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Everyday Usability 10 – Low frequency noise

Everyday Usability 10 – Low frequency noise

Acoustic is an important factor for the ergonomic design of workplaces. I was reminded of that when I started working on my laptop at my new desk. The noise of the laptop’s ventilator happened to be in such a frequency that interacts with that of the desk surface. Resulting, the desk worked as sound box. Whenever I put the laptop on the desk it started to produce very low but still noticeable humming sound, just above the hearing threshold level….

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Paper prototype (part 2) – A design guide

Paper prototype (part 2) – A design guide

Paper prototyping is a method to quickly test the usability of an interface design with users. The interface is a sketch on paper or a very simple wireframe. At the end of this article you know how to design a paper prototype with different materials and how to create different interactions on paper. This guide should also help you to avoid some of the pitfalls. This article is the second about paper prototyping. Learn about how to plan and conduct…

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Paper prototyping (part 1) – A practical guide

Paper prototyping (part 1) – A practical guide

Paper prototyping is a method to quickly test the usability of an interface design with users. Due to its low cost on resources and time, it is possible to rapidly create a paper prototype and gain user insights. Further, due to the simplicity of the paper prototype, users are more willing to give honest feedback (Gerber and Maureen, 2012). At the end of this article you will know what paper prototyping is, what goals you can reach with it, what…

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Everyday Usability 9 – Elevator interface usability

Everyday Usability 9 – Elevator interface usability

Recently I went to work very tired. This tiredness nearly made me accidentally press an alarm button in the elevator interface. I had to use an elevator with very slow closing doors. Naturally, I wanted to speed up the process and tried to press the dedicated button to close the doors. My finger already touched the surface of the button when I realized it had the wrong colour. I look closer and saw that I nearly touched the “call service”…

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Everyday Usability 8 – Fire door

Everyday Usability 8 – Fire door

The department which I work for moved in another building. The building consists of three interconnected houses (or three single houses if you ignore the connecting way). Each house is similar in design. The design integrates an easy fire escape route, but does not integrate the fire safety concept well. One side of a house consists of big open offices and the other side of meeting rooms and smaller offices for higher management. I’m working in one of the big…

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Everyday Usability 7 – Usable tap design

Everyday Usability 7 – Usable tap design

Taps are an everyday item that comes in a great variety of designs. Unfortunately, this can lead to usability issues. But, first let us focus on the user requirements for a tap. At minimum a good usable tap should indicate the following: Design criteria for a usable tap Whether the water flow starts manually or automatically (e.g., motion sensor). An icon with a hand and two lines marking the motion sensor clearly indicate an automatic tap. Whether the water temperature…

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Everyday Usability 6 – Trapped in a revolving door

Everyday Usability 6 – Trapped in a revolving door

Recently I got trapped in a revolving door. If you have read Don Norman’s “Design of everyday things”, you already know that doors as simple as their design appears can be a rich source of usability limitations. My experience starts with a night out. After a wonderful dinner at a restaurant, we wanted to go to a cocktail bar. Before that, I wanted to withdraw cash from a bank nearby. The entrance was a huge revolving door (photo below). The…

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Thematic Map Analysis for qualitative data analysis

Thematic Map Analysis for qualitative data analysis

What is it? You can use thematic (map) analysis to analyze qualitative data from user studies, such as interviews, focus groups, workshops, diary studies, or contextual inquiries. It is possible to analyze data with behavioural elements or attitudes (thoughts, believes, and reported needs etc.) with a thematic map analysis. In the analysis process significant data segments are first identified and then summarized in keywords or key phrases. Further, in an iterative process those keywords or key phrases are then used…

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Everyday Usability 5 – Stove

Everyday Usability 5 – Stove

A stove is a classic example of an everyday device that we can struggle using. Don Norman described an example in his book. I will add my experience in the following. Recently we moved into a new flat which already had an in-built kitchen. The stove has a ceramic stove top and a control field with five small touch buttons (photo below). One button turns the stove on and off and the other four buttons adjust the temperature at a…

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Everyday Usability 4 – The flying spork

Everyday Usability 4 – The flying spork

While on a flight I noticed an unexpected type of cutlery. The stewardess served a noodle salad in a see-through plastic bowl. I received only the bowl. After waiting for a while I began to search for the cutlery. I could not see anything obvious attached to the bowl and there was no hint on the bowl whatsoever. When I looked around looked into the confused faces of my fellow passengers. The bottom of the bowl brought somewhat insight. There…

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