The UX Book: Process and Guidelines for Ensuring a Quality User Experience

The UX Book: Process and Guidelines for Ensuring a Quality User Experience

by Rex Hartson, Pardha S. Pyla

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The UX Book: Process and Guidelines for Ensuring a Quality User Experience aims to help readers learn how to create and refine interaction designs that ensure a quality user experience (UX). The book seeks to expand the concept of traditional usability to a broader notion of user experience; to provide a hands-on, practical guide to best practices and established principles in a UX lifecycle; and to describe a pragmatic process for managing the overall development effort.
The book provides an iterative and evaluation-centered UX lifecycle template, called the Wheel, for interaction design. Key concepts discussed include contextual inquiry and analysis; extracting interaction design requirements; constructing design-informing models; design production; UX goals, metrics, and targets; prototyping; UX evaluation; the interaction cycle and the user action framework; and UX design guidelines.
This book will be useful to anyone interested in learning more about creating interaction designs to ensure a quality user experience. These include interaction designers, graphic designers, usability analysts, software engineers, programmers, systems analysts, software quality-assurance specialists, human factors engineers, cognitive psychologists, cosmic psychics, trainers, technical writers, documentation specialists, marketing personnel, and project managers.
  • A very broad approach to user experience through its components—usability, usefulness, and emotional impact with special attention to lightweight methods such as rapid UX evaluation techniques and an agile UX development process
  • Universal applicability of processes, principles, and guidelines—not just for GUIs and the Web, but for all kinds of interaction and devices: embodied interaction, mobile devices, ATMs, refrigerators, and elevator controls, and even highway signage
  • Extensive design guidelines applied in the context of the various kinds of affordances necessary to support all aspects of interaction
  • Real-world stories and contributions from accomplished UX practitioners
  • A practical guide to best practices and established principles in UX
  • A lifecycle template that can be instantiated and tailored to a given project, for a given type of system development, on a given budget

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780123852427
Publisher: Elsevier Science
Publication date: 01/25/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 976
File size: 11 MB
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About the Author

Rex Hartson is a pioneer researcher, teacher, and practitioner-consultant in HCI and UX. He is the founding faculty member of HCI (in 1979) in the Department of Computer Science at Virginia Tech. With Deborah Hix, he was co-author of one of the first books to emphasize the usability engineering process, Developing user interfaces: Ensuring usability through product&process. Hartson has been principle investigator or co-PI at Virginia Tech on a large number of research grants and has published many journal articles, conference papers, and book chapters. He has presented many tutorials, invited lectures, workshops, seminars, and international talks. He was editor or co-editor for Advances in Human-Computer Interaction, Volumes 1-4, Ablex Publishing Co., Norwood, NJ. His HCI practice is grounded in over 30 years of consulting and user experience engineering training for dozens of clients in business, industry, government, and the military.
Pardha Pyla is an award-winning designer and product strategist with deep expertise in envisioning and delivering industry-leading products. He is the founding member of multiple thriving product and design (UX) practices that were responsible for producing successful enterprise software solutions in use across many industries. He is a pioneering researcher in the area of coordinating software engineering and UX lifecycle processes and the author of several peer-reviewed research publications in human-computer interaction and software engineering. He has received numerous awards in recognition of his work in design thinking, research, teaching, leadership, and service.

Read an Excerpt

The UX Book

Process and Guidelines for Ensuring a Quality User Experience

Morgan Kaufmann

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier, Inc.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-12-385242-7

Chapter One


Fine art and pizza delivery, what we do falls neatly in between. – David Letterman


After reading this chapter, you will:

1. Recognize the pervasiveness of computing in our lives

2. Be cognizant of the changing nature of computing and interaction and the need to design for it

3. Understand the traditional concept of usability and its roots

4. Have a working definition of user experience, what it is and is not

5. Understand the components of user experience, especially emotional impact

6. Recognize the importance of articulating a business case for user experience


1.1.1 Desktops, Graphical User Interfaces, and the Web Are Still Here and Growing

The "old-fashioned" desktop, laptop, and network-based computing systems are alive and well and seem to be everywhere, an expanding presence in our lives. And domain-complex systems are still the bread and butter of many business, industry, and government operations. Most businesses are, sometimes precariously, dependent on these well-established kinds of computing. Web addresses are commonplace in advertisements on television and in magazines. The foreseeable future is still full of tasks associated with "doing computing," for example, word processing, database management, storing and retrieving information, spreadsheet management. Although it is exciting to think about all the new computing systems and interaction styles, we will need to use processes for creating and refining basic computing applications and interaction styles for years to come.

1.1.2 The Changing Concept of Computing

That said, computing has now gone well beyond desktop and laptop computers, well beyond graphical user interfaces and the Web; computing has become far more ubiquitous (Weiser, 1991). Computer systems are being worn by people and embedded within appliances, homes, offices, stereos and entertainment systems, vehicles, and roads. Computation and interaction are also finding their way into walls, furniture, and objects we carry (briefcases, purses, wallets, wrist watches, PDAs, cellphones). In the 2Wear project (Lalis, Karypidis, & Savidis, 2005), mobile computing elements are combined in different ways by short-distance wireless communication so that system behavior and functionality adapt to different user devices and different usage locations. The eGadget project (Kameas & Mavrommati, 2005) similarly features self-reconfiguring artifacts, each with its own sensing, processing, and communication abilities.

Sometimes, when these devices can be strapped on one's wrist or in some way attached to a person's clothing, for example, embedded in a shoe, they are called wearable computers. In a project at MIT, volunteer soldiers were instrumented with sensors that could be worn as part of their clothing, to monitor heart rate, body temperature, and other parameters, to detect the onset of hypothermia (Zieniewicz et al., 2002).

"Smart-its" (Gellersen, 2005) are embedded devices containing microprocessors, sensors, actuators, and wireless communication to offer additional functionality to everyday physical world artifacts that we all "interact" with as we use them in familiar human activities. A simple example is a set of car keys that help us track them so we can find them if they are lost.

Another example of embedding computing artifacts involves uniquely tagging everyday objects such as milk and groceries using inexpensive machine-readable identifiers. It is then possible to detect changes in those artifacts automatically. For example, using this technology it is possible to remotely poll a refrigerator using a mobile phone to determine what items need to be picked up from the grocery store on the way home (Ye & Qiu, 2003). In a project at MIT that is exactly what happened, or at least was envisioned: shoes were instrumented so that, as the wearer gets the milk out for breakfast in the morning, sensors note that the milk is getting low. Approaching the grocery store on the way home, the system speaks via a tiny earphone, reminding of the need to pick up some milk (Schmandt, 1995).

Most of the user–computer interaction attendant to this ubiquitous computing in everyday contexts is taking place without keyboards, mice, or monitors. As Cooper(2004) says, you do not need a traditional user interface to have interaction.

Practical applications in business already reveal the almost unlimited potential for commercial application. Gershman and Fano (2005) cite an example of a smart railcar that can keep track of and report on its own location, state of repair, whether it is loaded or empty, and its routing, billing, and security status (including aspects affecting homeland security). Imagine the promise this shows for improved efficiency and cost savings over the mostly manual and error-prone methods currently used to keep track of railroad cars.

Proof-of-concept applications in research labs are making possible what was science fiction only a few years ago. Work at the MIT Media Lab (Paradiso, 2005), based on the earlier "Smart Matter" initiative at Xerox PARC, employs sensate media (Paradiso, Lifton, & Broxton, 2004) arranged as surfaces tiled with dense sensor networks, in the manner of biological skin, containing multi modal receptors and sensors. The goal is to use this kind of embedded and distributed computing to emulate living, sensitive tissue in applications such as robotics, telemedicine, and prosthetics. Their Tribble (Tactile Reactive Interface Built By Linked Elements) is an interesting testbed using a spherical structure of these nodes that can sense pressure, temperature, sound, illumination, and tactile stimulations and can respond with sound, vibration, and light.

More and more applications that were in research labs are now moving into commercial adoption. For example, robots in more specialized applications than just housecleaning or babysitting are gaining in numbers (Scholtz, 2005). There are robotic applications for healthcare rehabilitation, including systems to encourage severely disabled children to interact with their environment (Lathan, Brisben, & Safos, 2005), robotic products to assist the elderly (Forlizzi, 2005), robots as laboratory hosts and museum docents (Sidner & Lee, 2005), robot devices for urban search and rescue (Murphy, 2005), and, of course, robotic rover vehicles for unmanned space missions (Hamner et al., 2005).

1.1.3 The Changing Concept of Interaction

Sitting in front of a desktop or laptop usually conveys a feeling of "doing computing" to users. Users are aware of interacting with a computer and interaction is purposeful: for exchanging information, for getting work done, for learning, for play or entertainment, or just for exploring.

When we drive a car we are using the car's built-in computer and maybe even a GPS, but we do not think of ourselves as "doing computing." Tscheligi (2005) paraphrases Mark Weiser: "the world is not a desktop." Perhaps the most notable and most recognizable (by the public) example of interaction away from the desktop is seen in mobile communications. With an obviously enormous market potential, mobile communications are perhaps the fastest growing area of ubiquitous computing with personal devices and also represent one of the most intense areas of designing for a quality user experience (Clubb, 2007; Kangas & Kinnunen, 2005; Macdonald, 2004; Venkatesh, Ramesh, & Massey, 2003).

As an aside, it is interesting that even the way these devices are presented to the public reveals underlying attitudes and perspectives with respect to user-centeredness. For example, among the synonyms for the device, "cellphone" refers to their current implementation technology, while "mobile phone" refers to a user capability.

Interaction, however, is doing more than just reappearing in different devices such as we see in Web access via mobile phone. Weiser (1991) said "... the most profound technologies are those that disappear." Russell, Streitz, and Winograd (2005) also talk about the disappearing computer—not computers that are departing or ceasing to exist, but disappearing in the sense of becoming unobtrusive and unremarkable. They use the example of electric motors, which are part of many machines we use daily, yet we almost never think about electric motors per se. They talk about "making computers disappear into the walls and interstices of our living and working spaces."

When this happens, it is sometimes called "ambient intelligence," the goal of considerable research and development aimed at the home living environment. In the HomeLab of Philips Research in the Netherlands (Markopoulos et al., 2005), researchers believe "that ambient intelligence technology will mediate, permeate, and become an inseparable common of our everyday social interactions at work or at leisure."

In these embedded systems, of course, the computer only seems to disappear. The computer is still there somewhere and in some form, and the challenge is to design the interaction so that the computer remains invisible or unobtrusive and interaction appears to be with the artifacts, such as the walls, directly. So, with embedded computing, certainly the need for a quality user experience does not disappear. Imagine embedded computing with a design that leads to poor usability; users will be clueless and will not have even the familiar menus and icons to find their way!

Even interaction via olfactory senses, that is, aromatic output is suggested for human–computer interaction (HCI)(Kaye, 2004), based on the claim that the sense of smell, well used in ordinary daily life, is a human sense underused in HCI.

So far, our changing concepts of interaction have involved at least some kind of computation element, even if it is embedded electronic devices that do very specialized computation. Given the many different definitions of "interaction" in the HCI literature, we turned to the English definition of the word: mutual or reciprocal action, effect, or influence, as adapted from So, interaction involves an exchange, but is definitely not limited to computer systems.

In the realm of user experience, this concept of mutual effect implies that interaction must be considered within a context or environment shared between system and user. User input, if accepted by the system, causes a change in the internal system state and both user and system can cause changes in the external world, for example, move a mechanical part or adjust another system.

The user's part of interaction is often expressed through explicit user actions, used to direct the interaction toward a goal. A user-related input to a system in his or her environment can also be extracted or sensed by the environment, without a deliberate or conscious action by the user. For example, a "smart wall," a wall with ambient intelligence, can proactively extract inputs it needs from a user by sensing the user's presence and identifying the user with something like radio-frequency identification technology instead of just responding to a user's input actions. It is still user–system interaction, only the system is controlling the inputs. Here the dictionary definition given earlier, relating technology to an effect or influence, definitely makes sense, with "action" being only part of that definition.

The system can also extract other inputs, absent any users, by sensing the min the state of its own environment, for example, a high-temperature warning sensor. It may then act to change its own internal state and, possibly, its external environment, for example, to adjust the temperature lower, without involving a user. This kind of automated system operation probably does not come under the aegis of human–machine interaction, although such a system would surely also involve human interaction for start-up, setting parameters, and other overall controls.


Excerpted from The UX Book by REX HARTSON PARDHA S. PYLA Copyright © 2012 by Elsevier, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Morgan Kaufmann. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction Part I: Process Chapter 2: The Wheel: A Lifecycle Template Chapter 3: Contextual Inquiry: Eliciting Work Activity Data Chapter 4: Contextual Analysis: Consolidating and Interpreting Work Activity Data Chapter 5: Extracting Interaction Design Requirements Chapter 6: Constructing Design-Informing Models Chapter 7: Design Thinking, Ideation and Sketching Chapter 8: Mental Models and Conceptual Design Chapter 9: Design Production Chapter 10: UX Goals, Metrics and Targets Chapter 11: Prototyping Chapter 12: UX Evaulation Introduction Chapter 13: Rapid Evaluation Methods Chapter 14: Rigorous Empirical Evaluation: Preparation Chapter 15: Rigorous Empirical Evaluation: Running the Session Chapter 16: Rigorous Empirical Evaluation: Analysis Chapter 17: Evaluation Reporting Chapter 18: Wrapping up Rigorous UX Evaluation Chapter 19: UX Methods for Agile Development Part II: Design Infrastructure Guidelines Chapter 20: Affordances Demystified Chapter 21: The Interaction Cycle and the User Action Framework Chapter 22: UX Design Guidelines Part III: Advanced Topics Chapter 23: Connections with Software Engineering Chapter 24: Making it Work in the Real World References Exercises Index

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