User Experience


  • 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…

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  • 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.  …

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  • In this next blog post, we will explore the sixth rule of Ben Shneiderman's Eight Golden Rules of Interface Design. This rule is for designers to permit easy reversal of actions. Shneiderman explains this rule as the following, “As much as possible, actions should be reversible. This feature…

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  • Ben Shneiderman explains design dialogs with the following: "Sequences of actions should be organized into groups with a beginning, middle and end. Informative feedback at the completion of a group of actions gives operators the satisfaction of accomplishment, a sense of relief, a signal to…

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  • In Ben Shneiderman's Eight Golden Rules of Interface Design, he wrote: "Consistent sequences of actions should be required in similar situations; identical terminology should be used in prompts, menus, and help screens; and consistent color, layout, capitalization, fonts, and so on should be…

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  • 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…

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  • 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…

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  • 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…

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  • 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…

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  • “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…

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  • 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…

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  • 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…

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  • Automakers have long strived to make their in-car experiences unique and distinctive: not just in an effort to distinguish themselves from their competitors, but also to distinguish their low-end car models from their luxury models. The low-end to high-end distinction has been important to them for…

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  • 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…

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  • 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…

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  • 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…

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  • 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…

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  • 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…

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  • Welcome back!  Today I’ve been pondering team formation and team building.  While I try to avoid buzzwords, team building is often about synergy – that moment when a team comes together and the overall team performance is even more impressive than individual contributions alone.  …

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  • 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…

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  • Welcome back for a chat about user experience (UX) in the real world. Today, I want to talk about user experience and coffee. Now, I know not everyone drinks coffee, so for the sake of discussion, let’s assume that you want to drink some coffee. Initial Decision Once you’ve decided to drink…

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  • 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…

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  • 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…

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  • Welcome back to the coffee corner!   I hope that you’re doing well and enjoying your user experience (UX) rock star status on any project you may be working on, no matter your role. Today, we’re going to be chatting about Mental Models - what they are, why we should care about them and how…

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  • 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”…

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  • I just made it to my daily 10:30am coffee break (the one where I refill my coffee mug, since I already drank my 8am coffee) and wanted to spend a moment to chat about usability/user experience (UX) and project management (PM). Now, I’ve never met you, so you might be on the usability side, the…

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  • + Just between the two of us, I think the first 10 seconds of a usability test are the most important, not because you’re already running the test - far from it.  It’s what happens even before testing begins. Your participant who is already seated, might be perusing the consent form or pre-…

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  • 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…

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  • With the recent announcements of Apple’s CarPlay® and Google's Android Auto In-Vehicle Infotainment Systems (IVI), in-vehicle systems in general have recently been pulled from relative obscurity into the limelight. IVIs are becoming a much more integral part of everyday life with people spending…

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  • Whether you are designing the user experience for mobile, embedded products or a website they all have elements that when applied consistently can make any product or website successful. One website that most of us are either familiar with or have used is eBay.  The online auction and buy-…

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  • 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…

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  • 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…

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  • 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…

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