Picture of people at an exhibitionWikipedia defines a symposium as “a drinking party (from Greek sympotein, ‘to drink together’)”, so I’d like to start by stating that, while I’m a big fan of drinking together, this is not what I’m referring to! What I’m referring to is the format, often taken in the academic world, of meeting to discuss and share ideas around a particular theme.

So, what does this have to do with user experience?

I work in a large FTSE 100 organisation, but regardless of size, as a UX person in an organisation one of the biggest headaches is sharing your work with everyone that feels they have a say in what you are doing (and that’s generally a long list). Sharing work is definitely not a bad thing – getting a broad spectrum of people giving you feedback gives you interesting and different perspectives.

However, were you to individually sit down with everyone that asked to see/feedback on what you are working on, you would spend 99.7% of your time taking people through the work you’ve been done, and the remaining 0.3% of your time evolving it and/or moving on to the next thing!

A technique that I’ve used, successfully, is to hold a symposium. We take over a large room for half a day, and stick all of our work on the walls. We then invite as wide an audience as possible to pop in at any stage during the symposium, and have a look at our work.

We present the various streams of work as areas on the wall, where deliverables are shown, and the person/people who worked on them are there to talk people through the posters, answer question and gather feedback. These ‘station’ type areas could be at a page level, or present the results of some research.

I believe that there are a number of advantages to this format:

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I bookmark a lot of pages and sites which I find interesting, inspirational and informative every day! I’d like to share some of them with you here. In general they are about user experience, usability, UCD, accessbility and design. In general, but not always!!

  • YouTube – Broadcast Yourself.
    CS 547: Human-Computer Interaction Seminar (Seminar on People, Computers, and Design) is a Stanford University course that features weekly speakers on topics related to human-computer interaction design. The seminar is organized by the Stanford HCI Group, which works across disciplines to understand the intersection between humans and computers. This playlist consists of seminar speakers recorded during the 2008-2009 academic year.
  • Why We Sketch
    It seemed the conference room got brighter, as if, for the team staring at the whiteboard, light bulbs just went on. There was a collective sense of "Ohhh, I get it now."<br />
    <br />
    It was the culmination of a very confusing discussion, where everyone thought they knew what they were talking about, but, as it turns out, nobody was on the same page. In a moment of frustration, one junior team member—a designer—stepped up to the whiteboard and declared, "This is what I think we're talking about."<br />
    <br />
    Turns out the junior designer got it wrong. Yet his design spurred the idea's progenitor to rush to the board, grab the pen, and quickly correct the mistakes.<br />
    <br />
    That's when the group sighed their collective "ohhh" and the room lit up. The shift had happened. Up until now, they were talking about WHAT they were trying to do. Now, they could talk about HOW they would do it.
  • Playing Hard to Get: Using scarcity to influence behavior | UX Magazine
    Microsoft recently announced an upcoming price increase for the XBox Live Gold membership fee. When this news broke, a few retailers such as NewEgg responded by pushing their existing stock of gift cards (selling the membership at the older, lower price). It was fascinating to watch people scramble to get their hands on the remaining gift cards. Even people who hadn’t yet tried XBox Live purchased some of the gift cards, explaining, “they won’t be around for long—now’s the last chance to buy a year membership at the current price.”
  • Mobile Usability (Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox)
    In user testing, website use on mobile devices got very low scores, especially when users accessed "full" sites that weren't designed for mobile.
  • Animals in the news – The Big Picture – Boston.com

Please do feel free to suggest other related (and unrelated ones)!

I bookmark a lot of pages and sites which I find interesting, inspirational and informative every day! I’d like to share some of them with you here. In general they are about user experience, usability, UCD, accessbility and design. In general, but not always!!

  • Part 1: Five challenges on the journey to mastering travel inspiration
    Travel search is changing and understanding traveler inspiration is becoming increasingly important.<br />
    Either get closer to potential customers before they have made up their mind, or let someone else do it and watch the leisure traveler of tomorrow bypass completely the transactional websites that dominate travel today.
  • Faceted Navigation: Showing More Values
    My workshop on faceted Navigation Design in Cologne at the IA Konferenz 2010 was a success, from my perspective. It really got me thinking about the details of design solutions and ways to structure discussion around very specific aspects of faceted navigation. I’m also now on the look-out for different examples and techniques. This post is about how to handle the display of values, in particular how to show additional values.
  • 18 Great Examples of Sketched UI Wireframes and Mockups
    Whether you’re designing a user interface for a website or an iPhone app, it’s always a good idea to start with a wireframe. It can be a big time saver if you’re able to nail down the placement of major layout elements early on in a project.
  • Why You Should Adopt An ‘Accessible Content Strategy’
    Before diving too deeply into this discussion about the need for an accessible content strategy, I have a confession to make. I have never worked on a project in which content accessibility was included in the requirements. You may think that makes me a little bit like those characters played by Fred Willard and Catherine O’Hara in the movie “Waiting for Guffman”; that owned a travel agency, but had never left the town in which they were born.
  • Involving Stakeholders in User Testing
    Besides usability specialists, all design team members should observe usability. It's also good to invite executives. Although biased conclusions are possible, they're far outweighed by the benefits of increased buy-in and empathy.
  • Encouraging negative feedback during user testing
    Have you ever sat in a user testing session, watching a user really struggle with the task at hand only to have them tell you at the end everything was easy and straight forward? How do you encourage these participants to be negative? I’ve discovered a few techniques that might be able to help.

Please do feel free to suggest other related (and unrelated ones)!

I bookmark a lot of pages and sites which I find interesting, inspirational and informative every day! I’d like to share some of them with you here. In general they are about user experience, usability, UCD, accessbility and design. In general, but not always!!

  • Try the "Lightening Quick" Mental Model Method
    When I was making a lot of mental models in the get-it-to-market-yesterday dot com boom of the late 1990's, I used a technique that resulted in a mental model plus gap analysis brainstorm in the course of one day. Now that it's the not-in-this-economy post economic slump, I think it's time to put this technique to use again. Today, in fact, I got together with a group of nine talented design agency folks and we spent 2.75 hours putting together a set of towers based on 24 individual stories, and then spent rest of the day brainstorming ideas to support those towers. Here's how we did it.
  • Playing Well with Others: Design Principles for Social Augmented …
    Technical barriers to delivering augmented reality (AR) experiences on a broad scale are falling rapidly
  • The Craft of Interaction Design
    The following text is a transcript of a talk by Gillian Crampton-Smith at Innovation Forum Interaction Design, Potsdam, March 2007. The aim of the two-day conference was to focus on all aspects of interface and interaction design: mobile telephone and media interfaces, problem solutions and product visions, web pages and virtual worlds, art and commerce, business and science. Using both concrete projects and visionary concepts, current developments in interaction design were presented and discussed by regional and international experts from the design, research and business worlds.
  • The Panic Status Board
    …The idea quickly grew beyond “Project Status”, and has become a hub of all sorts of internal Panic information. What you’re actually looking at is an internal-only webpage that updates frequently using AJAX which shows:
  • Do’s and Don’ts of Usability Testing
    Usability testing is one of the least glamorous, but most important aspects of user experience research. Over the years, it has also been one of the forms of user research we have performed most frequently. In doing so, we’ve learned quite a few best practices and encountered some potential pitfalls. We think it’s important that we share what we’ve learned with the many stakeholders, designers, and engineers who might find this information helpful.
  • Autocomplete design pattern
    Problem summary: The user needs to enter information into a text box which is prone to be mis-typed, hard to remember, or ambiguous.

Please do feel free to suggest other related (and unrelated ones)!

I bookmark a lot of pages and sites which I find interesting, inspirational and informative every day! I’d like to share some of them with you here. In general they are about user experience, usability, UCD, accessbility and design. In general, but not always!!

  • Designing Mobile Search: Turning Limitations into Opportunities …
    Designing a mobile finding experience requires thinking in terms of turning limitations into opportunities.
  • Organized Approach to Emotional Response Testing
    The Product Reaction Cards are part of the Desirability Toolkit that suggests facilitators ask users to choose the cards that "best describe the product or how using the product made them feel" and then ask them to narrow their selection to just five cards. The cards selection process is then followed by an interview where the participant explains why they selected those five cards.
  • Where Do Heuristics Come From?
    What I learned in the process of developing style guidelines for voting system documentation (which, astonishingly, took about a year) is that most heuristics—accepted principles—used in evaluating user interfaces come from three sources: lore or folk wisdom, specialist experience, and research.
  • The User Centered Design Conundrum
    When I mention design research to clients unfamiliar with user–centered design, I am often confronted with a blank stare. At first, I thought that I simply might be doing it wrong: selecting the wrong kinds of clients with which to work, or associating myself with the wrong kind of companies—but after attending events and meet-ups frequented by UX professionals, I’ve learned that I’m not alone. The problem—willful ignorance to the benefits of design research— is a pervasive one.
  • Web Design Criticism: A How-To
    Web design is a relatively young field. It’s youthful, growing and made up of people from all kinds of backgrounds, many of whom lack formal design training. We have learned, and still are learning, as we go. It was there, as part of that training, that I learned about critiquing, both giving and receiving, through regular design reviews.

Please do feel free to suggest other related (and unrelated ones)!