Jeff LeBlanc image

Jeff is Director of User Experience for ICS. He has extensive experience developing custom Qt solutions with a strong focus on applying human factors principles to UX design.

Jeff LeBlanc is on Google +

Blog  •  June 21, 2017  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  IOT  •  IoT, medical device, UX
Here at ICS we’re excited about how the Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the lives of people every day — a topic we’ve been covering from all angles. For instance, my colleague Jeff Tranter described how IoT fits into the Qt ecosystem while Dorothy Shamonsky has written about the design challenges posed by the expanding number of IoT devices. Me, I’m most intrigued by the way connected smart devices are transforming healthcare. According to Gartner (1), there will be more than 8 billion connected devices in use worldwide this year and close to 21 billion by 2020. But what does it take...
Blog  •  June 7, 2017  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  UX  •  UX, Usability
The software industry is moving at a faster pace every day and the bar for quality has never been higher. When I graduated from college in 1989 a guy working in his garage could create a best-selling game. Today, that would take as many people working together as to create the average summer blockbuster movie. Why? Because expectations are so much higher. Today’s savvy consumer will quickly become dissatisfied with poor usability and move onto a competitor’s application. So you need to develop rapidly while maintaining the superior level of quality your customers expect.   How do...
Blog  •  May 17, 2017  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  UX  •  UX Design, IoT, medical device
For connected IoT devices — including smart home and medical devices — to be truly transformative they need to deliver a well-designed and intuitive user experience. Running. It’s my thing. My favorite form of exercise. A way to clear my head. Usually, running loves me as much as I love it. But not always. On a rainy day a few months back, while training indoors for a road race, I got into an altercation with a treadmill. Treadmill 1. Meniscus 0. Fast forward to April when I finally gave into the pain and went under the knife. My recovery had me couch-bound with just my Norwegian...
Blog  •  March 29, 2017  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  UX  •  UX
Participants in ICS’ recent webinar UX Design for Software Engineers posed so many interesting questions I couldn’t get to all of them in my first post so I’m tackling a few more here. If you missed the webinar, you can watch it on demand here. What are some good UX tools? That is a very broad question since it covers many aspects of the UX process, and tools can range from the tried and true (pencil and paper) to the technical and sophisticated (eye tracking techniques). Like most UX designers today, we use the Adobe Suite for much of our visual design work. As far as specific design...
Blog  •  February 21, 2017  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  UX  •  UX, UX Design
Participants in ICS’ recent webinar UX Design for Software Engineers posed a slew of interesting questions. I'm tackling a few here. Look for an upcoming blog with answers to even more of your UX-themed questions. You recommended designing for 80% of users but isn't that a lowest-common-denominator approach? Won't a UI designed for a 65-year-old frustrate a 20-year-old digital native, for example? This is a question designers wrestle with often. Like all technical problems, there are a lot of "it depends on..." parts to answer this. You have to consider many aspects of your...
Blog  •  November 1, 2016  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  UX  •  UX, UX Design, IoT
This year’s Qt World Summit has come and gone, and a good time was had by all. I had the opportunity to give a well-attended talk on user experience (UX) design tips for software developers. It was great to see that so many developers are interested in how users view software, and aren’t focused solely on the internals.   While my talk drew a nice crowd, I have to say that it was probably due to the amazing keynote presentation the night before. Josh Clark, a principal at Big Medium, gave a riveting talk — Magical UX and the Internet of Things — that really fired up the crowd around...
Blog  •  June 15, 2016  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  UX  •  UX, Interface Design, Iron Man
When I was an engineering student at WPI, one of the non-technical classes I took required us to read Mary Shelley’s classic book Frankenstein.  As a young geek, I had already read it, but not with the intent of analyzing the very important theme running through it that all technologists should consider: just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do something. Victor Frankenstein was so obsessed with conquering death that he didn’t stop to think through the repercussions, and the results…. Well, if you don’t know, read the book. There are many stories that follow a...
Blog  •  May 16, 2016  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  UX  •  UX, User Experience, user-centric design, transfer of learning
One of the perks of being a technology company, is we get lots of fun toys around the office. For example, we’ve had a few Keurig coffee machines in our office kitchen for several years now.  They are quick, simple to use and produce adequate caffeinated beverages to feed our morning addictions. So when I heard that ICS had acquired a Keurig®-KOLD™ machine, I immediately headed for the kitchen to see how it compared to its warm-blooded sibling. (Note:  We’re based in Boston; we have ‘soda’, not ‘pop’.  Just go with it.) Sadly, I was not impressed. Having used the other...
Blog  •  May 2, 2016  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  UX  •  UX, user experience design, Eight Golden Rules
A regrettable consequence of getting older is that both our senses and our memory tend to be less acute.  While I scoffed at this notion when I heard about it in HCI class back in my 20s, it is now a fact of my daily life.  The National Institute of Health (NIH) describes how changes in our brains as we get older may cause us to take longer to learn new concepts or remember information. Even at our best, our working memory can only handle so much information at once.  In 1956, psychologist George Miller introduced the world to the theory of Chunking.  This notion says...
Blog  •  April 18, 2016  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  UX  •  UX, User Experience, user experience design, navigation, locus of control
I have read many software specifications over the years that simplistically list being “user friendly” as a design requirement.  User Experience (UX) designers can get a chuckle from this, knowing that there is a fair bit of effort involved during the design phase to make that happen.  The seventh rule of Shneiderman’s Eight Golden Rules talks about supporting an internal locus of control, and may be the closest thing to a simple description of user friendly of any of the rules. A description of the notions of internal vs external locus of control can be found here.  Simply...
Blog  •  March 21, 2016  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  UX  •  UX, user experience design, UXD, software developers, engineers
Shneiderman’s Rule 5 is the one that I suspect is most often violated by software developers, and I say that looking back at 20 years of writing code.  When writing software, developers think in terms of edge cases and data validation.  The rule of thumb is that, for example, when a user enters a value that is outside of the expected range, you will want to display an error message and ask them to try again. I think this mindset goes back to the early computer classes that engineers take.  I remember some early computer classes when we wrote simple command-line programs that...
Blog  •  February 8, 2016  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  UX  •  UX, user experience design, Usability
Continuing this series, the second of Shneiderman’s Golden Rules is that User Experience Designers should design systems and software for the widest range of reasonably possible users.  This is a challenging, but not insurmountable, activity. People come in a wide variety.  For example, let’s consider physical vision for a moment, someone could have very strong eyes capable of seeing details at a distance or reading very small text on a monitor.  Others, such as myself, struggle with details at a distance, and font sizes that were legible to me 20 years ago are no longer so...
Blog  •  January 12, 2016  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  UX  •  UX Design, UX, User Experience, Success in UX Design, building a UI, Qt
While I missed the recent 2015 Qt World Summit, I have been to and presented at Qt Dev Days for the previous three years running.  Each year, I presented two topics.  The first was related to a recent project or piece of software that we had been working on, including such fun items as an In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) system for Intel or the latest in voice recognition and gesture-based interfaces.  My second talk was actually the same each year: “Introduction to User Experience for Engineers”.  I made tweaks to the talk every year based on new experiences or research, but...
Blog  •  December 28, 2015  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  UX  •  UX, user experience design, UI, ui design, anti-patterns, Design Patterns
Some time ago, I wrote a post about the use of patterns in user interface (UI) design.  The idea is that, when one solves problems for a living, over the years the same problems will crop up, and similar solutions will be re-used. The context may change, but a solution that worked well at one point may also end up working well for a new problem.  Having the experience to recognize these patterns and not have to re-invent the wheel each time is what makes one an “expert”. The idea of patterns grew out of Christopher Alexander’s seminal work on patterns “A Pattern...
Blog  •  December 22, 2015  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  UX  •  User Experience, UX Design, steve harvey, Miss Universe
If you’ve been anywhere near a media source in the last few days, you’ve probably heard about the epic gaff (http://money.cnn.com/2015/12/21/media/miss-universe-2015-donald-trump/ ) made by poor Steve Harvey at the 2015 Miss Universe pageant.  It's hard to imagine a worse mistake at a beauty pageant than to announce the wrong winner!  However, in the world of User Experience (UX) design, we never blame the user for mistakes; rather, we look to see how changes in design would have prevented the error from happening in the first place.  Preventing errors is on the Ben Shneiderman...
Blog  •  November 16, 2015  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  UX  •  UX Design, Human Factors, HCI, visual designers
Here in the U.S., the month of November makes us look at ahead to the Thanksgiving holiday, which for many is a time for being with friends and family, giving thanks for the good things in our lives, and eating copious amounts of turkey.  Professionally speaking, I’m thankful for the opportunity to have built an amazing team of User Experience (UX) and Visual Designers here at ICS.  Reflecting further on that, I find I’m thankful that these professions exist these days, and you should be too. When digital products were first being produced, there were no UX...
Blog  •  October 19, 2015  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  UX, IOT  •  Internet of Things, IoT, UX, User Experience
At the expense of some minor spoilers for a seven-year-old movie, the post-credit cut scene in Iron Man (2008) showed Tony Stark walking into his dark home and calling for his virtual butler J.A.R.V.I.S. to turn on the lights. Fast-forwarding to 2015, we can now do that, more or less, courtesy of the Internet of Things (IoT). Here at ICS, we’ve been working with IoT technology for some time now, and it’s been very exciting work. Some of my colleagues have written various blog posts on the topic over the last several months such as the Internet of Things: Easy to Use is...
Blog  •  September 14, 2015  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  UX  •  UX, UX design team, user research, User testing
Team building is always one of the biggest challenges facing any manager.  Sometimes you get to build a team from scratch and get to forge your own dynamic, other times you inherit a partial or full team and have to figure out the dynamic.  For a user experience (UX) design team, besides the interpersonal mix, there is also the added factor of determining what skill sets to bring into the team. For a UX designer, there is a wide (and not fully agreed upon) list of possible skills one could have: user research, user testing, ethnography, interaction design,...
Blog  •  August 24, 2015  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  UX  •  User Experience, technology, software projects, UX
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke As technologists, we are privileged to be working in a time of magic, or at least working with technology that would have seemed magical to our grandparents. Many of us have more computing power in our pockets than was used to put men on the moon.  Even Hollywood is finding it hard to come up with technology to show in movies that is much beyond what we use and envision daily.  With the Amazon Echo coming out, my hope of having my own personal J.A.R.V.I.S. running my house is...
Blog  •  August 4, 2015  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  UX  •  User Experience, UX, interactive devices, Design, engineers
One of the challenges to creating effecting and engaging User Experiences (UX) for interactive devices is balancing the creative aspect with the functional. Talented visual designers can create amazing works in Photoshop, some of which make even experienced software engineers cringe when it comes to having to implement them. Knowing the capabilities of your development team can be critical when trying to make the right decisions in the early phases of a design effort. As part of a consulting organization, ICS designers have become skilled at recognizing that the heads of the...
Blog  •  July 27, 2015  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  UX  •  developers, designers, user experience design, UX
Before getting the opportunity to run a design team, I worked as a Qt developer and trainer for many years.  This has given me some insights into the development pipeline that I think a lot of people have missed. I’ve heard both developers and designers complaining about one or the other many times, but the reality is that both disciplines are more alike than many people would believe.  I’ve blogged about this previously (Lean UX and Agile Development: Not So Different After All ) and I have to say that the similarities grow stronger the more I think about this....
Blog  •  March 16, 2015  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  UX  •  Customer Experience, touch-enabled devices, digital signage, retail, UX
“The Times They Are a Changin’” – Bob Dylan, 1964 How many of you have noticed a change in the buying behavior of consumers today? As Bob Dylan so aptly stated more than 50 years ago when major disruptive social change was occurring, change comes with a force that shakes the walls and windows. The times, they are indeed changing. And for everyone in retail today, times they are a changin’ yet again. View the Its All About The Customer Experience On-Demand Webinar  Technology has changed everything, including consumers’ expectations of how and when they buy. This affects...
Blog  •  October 28, 2014  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  UX  •  The Business of UX 2014, User Experience, UX, product development, customer-focused, Design, Steve Jobs
Join us for The Business of UX 2014 in San Francisco If you are in San Francisco Nov 6, 2014, please join us for The Business of UX 2014 Summit . This event is a one-day opportunity for product and engineering management professionals to connect and learn about the business impact of UX on your product development. We will have expert speakers and panelists and real-world examples of how leading products really do lead with UX first. Register before Oct 31 and save.  What is the real business value of UX? Well, that is the big question for many in this age of customer-focused...
Blog  •  July 31, 2014  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  UX  •  UX
A while back, I spoke about how I’ve been noticing User Experience (UX) becoming more of a differentiator across various industries.  From airlines to fast food to automobiles, it is the entire experience someone has with a particular brand that brings people back for more, often trumping price as the driving reason people spend their money. I can speak from personal experience on this.  I recently upgraded my satellite DVR to support TiVo instead of the standard interface on the box.  Sure, it costs me an extra 10 bucks a month, but I’m willing to pay it for that enhanced...
Blog  •  May 12, 2014  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  UX  •  UX, User Experience, Design Patterns, ROI of UX Design
Years ago, the concept of design patterns made a fundamental change to the way software engineers approached design problems. The idea, for those who are unfamiliar, is that in software development we often find ourselves     confronted with the same problems over and over, but in a different context.  For example, the need for there to be one and only one instance of a particular data object gave rise to the Singleton Pattern. The idea of patterns grew out of Christopher Alexander’s seminal work on A Pattern Language, back in 1977 and its findings were first detailed in the...
Blog  •  April 29, 2014  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  UX  •  User Experience
Here at ICS, we pride ourselves on hiring the best people, wherever they are located.  We have staff located in Massachusetts, California, Canada, Denmark and Poland to name just a few places. To facilitate communication and a sense of community, like many companies, we use Skype.  On any given day, I probably have a dozen individual or group chat windows going.  When projects are coming due, keeping up with them all seems like I’m playing a game of whack-a-mole.  So, when a recent update to the Skype user interface (UI) caused an unexpected change in focus, I was not...
Blog  •  January 21, 2014  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  UX, IVI  •  Infotainment Systems, UX, Connected Car, CES, Smartphone, IVI
Everyone remembers his or her first car.  Mine was a ’72 Pinto that I traded a busted CD player to get.   My dad and I pulled a radio out of my brother’s truck so I could have some tunes while cruising.  The tape deck occasionally got hungry and needed to be fed a mixed cassette or two to appease its appetite.  I’d like to say I look back at it fondly, but I remember a lot of cursing.  Fast forward to 2014, we find the field of In-Vehicle Infotainment Systems (IVI) is a lot flashier than when I got my first car, but there still seems to be a lot of cursing...
Blog  •  November 18, 2013  •  By Jeff LeBlanc  •  UX  •  UX
Welcome to the post Qt DevDays 2013 edition of the UX Blog.  I suspect that many of you who follow this blog also attended DevDays and I hope you enjoyed the show as much as I did.  I met a lot of great people, saw some interesting demos and presentations and even gave a few talks that seemed to hold people’s attention for the full time slot.  All in all, a pretty great week. This was the first year that the UX group participated in a Human Factors booth and based on the booth traffic, it appears that many of you are becoming more interested in the User Experience...