ConveyUX Conference 2013: Day 3: 6 March 2013

March 7, 2013

What a big day! We had some seriously big names presenting today — Luke Wroblewski, Jared Spool, and Dana Chisnell, all of whom did plenary sessions.

The morning kicked off with an earlier breakfast than the past two days, which took a lot of people by surprise, so we ended up running a bit behind time for the rest of the day. For those without a plane to catch, this wasn’t an issue, but may have been for some others.

Only one time slot had break-out sessions, where we had a choice of three to go to.

Designing for touch

I was looking forward to hearing Luke speak again — I last heard him at one of the WritersUA Conferences in Seattle (2009? 2010?) and was most impressed with his knowledge, his presentation skills, and the quality of his presentation slides. I was not disappointed this time either.

Luke started off with an overview of the device landscape, and the assertion that touch was becoming ubiquitous on all devices — large and small.

Touch allows us to directly interact with the content, whereas keyboard/mouse tends forces us to interact with the chrome surrounding the content. With touch, we need to consider human ergonomics and design, such as finger pad and finger tip size variations. The average finger pad is 10 to 14 mm, finger tip is around 10 mm, and index finger width is about 11 mm. Microsoft touch guidelines work on a minimum of 10 mm.

As Luke stated, big targets will work with a mouse, but small targets won’t work with fingers. And big screens invite big gestures (swipe and paw).

The touch paradigm is:

  • content
  • direct manipulation
  • gestures
  • feedback (respond to the touch immediately — e.g. move the screen/picture; make content follow the finger action).

Touch forces you to simplify and reduce — need to decide what to keep and what to throw away. Just-in-time user assistance is best way to learn various gestures/controls.

Rethinking user research and usability testing

Dana Chisnell started her talk with some anecdotes from her usability testing, emphasizing how usability labs are not suitable for the social web — people don’t live in the world doing one task on one device at a time. Instead, we have human to human interactions mediated by technology.

Instead of measuring user satisfaction, we should be measuring user engagement.

We only find things in testing that we are looking for, not the unknowns.

Current usability testing methods are not robust enough for testing the usability of the social web; for understanding context and relationships. we need to add field testing methods as well to the traditional lab testing. This takes more time, requires more deep thinking, requires strong research design, and requires studying cohesiveness dynamics.

In rethinking user research:

  • We’re not getting the answers we need.
  • Experimenting is limited because we’re pressured to go to market.
  • We’re looking for things we know about, using old fashioned tools.

And therefore we’re missing the things we don’t know about.

The curious properties of intuitive web pages

Jared Spool used lots of examples (including a very real example using a long piece of string and wool ties of how much money a business was losing every day, when they thought they were doing well!) in his presentation. Some of the takeaways from his talk:

  • Cardinal rule of design: Don’t make me (the user) feel stupid.
  • If you have to use user assistance, the design is NOT intuitive.
  • Intuitive design happens when current knowledge equals target knowledge; i.e. what I know matches what I need to know to get the job done.
  • Intuitive redesigns are invisible (e.g. Amazon — small incremental changes to website, not wholesale changes that stop existing users from using the site).
  • Socially transmitted functionality (i.e. someone has to show you how to use the thing) is NOT intuitive design.
  • Definition of ‘clusterfuck’: Microsoft SharePoint! ;-)
  • “We’ll be successful if the day we go live nobody notices” (product development manager)
  • All users are NOT equal. Understand who we’re really designing for (80/20 rule)
  • Our most important users (the 20%) need to most intuitive experiences to keep them on the site and keep them purchasing from us. These are also the highest risk users, because if you lose them, you lose 80% of your revenue!
  • Intuitive design is how we give our users superpowers.
  • Look at your user’s entire journey through your site (e.g. purchasing chain) for sources of innovation.

Organizing mobile web experiences

I went to Luke Wroblewski’s break-out session after lunch. Some takeaways from his excellent presentation include:

  • Know what mobile is uniquely good at and understand what users are doing on mobile devices: finding, exploring/playing, checking statuses, editing/creating.
  • How will your content/services align with mobile behaviors.
  • Content first, navigation second. Focus on what matters most. Use analytics to find out what your users are looking at and what they are ignoring. Adjust site organization accordingly. Use minimal space for navigation; maximum for content.
  • Mobile experience is about 1.5x slower than desktop.
  • Navigation options to gradually reveal site: nested doll, hub and spoke, bento box, filtered view.
  • Consider human ergonomics in how users hold mobile/tablet devices. Hot zones are lower right and left; hard-to-reach zones are center top.
  • Responsive web design: fluid grids, flexible images, media queries.
  • Responsive navigation patterns: footer anchor, toggle menu, select menu, top navigation. Luke also listed the pros and cons of each as well as showing us lots of examples.
  • Responsive multilevel navigation: accordion expansions, sideways panels, hubs not subs.
  • Navigation elements (summary): avoid excessive navigation menus, top navigation for quick access, bottom menu for pivoting/exploring, adapt as more screen space becomes available (i.e. as devices become larger), but design for mobile first.

The prediction show

And it was almost all over… The final session was a prediction show using the interactive devices and voting on predictions made by conference attendees. Joe thanked us all for coming and indicated that there would be a ConveyUX conference again next year.

Thanks Joe and Shannon and the Blink team, and the sponsors, for putting on a great conference!


I can’t finish without mentioning today’s food and and thanking the hotel staff for some wonderful meals and snacks:

  • Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs with Cured Tomatoes and Ricotta; Sliced Fruit; The Day’s Muffin; Roasted Red Bliss Potatoes with Onions
  • Lunch: Traditional Caesar Salad; Dinner Rolls and Creamy Butter; Herb Roasted Chicken Breast with Garlic Jus; Hearty Mashed Potatoes; Steamed Green Beans; Lemon Tarts
  • Snacks: Chukar choc-coated cherries (YUMMO!); Kukuruza popcorn; Sahale snacks

One comment

  1. […] ConveyUX Conference: Day 3: 6 March 2013. This last night of the conference a big group of us (about 40) who were already here for the next conference (Thursday and Friday) went out to dinner at a brew pub in the Pacific Place Mall in Seattle. I had the ‘Kobe black and bleu’ beef burger with garlic fries…. those garlic fries had LOADS of REAL garlic in them and were to die for. The burger was good too, but not ‘OMG’ good like those fries! […]

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