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Dorothy Shamonsky, Ph.D., is a User Interface/User Experience (UI/UX) Designer for ICS, who holds broad practical experience and theoretical knowledge in the field and works extensively on new touchscreen product development at ICS.


Blog  •  August 9, 2017  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  •  UX, UI
People love beautiful things. Earthshaking information, right? What’s significant is that our appreciation extends beyond our conscious behavior. Over a decade ago, usability expert Don Norman made the argument in his book Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things that “attractive things work better.” What he was really saying, with clever word omissions, is that by human perceptions, attractive things appear to work better. Is this true? Probably. Imagine you’re examining a new product. You likely believe that if the developers paid great attention to detail on...
Blog  •  May 24, 2017  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  •  UX Design, UX design team
User experience (UX) designers and developers are different types of thinkers and approach the same problems from different vantage points. That can be a good thing if designers and developers can find synergy as they solve problems for users. Fortunately, over the past few decades both groups have become radically better attuned to the user. The awareness, knowledge, and research of users has increased steadily since the mid-century birth of the modern computer. Today, both designers and developers take humans more seriously in the equation of human/machine interaction. Still, there’s...
Blog  •  April 18, 2017  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  •  UX, design thinking, design leadership
As a lead designer in our company, I evangelize design thinking and model the behavior of a design thinker. As a career designer, it’s tough for me to not apply design thinking to everything I do. So when our sales team asks me to support the pre-sales process on a prospective customer project, I am as usual in design thinking mode. I’ve found it has a positive impact. Our own customers know that ICS is excellent at engineering as well as UX design, but they may not realize that we are actively applying design thinking to try to make our services and products, including our sales...
Blog  •  March 15, 2017  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  •  UX, design thinking
I would posit that there are two types of workers: those who are mission driven and those who are not. Mission-driven workers care about the outcome of their work and make an effort to understand and track its impact. The latter group enjoys doing the work they have chosen to do but don’t wonder about its impact. I fall into the former type. As a UX designer, my personal mission is to design products that are highly useable and well loved. In my effort to make good products, I pay close attention to users. Really close attention, listening carefully to what they do with and say about their...
Blog  •  February 7, 2017  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  •  UX, design thinking
As a designer I love to create highly usable, beautiful interfaces. In fact, design thinking pervades every aspect of my work life. Empathy, sustainability, effectiveness and aesthetics are parameters that inspire any activity that I take part in, whether it’s managing staff, preparing proposals or contributing to business strategy. When people talk about design-centric or design-driven companies, they’re referring to businesses that apply design thinking throughout their operations. Why would a company want to do that? (Cue sucking sound of money flying out the window.) Because it can...
Blog  •  January 16, 2017  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  •  Success in UX Design, UX design team
To effectively solve a design problem, you need to understand it fully. Makes sense, right? Yet between limited budgets, conflicting requirements and tight deadlines, how often do designers apply a “just get it done” approach and neglect to clarify a problem completely? Too often, I fear. That’s where design leadership skills can have a positive impact. By investing just a few minutes, expressing design leadership can help you deliver a more useful, higher caliber product. If you’ve met me, you know I don’t mind being the most annoying person in the room. It’s because I ask a lot of...
Blog  •  October 27, 2016  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  •  UX, UX Design
Over the summer I visited some breathtaking castles in Northern Europe. Many were originally constructed as small fortresses and over the centuries have been rebuilt multiple times to reflect new generations of culture and technology. Unfortunately, all this change made it challenging to get even a taste of the history that occurred in within their walls. Clearly, the castles’ curators were aware because nearly every place I visited was equipped with large, touchscreen kiosks that visitors could explore to get a better sense of the historical events that occurred there and the significance...
Blog  •  October 4, 2016  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  •  UX, Interactive Kiosk
Most of our everyday experiences with touchscreen technology are interactions with small screens, such as phones and tablets, where screen space is at a premium. At the opposite end of the spectrum are large touchscreens, which offer User Experience (UX) designers plenty of real estate to work with. To utilize that space, you can enlarge the content or display more content on the screen at once. That’s nice, but it’s just scratching the surface of what a UX designer might do to make use of this valuable affordance. Lessons From Desktop UX In what other ways can a designer utilize a...
Blog  •  September 21, 2016  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  •  UX
Creating touchscreen user experiences (UX) that feel natural is an obsession here at ICS. When I say “natural” I’m referring to a comfortable and effortless touch and/or speech interaction experience. This is the definition of a Natural User Interface (NUI) —  and creating this type of experience should be the goal of any touch-interface designer. But, achieving natural-feeling interactions is a significant challenge. Natural. Comfortable. Effortless. The concept of natural-feeling interactions is probably one of the most confounding in contemporary UX design. Designers are apt...
Blog  •  August 10, 2016  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  •  UX, UX Design, Touch Gesture, touchscreen
I’ve observed that people using large touchscreens experience varying degrees of fatigue and discomfort from the physical effort of swiping, tapping and zooming. The placement of the interface elements is one contributor to the discomfort. Repeatedly executing a gesture that is at odds with the body’s natural movement patterns is fatiguing. Hands and arms naturally move in curves and arcs yet screen layouts are predominantly rectangular and right-angled. Why do designers create visual layouts that are less than comfortable for users? The answer: it’s what they know. For more than four...
Blog  •  July 18, 2016  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  •  UX, Virtual Tactile-ness, haptic
When you walk on a beach, you may be tempted to reach down and pick up a smooth stone or a shiny shell, turn it around in your fingers feeling its weight and texture. If a friendly cat or dog walks close by, you may be tempted to reach out and stroke its fur. When humans are attracted to an object because of its color, shape, surface or texture – because of its visceral appeal – they are often compelled to reach out and touch it. Can the same attraction happen in a virtual realm, in a user experience? Visceral reactions are emotions that come from the gut. They are shortcuts in...
Blog  •  June 29, 2016  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  •  UX, touch, touch gestures, tap, swipe, compelling touch, touch user experiences, TInder, natural touch gestures
Tap is the safest touch gesture. Everyone understands that tap equals click. On a touchscreen, you tap where you would have pointed and clicked on a mouse-enabled display. Tap is a simple, deliberate gesture. The presence of a button-like element is indication enough that it can be tapped, and will likely mean yes or no, save or cancel, choose this thing or navigate to this new place. Swipe, drag and pinch, on the other hand, have less clarity. How does the user even know when they can swipe, drag or pinch? Does swiping mean navigating or removing? Does drag mean see more or refresh? Are...
Blog  •  December 14, 2015  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  •  UX, User Experience, Design, rapid prototyping, iteration
Getting a user experience (UX) design completed quickly is good for developers, good for customers and good for business. Surprisingly it’s part of a good design practice as well. Here are the steps I use:  Begin with a rapid prototyping technique Iterate frequently on the evolving design Use customer feedback to drive those iterations You will soon have a spot-on design. Imagine the reverse: you spend a fair amount of time gathering requirements, then build a detailed professional-looking prototype and after doing some user testing you realize you have to substantially...
Blog  •  November 3, 2015  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  •  user experience design, UX, user experience designers, designers
Designing is a process, and as a designer you can utilize numerous strategies to progress to a successful outcome, but a sure way not to succeed is to deny the process. I like to describe it as not “honoring the design process.” You need to pay homage to the natural forces of doing and deciding. In other words, performing a bunch of random activities utilizing gathered requirements, constraints and user profiles does not necessarily lead to a solid design. A couple of examples that I have witnessed: The pudding recipe approach: Just add 30 functional requirements to this particular...
Blog  •  September 30, 2015  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  •  UX Design, user experience design
Although design is a subject of much interest in this age of highly usable technology products, misconceptions about the user experience (UX) design process abound. A fundamental fallacy is that the design process is one-dimensional, involving essentially one kind of thought process. The ‘Misconception-ers’ often fall into two camps: --those that believe designing is primarily a burst-of-inspiration, gestalt experience --those that believe designing is primarily an extensive to-do list The tendency is to hold the activity of designing as being all one style, or the other....
Blog  •  July 13, 2015  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX, IOT  •  Internet of Things, IoT, Internet of Everything, IoE, User Experience, UX
Does the Distinction Matter to User Experience Designers? Qualcomm and Cisco have been pushing the term, Internet of Everything (IoE) while most others are using the term Internet of Things (IoT). As could be expected, confusion about the difference between the two has ensued. Is there a difference or is it just rhetoric? Some people use them interchangeably but there is a clear conceptual difference. IoE encompasses a wider scope and takes into consideration the infrastructure needed and the potential impacts that will occur on data, privacy, security and usability as a result of...
Blog  •  June 29, 2015  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX, IOT  •  UX patterns, user experiences, Internet-enabled, Internet of Things, IoT, designer, UX
The user experiences (UXs) of Internet-enabled devices that are part of the Internet of Things (IoT) are expected to require little or no learning for users to be effectively proficient with them. As these devices proliferate, it’s inconceivable that users will have any patience to figure out complex or confusing user experiences. This is particularly so with public devices where the time that any one user might engage with a device is measured in minutes. How does a designer deal with this dilemma? To add to the challenge, many of these connected devices are not built upon platforms...
Blog  •  June 16, 2015  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX, IOT  •  Internet of Things, IoT, user experiences, UX, Design
The Internet of Things (IoT) will be an opportunity for new kinds of user experiences (UXs) to proliferate - smart, ambient, minimal and wearable. These new interactive experiences will need to be very appealing and easy to use. In other words, these new devices and systems must possess a very high level of usability; users/consumers have come to expect that. This is good news for designers because it ensures that their skills will be highly valued as the IoT grows in scope and size. However, employing high UX standards are not the only factor at play here. The number of IoT devices...
Blog  •  June 2, 2015  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX, IOT  •  Internet of Things, IoT, graphical user interface, GUIs, NUIs, touch
The emergence of the Internet of things (IoT) is reshaping our relationship with computing technology, including the interface paradigms that we use to interact with digital technology. Touch has replaced mechanical pointers such as the mouse on some classes of devices, notably mobile. Speech recognition is slowly finding appropriate use cases where hands-free interaction is desirable, such as in-vehicle devices. Physical movement is the interaction with wearables that track your activity. With all of this change, the question becomes will the once ubiquitous Graphical User Interface (GUI)...
Blog  •  May 18, 2015  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX, IOT  •  Internet of Things, IoT, User Experience, UX, smart devices, smartphones
If you are not yet honing your design skills for the Internet of Things (IoT), I’m about to light your fire. I don’t generally buy into technology hype. As designers, we tend to remain calmly skeptical about incitements coming from our business and marketing departments. However, the predicted growth and market penetration of smart devices is frankly staggering. I can only imagine that user experience (UX) design skills for smart devices will be in huge demand. Before the introduction of smartphones in the early 2000’s, IoT devices were estimated at about 50 million worldwide. The...
Blog  •  April 20, 2015  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX, IOT  •  IoT, User Experience, UX, Internet of Things
Users find it frustrating and reluctantly accept the fact that connection to the Internet sometimes has glitches. Wait times are the norm. Users are accustomed to the cursor loading slowly, popping up periodically and at times needing to try a second or third time in order to connect to an online site. However, users perceive devices that are part of the Internet of Things (IoT) differently. These new products are more black box in function than a computer, tablet or phone. The fact that a device is dependent on a connection to the Internet to operate properly is not so obvious to the user...
Blog  •  April 6, 2015  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX, IOT  •  IoT, Content Strategies, Innovation, Internet of Things, Interactive Retail Kiosks
Digital signage (DS) is one of the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) technologies that are invading our lives, for better or worse. I recently attended the Digital Signage Expo 2015, ₁ where I had the opportunity to lead a round table discussion on “Content Strategies for Interactive Retail Kiosks.” ₂ Why talk about kiosks at a DS conference? Interactivity, of course, is one of the cutting edge elements of digital signage. An interactive digital sign is essentially the same thing as a simple interactive kiosk. Interactivity is a natural evolutionary direction of DS technology. It’s a...
Blog  •  March 2, 2015  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX, IOT  •  Internet of Things, IoT, User Experience, UX
When designing a user experience, we usually assume we are engaging a user’s center of attention, albeit short. We design an experience that will be a user’s primary focus or foreground activity for the duration of their engagement with a device, whether it be on a desktop, laptop, phone or tablet. In an attempt to provide added utility, we design reminders, such a notifications and badges that can inform users of unread messages and overdue updates.   Personally speaking as a user, I already have notification overload. Although the idea is sound, notifications and badges may be...
Blog  •  February 17, 2015  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX, IOT  •  Internet of Things, IoT, in-vehicle, navigation, robots, usability design, User Experience, UX, GUI, NUIs, context of use
So often, the Internet of Things (IoT) is discussed in terms of the technology that enables it, particularly focusing on cool, smart gadgets that will propagate in our lives. There is inevitably mention of in-vehicle entertainment and navigation, smart home appliances, wearables and robots. At its foundation, the IoT represents a whole lot of technological innovation, albeit driven by certain human desires, but herein holds many opportunities for usability design! User experience (UX) designers will need to meet the challenge of making all of these new devices and services a success with...
Blog  •  January 29, 2015  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX, IOT  •  Internet of Things, IoT, User Experience, UX, context of use
As the Internet of Things (IoT) proliferates, some user experience (UX) designers will migrate to working on unique one-off computer appliances rather than platform specific apps. On IoT projects there are likely to be more context of use issues to consider because: Devices can exist in a myriad of locations Devices will not always depend on existing platforms with pre-designed interaction patterns The most appropriate interaction modality will have to be selected from a list of options including pointer, keyboard, speech, touch and air gestures.  Context of Use Definition...
Blog  •  December 22, 2014  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX, IOT  •  Internet of Things, UX, User Experience, touchscreens
During 2014, the user experience (UX) group at ICS worked on our usual fare of mobile and desktop apps, but we also saw a large expansion of embedded device projects that fall into three categories: kiosk information systems, in-vehicle infotainment systems (IVI) and robotics control systems. Each area presents unique and complex challenges for a UX designer. However, we noticed some common requests between all three of those areas: the preference for touchscreens and the desire to be connected to the Internet. This implies that the UX challenges tend to fall into two categories: the tangible...
Blog  •  November 24, 2014  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  •  UX, User Experience, User Experience Design Principles, UI
In a previous blog post (Defining a Natural User Interface) I explained how finding a clear and concise definition of a Natural User Interface (NUI) was not easy. Finding a clear and concise list of user experience design principles for a NUI is even more challenging. An obvious reason for this is that NUIs encompass a broad range of possibilities, and it’s difficult to be general enough to cover the range and at the same time specific enough to be useful. After searching for lists of design principles that have already been published, I ended up making my own list. Here it is. 1. Choose...
We recently made a presentation at the Qt Developer Days conference in San Francisco, entitled Make Your Content Shine: Design Choices for a Qt Touch Kiosk. In the presentation we talked about numerous issues related to content display in our touchscreen kiosk product, ViewPoint and explained the best practices that we used to solve those issues. In this post, we are going to focus on a couple of issues with scrolling and eliding text.  Text has a tendency to not always fit into the allotted space on the screen and mechanisms need to be implemented to deal with those...