Posts Tagged ‘iasummit2008

Purpose of participatory design: To understand the people using your site and uncover latent needs and desires. Then translate those needs into product.

Setting up the lab

Large TV used for demonstrations (show and tell), don’t have to crowd around small monitor
Cameras set up around the room to get a variety of angles, including ceiling (to get a shot of what people are working on)
Used Austin Powers and Homer Simpson cut outs – sets mood of relaxation and fun
Large table for people to spread out and be creative
Large whiteboard for brainstorming
One-way mirror where the team can watch the sessions
Keep the session relaxed
Food – helps breaks down the social barriers


Use an incentive of $150-200
Communicate about the food options that are going to be available so that person can eat if only snacks are provided (and are not thinking about food the entire time)
6-9 participants
Can have designer or business person co-facilitate (take pictures, answer questions)
Recruit with specific specifications in mind (newbie, expert, mix, ect)


Example: Design a coffee maker

Workflows and Features: Steps required to make coffee and/or tea
Show and Tell: Used a Similar Coffee Maker? Describe the steps to make it work
Individual Design Exercise: Sketch your ideas coffee maker
Discuss of the Individual Designs
Work as a team of 3 and and sketch new design
Discussion of th Group Design


Construct designs

Can have magnetic interface elements
Post it notes
Construction paper
Glue stick!!
Have people construct designs
Seed pieces: to cut or not to cut? Cut out pieces, but not too many. Don’t make multiple copies of the same thing (ex: more than one search box – too granular).
8.5×11 for individual

8.5×14 or 11×17 for group sessions

Can give screenshots of other websites such as Amazon, Walmart, Google (without brand) and allow people to cut out elements.

Can also have a second package that is more leading and fancy such as ajax elements and competitors sites. This provides for multiple datapoints. They first work with package 1 then 10 minutes later they get package 2.

Looking for discussion and underlying content, not layout
Differences in individual and group designs
Sequence of the elements that they took out/cut out and used
Provide very specific tasks or personas for the design activity

Don’t take participants design literally! Trying to get at the root of the need.

Running a Session: Tips & Tricks

Move from general to specific to avoid biasing
Introduction (Great Greg, Magnificent Michael, ect)
Want to be dressed better than participants (to assert authority)
Make crazy faces at people behind the mirror (acknowledge that they are being watched)
Warm up – use whiteboard to write down activities, existing features, features wanted
People talk about physical features, but we are looking for underlying motivations and roles. Probe participants to get at the “why”
Round Robin – ask people what they think (don’t do this too often)
Can have design review of group design – better if people did not design the same thing to avoid competition

Will end up with lots of data points around the artifact creation!


It’s going to take 2 weeks (recommended timeline)

  • take time off
  • watch the videos again, if you hear something interesting you type it up
  • reconstruct the sequence
  • come up with a report and plan 4-5 insights
  • Looking for worksflows, goals/motivations, interests, expectations, behaviors, mental models, features
    • features are least important, people have a hard time expression features. It is better to understand the underlying needs.
  • Create roles (mini personas): motivations, behaviors, expectations, interesting in ..

Technorati Tags:


Leah Buley from adaptive path gave THE BEST talk ever on “How to be a UX Team of One”.

3 strategies for being a UX Team of one

  1. Brainstorm, a lot
  2. Assemble an ad hoc team
  3. Pick the best ideas


Generate lots of ideas by sketching with just a pen and paper. Have at least 5 sketches before putting down a single pixel on the computer.

You can use several tricks to generate ideas:

Spectrum, 2×2, and Grids (just to name a few). Leah used the example of Evite to talk about the different techniques.

In spectrum brainstorming, you generate designs on a spectrum from first time users to experts.

In a 2×2 (which has both an x and y axis), the horizontal spectrum is still a continuum from first time user and expert and the vertical spectrum flows between automatic invitation creation to manual invitation creation. Create sketches for all of those scenarios.

In a grid, you think about the first time user, the guided user, and the expert. You can also think about the website as being about invitation design, about friends, about tracking, about fun. Then create designs for each combination.

Aside from these techniques, you can also experiment with word associations and come up with designs from the word associations. Additionally, Leah highly recommends having an inspirational library (she uses a Firefox plugin called screengrab). You can take elements from designs that you really like and combine them to create innovative new designs.

Assemble an Ad Hoc Team

Host open design sessions with as many stakeholders as possible to generate ideas. Have an informal design session (with pizza) where everyone creates sketches.

You can run template based workshops to help non-designers create sketches.

You should also decorate your work space with sketches so that your ideas are public and you can get a constant stream of feedback and conversation.

Finally, you can create sketchboards that posts requirements next to sketches to enable conversation.

Pick the best ideas

Brainstorming is all about generating lots of ideas, eventually you need to pick the best ones to get to your final design.

You can pick the best ideas through

  1. Business needs (okay)
  2. User needs (better)
  3. Design principles (best)

Design principles are a small number of specific phrases that describe what you want the product to be; they are your “north star” or guiding light in picking the most optimal design.

So in the case of Evite

increase registration (business need) + help manage communication (user need) = make it addictive (design principle).

The design principle is greater than the sum of business needs and user needs. By “make it addictive” we mean we want to encourage everyone associated with the event to keep coming back to the site. So which ever designs best fit the design principle are the ones that make the cut.

Finally, Leah ended by DECLARING that “I am a UX Team of One!” and asking everyone to join her in the declaration. Plus, we go an awesome pin to wear that proclaims each of us as a UX Team of One.

So I would like to sum up by saying

I am UX Team of One! Hear me roar!

Tagging: Five Emerging Trends by Gene Smith

Gene recently came out with a book on tagging called Tagging: People-Powered Metadata for the Social Web (Voices That Matter)

[Side note: I found out from Gene that he mentioned my WWW07 article somewhere in his book, sweet!]

Trends force us to challenge and change our conceptual model. The traditional model is user-resource-tags. The model was developed by analyzing the first tagging systems like delicious.

Because delicious and Flickr were so well designed, we thought they represented all tagging systems. However, there has been a lot of innovation from other systems.

Five Trends
– More Structure
– Automanual Folksonomies
– Leveraging Communities
– Rethinking Pace Layers
– Sparking Innovating

The trends are not stand-alone, they blend together. They also show that tagging is going off in a new direction.

More Structure

In first wave, people liked the lack of structure in tags. Tags allowed differences to flourish such as people who like “cinema” versus “movies” (quotes from Shirky). Although tagging systems met people’s needs, there was still a desire for structure.

Examples: – came up with sticky and non-sticky tags. Sticky tags are associated with a specific merchant, while one-time tags are associated with the transaction. This is innovative because wasabe broke up the “resource” part of the tagging triad into parts.

zigtag – introduced semantic tags. Provides definitions for each tag. They mined Wikipedia for definitions, in order to make the tags more meaningful.

Leveraging Communities

LibraryThing allows you to combine two tags and essentially makes them a synonym. The combinations are generated by the users of the system. This eliminates a lot of noise, and creates a user-generated controlled vocabulary.

A negotiation needs to happen within the community about which tags should be combined or broken apart. Interestingly, “humor” and “humour” are not combined, although overlap exists.

Automanual Folksonomies

A combination of automatic and bottom-up structures. – an ebay fo hand-made items. If you are the designer of etsy, how do you create product categories when you don’t know what people will sell? So Etsy’s solution was to use tags, but define top-level categories which people had to pick.

LibraryThing – tagmash is a search feature where you can combine/subtract tags in your search. Tim Spalding used tagmash to emulate LC subject headings. This allows LibraryThing to see which books fall into specific headings. It also creates a cheap and easy maintenance system.

Rethinking Pace Layers

Pace layers is a concept developed by Steward Brand. He talked about it in “How Buildings Learn”. Peter Morville adopted this for IA.

Some layers such as taxonomies are durable and less flexible than tagging, which is adaptable. However, tags are not only flexible, adaptable, but also durable (quoted Golder and Huberman’s work on the stability of tags over time). – created a system that leverages a product taxonomy, faceted navigation, and user-generated tags. You can use these tags to filter out products (in concert with a product taxonomy). They also turned product reviews into filtering through fragmenting text into tags, creating a faceted classification, and allowing filtering (Fragment, Facet, Tag).

Sparking Innovation

Geotagging in Flickr started with one guy tagging his photos with longitude and latitude. Then flickr build the functionality into the system, so it became automatic.

Final Thoughts

Tags are an essential component of products. This is especially evident when developers innovate with tagging, and make the product better.

Technorati Tags:

Alla Zollers

I design products and services that just. make. sense.

When products make sense, customers are happy.

If customer are happy, they sign-up, stay on site, engage, share, and buy your product or service.

Happy customers allow companies to profit in both senses of the word.

I provide the following services:

• Heuristic Evaluations
• Discovery Research
• Strategy and Vision Development
• Information Architecture
• User Experience Design
• Usability Testing

You can find me on:

Twitter Updates

Error: Please make sure the Twitter account is public.