Tuesday Featured Talks

Your Chance to Pick and Choose!

Tuesday, October 14th is our "sampler day," where our conference speakers give informative and entertaining 90-minute presentations in two tracks. Note that some speakers are presenting a different topic than in their full-day seminar.

There is no advance sign-up for the featured talks. Attendance at each session will be limited only by available space. Tuesday also includes lunch and an entertaining (and often times controversial) keynote address by our very own Jared M. Spool. And, be sure to join us for the evening conference reception from 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

8:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.

The Quick, the Cheap, and the Insightful: Conducting Usability Tests in the Wild

Dana Chisnell

Dana Chisnell, UsabilityWorks

It's not clear when "quick and dirty" became a dirty phrase in the usability world. There are those that believe that testing must be scientific, and that takes time and money — luxuries not often available to many development projects.

However, it doesn't have to be that way. Useful insights can come just by having the chance to talk with and observe participants in the most informal of settings, such as cafés, trade shows, and the company cafeteria. It's possible to get valid, useful results without the time-consuming expense of traditional testing methods.

In this presentation, usability testing expert Dana Chisnell will break down the process of collecting user research data, exploring the must-haves, the nice-to-haves, and the certainly-can-do-withouts. You'll learn how you can answer essential design questions using methods that would make MacGyver proud.

This presentation is perfect for those who have never conducted a usability test. And if you've spent time coming up with your own quick-and-dirty techniques, be prepared to share your experiences.

16 Challenging Steps to Becoming an Experience-Driven Organization

Jeremy Keith

Peter Merholz, Adaptive Path

For any competent designer, it's not all that hard to craft a good user experience. What's overwhelmingly difficult is getting that good experience out into the world. In this talk, I'll go over 16 steps to become an organization driven by user experience. Some steps are easy; others are phenomenally hard. If you're able to follow them all, you should succeed. This talk can serve as a guidebook for your next 2-3 years.


10:15 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.

Serious Design Considerations When Using AJAX

Jeremy Keith

Jeremy Keith, Clearleft

Every day, browser-based applications are feeling and looking more like the sophisticated desktop applications we've come to know and love. Yet, all this sophistication comes with a price: implementation complexity. Subtle differences in browser and platform implementations, server connectivity reliability, and legacy application constraints are just a few of the hurdles developers need to jump to create Ajax applications.

Yet, developers all over the world are taking design interactions, previously thought to be impossible in the browser, and bringing them to reality. In the last few years, we've seen incredibly smooth map manipulation, dynamic inventory updating, embedded multi-media viewers, and even highly-functional word processing, spreadsheet, and image-editing applications.

Now, it's critical that every designer understand what's possible with the technology. We need to know what is simple to implement and how to reduce the risk creating downstream quality issues because of platform and implementation issues.

Jeremy Keith is one of the foremost authorities in Ajax implementations. In this presentation, he'll help you understand where today's boundaries lie, and how to avoid the traps and pitfalls that can quickly degrade your user's experience.

Content Page Design Best Practices

Luke Wroblewski

Luke Wroblewski, Yahoo! and LukeW Interface Designs

In today’s social, distributed, search-driven web, customers are finding their way to web content through an increasing number of distinct experiences. Yet, when people arrive at most web pages, the experience they get isn't optimized for this context. Instead, most content pages remain more concerned with their own context than the context of their users. These pages remain designed as if they were primarily accessed from a web site's home page, or a carefully thought-out selection from the site's information architecture. 

To address these issues, Luke Wroblewski outlines best practices for web content page design that focus on appropriate presentations of content, context, and calls to action. Specifically: how can content be optimized to meet user expectations as they arrive from a diverse number of access points; what is the minimum amount of context required to frame content appropriately; how can the most relevant calls to action be presented to maximize user engagement? By applying these considerations, you'll deliver amazing content experiences for your users.

12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Lunch and Keynote: Journey to the Center of Design

Jared M. Spool

Jared M. Spool, User Interface Engineering

User-centered design was born in the 1980s, amidst a world filled with frustration with blinking VCR clocks and computer command lines. Up until this time, developers focused on making the devices work, giving little heed to how they’d be used. Terms like “user friendly” and “easy to use,” buzzwords for the UCD movement, soon became as common as “new and improved” on laundry soap.

Fast forward 25 years and it now seems the foundations of user-centered design are now disintegrating. Notable community members are suggesting UCD practice is burdensome and returns little value. There’s a growing sentiment that spending limited resources on user research takes away from essential design activities. Previously fundamental techniques, such as usability testing and persona development, are now regularly under attack. And let’s not forget that today’s shining stars, such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and the iPod, came to their success without UCD practices.

Is it time for user-centered design to evolve into something else? Or is there something else happening in our world of experience design that makes UCD obsolete? Should something else occupy the center of design?

These are just the questions that Jared Spool likes to answer. We guarantee a journey that shouldn’t be missed.

2:15 p.m. - 3:45 p.m.

Where Usability Meets Desirability: Visual Design with Personas and Goals

Kim Goodwin

Kim Goodwin, Cooper

Visual design has a huge impact on usability. It clarifies hierarchy and relationships for users, makes type more readable, and makes screens less cluttered. Visual design also enhances desirability by appealing to our aesthetic sense and emotions. However, in spite of its importance, few teams have the tools to integrate visual design into their design processes, or to help stakeholders evaluate visual design based on objective criteria.

In this presentation, Cooper’s Kim Goodwin will discuss how field research, personas, and requirements provide effective means for doing so. She will discuss:

  • Why it's ideal to have team members dedicated to either interaction design or visual design
  • How minor adjustments to interaction design personas can help designers guide, assess, and communicate about visual design and brand choices
  • How using research and personas to develop a set of visual design requirements can give designers and stakeholders more objective assessment criteria and help them build consensus.
  • How visual design requirements help designers develop visual style studies and guide stakeholders in selecting an appropriate direction.

The Essentials of Agile Development

Jeff Patton

Jeff Patton, AgileProductDesign.com

At first glance, agile development might look like it lays waste to a rigorous UX practice by doing away with time for research, design, and testing and placing control in the hands of developers and uninformed stakeholders.  While agile development does present serious challenges for UX practitioners, many organizations have adopted agile and the UX practitioners within them have accepted and adapted.  And, in the process they’ve invented some innovative and affective UX practice.  These UX folks are often heard saying “we’re glad we’re doing agile” and “I really prefer working this way!”
In his presentation, Jeff Patton will discuss the essentials of agile software development, the common pitfalls encountered by UX practitioners adopting agile development, and emergent best practices for successful agile UX teams. 
This session serves as an agile primer.  If you're attending Jeff's full-day seminar, we also suggest you attend this talk to get the basics of agile development under your belt.


4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Design Games for Gathering Customer Insights

Donna Spencer

Donna (Maurer) Spencer, Maadmob

Would you like your design team to collaborate better? Are you looking to gather more valuable insights from your focus groups and interviews?

Design games are a fun, technology-neutral way of gathering design insights for your projects. In this presentation, Donna (Maurer) Spencer, an expert information architect, will show you how to take advantage of design games in many situations, with all types of people, including:

  • Design Your Ideal Page and Role Playing: Facilitates the brainstorming of design concepts and ideas
  • Divide-the Dollar: Prioritizes your site's features
  • Modified Card Sorting: Helps you create content categories and terminology

Why Designers Fail and What to Do About It

Scott Berkun

Scott Berkun, scottberkun.com

All those who participate in design, from interaction designers, to usability engineers, to IA masters, fall victim to the same kinds of challenges when trying to bring good design into the world. From politics, to hubris, to downright incompetence, what can we learn by confessing to, and examining the causes of, our failures?

Scott Berkun thinks we can learn everything, much more than studying our successes. This fun, interactive talk, explores why designers fail and offers advice on how to learn from and triumph in the face of these situations.