story of Usability and Vehicle Order Management

Chad Esselink, Team Supervisor, IT Creative Design and Usability Team, Ford; Martin Rutyna, Project Manager, IT Creative Design and Usability Team; Eric Schrage, Usability Specialist, IT Creative Design and Usability Team; Mike Mistak, Graphic Designer, IT Creative Design and Usability Team

The Ford IT Creative Design and Usability team discusses its work on a large scale project involving usability testing, multiple wireframe revisions, and incorporation of accessible JavaScript components. While business confidentiality requirements limit discussion of some aspects of the project, a detailed look at a few of our efforts should provide insight on the integration of usability principles into a large scale development project.

Session 4

Podcasting About Usability: Behind the Sounds of "Design Critique: Products for People

Timothy Keirnan, Producer and Co-Host, Design Critique: Products for People; Tom Brinck, Creative Director, and Co-Host, Design Critique: Products for People

Tim Keirnan is co-founder of the Michigan chapter of the Usability Professionals' Association and creator/co-host of Design Critique: Products for People, one of the first podcasts devoted to user-centered design. Out of frustration with the still-spotty adoption of user-centered design principles in consumer and professional products, he created the podcast in 2005 with friend and peer Tom Brinck, co-author of Usability for the Web: Designing Web Sites that Work.

Design Critique preaches the gospel of user-centered design through a variety of episode types: (1) longitudinal reviews, in which Keirnan and Brinck discuss design details of consumer hardware and software products they have both used for several months to give their reviews "lived-in" credibility; (2) WordCasts, in which Keirnan and Brinck discuss a user interface design principle or professionally related concept; and (3) interviews, in which Keirnan and Brinck learn what their peers are doing in user experience-related fields.

Episodes often feature guest contributors. Part Car Talk for user experience professionals and part "Bob and Doug McKenzie with master's degrees," Design Critique has been said to be hosted by the "odd couple" of usability. Tim/Felix and Tom/Oscar hope their informal, occasionally humorous attempt to convey the importance of human-centered design is helpful to businesses not yet acquainted with UCD practices, fun for students who really should be doing their homework instead of listening to podcasts, and worthwhile for their peers to learn what each other are up to. You can listen to Design Critique: Products for People at or subscribe for free at Apple's iTunes Music Store podcast listings (search on Design Critique).

Session 5

Driver Distraction: What is the Problem and How can it be Solved?

Paul A. Green, Research Professor, Human Factors Division, University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), and Adjunct Associate Professor, Industrial and Operations Engineering (IOE)

In the last few years driving has changed, with drivers attempting to time-share between driving and other personal tasks such as eating, grooming, and using cell phones. This presentation discusses crash data, UMTRI and other data on the frequency of occurrence of these tasks, legislative and technical solutions to reduce the risk of distractions, and speculation about the future of in-vehicle technology. Some goals of this presentation are to debunk myths about driver distraction (and the use of cell phones) with scientific data, and to provide guidance for engineers and product designers, legislators and law enforcement officials, and the general public about how to make products safe and easy to use. Of particular importance are lessons learned from the ongoing Safety Vehicles Using Adaptive Interface Technologies (SAVE-IT) project on driver workload management.

Session 6

The Expertise and Complexity of Citizen Knowledge Work; or, A Tale of How Information Technologies Move from Being Good Collaborators to Poor Collaborations

Jeff Grabill

This talk is based on a study of an existing data democratization effort called CACVoices, and includes a public Web site that hosts both a powerful set of databases and other types of public information. It is an example of a common type of community network that aggregates information, tools, and IT capacity for "the public." Citizen and community-based organizations in nearly every community rely on networks like CACVoices to do their work.

In doing this research we have learned that the work of individuals and groups within these organizations constitutes a type of "knowledge work." However, while complex information technologies are readily available to such users, it is unclear how well the tools support expert knowledge workers in these new contexts. This study is one attempt to provide evidence about a common but largely invisible area of human-computer interaction — community-based knowledge work. In this talk we discuss our results and report on our attempts to design new tools to support community-based knowledge work.