UXPA Publications

User Experience Magazine: Volume 10, Issue 2, 2011

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Volume 10, Issue 2, 2011

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Featured Articles



Featured Articles: Designing for Social Change


HCI for Peace: An Invitation to Positive Action

By Juan Pablo Hourcade and Natasha E. Bullock-Rest

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The increasing ubiquity of digital devices in people’s lives provides novel opportunities for human-computer interaction and user experience professionals to design technologies that promote specific human values. One of those values is peace. At hciforpeace.org, we are members of the human-computer interaction and user experience communities interested in the use of computing technologies to promote peace and prevent war. Our goal is to highlight work that is already being done to this end. We also hope to encourage more in the community to design technologies that promote the precursors of peace and mitigate the causes of conflict: our world can be no brighter than the worlds we dream of.

Engaging with Mental Health

By David Coyle

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Mental health disorders are defined by the experiencing of severe and distressing psychological symptoms, to the extent that normal functioning is seriously impaired, and some form of help is usually needed for recovery. The human and economic costs of mental illness are already enormous. A number of large scale international studies have also concluded that the majority of people experiencing difficulties do not receive appropriate specialist treatment. In this article we ask, how can we as an interaction design community help? We discuss how effectively designed interactive systems, developed through collaborative, interdisciplinary efforts, can play a significant role in helping to address these challenges. The discussion is grounded in a description of three exploratory systems, each of which has undergone initial clinical evaluations.


Persuasion Invasion: Using Facebook for Behavioral Change

By Derek Foster, Shaun Lawson, and Conor Linehan

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The idea that your phone can persuade you to increase your physical fitness, or that your Facebook account can nudge you into reducing your home energy consumption may not be as bizarre as it sounds. The Lincoln Social Computing (LiSC) Research Centre is engaged in understanding how social technology can be used for positive change in the behavior of users. We have recently field-trialed two persuasive applications that have had some success in modifying levels of target behaviors. The first study was designed to promote pro-environmental behavior by reducing home energy usage. The second study targeted an increase in physical activity while at work. Both studies employed a synergy of technology-enabled feedback and online social networks (OSNs) to deliver a tightly integrated social experience.


Why Is Ballot Design So Hard to Get Right?

By Whitney Quesenbery and Dana Chisnell

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Why can’t we get ballot design right? Ten years after the infamous “butterfly ballot,” after design, usability and systems standards, after usability and political science research, there is still plenty of room for improving the election user experience. In New York City, local user experience professionals volunteered to spend a day gathering data about the usability of the ballots for the Brennan Center for Justice (a non-partisan law project). The ballots had many design problems and even incorrect instructions. The results have helped focus attention on the need for better election design, and some small steps towards reform. Stay tuned for more details as our story continues.

Additional Reading

Accounting for Social Change in Design

By Eric P. S. Baumer

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In many cases, social change is not an effect that a designer should seek to cause. Rather, social change is a near inevitability, and the challenge is to ensure that social changes are designed for consciously and reflectively. This article uses SMS (i.e., text messaging) as a case study in how design decisions about seemingly mundane, uninteresting tools can play a major role in the coevolution of technology and social practice. The argument, then, is not to design for social change, but rather to consider and account for social change when designing.


Dust, Multiple SIMs and Music Sharing

By Astrid Twenebowa Larssen

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Prices of farm goods and maternal health information aside, everyday mobile phone use in the sub Saharan country, Ghana is also about dust, owning multiple SIM cards, and music and video sharing. This article offers examples of everyday mobile phone use and some thoughts about user experience that emerge from these examples.


Mobile Technology: Design for Social Change

By Mindy Maxwell

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Use of mobile technology is spreading across the globe more quickly than any other technology to date. People across the world are using mobile phones to facilitate myriad interactions; from communication with friends and family, to conducting on-the-go banking transactions, to accessing crop and weather reports, to real-time health and crisis monitoring.  As emerging market populations continue to grow and adopt technology that was designed for developed, western markets, revision of both traditional, western research methodologies and ICT solutions will be necessary to accommodate the unique requirements of users in these regions.


How Older People Incorporate Digital Technologies into their Lives : Case Study

By Paula Forbes, Sergio Sayago, David Sloan, and Lorna Gibson

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Whereas many older people are not motivated to use Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), others have already incorporated them into their lives. What do we know about their experiences of using ICT? We look at relevant changes in the lives of ordinary older people as a result of using ICT and reflect on our experiences  over the last five years at the Dundee User Centre, a place where older people and technology meet. We argue that understanding the changes brought about by the use of ICT in their everyday lives can help to inspire the use of ICT by everyone.


A Design Method for BOP Users:  Products for Social Innovation

By Satoru Tokuhisa and Takuji Tokiwa

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Ninety percent of the world’s population belongs to the socio-economic group called the Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP. We have used Takeo Saijo’s theory of structural constructivism  when designing for BOP users. The core concept is “interest-correlativity,” the principle that existence, meaning or value is not absolute, but varies with the physical situation, desire, purpose and interest of the subject. In our case study, Kopernik, a nonprofit organization based in the USA, hosted product design workshops intended to support non-electrified areas in Timor-Leste (East Timor).



Editor’s Note: Designing for Social Change

By J.O. Bugental

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What’s News: “Mommy, Can I Play with Your iPhone?”

By Tema Frank
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The pros and cons of the “Woogie” from Griffin Technologies and Iceberg Kids. It’s a plush toy with a pouch into which you can insert your iPhone behind a plastic screen.


The View from Here: Designing on Mars: Participatory Design and Training in Very Unfamiliar Environments

By Giovanni Innella

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A team from the Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute (M-ITI) has been sent to the red planet Mars on a spaceship that resembles an Air France Airbus, rather than a NASA shuttle. Still, the M-ITI team reached a land unexplored by western service designers, a land where technological innovation is about to lead to big changes in services and in society itself. The land we are talking about goes under the name of Burkina Faso, but surely the red sands of this African country are like those of the red planet. If not the sands, then the overall context is at least as exotic. Therefore, during the preparation and execution of the project we referred to it as Mars, keeping in mind that for the Locals we were the Aliens.  The major fallacy that can occur in this design process is the one of thinking there’s some similarity between the Western world and Burkina Faso; doing so would lead to assumptions and preconceptions that most likely would affect creative thinking or even thinking itself. It turns out that designing on Mars isn’t that hard, as long as you accept that you are the Alien.


Book Review: Of Testing and Techniques

Reviewed by Gerry Gaffney

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“Beyond the Usability Lab: Conducting Large-scale Online User Experience Studies” by Bill Albert, Tom Tullis, Donna Tedesco (Morgan Kaufmann, 2010)

An excellent hands-on approach to traditional lab testing versus remote testing: when to use each, how to do it and when in the development cycle.


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