Archive for the ‘User Experience’ Category

Some of my favorite UX quotes

I work in a usability lab at a large university. We are part of the IT department, which is the largest department of the school. Our lab sits among many cube farms, and I can’t tell you how many people have stopped me as I’m walking into the lab to ask me what we do. When I try to explain it, some people get it, but many’s eyes just glaze over.

So, I started trying to use quotes from some of the big names in the field (Buxton, Normal, Neilsen, Krug, Jobs, Bruner, etc.) to help give people a sense of what we are about. Every Friday, (okay, not EVERY Friday, but most Fridays) I post 3 or 4 quotes that discuss HCI, User Experience (UX), or Interaction Design on the bulletin board in the hallway outside our door.


I started writing down quotes as I was reading books and online articles. But, thanks to an awesome blog, Inspire UX, I have been able to collect many great quotes. Some of them have really struck me lately, and I wanted to share them here. Below are some of my current favorite UX quotes, because they poignantly speak to why I chose to go into this career:

I dream of a day when products fulfill my needs without a glitch, when I am being served swiftly, compassionately and with understanding, by humans and computers alike. Not because I’m a designer and I like good experiences, but because good experiences make the world a better place. –Niko Nyman

An experience designer must love and care about the people and the world in which we all live. It’s his mission in the world to proudly spread love and happiness through his creations. –Andre Braz

What makes people passionate, pure and simple, is great experiences. If they have great experience with your product [and] they have great experiences with your service, they’re going to be passionate about your brand, they’re going to be committed to it. That’s how you build that kind of commitment. –Jesse James Garrett

It’s not enough that we build products that function, that are understandable and usable, we also need to build products that bring joy and excitement, pleasure and fun, and yes, beauty to people’s lives. –Don Norman

Experience design is more about the kind of experience users actually have than about controlling the experience you try to give them. –Robin Good

Design creates stories, and stories create memorable experiences, and great experiences have this innate ability to change the way in which we view our world. –Christian Saylor

It is far better to adapt the technology to the user than to force the user to adapt to the technology. –Larry Marine

People should never feel like a failure when using technology. Like the customer, the user is always right. If software crashes, it is the software designer’s fault. if someone can’t find something on a web site, it is the web designer’s fault… The big difference between good and bad designers is how they handle people struggling with their design. Technology serves humans. Humans do not serve technology. –Joshua Porter

BTW, if anyone has any other resources for other inspirational quotes related to the HCI fields, please post them in a comment. Thanks!


Is it so hard, really?


I made an online payment recently. It was a farily simple, and straightforward process.  I filled out a typical form with the CC # and payment amount.  After I clicked submit, I received a confirmation page.  Two days later while online banking, I saw the total subtracted from my checking account.  All was right with the world.

Except, yesterday when I got home from work, I had a voicemail telling me that my payment was due last Friday and since I hadn’t made the payment, I was now being assessed a fee.  What?!

I call the customer support line.  Once I get through the automated prompt and explain the issue, it was resolved quickly.  In fact, as soon as I finished telling my story, the CS Rep said, “Oh, I bet I know what happened…” Then, she proceeded to tell me that if you put a dollar sign in the field for the payment amount, their system doesn’t process the transaction properly.  I asked her if that happens frequently, and she said, “All the time”.  After resolving the problem, she ended the call by saying, “Remember, next time you make a payment, don’t use a dollar sign.”

Ummm.  Ok.  First, why was there no note by the field that said not to use dollar signs…or maybe even have a dollar sign right in front of the box?  Second, why no error checking when I submitted the form?  And, third, but the most obvious…if it happens all the time, why not fix your form??


PS…If you’re a fan of Joss Whedon (Buffy, Firefly), or Sci-Fi, or comics, or musicals, or just good comedy, you MUST check out Dr. Horrible!

User Reflections and Expectations

During my first semester, one of my instructors was constantly telling us that to be good designers (or usability practitioners, as is my goal), then we need to be constantly reflecting on what we’re doing and learning in school. We had a class blog, and he encouraged us to keep our own blogs for that purpose. And, one of the books we read for class was Thoughtful Interaction Design, which also encouraged being reflective. Another instructor from this semester said the same thing. Hence, that is why I started this blog and named it “HCI Reflections”.

Well, I’ve been thinking that maybe us designers and usability practitioners shouldn’t be the only ones who are reflective and thoughtful. It would benefit users to do the same!

I am getting married in 5 weeks. My fiance and I are trying to finalize our honeymoon plans. I had made flight reservations through Orbitz , and I needed to call their customer service line last night.

At the time, I didn’t pay much attention to the experience (there’s that word again!) I had while I was talking to their CSR. I remember being a little annoyed when she placed me on hold for several minutes, but after she answered my question and we hung up, I continued the vacation planning with my fiance and didn’t give it much more thought.

I later checked my email and had received a message from Orbitz asking me to take a survey about my experience calling their CS line. So, I did. And, as I was doing so, I began to reflect on my experience, and I realized it was a pretty darn good one, and it was exactly as I had expected it to be. Their IVR system was very easy to understand and use and I was immediately routed to a live person who could answer my question. The person was knowledgeable, helpful, courteous, and professional. And, I was satisfied with the answer I had to my question. When the survey asked if I would recommend Orbitz to friends and family, my first thought was, ‘Yeah!’. But, then I realized that if I had never taken the time to fill out the survey, I may not have reflected on and remembered the good experience I had. And, therefore, I may not have ever recommended Orbitz.

So, I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but that survey seemed to have two purposes–it helped them conduct their user research, but it also caused me, the user, to be reflective. And, because I was reflective, I will be a repeat customer.

This also brings out the fact that people tend to remember and focus more on the bad experiences they have. Had I been put on hold for more than a few minutes, or if the IVR system had routed me around and around, or if the CSR couldn’t answer my question, I probably would have lamented over that experience for several minutes or hours after I hung up.

But, because I got what I wanted in the way that I wanted, I almost just brushed that experience aside. Does this mean that as designers or usability practitioners, we have to strive to create and experience that doesn’t just meet the users’ expectations but exceeds them?

I think it does!

Designing the Gambling Experience

Last month, my fiance, sister, father and I spent a day at an Off Track Betting site in my old hometown about 2 hours away.  For those of you who are not familiar with OTBs, they are places where you can go to watch–and, more importantly, bet on–whatever horse racing tracks are running around the world.  I’ve been to a couple of race tracks (Churchill Downs in Louisville and Arlington Park in Chicago) where you bet only on the races running at that track and enjoyed them tremendously, but I’d never been to an OTB before.

It was an experience, because according to Dilthy and Bruner, was “distinguishable, isolable sequence of external events and internal responses to them”. While for the most part it was quite enjoyable (though I’m sure it could have been even more enjoyable had I left there a big winner ;) , there were some things that we felt could have been improved upon.  As my fiance and I were driving home that evening, the only thing we talked about was how we would improve various things, in essence, design our own personal gambling experience.  We didn’t talk about how much fun we had or how great it was to see my dad and my sister.  Even now, when I think back on the experience, the memory isn’t all that positive.  I first think about how some of the TVs were in need of repair, or how I couldn’t hear the callings of the races, or how I became easily confused because many races were running simultaneously.

In his Having An Experience essay, Dewey wrote “Experience is limited by all the causes which interfere with perception and the relations between undergoing and doing.” Reflecting on my OTB experience has helped me to understand what he means.

I had fun at the OTB, but I kept thinking things like, “I wish I could hear them call this race and not that race” or “I can’t see that race very well because the TV is too small or the contrast is too dark”.  And, the reason I had those thoughts was my only previous experience with the horse races had been at an actual track where the TVs are all in pristine condition and the calling of the race is piped throughout the facility.

So, I was comparing the experience I was having (the OTB) with one I had previously had (the actual track). I wasn’t experiencing the moment at the OTB.  I had predispositions, if you will, of what the OTB experience would be like.  I was limiting my own experience with my perception that an OTB would be the same at an actual track.  As Dewey said, there was “interference because  of excess on the side of … receptivity”.  This “unbalance blurred my perception” and “left the experience partial and distorted”.

Now, if only I could understand what the other 21 pages of Dewey’s article meant! LOL