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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  •  April 11, 2018  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  •  UX, design leadership
Often, clients — project owners that come to us seeking user experience (UX) design expertise — have “pre-designed” their project to some extent before our kickoff meeting. This can be very helpful and we encourage it. It means they’ve already done a lot of thinking on their project so it’s easy to get the ball rolling. But this eagerness can be a double-edged sword. The problem is, if the project owner is convinced their approach is the correct direction, they’ll likely have little patience for the UX question-and-answer sessions typical at the start of every project. Plus, the project...
Blog  •  March 14, 2018  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  •  UX, design leadership
In user experience (UX) design, friction is understood to mean interactions that limit a person from achieving his or her goals in a digital interface in an easy and intuitive manner. For instance, say you’re buying something online. You want to edit your purchase right before the Confirmation screen but the website doesn’t seem to have an Edit or Back link so you bomb out and start your purchase over again. Friction is undesirable because it can cause users to abandon tasks or even eliminate a whole product from their suite of apps. Frictionless interaction has recently become a...
Blog  •  January 3, 2018  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  •  UX, design leadership, best practices
Using design best practices ensures your user experience (UX) design and development process is focused and efficient. These four best practices — ensuring visibility of the process, following logical steps, taking ownership of work, and communicating effectively — are a must for any successful UX team. Successful Collaboration Requires a Plan Team collaboration is always a challenge, both within a UX team itself and between UX designers, engineers and stakeholders. To be sure, you need effective working practices to achieve good outcomes. Process...
Blog  •  November 15, 2017  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  •  UX, design leadership
You start a new design project. Quickly, you need to make some big decisions about the strategy, overall concept, information architecture and layout templates. And you have to follow up by making even more decisions. What interaction patterns will you use? What elements should have animations? What are the best colors and fonts for this project? These major decisions provide the foundation for your mockups and a spec. Since development has now begun, or is about to, you’re home free, right? Not so fast. As the designer, there are still a lot of smaller “micro” decisions you  need...
Blog  •  October 4, 2017  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  •  UX, design leadership
How do you keep stakeholders informed and included during a user experience (UX) design process? Short answer: Be generous with representations — sketches, mockups and prototypes — right from day one of the design process. Yes, that’s right. I’m telling you that, in the context of tight budgets and short deadlines, you should be generous with your skills and talents as a designer or developer. Rich representations are one of the hallmarks of an intelligent and successful design process. And, the surprising thing is that it can save your project from going over budget and past...
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...
Blog  •  October 14, 2014  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  •  Natural User Interface, NUI, gesture interface, User Experience, UX
Natural User Interface (NUI) is a concept that sounds simple enough at first but then it defies a simple, one-sentence definition. A command line interface (CLI) and graphical user interface (GUI) can both be described concisely, as in “the user types commands to the computer in the form of text” and “the user directly manipulates graphical representations on a computer screen with a pointing device.” A NUI, because it is not limited to particular input and output technologies as CLIs and GUIs are, have exponentially more possibilities for realization and thus are more difficult to define....
Blog  •  September 15, 2014  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  •  UX, user interface, kiosks, ViewPoint, interface hints, natural user interface (NUI), Hint animations, discoverable, Consistency, Prompt feedback, easy to learn, learnable
When a person encounters a kiosk or computer device in a public space, such as a sales or museum kiosk, they can only benefit from it if they can figure out how to interact with it rather quickly. So one of the requirements of public interactive devices is that they be very easy to use, or easy to learn to use. But the learnability must be part of the user experience design. Depending on the content, a design may use very common interactive navigation patterns such as “next” and “previous” buttons that leave no questions about how to interact with them. But likely, the content needs more...
Blog  •  July 22, 2014  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  •  User Experience, UX public kiosks, Usability, duration of use, duration of your content, kiosks, Users' Attention, User Interaction
Common user experience (UX) wisdom says that you have a short period of time (approximately 3 seconds to 3 minutes) to attract, seduce and convince a user to use your app, site or device. Once you capture their attention, you need to sustain a long-term relationship by offering the user real value (Skype), enduring enjoyment (Candy Crush) or at the very least, an obligation to be a participant in popular experiences (Facebook). Do the same principles apply to public kiosks, such as ticketing, retail and museum kiosks? The answer is yes and no. Yes, Kiosks Depend on Attraction, Enjoyment...
Blog  •  July 1, 2014  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  •  touch gestures, Touch Gesture, Touchscreen Kiosks, touch-enabled, wall-mounted screens, Interactive Kiosk
When installing a touchscreen kiosk, the angle of the screen is a major consideration. First, it affects how quickly people perceive the device as interactive and also touch-enabled. (See my   previous  post, Is That a Kiosk? How to Best Position Your Public Touchscreen Display for Use.) Second, it affects how comfortable it is for users to perform touch gestures. On a mobile device, the angle of screen is a non-issue because the user can hold the screen in whatever way is most comfortable for them. They can also change the angle depending on the task they are doing and...
Blog  •  May 27, 2014  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  •  UX, Touchscreen Kiosks, angle of a display, interactive tabletop devices, zone of viewability, screen angle
At Integrated Computer Solutions (ICS), we recently have begun marketing a touchscreen kiosk product that we call ViewPoint (www.viewpointkiosks.com). ViewPoint is a kiosk-authoring environment that currently runs on Windows 8, Android and Linux and can scale to various resolutions. As a result, it can be installed on various types of hardware and on various screen sizes and, a variety of housings can be selected. We have begun to deploy kiosks to customer beta sites and the user feedback and observations we have received are quite interesting.  As you might expect, size and...
Blog  •  April 15, 2014  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  •  UX Design, User Experience, red, contrasting color, UX
When designers create user experiences, red is the color most often chosen in interface design to draw attention and signify an alert or warning. A message in red text might say, “Email is a required field” or “Invalid username or password." Sometimes red is just used to draw attention. The question becomes, is red especially suited to this task, or just a handy contrasting color that is not often used for primary interface elements? If an interface were mostly red tones, could green work to signify an alert equally as well? I can imagine you are thinking, “a mostly red interface? Ugh...
Blog  •  February 19, 2014  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  •  UX Design
Does it seem like blue is the most common color utilized in interfaces? Besides black and white and the multiple shades of gray in between them, it only takes a quick analysis to see that blue is the color most used for links, backgrounds, window borders, icons, etc. This includes variations of blue ranging from green blue or aqua, to purple blue or indigo and from pure saturated blues to a range of blue grays. Generations of operating systems have heavily utilized shades of blue and gray. On my current Mac desktop, I can set a preference for the “Appearance” to be “blue” or “gray.”...
Blog  •  January 8, 2014  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  •  UX Design
To understand how to create visceral appeal in a user experience (UX) it helps to compare and contrast other forms of media that preceded the digital medium.  For example, in graphic design, color, composition and font choice can trigger our emotions. Industrial design is dependent on the quality of physical materials and their tactile appeal. In addition, the mechanisms - the responsive action of buttons or controls - matter greatly in how much we are attracted to use a device. In cinema and photography, camera angle, film speed and resolution set the stage, but the actual content...
Blog  •  December 4, 2013  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  •  UX
If I describe a user experience (UX) as having visceral appeal, is it the same thing as the user having an aesthetic experience? Traditionally, an aesthetic experience implies a complete, expansive encounter, while visceral appeal implies something less grandiose, a discrete event or several events. For instance, some animated transitions in an interface may have visceral appeal, employing smooth action and subtle bounce. However, to call the experience of those animations an aesthetic one, although not exactly untrue, feels like an exaggeration, at least in the traditional way we think about...
Blog  •  October 22, 2013  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  •  UX, UI, Visceral
When we say that a user experience (UX) has “visceral appeal”, we mean that it elicits an immediate “I like it” response. A visceral response is an emotional reaction that involves little or no active thought. It is often called a “gut feeling,” and it can be either positive or negative. According to Merriam-webster.com, visceral is defined as: 1. felt in or as if in the internal organs of the body: deep 2. not intellectual: instinctive, unreasoning 3. dealing with crude or elemental emotions: earthy 4. of, relating to, or located on or among the viscera <...
Blog  •  September 25, 2013  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  •  UX
“Visceral appeal” is an expression that is thrown around freely in the UX community but it seems to be well understood on some level, yet not truly understood at all. Everyone seems to grasp the general notion that a user experience (UX) can immediately elicit a positive, gut feeling of “I like this!” The user doesn’t need to analyze why they are responding positively. They simply find something about their UX likeable; it could be the colors, layout, shapes, animation effects, performance, etc. Really, anything that delights the senses can be the trigger. Visceral responses come from the...
Blog  •  August 28, 2013  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  • 
  Have you ever wondered why graphical user interfaces (GUIs) have been the primary interface to computing? Why not use aural (sound), or haptic (touch) and gesture? A simple answer might be that technological evolution drove us in the direction of GUIs; where cathode-ray tubes CRTs met typewriters and never looked back.  It also seems intuitively obvious. All of us want to see something first in order to touch it or move it with a gesture. In addition, although sound can exist without accompanying visuals, it is more manageable alongside text and images. Recent research in brain...
Blog  •  July 9, 2013  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  • 
Even though user experience (UX) design must accommodate the needs of the user, which seem on the surface to be idiosyncratic, UX designs are built using user interface patterns, which are highly rule-based. It’s confusing and annoying to live in a world with no rules or inconsistent rules. Dreams are like that; you go through a door but are back in the same room or you run but you stay in the same place. The rules of physics define the behavior of the physical world. Virtual worlds, even lowly everyday apps, also need to build upon consistent rules or patterns of interaction, for people to...
Blog  •  June 17, 2013  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  • 
The tricky thing about free-form gestures… adding a few obvious gestures to an otherwise touch interface is easy.  However, if you begin adding more gestures, the usability design challenges increase exponentially. For a long time free-form gesture interaction has been just over the horizon for consumer products, except for gaming of course.  Now its emergence on laptops, tablets and phones has begun. At ICS, we’ve been working on a few prototypes for free-form gesture interfaces, experimenting with how to add viable gesture interactions to kiosks and interactive signboards....
Blog  •  May 15, 2013  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  • 
There are numerous blogs arguing for consistency in a UX design mostly for soft reasons, such as "it's good for company branding," "it’s just good design," and “it’s easier to learn.” Here is the most important reason for UX design consistency, based on how the brain works: Lack of consistency in a UX design leads to added “cognitive load” for the user and breaks the “transparent to task” effect. Cognitive load: used in cognitive psychology to illustrate the load related to the executive control of working memory (From Wikipedia) The brain can only handle so much load (short term memory...
Blog  •  April 16, 2013  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  • 
I’m an advocate of UX + Agile but it has led to some “can’t-see-the-work-for-the-methodology” blindness. People are wrapped-up in doggedly following the mechanics of the methodology and lose sight of essential common sense about how best to get the work done that initially inspired the creation of the methodology. This not very thoughtful behavior tends to dumb-down the value of the methodology, diminishing the promised gains in project efficiency… bad for any company. You can recognize that people have stopped using their common sense when they start using the terms “iterate” and “...
Blog  •  April 2, 2013  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  • 
A physical demonstration of a touch enabled coverflow drag on an ICS kiosk. With the popularity of smart phones and tablets, touch gesture expertise is mostly focused on small screen sizes. Large touch screens are much less common and present a unique set of problems that have not been as well explored. Recently at ICS, we’ve been experimenting with touchscreen devices of various sizes, and we’ve made some interesting observations about touch gestures on large screens.  We created a Qt/QML application at a native size of 1920 x 1400 pixels, testing it on a 22- inch touch monitor....
Blog  •  February 21, 2013  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  • 
At Integrated Computer Solutions [ICS], we are proud of the many projects we develop and although we would like to display all of them, often we are restricted due to confidentiality clauses or because they run on specialized hardware. So recently we decided to create a touchscreen demo to exhibit some of our user experience [UX] and software development expertise. The demo was written in Qt and QML and can run on a variety of hardware. Initially, the demo was meant for display at several trade shows such as the recent Qt Developer Days 2012 in Berlin and in Santa Clara respectively. While at...
Blog  •  September 7, 2012  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  •  UX
To see what new UX projects ICS has been working on, come by our booth at DESIGN East September 18 and 19 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. At ICS, we’ve cultivated a cross-disciplinary UX team. To be more specific, everyone has UX skills of some flavor and everyone has at least some experience with coding. To be even more specific, some of us are designers that learned to code and some of us are engineers that acquired UX skills. One can imagine numerous advantages with this team configuration, such as better collaboration between designers and developers and more flexibility...
Blog  •  August 8, 2012  •  By Dorothy Shamonsky  •  UX  • 
Dorothy Shamonsky, Ph.D., leads UX R&D at ICS. She brings skills from traditional design practices, and experience in UX design/build research environments. I’m fascinated by the challenge of UX team collaboration, both within a UX team itself and between UX designers and engineers. To be sure, you need an effective working process to achieve good outcomes. Process methodologies such as Waterfall, Agile, Lean and Extreme, each offer a generalized structure for collaborative work to occur. You can then customize a general approach to be more specific to the requirements of a UI/UX...