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WUD Research-Practice Interaction pre-work

On November 11th - World Usability Day - I will have the honor of giving a keynote "talk" at the Dayton-area event. I say "talk" in quotes because I really want it to be a more interactive session, where I provide enough background to get the discussion going, then the audience (participants, really) take over from there.

In the spirit of trying to make it easier for attendees to become participants, Douglas Gardner, the awesome organizer of the event at LexisNexis, has asked me to compile some pre-work / questions that he can distribute to people who have signed up to attend the Dayton event. I feel like a teacher giving students homework to do, but here goes!

Issues to consider, questions to ask yourself

  • If you are a user experience practitioner, what types of challenges do you face often that you wish you had a "scientific" answer to? Have you tried to find answers in the research literature? What roadblocks did you encounter when looking for answers? What successes have you had in taking research findings and improving your practice?
  • If you are a researcher, what is the value in engaging with practitioners? What is in it for you? Do you have any examples of success stories, where your research got better because of interactions you had with practitioners?
  • What should students of HCI, interaction design and other user experience disciplines be taught about research to better prepare themselves for the practitioner world?

Things to read

Things to do

  • If you are on Twitter, tweet something about the research-practitioner interaction topic with the #uxrpi hashtag.
  • Get a napkin (or some scrap of paper) and sketch something. Bring it to the session, you will have a chance to share this with every one else. (Even better, post your sketch to Flickr.)
  • Brainstorm a list of possible solutions to what you think are the most important research-practitioner challenges. Or make a list of solutions you know about from other fields. Bring it to the session.

Also, I have not quite figured out how to handle the interactiveness with a session in Ottawa who is planning on listening in remotely. My IBM/Cognos colleagues are hosting their own WUD event and will be joining both IBM's Social Media in the Workplace session (at noon ET USA) and mine (at 3:30).

And we might have others joining us remotely. We will have a LiveMeeting and call in: (800) 963-3556 / Conf ID: 266.4656. 3:30pm ET USA, November 11.

I hope I can make the session worthwhile for everyone who joins us.

November 21 update: I finally got around to posting the slides (as presented) on SlideShare.


Thanks for the great session. I wish I could have stuck around, but I got home with no time to spare!

Here are my conversation-based scribbles (yeah, I missed a lot):

How can students justify the existence of their UX work? How do that learn to sell their own service?

Us vs them language and anti-intellectualism. Drop the language-based distinction. We are all somewhat researcher and somewhat practitioner.

We are not talking to each other, it is to have another person / consultant (Bell Labs "Donut").

Can we design more directly for real-world application? Researchers don't want to be told what to do.

We need to ask Don Norman: What is the difference between the translational-developer and system integrator?

How much should/does money (huge grants) = good research -- maybe not, because basic research is rewarded by researching narrow topics.

The Acoustical Engineering Conference sounds cool - musicians, performers, basic researchers all get together with common purpose. Can the same happen with UX practitioners and basic CHI researchers.

My thoughts (trying to justify interest in UX and a profession of marketing science):

The user is not included in the equation.

Assume you have great research, a great design, and a product that is an awesome 10% more efficient than the next best design.

Research and practitioners need to both appeal to marketing and users to get that message out.

Are users vigilant enough to consider the usability of their own products as an important feature? Can they be best educated about this by: researchers, practitioners, marketing or only by experiencing the design?

Incidentally, I see hope with the fact that the usability of Windows Mobile 7 is getting a serious marketing budget.

EX: Cleartype could have been more beneficial to MSFT and to users. Researchers discovered that it allows a 10%(ish) reduction in on-screen reading speed. It was implemented well in XP. However, due to lack of dissemination about the feature, it did MSFT little/no good because no one knows it was there and few people even have it enabled (though all XP users have it installed). Even if it were enabled by default then it would allow for the feature to be subconsciously-enjoyed, but it was ignored by marketing and to this day, few people know about it or the benefit that it can have on their company's productivity.

Neil - thanks for the notes from the session and your comments. You also get a big thanks for actually drawing a napkin during the session and giving it to me. I uploaded it and added it to the Flickr UXRPI collection. Thanks again - nice to see you again.