The recent furore over the 2012 Olympics Logo reminds me of how people react to the user interfaces they find on everything they interact with, from websites to washing machines. If an interface, like a logo, is well-designed, no one notices or mentions it. If it is difficult or unsightly, people complain loudly and when given a choice, won’t use an interface they don’t like. Interaction designers, like IT support staff, are never thanked when all is well and severely criticised when interfaces cause users problems. Continue reading “Human-computer interaction: Can you see what it is yet?”
Cultural probes are quick and dirty way to get inside the users’ minds in a way that standard user testing doesn’t. Probes can take the form of diaries or blogs and are easy to put together using open-ended questions which encourage users to say all the things they never would during a testing session. With this insight into users thoughts and feelings, usability consultants can identify behavioural patterns and design better products which satisfy user needs (even ones they didn’t know they had). Probes go beyond the ‘know thy user’ rule to read the user’s mind.
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