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If you're an Ottawa, Montreal or Kingston-based UX professional, or are involved in any related disciplines, you probably know that in a little less than a couple of months, on October 13-14, 2012, the third annual edition of UXcamp Ottawa (Twitter: @uxcampottawa) is coming to the Ottawa Little Theatre and Ottawa U's Lamoureux Hall.
Unlike last year when the event was a multiple track, single day of pre-planned conference sessions and unconference-style participant-driven conversations, we've moved to a single track, two days format, to allow everyone to see every speaker. UXcamp Ottawa III features a spectacular lineup of world-class speakers on Saturday, and a full-day Design Jam on Sunday. If you're interested to see the full schedule, read about the speakers, get in touch with the organizers (disclosure: I am co-chairing the event) head on over to our new home at http://uxcampottawa.org. Registration is now open, and for the third year in a row, we hope it's sellout once again. And if you're still not conviced, and you need hard-hitting (:O), totally subjective reasons why I believe UXcamp Ottawa III is a must-see event for Canadian UX professionals, you're in luck: the following is my roundup of the top 10.
This particular blog post has been on my mind for a while now. Nowadays, a popular topic of conversation in the UX world encourages UX leaders everywhere to become more involved in business leadership and business strategy, as opposed to staying in their traditional sphere of influence related to UX strategy. There have also been a number of discussions/comments on a variety of UX blogs lately, about whether the term 'User' in our discipline name is accurate enough, or whether it should be replaced with a different term, such as 'customer' (as in 'customer experience' as opposed to 'user experience'). Others are proposing for the word 'User' to be dropped altogether, so 'user experience design' would end up known simply as 'experience design'.
In my opinion, the fact that these discussions are taking place around the same time speaks volumes about the lack of maturity in many of our practitioners' strategic thinking. Don't get me wrong, I think User Experience as a profession has come a long way in the last 10 years or so in terms of methods, process and industry standardization. We have successfully aligned or integrated our process within various software development methodologies, and we have even been promoted to participate in discussions at the big boys table with the business, technology and marketing folks. There are no doubt a few UX professionals acting or in line to act as CEOs, CXOs, CIOs or CTOs, who, through practice and years of experience, have aquired that business acumen needed to become a true leader in the boardroom. But before we even begin talking about user experience professionals setting the tone and creating the overarching strategy for all those non-UX areas, I would venture a guess that there is still a lot we need to learn about what constitutes a successful business, the parameters within which it operates, and last but not least, its terminology. This guerilla movement within the UX community who are trying to replace 'user experience' with 'customer experience' are obviously not aware that the term 'customer experience' has already been coined and it is used frequently in the corporate world to describe a completely differently business concept.
2010 happens to be the 20th anniversary of Improving a Human-Computer Dialogue, the ACM paper by Jakob Neilsen and Rolf Molich that introduced the concept of employing a list of heuristics when assessing the usability of human-computer interfaces. Four years later, Jakob Nielsen made history again with his famous 1994 heuristics, which are heavily used in usability evaluations even today. In the past decade, additional lists of heuristics related to various aspects of typical UX methodologies have been compiled, yet Nielsen's original list continues to defy the usual laws of longevity that typically constrain the web world. Most likely, this has happened due to the generic nature of the 10 heuristics, which provide largely general statements and consequently, most usability problems can be easily molded to fit the items on Nielsen's list.
Early in my 10 year career as a UX professional, I've used Nielsen's 10 heuristics as the de-facto standard whenever I've performed usability evaluations. As time went by, I gradually went away from Nielsen's original list and I've gradually started employing additional heuristics that are less general and allow to clearly identify modern usability / user experience pitfalls of web-based systems. While the number of heuristics I typically use for an expert heuristics evaluation now stands north of 60 and because I believe that some of them are more relevant than others, I've decided to choose my own top 10 as an homage to Nielsen's timeless original list.
Like most people who have chosen a career path as consultants on large projects, I've spent a lot of time in hotel rooms. Until recently, I shared an outlook on travel, loyalty programs and living on the road with George Clooney's character in 'Up In The Air'. Luckily, my job was a lot more interesting :O)
Spending years living out of a suitcase also meant that every other week, or in some cases every other night, I would sleep in a different hotel room. At the advice of a fellow UX professional, I've decided to write this post about my thoughts on the user experience of these rooms. I'm not an interior designer, so I know nothing about building codes and I will make no reference to Feng Shui. This post is about the business traveller and the little things that can be done to make the hotel stay experience much more enjoyable for people like me.
I typically flew out every week on Monday morning, went straight to work after I landed, put in an full day's work, and then finally made my way exhausted to the hotel. This means that by the time I was about to check it, it was nighttime about 99% of the time. I arrived in front of my hotel room door, keycard in one hand, luggage roller in the other. One of the most frustratings moments when checking into a room is not being able to immediately find the light swich beside the entrance door. I'm not picky in terms of which way the door opens, as long as on the inside of the wall, beside the lock, I can feel the light switch in the dark right away. Having the switch on the opposite side (which means I have to get my luggage inside, close the door, and then keep searching in the dark, is not an option. Neither are multiple light switches unintuitively budled somewhere inside the room, an even worse as it forces me to prop the door open with my luggage so I can find a light switch, any light switch, that I can turn on in order to orient myself through furniture maze of a room layout that I am not yet familiar with.
While the reaction to the Government of Canada web template design (CLF3Layout.doc, 100Kb) published in my previous blog post was extremely positive, the item that generated the most intriguing follow-up conversation was the concept of crowdsourcing the CLF 3.0 visual design to the general public.
It is well documented that the Government of Canada has fallen behind other governments when it comes to Gov 2.0 initiatives. Countries like New Zealand, Finland and Australia have all created clean, modern and professional look and feel standards for their government web properties. And although still behind Canada on look and feel standardization, the US Federal Government roared ahead of the pack on the OpenGov front, riding the popularity of crowdsourcing initiatives like Data.gov, Peer to Patent, the recently announced Design for America contest, as well as virally marketed local initiatives like Apps for Democracy. If you are not familiar with these, and youíre wondering just how successful our southern neighbours were in capturing the publicís interest, here's an example: when launched, in May 2009, Data.gov had just 47 data sets. 10 months later, it now has more than 168,000 and it's growing every day. Another country at the forefront of the OpenGov movement, New Zealand, has successfully released data.govt.nz, its own data catalog used for crowdsourcing purposes.
I would venture to say that while I am confident that Canada will (eventually) open its federal data (there are some great internal collaboration and OpenGov initiatives that are driven out by the enthusiastic W2P public servant crowd - twitter search: #w2p), we have clearly missed the boat on being leaders in the open data space. However, there is one initiative that can put Canada right up there with the leaders in this space: crowdsourcing the new version of our Federal Government's look and feel standards (CLF 3.0). To my knowledge, no government has done this yet and pulling it off would not only raise the profile of our Gov2.0 and OpenGov programs, but would bring much needed positive coverage both nationally and internationally for our battered Public Service decision-makers. As they say, if you can't win, make up your own sport :O)
accessibility branding business canUX community conference design GoC CLF marketplace ottawa privacy project management public sector research security standards TEDx thoughts usability user experience user interface UX tools UXcamp wireframes
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