User Experience + Innovation

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Common mistakes in evaluation criteria

How do you evaluate the paint job and painted graphical artwork on a building?

How do you evaluate how well a building supports business processes?

Would you use the same evaluation criteria for both of these services?

Can you, as an outsider, evaluate how good a paint job and graphical job is by simply looking at it?

Can you, as an outsider looking at the same building, evaluate how well the building serves business processes?

Architects plan the structure and flow of buildings. They plan how the building will optimize the processes of your business.

Painters paint the building.

Sign companies paint the logos, signs and graphics.

Think of building architects as the "Information Architects" of a system, defining the big, strategic picture of the system. What will be where. How much space will be needed. They synthesize the big picture business functions into the shape of the building.

Think of interior architects as the "Interaction Designers" who address the details of how people and processes will move about and interact within the space.

Now, think of the painters as doing the "Visual Design" of a system. They make sure that there is a coherent look and feel for the building, aligned with your brand. They work with graphic designers to orchestrate aesthetically pleasing visual.

Last, but not least, think of the sign company as doing the "Graphic Design". They take care of logos, icons, and other stylized elements.

This may not be a perfect metaphor but it should be helpful.


From my other blog at

From "eyeballs" to people

Summary: Focusing on "eyeballs" looking at ads or web traffic is a myopic way of thinking about successful advertisements.  Read the full blog posting >>

The value of user experience
Summary: Sometimes when the economy goes South we have to remind our company stakeholders about the value of user experience in today's marketplace. This list shows some of the value user experience professionals deliver. Read the full blog posting >>

Call for Papers - Usability 2009

Join 800+ industry professionals in Portland,
Oregon, USA for the UPA International Conference - "Bringing Usability to
, Making everyday things better", June 8-12, 2009.

This is an excellent opportunity for you to share your knowledge and
experience with others who care about usability.

Call for Submissions - Due by Friday, October 3.
Please submit your proposals online for presentations, papers, panels,
experienced practitioner topics, tutorials, workshops and more at:
UPA 2009 Submissions!

How important is user testing? As important as loosing a few million dollars

User research and user testing are not "nice to have" processes that user experience professionals do. They have a real value. Not applying these important processes could lead to very serious problems for design companies, their clients, the customers and other partners involved.

Next time someone in your company wants to cut corners on user research, or usability testing, point them to the Wall Street Journal's article on J.Crew's website usability issues. This article outlines the types frustrations J.Crew web users had to deal with. It also mentions how J.Crew ended up loosing millions of dollars because of these issues.

General examples of possible loss for the design client:
- revenue lost in sales
- loss of stock value, investors and capital
- staff time spent addressing user frustrations
- money previously invested in software/web development and design
- money invested in correcting the problems through redesign
- money that needs to be re-invested in branding and P.R. after a series of issues

It's also bad for the design agency
The design agencies that cut corners and end up designing faulty products can easily end up being bankrupt after a widely publicized mistake like this.

Vendor partner guilt by association ?
If you are a vendor providing products or services used in the failed project your product and brand may also be at risk of sharing the blame - regardless, of guilt or innocence.

People forget
If you think people will forget about user experience mistakes of this magnitude, you are probably right - but your competitors will not.

Visit the the Wall Street Journal blog article

Related blog posting :

- Daniel Montano
Visit my other blog: Framework 21

50-ish truths about innovation

Nadeem Shabir over at his blog Virtual Chaos has done us the favor of summarizing 50-ish truths about innovation.

He compiled the list from a book by Max Mckeown called, The Truth About Innovation.

I'm listing here a few of them as a teaser. You can read the others at Nadeem's blog.

  • Truth 13: Cure apathy by sharing purpose
  • Truth 16: Different structural strokes for different folks
  • Truth 19: Everyone can learn to think better
  • Truth 34: Little differences make a big difference
  • Truth 36: Madonna knows more than your boss
  • Truth 37: Meeting of minds not mindless meetings
  • Truth 41: People judge your first, then your ideas
  • Truth 44: Reinventing the wheel is a good thing
  • Truth 45: Second can be better than first
  • Truth 53: What you know can hurt you
  • Truth 55: You can’t control waves so learn to surf

Nadeem's blog: VirtualChaos

- Daniel Montano, Visit my other blog: Framework 21

Graphjam on color blindness

I found this graph on GraphJam...(by the way, I think they mean "population").
Color blindness in the general population. Diagram of a piechart that is all gray in color so that you can't see any of the intended color coded distinctions.

Image source:
- Daniel Montano, Visit my other blog: Framework 21

Chrome: 7 reasons for it and 7 reasons against it

PC World has published an article providing us a high-level review of the new browser Chrome.

It's definitively worth reading.

Source: PC World - Visit the original article >> >>

Judy Estrin on innovation

"Ms. Estrin argues that short-term thinking and a reluctance to take risks are causing a noticeable lag in innovation. She cites a variety of contributing factors. A decline in federal and university financing for research has dried up new ideas, she said." - Judy Estrin, author of "Closing the Innovation Gap"

Short-term thinking is a framework for evaluating innovation. The question is - have we reached a spot where we need to reconsider it?

New York Times - "Another Voice Warns of Innovation Slowdown" >>

This ZDNet article also features a video interview with Estrin >>

5 reasons to reconsider where you position your online ads

I recently read an article about online ad placements and I was disappointed to learn that there are online advertisers that are still blogging and recommending that people place their online ads on the left side of the page (where the left side navigation usually is). The strategy is that by positioning the ads there people are more likely to click them.

I would anticipate the following results from a website that positions their ads where the left navigation usually is:
  1. People will feel deceived by that tactic and they will resist clicking on the ads out of spite
  2. Sneaky ad placements like these lower the trust value of your webpage
  3. By association, ad-spam-layouts lower the trust value of the advertiser's products/services
  4. It lowers the usability of the website
  5. It will keep you out of online search engines that focus on webpage quality for their search results
Dan Montano authors a transdisciplinary blog about ways of thinking for the 21st century.
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