Deals only One Bus Away

Is this for REAL?! What an incredible sale at Nordstrom’s and its only one bus away, could life get better? Let that phrase be the emotional summery of April 19ths Human Centered Design and Engineering (HCDE) panel discussion. Special guests being Professor Alan Borning and Laura Barboza. The first being a great introduction to professional interactive design and the second revealing real world usability testing.

A strong foundation can lead to project that will last.

Professor Bornings team, Brain Ferris (Computer Science) and Kari Watkins (Civil Engineering), started by addressing real and imagined scenarios in which their project would be used. Designed some paper prototypes to address these scenarios and surveyed the results. Once they had a working prototype they further refined it through laboratory and beta tests. It was also fascinating to learn about the significance government cooperation played, and still plays in each process. A concluding highlight being that HCDE has two sides, it must satisfy, both the user and the sponsors.

Keeping things sorted can lead you on a clear path to your goal.

In contrast Laura Barboza was a fresh look at the corporate world of usability testing. And in her experience it may take a few tries to find the best answer. She was asked to improve Nordstrom’s anniversary sale early access. Laura discussed the importance of knowing your purpose. She kept her focus by asking as the user: What is it (early access), do I see its value and do I understand what the next step is. In addition to these tips on how to structure a usability test she gave great advice for reporting the findings. Starting with “what worked well,” can instill confidence in those invested in the project.

Knowing how to share bad news can turn an ugly failure into a bright success.

Tying both panelists’ reports into one overarching bow; sound structure is essential in developing sound results. The take away for me concerning former and future projects is to follow Professor Bornings design flow and hold them to specific parameters like Laura Barboza. An additional takeaway from each speaker is the importance of developing strong communication lines and skills to make the entire process run smoothly.