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February Recap- Designers designing research: What methods do you choose?

Posted: February 27th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Events | 2 Comments »

Last week, Sam Ladner, PhD, brought to our attention that even designers have unspoken theories about social life.  These assumptions can impact how we think about the world, so we should become aware of our assumptions before starting any design research. 

What assumptions do I have?

Do you find yourself thinking “how many people did we talk to in our usability tests,” “how many hits did our site get,” or “how can I add statistics to my reports?”  This means that you have an implicit assumption that social phenomena can be counted and this leads you to focus on gathering quantitative information for your design research. 

Maybe this doesn’t sound like you, and you think that counting and numbers are just not enough!  You realize that people have different experiences, therefore you include more qualitative information into your design research.  You want to see the world through the eyes of your respondents and aspire to have your participants’ voices heard.

Which design research method is best?

Knowing your implicit assumptions will help you understand whether you will gravitate towards qualitative or quantitative research methods.  The best method is usually a mix of both qualitative and quantitative.  However, you should also ensure that your design research method coincides with the type of project you’re on, your strengths, and your clients.  You may find that you are in a situation where your clients have assumptions that everything can be counted, so you may need to be prepared to include some numerical data in your research. 

Check out the Mobile Work Life Project!

Sam and her team are working on a sociological research study of work/life balance and mobile phones.  Please let her know if you’d like to be a participant and follow the project on Twitter at @mobileworklife.  Thank you, Sam, for taking the time to share your ideas with us!

uxWaterloo February Event    Sam Ladner    Sam Ladner 2

Hope to see you at our March Events!

uxWaterloo has these two events lined up for March, and we hope to see you there!

January Recap- Practical Advice for Accessible Design

Posted: February 23rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Events | No Comments »

Our February uxWaterloo event Designers designing research: what methods do you choose?  is coming up tomorrow and we hope to see you there! 

If you missed our January event, Ali Ghassemi and Dariusz Grabka of Desire2Learn hosted over 50 uxWaterloo members and shared their insights about accessible design.  They shared their key formula with us, which was:

Accessible Design = Personal knowledge x thoughtful design x good technical implementation +/- magic

Now, getting your hands on some magic may prove to be difficult, but you can remember these key points to improve the accessibility of your designs. 

1) Use different personas for each piece of hardware

Dariusz Grabka

Dariusz Grabka

Consider how your design will work for someone without a keyboard, mouse, monitor, or sound.

2) When designing for screen readers

Stay away from the cardinal sin of using “click here” links, as they will not provide any context to someone using a screenreader.  Instead, include the name of the subject in the link (e.g. uxWaterloo February Event) and this will allow those using screenreaders to navigate the page and understand which links are about certain topics.

3) Design standards to consider

Keep your code clean, as page layout is very important for screenreaders.  Remember to use inline headings in your CSS to help users with screenreaders understand what your page is about.  Stay away from using tables as the layout of your page, as they are difficult to interpret on a screenreader.  Ensure that images on your site have alternative text and captions, as captions will help your images appear in a search of the site.  On a web form, you should ensure that your error pages do not require users to re-enter data, as this increases their effort.

Ali Ghassemi

Ali Ghassemi

4) Tips for developers

Developing with accessibility in mind can be tricky, so collaborate and quality test with other developers and designers.  You can have alternative designs for users, to give them options.  For example, a drag and drop design can also include checkboxes as an alternative.   Off-screen CSS is also a simple way to provide information for screenreaders only.  For example, when colour or images imply information on your site, you can use off-screen CSS to identify the colour or relay additional information.


5) Accessibility Resources

Derek Featherstone– Check out Derek’s web talks about accessible design.

@webaxe– Podcast & blog about web accessibility. Techniques, theory, news, events, and more!

Thanks again to Ali and Dariusz for hosting such a great event!

Creative Thinking Hacks with Scott Berkun

Posted: February 17th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Events | 2 Comments »

Wednesday March 2, 2010
12:00 to 1:00 pm

Quarry Integrated Communications
1440 King St North (large building on the riverbank, next to the bridge)
St. Jacobs
[Map and Directions]

March has turned into another bountiful month for uxWaterloo. While we have not yet announced details for our regular meeting in the third week of the month, today we’re excited to announce a special lunch hour event on Wednesday March 2.

Scott Berkun should be no stranger to uxWaterloo attendees, as he gave a talk on The Myths of Innovation at our February 2009 event. Actually, “gave a talk” does him a disservice. Scott’s presentation was entirely based on questions from the audience, and the event was an entertaining dialogue in which Scott shared his thoughts with a thoroughly engaged audience. And the event has a special place in our hearts here at uxWaterloo, as a photo that Scott took of his audience found its way into his 2009 book Confessions of a Public Speaker.

For Scott’s March 2 visit, the theme is creative thinking hacks, and Scott has again suggested that the event be driven by questions from the audience. To that end, if you have any theme-related questions that you’d like Scott to answer, please feel free to add them into a comment on this post or bring them to the event. In fact, bring your lunch to the event too.

We have a couple of organizations to thank for their parts in making this event happen.

First, our friends at Communitech are bringing Scott to town for their Tech Leadership conference on March 2, and we appreciate their help in bringing Scott to this special uxWaterloo event.

Second, our friends at Quarry Integrated Communications generously offered to host the event at their lovely riverside offices in St. Jacobs. There’s plenty of parking there, and the atmosphere in the recently renovated space is quite suitable for the “creativity hacks” theme of the event.

Register today: seating is limited!

Register for Event