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


Designing Our Future(s)

Erik Dahl, Erik Dahl Design Company

Design is increasingly gaining influence in the companies we work in and the world at large, which means our actions as designers have an increasing influence on shaping the world around us. All of our individual choices, collectively form our manufactured world. Do you know where the choices you are making are leading, not just on the scale of your project, but on a larger scale? Are you making choices that matter or choices that lead to desirable outcomes? Are you designing mindfully for our larger collective futures or are you just “checking a box” or blindly chasing the latest design craze or “silver bullet” process? The success of good design isn’t new and relies on a core set of first principles that if followed lead to better outcomes, but it is up to all of us to make it happen. Join Erik as he discusses these first principles of good design as we collectively shape our future, and create the future world that you want to live in.

Understanding the User Experience Behind the New WCAG 2.1 Requirements

Shawn Henry, World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative; Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The international standard Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 includes 17 new requirements called "success criteria" (SC). The parameters that dictate how WCAG success criteria are worded and what they include often make the SC a bit challenging to understand by themselves. To really understand the success criteria and implement them well, one needs to know the intention of the SC to meet specific user needs. In this session, we'll explore the low vision, cognitive, and mobile user needs that led to the development of each new WCAG 2.1 success criteria. We'll demonstrate accessibility barriers and accessibility solutions related to the new requirements — from users' perspectives. After understanding the user experience issues, you will then be able to makes sense of the success criteria wording and know how to implement and test the success criteria better.


Planning for Usability

Peter Morville, President, Semantic Studios

We can’t predict the future, yet we do it all the time. We organize events, trips, projects, days, weeks, and years. We plan to buy a home, build a career, survive cancer, learn to dance, teach a class, or get in shape. Our ability to model the world as it is and might be is a gift, but mental time travel is also really hard. Fortunately, since planning is a skill, everyone from playful improviser to rigorous planner can improve, and that’s the aim of this talk. Along the way, we’ll cover:

  • The principles and practices of nonlinear planning.
  • How to grow and sustain hope with willpower and waypower.
  • When to pivot or persist with paths, goals, values, and metrics.
  • How artificial intelligence is poised to transform what we plan.
  • The relationship between planning and usability.

If you hate planning, you’re doing it wrong. The uncertainty of change makes us crave chaos or control, but it’s as dangerous to be rigid as it is to move fast and break things. To organize the future, we will find better ways, because happiness is a prediction, and it’s also the freedom you feel upon realizing there is no one right way to plan.

How to Talk with Engineers about Usability

Dawn Opel, Assistant Professor; Experience Architecture Program and Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures; Michigan State University

Starting a new usability or UX project requires buy-in from multiple stakeholders who often do not think in the same ways, speak the same language, or prioritize the same goals. This presentation is drawn from the speaker's experience as an academic UX researcher who regularly pitches projects to engineers and writes grants with large teams, advocating for the inclusion of UX and usability. She will offer lessons learned and tips for getting to build a successful UX/usability collaboration across different mindsets.

Designing a Usable and Accessible Personal Health Record

Jason Withrow, Web Design & Development Full-Time Faculty, Washtenaw Community College

This Department of Education grant-funded project began with researching the health information needs of people with disabilities through interviews and surveys, then progressed to usability testing of a personal health record prototype with those groups. Numerous scenarios were tested and the results showed that achieving the proper level of accessibility is an iterative process.