Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Designing for Poor Motor Control

I am working on the design of a hand held device for patients that suffer the hypertonicity or spasticity caused by cerebral palsy, multiple scelrosis, brain injury or stroke. I have thinking about the disability consequences that result from these conditions. I have been researching assistive devices these patients might be using to accomplish common daily tasks like bathing, eating, walking and so forth.

I found this great site that listed the variety of assitive devices that people with motor control use to get through their day. From this list, I have been able to explore what tools people use and would be familiar with, I am hoping to understand why the designs of these devices help a person cope and apply those same principles into the device I am designing.

I am not an accessibility expert, but I am hoping to design something that will fit seamlessly into the lives of these patients and their caregivers.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Online Gaming and Medical Device Design

Some of my close friends know that I am totally addicted to COD5. It is important to recognize that I am using this immersively interactive experience to help me think of new ways to approach design problems. I may even be patenting one of my more promising ideas for a medical device soon. Since I plan on patenting this idea, I can't talk about it yet. I am listed a a co-inventor for two patent applications, one for deep brain stimulation and another for an indoor air comfort system, so maybe all this game playing is paying off.

I would like to share a Game Research site I stumbled on with a link to a good article: http://game-research.com/index.php/articles/making-sense-of-software-computer-games-as-interactive-textuality/

Spend time having fun and ideas will come!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Touchscreen UI for Handheld Devices

I am designing a User Interface for a handheld device with a touchscreen.

One of the first engineering things I needed to learn about was resistive vs capacitive touchscreens.
Synaptics had a white paper at Control Design that helped me understand the technology behind these options.

I am taking a look at several different products available in the market today including: iTouch, Garmin, Blackberry Storm, HP iPaq and other handheld devices I have designed recently that haven't been released to the market yet.  I am constantly learning new things about what works and what doesn't work well with regular folks during usability studies.

There hasn't been much research on touchscreens yet, but the article on Evaluation of One Handed Thumb Tapping on Mobile Touchscreen Devices was helpful and it has helped me while planning for a formative study of the prototype early next year.   In the referenced study, they found that preferred hand motions were quicker, that it didn't matter if you were walking or just standing while using the device, and that on-screen buttons on the edge had higher accuracy, but on-screen buttons in the center were deemed more comfortable to press.  You will need to be an ACM member to download the full paper.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Web Page Tabs and Accordions

After having worked on medical devices for the last four years, I am coming back to my roots and picking up some web design projects. My approach for preparing for this re-entry to the web world was to visit as many sites as possible, taking a look at each from the user's perspective to see what kinds of features and interaction patterns were now routine parts of websites. My second step is to find out how the web producers "do it". Which of these things are technologically practical and useful and which aren't based on my client's technology choices, business needs and target audience.

It has been fun to refresh my HTML, CSS, and JavaScript skills, all of which are very limited.
Here are two sources I think you might want to check out if you are doing any website design:

Monday, October 06, 2008

Customer Informed Design

I just downloaded the Harvard Business Review article, "Turn Customer Input into Innovation" for $6.50 because I thought it would help me think about User Research and what to do with the data in a whole new way. Were there techniques I wasn't tapping? Were there analysis trends that I wasn't familiar with?

The teaser on this article was:
"Lots of companies ask customers what they’d like to see in new products and services—but they go about it all wrong. A new methodology for capturing customer input promises to galvanize the innovation process."
and it definetly got my attention.

This article does support my general approach and I did learn a couple of nuggets, and a new algorithm I would like to use on my next data gathering. My peers in product mangement have talked about Opportunity Assessments and I never really knew how they came up with their numbers. This article describes how to ask questions, group responses and apply the algorithm for another view of the outcome. I was all over how to ask questions and group responses, but never applied this algorithm. So the article was just what I was looking for, taking my tried and true techniques and looking at the data in a new way.

I can't wait to try it!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Design View #50 - Digg's Designer Divulges Design Details

I love it when techies teach others about user centered design.

SP: So does user-centred design impact or restrict your vision for the site?
User-centred design is the only thing I think about--that's the critical aspect for designing Digg or Pownce, or any of the web sites I work on. All I care about is how people use the site currently, and how they will use it, depending on what I do.

SP: Do we need ideas any more then? Or should we just let our users tell us what we should be doing entirely?
No, no, our users don't tell us what we should be doing. Our users guide us to what the problems are. They'll sometimes make good suggestions, but usually they're suggesting a specific thing when they really mean a problem. An it's up to us to find solutions to the problems--like the Henry Ford maxim that I mentioned in my talk today: "If I had have asked my users, they would have told me they wanted a faster horse." Anticipating beyond what our users can imagine. Having the feel to make that logical jump to the next level. That's where the real genius is.

SP: In your presentation you spoke a lot about metrics, and about using information about how people really use your site to influence design. So what do you think about surveys? Should we be running them? What should we do with the results? And how much weight should we give the responses?
A certain type of person is going to fill out a survey, so automatically put that into your weighting. But surveys can be quite useful. We did one on the recommendation engine on Digg, and it resulted in some good data. But I wouldn't use surveys as your sole means of getting feedback from people. Surveys come across as quite tainted, so there's a lot of deciphering to be done with a survey. I think doing user testing, task-based analysis, and focus groups; bringing in a more targeted set of users is probably more beneficial. But it's more work than a survey too.

Get the whole article at SitePoint Design View.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Product Experience combined with Product Performance Creates a Winner

I have always said that first the thing has to work well, THEN you can knock their socks off with a great experience. I have had the pleasure to do some work with P&G but not on the Gain product profiled in this article at AdWeek.

I love being involved in the design of new products, but I always like to do field research to make sure I understand how people are using similiar products today. P&G also does user research. "We use a lot of ethnography, watching how people use a product and why they don't use it," observes Kotchka.

What a great job!