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Comment Just come up with a good process (Score 2) 189

For example, you could do something like this:

1. Figure out what your users are using the software for. What are their tasks and workflows? See if you can arrange to observe how users currently interact with the system.
2. Figure out what your software actually does. Make note of anything that seems to be clunky or difficult. Research current UIs, workflows, and get inspired.
3. Figure out where the easiest improvements lie. Would it make life easier and better for your users if you exposed a common operation that is currently buried? Is configuration or personalization cumbersome?
4. Mock up the changes you'd like to make. Some folks use wireframing tools, some use Adobe Illustrator. Pick a tool and run with it.
5. Let the folks in charge know that there's an easy adjustment that could be done. For example, give them some basic stats on how much time their users spent before doing task A, then show them the potential improvement in the user's time on tasks.
6. Go to 1 until they refuse to make changes that improve the usability of the software. Then, go find something else to do.

And this is just my opinion as someone who works with UX practitioners: I believe that improving organization and adding user-centric workflow optimizations are more important than just slapping some lipstick on a pig. However, if that's all that you put in front of the folks in charge, they may be underwhelmed. UI adjustments are just a small part of improving UX, but their importance shouldn't be discounted as a persuasive tool, as they are the most visible.

Comment Re:Huntsville, Ala. (Score 3, Informative) 464

Just to add to this, there are a couple of gotchas and bonuses that come with Huntsville: Gotchas: 1. If you're not a very religious person, the culture in the South can feel a little bit insular. 2. Huntsville's airport is one of the most expensive to fly out of in the nation. 3. There is not really a good direct path to drive to Atlanta. You can either take the backroads or go south through Birmingham. 4. If you're single and male and an engineer of any sort, the dating scene isn't going to do you any favors. Bonuses: 1. If you're a US Citizen and you can get a security clearance, government work or defense contracting in Huntsville can have high job security while still being lucrative. It's not necessarily because they're paying a lot, it's because the Huntsville metro area costs so little to live in. But as it is anywhere, if you're talented, you can make serious money, too. 2. The Lowe Mill is the the largest independent arts center in America and it's in Huntsville. 3. The US Space and Rocket Center is in Huntsville. You can't miss it driving down I-565. If you've ever heard of Space Camp, that's where it is. 4. Huntsville has one of the highest percentages of engineers per capita anywhere, if you like that kind of statistic. 5. If you like rocket scientist jokes, Huntsville is the place for you.

Comment User experience? (Score 1) 182

Look, just because you might have had a crappy music player and some junky tablet before someone else doesn't mean you had any idea how to engage your users on the platforms. If we turned back time and you got a redo, it would end up the same way because they wouldn't "just work" for people, and therefore people wouldn't buy them.

Comment Fatigue (Score 3, Insightful) 377

I suspect Apple's dismissal of vertical touch screen usage has to do with muscle fatigue. Try holding your arms out in front of you without resting your hands on anything for 5-10 minutes, and I think you'll see what he's getting at. People want to love Minority Report-style interfaces, but the truth is that there are reasons for not using them. Is it a well-founded argument against vertical screens? I guess we'll see!

Comment User experience issues, not aesthetic (Score 1) 370

The problem with the entire article is that it tries to hand-wave over the real issue: user experience. The article basically suggests, "If we put lipstick on a pig, the pig will look much better." This kind of thought process is exactly why there is so much shitty software in the real world... suddenly, everyone is a designer, everyone knows how to do information architecture, interaction design, and visual design. Wikipedia has a problem, agreed, but it is not just a "superficial" one. If Wikipedia was designed with a different kind of end-user in mind (average Joe vs. geeks), it really could enable folks to contribute on a larger scale. However, there's a lot more involved in improving user experience than just making it look nicer.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Tomorrow...

Later today there's a job fair at the Marriott in Huntsville, AL. Wish me luck.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Suck.

I realized today that with jobs going overseas and no technology-oriented work on my resume to date that I am sort of fucked as far as finding tech employment goes, despite completing my Bachelor's degree in Computer Science earlier this year.

Every cloud has a silver lining; you should have sold it, and bought titanium.