User Experience Design Blog

Commentary on strategy and design of interactive products.

UX News Round-Up

February 26th, 2008 by Laura E. Lo

Gender Bias in Tech Products

An article in the Boston Globe last week explores gender bias in tech products and how companies are beginning to “feminize” their products. However, “it would be a mistake to think that designing for women simply means adding sparkles”–rather, it requires that companies put “style and functionality on equal footing with power and speed.” The article quotes Tom Savigar, trends director at The Future Laboratory, saying:

In terms of the fable that geeks shall inherit the earth and he’ll be male–it’s completely wrong, because if you do design a product for a woman, a man, or teenage boy will increasingly buy that and enjoy it better.

Better to Find, than to Search or Browse or Ask

Louis Rosenfeld posted a new article to the Adobe Design Center Think Tank on how people find information on websites. Discussing the differentiation that persists between browsing, searching, and asking, Rosenfeld remarks that separating these functions so discretely does not reflect how our brains actually operate when seeking information. Rosenfeld asserts, “finding is arguably at the center of all user experiences,” and we’ve failed to integrate searching, browsing and asking to help users find.

This lack of integration may be due to a parallel lack of non-digital world examples, the differences between the groups that often own “search,” “browse” and “ask” (IT, marketers, customer service), and the fact that designers can sometimes be complacent, failing to design “holistically.” However, all is not lost. Rosenfeld projects that the continuing use of web analytics in user experience design will help illuminate user behavior for designers. Thus able to see the “winding road between searching, browsing, and asking,” can we begin to make it an easier path to travel.

iPhone Usability Report Released

Last year on World Usability Day, the Scandanavian usability and interaction design firm inUse presented its usability report on the iPhone. With Swedes still awaiting the release of the iPhone, inUse has decided to publish the report on its website. The report includes findings from a usability test of the iPhone against three other phones–the HTC tyTN, Sony Ericsson’s W910i, and the Nokia N95. The iPhone won out with test users and inUse tells us why: most importantly, the iPhone has removed one level of abstraction, allowing users to interact directly with objects on the screen, rather than manipulating keys and watching the screen. inUse concludes, that interaction makes the iPhone transparent, accessible and seductive where those other phones are not.

Montparnas’ weekly news installment posts every Tuesday at lunchtime.



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