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User experience researcher-practitioner interaction.

User Experience Research-Practice Interaction

Here is the presentation that I did at the Connecting Dots conference on Saturday, March 15th.

The presentation was based on the paper that I wrote for the conference, plus what I learned during the first day+ of the conference. I added and deleted things once I was there.

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UXRPI at Connecting Dots

I will be doing a presentation about user experience research-practice interaction (aka UXRPI) at the AIGA Design Educators conference Connecting Dots (March 14-15, 2014, Cincinnati, Ohio). Even though I am not a design educator, I thought it was worth proposing something to help find connections between the HCI researchers and User Experience practitioners, who I have been hanging out with, and design educators, who are asking questions about "what constitutes appropriate and effective research." And the conference is nearby, in Ohio.

Preparing for the session means writing a paper (version below) and creating a presentation (still in the works, will upload later). It was a great excuse to go back and try to make sense of the various UXRPI activities that have happened the past few years.


Abstract

There are gaps between research and practice in many professions. In the area of user experience, over the past few years, various activities have tried to create interest, document the challenges, discuss the issues, and propose solutions related to this gap. The label "user experience research-practice interaction" (UXRPI) has emerged as a loose term to help connect the conversations over time and across disciplines. This paper recaps some of the major UXRPI activities to date in the hopes of adding design educators to the dialogue.

Introduction

To fit in with the "Connecting Dots" theme, this paper strives to use challenges around the research-practice gap to help connect the dots across various disciplines, professional organizations, and educational efforts:

  • Disciplines: Design (graphic and communication), user experience, information architecture, human-computer interaction, interaction design.
  • Professional organizations: AIGA, UXPA, IAI, ACM SIGCHI, IxDA.
  • Educational initiatives: AIGA Design Educators, IAI teaching IA workshop, IxDA Education Summits, SIGCHI education community.

Finding the common research-practice problems and awareness of various solutions that are being tried might encourage collaboration across disciplines and professional organizations, for example.

User experience research-practitioner interaction

In the user experience world, "research" can mean many different things. In this context, we are focused on "scientific research" where we are trying to learn about how people behave and use technology in a general sense that may be applied across several contexts. Within a project, a team will also perform "user research" to help them design for their specific project. The two are related: the same methods can be used for both, but the level of rigor and focus are different. But in UXRPI, we are focused more on the academic/scientific/basic types of research, and how to improve practice based on what the research shows.

From a practitioner's point of view, one of the challenges is embodied in Steve Krug's "Religious Debates" comic in his book Don't Make Me Think. In the comic, a design team is arguing about whether or not to use pulldowns for a product menu list. One person asks "Do we know if there's any research data on pulldowns?" in order to get away from personal opinions on what the design should be. The subtitle is "Rick attempts an appeal to a higher authority....". Without any research to help the team reach a decision, two weeks pass and they start debating all over again. "Research" is often seen as that "higher authority" to guide practice.

To get into what UXRPI means a bit more, here are some questions that have been used to start a conversation about user experience research-practice interaction challenges:

  • 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?

The CHI 2010 workshop "Researcher-practitioner interaction" kick-started the recent set of UXRPI activities and also provided a framework to talk about the problems and opportunities.

Research challenges

HCI research culture

  • Publish for researchers, not for practitioners
  • Expanding field
  • Status within academia

Research culture

  • "Publish or perish"
  • Answers narrow questions
  • Open sharing
  • Experimentation

Gap-bridging challenges

Communication

  • Little shared language
  • Speed-of-operation differences
  • Finding each other
  • Fragmented professional organizations
  • Mapping "research answers" to "practical questions"

Knowledge

  • Need shared knowledge base
  • Hard to organize research for practical use
  • Multi/inter-disciplinary

Education

  • HCI education vs. practice
  • Amateur practitioners
  • HCI education for CS (etc.) degrees
  • Training for practitioners

Practice challenges

UX practice culture

  • No time for "research": good enough
  • Rapidly evolving practice
  • Status within corporations

Corporate culture

  • "Produce or perish"
  • Wants broad answers
  • Strategic advantage
  • Fear of failure

Important aspects of the problem space:

  • There is a "pillar" of challenges associated with the research culture overall and the HCI research culture in particular. Those are on the left.
  • Similar pillar of challenges on the right: the corporate culture overall and user experience practice culture in particular.
  • It is hard to change culture. There may be some opportunities to address some of the challenges directly in each/both pillars, but be aware what you are getting yourself into if you try to tackle them.
  • There are 3 levels of bridging, across the middle: Education (fundamental training and schooling), Knowledge-sharing (helping researchers and practitioners by sharing details on a regular basis) and Communication (just making sure we can talk with each other in an intelligent way).
  • Improving simple communication between researchers and practitioners is one place to start. Sharing knowledge is harder (but has the bigger pay-off) and forming an educational foundation should lead to the ability to address deeper challenges.

Examples of specific gaps at the cultural levels:

  • Researchers are focused on openly publishing answers to narrow questions, while practitioners want broad answers, quickly, that they can apply for a strategic advantage.
  • Researchers are often focused on publishing to gain credibility with other researchers (for tenure, for example), especially for HCI, where it may not be a respected part of computer science. Practitioners are often not given the time by stakeholders (who do not value UX) to understand core principles from research, instead pressured to just do "good enough".
  • Both researchers and practitioners are having a hard time keeping up the pace of technology change and the rapidly evolving design landscape as a whole. They each have too much to learn to just keep up with their "day jobs" and no time or energy left to interact with each other.

Examples of specific challenges in "bridge building" areas of communication, knowledge and education:

  • It can be a challenge just to find the right people "on the other side": for example, locating a researcher who is studying something that a specific practitioner needs help with. When a good match is made, it can be hard for researchers and practitioners to speak the same language and to find ways to collaborate (e.g., a researcher on a several-year grant working vs. a practitioner who needs to make a decision within a few weeks).
  • At a more fundamental level, it is hard to translate "research questions" to "practical answers". Some researchers have a hard time explaining what the practical implication is of their research. Many practitioners have a hard time explaining what they really need to know (in a way that can actually be researched).
  • In this multi- and inter-disciplinary area, it is hard to build common knowledge bases that work for either researchers or practitioners, let alone something that works for both at the same time.
  • The educational setting is an ideal place to "start off on the right foot" but the rapid pace of technology, the difficulty in teaching both foundational theory and practical skills in higher education, competition from the private sector, and the disciplinary upheaval makes it difficult to accomplish basic educational goals, let alone something that is often considered a "nice to have" like having graduates who understand research.

The next sections are reviews of the challenges from various communities perspectives, along with some some of the activities they are doing to try to improve the interaction between researchers and practitioners.

Human-Computer Interaction Community

In addition to being to the host of the workshop that helped kick off the recent focus on research-practice interaction, SIGCHI has formed a community. The RPI community goals:

The Research-Practice Interaction community is a bridge between research and practice in HCI, including all flavors thereof (user experience, usability, interaction design, information architecture, etc.). We aim to promote the exchange of information between researchers and practitioners, such that research and its results are more accessible to practitioners and that practitioner information needs are conveyed to researchers.

One of the key ways that ACM SIGCHI's main conference, CHI, tried to be more relevant to practitioners was with conference communities: "They are the primary entry points and guides for researchers and practitioners new to CHI...They help attendees and authors find ways to connect with the conference more effectively". Two initial communities were "User experience" (which helped spawn UXRPI as a thread of discussion) and "Design" (which covered topics of interest to communication design).

An example of a CHI conference presentation that looked at the UXRPI issue is "Design research at CHI and its applicability to design practice" which found that only 7% of the CHI 2011 papers were oriented towards supporting design practice. Another design-focused CHI example is "Understanding interaction design practices" where it is proposed that HCI researchers do more frequent and more intensive studies of interaction design practice.

The Indiana University research program "Research into Interaction Design Practice" is very relevant to UXRPI: "how design-practitioners understand their own practice, their design process and how they evaluate, select, and adapt design methods" by doing analytical studies of HCI research results presented as "implications for design".

The role of theory and how it relates to practice was the focus of a workshop at CHI 2012.

A special interest group at CHI 2013 was focused on research practice interaction where practitioners and researchers were matched up in groups to talk about wants and needs.

For CHI 2014, communities has become "Spotlights" with "Interaction science" (PDF) one that is addressing some of the research-practice interaction issues, such as engaging researchers and practitioners in the reviewing process.

Information Architecture Community

The information architecture community started talking about the role of research in 2006 at a panel at the IA Summit. Fast's reply: "there is no discernable body of IA research". The Journal of Information Architecture has since been formed, where practice-led research was proposed.

At the 2010 IA Summit, a session about the current relationship of research and practice in information architecture had participants draw pictures on napkins to show their view of the current state. Some of the goals that emerged:

  • Build long-term relationships between researchers and practitioners, through common channels and meeting points
  • Disseminate IA-specific conversations in related communities, conferences and meetings

The IA Summit has been the host of a subsequent "Academics and Practitioners Round Table," where it was proposed that closing the gap required looking at it as both an experience design and organizational change problem. In 2014, the 2nd roundtable will focus on teaching IA.

Interaction Design Community

Ladner issued a call to action for interaction designers to figure out how they want to draw their theoretical boundaries, where they build upon the scientific tradition, and in general, what constitutes interaction design research. IxDA, the main organization for interaction designers, has not really addressed research-practice challenges directly, but some arise in the context of their "Interaction Design Education Summit" activities.

User Experience Practitioners Community

With its origins as a "practitioner spin-off" from the HCI community in 1991, the Usability Professionals' Association (now the User Experience Professionals Association) has regularly included sessions at its annual conference aimed at presenting the latest research to practitioners. One example is the "Research in Practice" tutorial by Kath Straub: an annually updated tutorial containing an informative survey of key and emerging research that will shape practice. (A sample of what is presented in the tutorial).

An example of a practitioner who struggles to make sense of the research is from UPA's Journal of Usability Studies: Problems and Joys of Reading Research Papers for Practitioner Purposes.

The Usability Body of Knowledge project is often cited as a project that would be good to help at the "knowledge" layer of the bridge between research and practice. One of the goals is "define the knowledge underlying the usability profession" and some of that knowledge is research which practitioners need to understand.

The "Toward usable usability research: Building bridges between research and practice" workshop at the UPA 2011 conference focused on defining what practitioners need.

The 2013 UXPA conference hosted a discussion to generate ideas for solutions to UXRPI challenges. The ideas were clustered around creating hubs of activity, publishing, higher education, practitioner DIY, and influencing decision makers.

Other Activities

Don Norman has argued for the need for a new discipline, "one that can translate between the abstractions of research and the practicalities of practice". Initially called "translational development" and later called "translational engineering", the term "translational entrepreneur" has also been proposed. The model is "translational science" in the healthcare industry.

A recent masters project called Smarticle focused on one specific UXRPI challenge, designing a system that makes academic work more accessible to a larger audience.

At the 2010 Internet User Experience Conference, a panel was organized to explore UXRPI, including having attendees do napkin sketching of their view of the challenges and opportunities. Some of the issues identified include: One body/two heads (drawn by a practitioner) vs. One head/two bodies (drawn by a researcher), how to do research on the practice itself, why overcoming the gap is important, and why it is so hard.

There are many more related activities: this is just a sample to help start the dialogue. Over the long term, there are other disciplines to include: human factors, industrial design, technical communication and information design, to name a few.

AIGA & Design Educators

The Connecting Dots theme of "Design educators and professionals are challenged with identifying what constitutes appropriate and effective research" fits in nicely with UXRPI problems.

For AIGA and its members overall, user experience research-practice interaction challenges are wrapped up in the larger expectations for design education. "The Disciplined Designer" covers the same overlapping-circles discussion that many other UX-related disciplines are having. A strategic proposal to "Find methods to ensure knowledge born of design research be best utilized by design practitioners" indicates there are research-practice needs coming to the forefront for the AIGA Design educators community.

Topics for Discussion

If this recap of user experience research-practice interaction workshops, discussions and initiatives has been valuable, then it should have triggered questions about what it means to design educators. No answers, just questions.

  • What other UXRPI-related challenges have already been documented by AIGA Design Educators and AIGA as a whole? What solutions to these problems have been tried (successfully or not), are in progress or have been proposed? What things is AIGA doing well that the other professional organizations can leverage?
  • What cultural gaps are the same? Which ones are unique to this design community? What cultural shifts are on the horizon that could make bridging UXRPI gaps easier in the future? What needs to be "blown up" and re-invented from scratch?
  • Which bridging challenges (communication, knowledge and especially education) are most important for this design community? Where are the bridging challenges the same and different than what has been documented here?
  • If there is some UXRPI common ground for AIGA Design Educators, then how does collaboration happen across disciplines and across professional organizations? For example, what would a combined "education summit" across disciplines look like? How do the dots get connected to help improve research-practice interaction?

Added March 11, 2014: A first draft of the slides for my presentation at the Connecting Dots conference (PDF). I am sure I will actually present something different. There are too many slides, so some will get deleted. As I attend the conference and hear others talking about the topic, I will add my notes. One of the benefits of being towards the end of the conference is that you can update your talk based on the conference discussions. One of the curses, as well.

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UXPA 2013 Idea Market

I hosted an Idea Market about User Experience Research and Practice at the UXPA 2013 conference in DC on July 11th. Another event in the series exploring the challenges and solutions to the research-practice gap in UX.

Idea Markets are informal, discussion-oriented events. I has some space to put up info to announce the topic. Some people came by and left comments at random times, but most of the activity was during a special session for idea markets: a break in the regular program. We had up to 8 people talking at once and a few people were recruited to participate as certain topics came up. Here is a grouping of the things we talked about (the topics left as sticky notes, at least).

Problem statements: The session focused on ideas for solutions, but some people could not resist (re)-stating problems.

  • When I was a researcher, I felt I had more time to do in-depth user research and testing. As a practitioner, I feel that in an agile, feature-design world it is not possible.
  • Hard to apply the findings from the scientific research.
  • Making the findings from the scientific research digestable.
  • Researchers should start doing relevant research, and present it outside acadmic journals/conferences.

Hubs-of-activity ideas: Places, events where researchers and practitioners can hang out, interact, and where the other solutions can take place.

  • Monthly meet-ups.
  • Plan simultaneous practitioner and researcher conferences nearby, with social parties to combine both audiences.
  • Usability.gov as an online hub.
  • UXPA Body of Knowledge as an online hub.
  • A person as the hub: someone like Kath Straub who can compile the research and hold seminars to explain the research to many groups of practitioners.

Publishing-related ideas: focused on how to communicate research to practitioners.

  • Boxes and Arrows (and other online magazines that practitioners read) summary of research.
  • Business owners and designers/researchers write article together (e.g., HBR).
  • Comic books, "CHI Comix".
  • Articles written by practitioners and researchers together.
  • Quick reviews ("bite sized") of emerging research for practitioners.
  • Include practitioner articles in academic journals.

Higher education ideas: where the foundation for research-practice interaction is.

  • Team teaching: 1 researcher/academic and 1 practitioner.
  • Translate (industry) research topics into HCI programs (e.g., master's theses).
  • Cycle new grads thru the "professional ranks" like conference volunteer, newsletter editor.
  • Multi-disciplinary projects in school.

Do-it-yourself ideas: Practitioners serving themselves, instead of relying on "researchers".

  • Sharing tools developed by practitioners to solve their own user research challenges.
  • Self-funded R&D by practitioner companies.
  • Independent research of best practices, by industry.

Influence decision maker ideas: to help get to some of the root causes of the research-practice gap.

  • Find grant funders to attract researchers.
  • Executive understanding of importance of UX research.
  • Reach upper management.
  • Influence the grant and venture capital organizations.

Overall, a lot of the same from past conversations, but also some new twists. The important thing is to keep the challenges and ideas for improving in mind for the long haul.

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Reframing IA at IA Summit

I am looking forward to the IA Summit next week. My 13th, out of 14. Mostly going to catch-up with colleagues, learn, sight-see with the family, and talk about business opportunities.

And I will be participating in the Reframe IA workshop. There will be many people smarter than me there who will talk about better framings for IA. My interest is more about the process of reframing and how to close aspects of the research-practice gap. I have been "studying" the problems and solutions with user experience research practice interaction (#UXRPI) and this is another attempt at making progress.

I have posted my slides for the workshop on SlideShare in case you want to take a peek.

I am not really sure what my talking points will be for each slide: going to wing it. It is "round table workshop" so it will be all about the discussion.

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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.

Researcher-practitioner interaction update (UXRPI)

I spent some time lately catching up with the status of various things related to my recent researcher-practitioner interaction efforts, my latest "UX community give back" focus. Something I try to make small advancements in during my "spare" time, with the hope of helping foster some longer-term benefits. Some of this is a repeat of postings/comments on gaps and IUE but it helps me (at least) to compile it all together in a new way.

Information architecture research, practice

Andrea Resmini and I wrote up our view of the IA Summit session we led for the August/September 2010 ASIS&T Bulletin. I think we list some do-able ideas at the end that could turn into something concrete for the community to embark on.

I have not seen any reaction to the report or the possible next steps. Even some negative response would be a sign that someone read it and cares enough to tell us we are full of it.

I do know that Dan Klyn has read it: the same Dan Klyn who ran for office in IAI and won a spot on the board. Andrea and others have already done a good job of showing how to mature the IA practice in IAI's Journal of IA. Perhaps one of the progress grants will focus on the increasing researcher-practitioner interaction in IA. The IDEA 2010 program has a Friday session that is related. "(How Is This All) Going To Work?" focuses on the educational aspect: if they could add the "research" role that educators often share, then it would be right on target. So I have some hope the IA Institute will pick up some of our IA research/practice ideas and challenges and run with them in some way.

As for any ASIS&T follow-ups, a few folks had ideas on how to continue the discussion at the ASIS&T annual meeting next month, but I do not see anything explicit in the program. Euro IA was last week: great looking program, but nothing specific about research/practice interaction. The IA Summit 2011 planning continues, so there is still a chance to have a consortium or some other session to help put specific ideas into motion.

CHI conference

I am still trying to digest all that I learned at the 1-day workshop and follow-up special interest group discussion at the CHI conference. The wiki we set up for the workshop - research-practice-interaction.wikispaces.com - has the position papers and notes from the sessions. I have the physical materials (flip charts and post-it notes) from the sessions and should make another pass through them to see what great points have not been captured on the wiki. And clean the wiki up some more.

One thing that has been useful for me is the overall model of the problem space that emerged for me.

Research, HCI culture on left. Corporate, practice culture on right. Bridges: Education, Knowledge-sharing, Communication.

  • There is a "pillar" of challenges associated with the research culture overall and the HCI research culture in particular. Those are on the left.
  • Similar pillar of challenges on the right: the corporate culture overall and user experience practice culture in particular.
  • It is hard to change culture. There may be some opportunities to address some of the challenges directly in each/both pillars, but be aware what you are getting yourself into if you try to tackle them.
  • There are 3 levels of bridging, across the middle: Education (fundamental training and schooling), Knowledge-sharing (helping researchers and practitioners by sharing details on a regular basis) and Communication (just making sure we can talk with each other in an intelligent way).
  • Improving simple communication between researchers and practitioners is one place to start. Sharing knowledge is harder (but has the bigger pay-off) and forming an educational foundation should lead to the ability to address deeper challenges.

Net: what I learned at CHI is helping me understand the landscape. It also inspired me to continue with all of this.

But the workshop/SIG had some specific goals around driving improvements for future CHI conferences. Lots of good ideas were generated, but like all volunteer efforts, they only come to be when someone steps up to make them happen. Here is what is in the works for CHI 2011 to improve researcher-practitioner interaction:

  • Communities, communities, communities. Arnie Lund is leading a revival of the community aspect of the CHI conference. The 4 "established" communities drive specific parts of the program and act as "entry points and guides for researchers and practitioners...help attendees and authors find ways to connect with the conference more effectively." New in 2011 are "featured" communities that provide more ways to increase RPI. For example, Health lists the benefits of research-practice interaction several times.
  • For the UX community (that I am most interested in), Elizabeth Buie and Jhilmil Jain are building upon the CHI 2010 workshop that they helped organize. They have set up a LinkedIn group for the CHI UX community to help the cause. Join it!
  • There are other efforts in progress to fine-tune parts of the process and to make the program more accessible to practitioners (like, doing a better job of providing "practitioner take-aways" for research papers). As I hear about specific advances, I will let you know. The key is always volunteers to make things happen, so if you are interested in helping out, let me know and I will put you in touch with the right people.

Norman, translational developers

As you start pouring time into a volunteer effort like this, you start to wonder if this is an important problem to try to solve. If you are lucky, then someone prominent is reaching the same conclusions as you are. That happened in May when Don Norman published his The Research-Practice Gap article. It appeared in the July/August 2010 issue of interactions later. A must-read for anyone interested in this topic.

When I posted a comment on my site about the article, I mentioned I did not agree with everything in the article. Don replied and that started some email discussion back and forth between us. So in the spirit of disagreeing a bit, let me point out a few things about the article (knowing it is dangerous to debate with someone who is a lot smarter than you):

  • I do agree that the gap between researchers and practitioners exists within professional associations (and their conferences), but one thing that Don does not point out is that those are some of the best means to address the gaps. Don calls for a new discipline, translational developers: it should be created within our existing organizational structures, in my opinion.
  • Separate "discipline"? I am not convinced we need a new "discipline" - maybe we just need more people who are willing/capable of working across disciplines. Find ways to have more people spend a few years as a researcher, then a few years as a practitioner, and so on. And "discipline" seems academic: I am more interested in business models which make this a career path that our best and brightest are interested in.
  • Translational developers? Why "developers"? In my UX practitioner world, "developers" means you write code. In one of his talks, Don used the term Translational Engineering. A little better. I think we need some work on what to call this thing. "Translational entrepreneur"?: someone who has figured out how to get rich doing this.

And on a more "write a better article" slant, I enjoyed learning about Pasteur's quadrant but it really bugged me that the article did not include a figure that was an actual quadrant. So I drew one myself - and Don kindly made it better.

Pasteur's quadrant with quotes from Don Norman's article.

I have not seen any blog postings or online discussions of Don's article, so maybe this post will stir up something. Having Don "raise the flag" should help all of us make progress.

Internet User Experience panel

Don's article was one of the topics at a panel I organized at the IUE conference (slides, Twitter stream and other details). I hope the attendees found the session useful, but I liked it because:

  • I got 3 more people engaged as panelists. Susan Weinschenk, Danielle Cooley and Mark Newman did prep work together to create short and long versions of their position on different issues. They have their own critiques of Norman's article, for example: now we need to figure out how to get the discussion going.
  • We did more napkin drawing to get the audience engaged. That has worked twice now, I want to keep doing it more.
  • One of Mark's points was about the trend of translational research that is catching on in medicine. This is a good reminder that many fields are struggling with the same issues: we may need to look beyond our traditional "industry" for some answers.

Again, check out the compilation of info about the panel to find out more. These are just a few hi-lites.

Demarcating UX

One more thing to mention. I was invited to the Demarcating User eXperience seminar that took place 2 weeks ago. I could not make it, but Elizabeth Buie kindly agreed to attend to help connect researcher-practitioner interaction efforts.

This quote from the seminar shows the relationship: "UX is seen as a holistic concept covering all aspects of experiencing a phenomenon, but we are facing the point where UX has become a concept too broad to be useful in practice. Practitioners have difficulties to understand the concept and to improve UX in their work, and researchers rather use some other term to make their research scope clear."

From what I have heard (and seen), the seminar went well and I am looking forward to what they share as a result (some sort of white paper). You can check out the position papers and other preparation material.

Since I was not there, I will not comment a lot on the preparation material, but my personal favorites are statements from the practitioners whom I know.

  • Nigel Bevan: "UX Should Not be Demarcated!"
  • Elizabeth: "If the practitioners can't use it [the white paper], it doesn't work!"
  • David Gilmore: About the relativity of experience, and the innovation cycle

Staying in touch

As these different strands of activity progress - and more crop up - and we discover other strands that are already in motion, staying in touch with it all is a big challenge. What is the simplest thing we can do? To me, that is to use a common tag that people can attach to different objects that represent progress in researcher-practitioner interaction.

I did some poking around and thought that uxrpi would be a good starting point. Short form of "User experience researcher-practitioner interaction". So I started tagging my tweets with it. And Flickr photos. And this blog posting. Let's see if it provides any value. If we need more mailing lists or groups or whatever, then that is fine, we can do that too.

If this post inspires you to write up your own comments on Don's article, or to dispute something that I said, or if you know of more going on to try to improve researcher-practitioner interaction, use the UXRPI tag. That will help others discover it.

What is next for me? A keynote about this for the Tri-State World Usability Day at LexisNexis & Elsevier in Dayton (Ohio) on November 11th. Hope to see some of you there!

(Oh, and this really did start out as a short blog post. Then it grew and grew and grew...)

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