Thursday, October 12, 2006
UIE Showcase Seminar, 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

New Perspectives in User Experience Design

For 15 years, User Interface Engineering has researched and developed the most advanced, state-of-the-art usability strategies and techniques used today. UIE’s Jared M. Spool and Joshua Porter will share their outlook on the state of the User Experience Design today. You'll have the chance to hear Jared and Josh give informative and entertaining 90-minute presentations in two tracks.

Jared Spool, the Founding Principal of User Interface Engineering, has guided the research agenda and built UIE into the largest research organization of its kind in the world.

Joshua Porter is a leading member of UIE's research team, writing extensively on such topics as Web 2.0, Ajax, web standards, and on-site search systems.

10:30am - 12:00am

An Introduction to Social Web Applications

Joshua Porter

Joshua Porter

New web applications focused on social interactions are growing like wildfire. MySpace, Facebook, and Craigslist all sit in the top 20 most used web sites in the world. What is the secret to their success? What can we learn from them to apply to our own applications?

In this talk Joshua Porter will delve into the traits that these web sites have in common, uncovering interesting details that are applicable to a much wider range of uses. He'll show you how subtle differences in message, tone, and interaction can make huge differences in how these sites succeed. He'll also address the interesting design methodologies that these sites share, like the notion of designing for constant change.

One of the tensions in building these social web applications, and in networked software in general, is the tension between building for personal value vs. building for social value. Josh will talk about how the most successful applications tend to focus on personal value first, while not neglecting the social value that virally spreads to others.

What Makes a Design Seem Intuitive?

Jared M. Spool

Jared M. Spool

Everyone wants an intuitive interface: the users, the designers, and the content publishers. But building them is hard. User Interface Engineering's recent research has given insight into why it's hard and how to get past major obstacles.

To build an "intuitive" interface, a designer has to do two things: (1) Take complete advantage of what the user already knows, so that what they see is completely familiar to them and (2) make the act of learning anything new completely imperceptible to the user. It turns out that, if the interface requires the user to realize they are learning something, the "intuitive" label disappears instantly.

In this talk, Jared will show:

  • How to teach users concepts without them even realizing it
  • How some designers have managed to make simple concepts complex
  • Examples of popular web sites that have made complex topics intuitive

1:00am - 2:30pm

Developing Tagging Systems

Joshua Porter

Joshua Porter

Tagging has become a powerful way to let users organize information themselves, obviating some of the work traditionally done by Information Architects. Sites like and Flickr have used tags effectively to allow users access to content in their own words, as opposed to the words of a more static taxonomy.

We've seen some interesting trends with tagging. They're being used in many different places and for many different things, some of which work and some of which don't. This talk will help make sense of tagging and answer questions like: When does tagging make sense? What applications is it good for? What is it bad at? When should you forgo tagging and rely on Information Architecture? Can you use both at the same time?

Designers are beginning to wonder if tags could be valuable on their sites and applications. We'll uncover the answer to that in this session.

Initial Scent: The Latest Thinking on Home Page Design

Jared M. Spool

Jared M. Spool

The Home Page plays a critical role in the user's experience on your site. It's the first page users interact with and its design determines whether users succeed or fail to complete their objective.

For many organizations, the Home Page is also the most politically sensitive page. Every group wants their piece of the real estate and feels their business priorities need the boldest and brightest design elements. How do you ensure you produce a design that meets users needs while achieving the objectives of the organization? What home page design will work best for your organization?

The key to a successful home page is how it communicates the "scent" to direct the user to the content they seek. Jared M. Spool will share UIE's most recent thinking on the best approaches for designing the optimal home page. Starting from the foundations of the Scent of Information, he'll talk about:

  • How "link-rich" home pages, which reveal the volumes of available content, are quickly supplanting sparse, decorative pages containing just a handful of links
  • Why many popular sites are moving beyond an 800 pixel-width design with pages up to 3,000 pixels in length
  • When designing links on the home page, what tricks are designers using to ensure users achieve their goal
  • How do other "landing pages" in the site need to change, now that search engines, aggregators, and deep linking bypass the home page for many users

2:45pm - 4:15pm

Recommendation Systems

Joshua Porter

Joshua Porter

A special class of social web applications, recommendation systems help people filter through huge amounts of choices and find just the right ones. To do this a recommendation system bases its recommendations on the actions of both the person it is recommending to as well as other people...people they know, family members, or those who happen to be similar in some way.

Sites like Amazon, Netflix, and have refined recommendation systems that people love. How do they do what they do? How do they take what people have shown they are interested in and then show them something they might not know about? What recommendation techniques work better than others?

Also, can you apply recommendations for movies and music to other types of information? How about shopping for cars? Or countries to visit? Or what types of news to read? These questions are growing ever more important in an age where information is everywhere and choices are endless. Recommendation systems promise to address this challenge.

Strike Up the Brand: How to Design for Branding on the Web

Jared M. Spool

Jared M. Spool

What's the most effective way to strengthen a brand on the internet? Recent research shows that it isn't using traditional branding techniques. In fact, those tried-and-true methods can actually hurt your brand, if implemented poorly.

In this presentation, Jared Spool will discuss how User Interface Engineering's recent usability research has uncovered some fascinating truths about how people perceive brands on the internet. He'll discuss:

  • How 'affinity branding' differs from 'dispositional branding'
  • How 'message branding' doesn't work, but 'experience branding' does
  • How the user's experience dictates their perception of the site
  • How advertising can hurt the user's perception of the brand
  • When to use 'Seducible Moments' and how they can dramatically increase sales traffic