Table of Contents

VOLUME XIII.6 November + December 2006

  • In this issue
    • In this issue

      Jonathan Arnowitz, Elizabeth Dykstra-Erickson

      Welcome to Waits and Measures, in which guest editor Jeff Sauro plumbs the depths of the mysteries of usability ROI, interpreting usability data, and guidelines for measuring usability. We think these articles will make an excellent desk reference; they are as elegant and concise an explanation of this art…

  • Fresh: rant
    • Results are in

      Jonathan Arnowitz, Elizabeth Dykstra-Erickson

      This issue is primarily about usability and metrics, measurements, and what we do with them. And thus our rant: deceiving with numbers. At university you may have had the pleasure of a reading assignment instructing you to read and memorize a slim volume called How to Lie with Statistics…

  • Fresh: ok/cancel
    • Judgmental

      Tom Chi, Kevin Cheng

      ©2006 ACM1072-5220/06/1100$5.00 Permission to make digital or hard copies of all or part of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation…

  • Fresh: ask Doctor Usability
    • I like it like that!

      Dr. Usability

      Dear Dr. Usability, I have just finished my 16th iteration of the user interface for cropping a picture. Everyone has their own vision of how it should work. I've tried it this way and that way, and when I've showed it to my colleagues, each person says something different.…

  • Fresh: pushing the envelope
    • Whither the web?

      Fred Sampson

      To hear some of the breathless prognosticators, Web 2.0 will save the world, or at least the World Wide Web. As you might expect, I have reservations. I recently heard someone who should know better state that Web 2.0 is AJAX (asynchronous Java and XML), and AJAX is Web…

  • Fresh: nuts & bolts
    • 10 usability tips & tricks for testing mobile applications

      David Schultz

      Literature that provides practical techniques for conducting usability testing of mobile applications remains limited. Had the following tips and tricks been available when I conducted my first usability test of a mobile application in 1999, it would have saved me much grief. Preparation 1. Account for prior mobile…

  • Fresh: CHI 2007
    • Design infusion at CHI 2007

      Jon Kolko, Bill Lucas

      Over the past 25 years, SIGCHI has seen a gradual infusion of design theory and praxis. Next spring, the progression will accelerate when CHI '07 features quality design offerings throughout the conference program. Attendees will experience instruction and inspiration at the intersection of academic research and commercial practice. In…

  • Fresh: mailbag
    • Letters to the editor

      Jonathan Arnowitz, Elizabeth Dykstra-Erickson

      The Way I See It The fun of a good, provocative, declarative statement is the hidden assumption that underlies that statement. In Don Norman's recent article, "Why Doing User Observations First is Wrong," (<interactions> XIII.4, July-August 2006) he appears to make the assumption that we in HCI do studies…

  • Forum: connections
    • Must electronic gadgets disrupt our face-to-face conversations?

      William Newman

      Over the last century, advances in technology have massively expanded our choice of ways to connect to each other. Nevertheless, our original means of communicating—talking face to face—persists as the most immediate, natural, and universal means we have of communicating. Conversing face to face we have at our disposal…

  • Forum: under development
    • How do you manage your contacts if you can’t read or write?

      Jan Chipchase

      The mobile phone enables personal, convenient synchronous and asynchronous communication—in essence allowing its users' communication to transcend time and space, at a time and in a context of his or her choosing. It is therefore unsurprising that with these almost superhuman characteristics, many people consider their mobile phone to…

  • People: the way I see it
    • Logic versus usage

      Donald Norman

      In my consulting activities, I often have to explain to companies that they are too logical, too rational. Human behavior seldom follows mathematical reasoning. By the standards of engineers, human behavior can be illogical and irrational. From the standpoint of people, however, their behavior is quite sensible, dictated by…

  • Waits & measures
    • Quantifying usability

      Jeff Sauro

      Numerical precision is the very soul of science [8]. The current practice of most usability measurement is not numerically precise. This does not mean that usability, or at least certain activities that fall under the broad topic of usability, are not science and cannot be precise. It means that…

    • The user is in the numbers

      Jeff Sauro

      Measuring usability is an important topic that very much needs to be discussed. Being part of the conversation usually requires reading peer-reviewed journal articles in HCI. This, in turn, requires knowledge of the techniques and the jargon of statistics and experimental design (the foundation of numerical precision in empirical…

    • Functionality, usability, and user experience

      Niamh McNamara, Jurek Kirakowski

      Evaluation is a mainstream activity in HCI. For many years we saw the emergence of a plethora of techniques to measure user-orientated quality assessment of technology: usability, satisfaction, efficiency, effectiveness, learnability, usefulness, and so on. In recent times, however, the discussion seems to have moved on. Issues surrounding the…

    • Sample sizes for usability tests

      James Lewis

      Why do we keep talking about appropriate sample sizes for usability tests? Perhaps the most important factor is the economics of usability testing. For many practitioners, usability tests are fairly expensive events, with much of the expense in the variable cost of the number of participants observed (which includes…

    • A practical guide to the CIF

      Mary Theofanos

      A $46 million computer system installed at the US General Services Administration (GSA) regional offices in Denver and Philadelphia in 2004 slowed business operations to a trickle [1]. The new system, designed to improve financial management, did not work out as planned. The Federal Times quoted one Federal Technology…

    • Making the fuzzy parts of ROI clear

      John Sorflaten

      Most managers must show dollar returns that justify the extra time it takes to incorporate usability methods into R&D. Many of those who are still new to usability resist changing their former development practices beyond lip service such as "oh, yes, do a usability test tomorrow when we have…

    • Practical issues in usability measurement

      Nigel Bevan

      How do you select the most useful and appropriate usability measures? If the purpose of the test is to decide whether a product has adequate usability (the type of test the CIF is intended for), measures should focus on the end result (as defined in ISO 9241-11): Effectiveness: "accuracy…

  • People: fast forward
    • SeniorCHI

      Aaron Marcus

      What do seniors want and need from human-computer interaction and communication? What are the long-term effects on them with mobile/computing devices? How late in their lives can and should we expose them to the latest technology? In the late 1980s or early '90s, Apple introduced its own Gray Panthers…

  • People: the well-tempered practitioner
    • Triangulation

      Chauncey Wilson

      Triangulation is an approach to data collection and analysis that uses multiple methods, measures, or approaches to look for convergence on product requirements or problem areas. While the term "triangulation" may not trip off the tongues of HCI practitioners, we often employ triangulation, implicitly or explicitly, to bolster our…

  • Bridge the gap
    • Transitioning to the hallway talk

      Carolyn Gale

      The Elevator Talk (<interactions> XIII.3, May-June 2006) is a brief abstract that describes your research and why it's important. After several rounds of practice, most researchers can develop an Elevator Talk that is understandable to a lay audience. However, if someone asks a researcher to go into any more…

    • Toward a common ground

      Avi Parush

      The Gap Between HCI Research and Practice A popular definition of HCI as a discipline (ACM SIGCHI Curricula for Human-Computer Interaction, 1996) reflects a duality: HCI is a discipline concerned on the one hand with practice, and on the other, with the research into phenomena associated with this practice.…

  • Books
    • Review of “The Semantic Turn: A New Foundation for Design by Klaus Krippendorff”, Taylor & Francis, 2006, ISBN 0415322200, $79.95

      A. Henderson

      The title says it all, but as with much of this amazing book, it takes some context to get the full sense of it. Thankfully, Klaus Krippendorff provides that in a direct, readable, and engaging fashion. The Semantic Turn: A New Foundation for Design is grounded in history, dense…

    • New & upcoming titles

      Judy Grover

      Usability Success Stories: How Organizations Improve by Making Easier-to-use Software and Web Sites Paul Sherman, editor Ashgate Publishing, October 2006 ISBN: ISBN: 0566086565 $99.95 Chance Discoveries in Real World Decision Making: Data-based Interaction of Human Intelligence and Artificial Intelligence Yukio Ohsawa, Shusaku Tsumoto, editors Springer, October 2006…

  • People: timelines
    • The demon in the basement

      Jonathan Grudin

      People and technology: Who's in control? What's in control? Or are we out of control, reaching a tipping point, approaching a singularity? This column and the next look to the past with an eye on the future. Technological Determinism: Where Do You Stand? I have shown audiences the…

  • Event planner
    • Event planner

      Judy Grover

      November 15 The Danish HCI-Research Symposium 2006 The 6th Danish Human-Computer Interaction Research Symposium Aarhus, Denmark November 20-24 OZCHI 2006 The Annual Conference of the Australian Computer-Human Interaction Special Interest Group Sydney, Australia November 26-28 Engage: Interaction, Art and Audience A Creativity and Cognition ACID…

  • People: on the edge
    • Ubiquitous Japan

      Lars Holmquist

      Japan is well-known as a leader in mobile technology and high-tech gadgets. The image of the Japanese kogals (hip schoolgirls) and salarymen (office workers) with their Internet-enabled keitai (mobile phones) roaming the neon-lit entertainment districts of Shinjuku and Shibuya has become shorthand for a mobile computing future to which…

  • Rave
    • Thank you for your input

      Jonathan Arnowitz

      A while back we asked readers to tell us some of their design delights. We compiled the following from those results. It's safe to say that most designers will find something on the list that resonates, even though this isn't quite what we expected to hear. With a nod…

  • Postcards from the future
    • Skinner built the internet

      Atticus Wolrab

      ©2006 ACM1072-5220/06/1100$5.00 Permission to make digital or hard copies of all or part of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation…