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Book coverStorytelling for User Experience: Crafting Stories for Better Design
co-author Kevin Brooks. Rosenfeld Media, April 2010
Book blog | UX Story Cards

We all tell stories. It's one of the most natural ways to share information, as old as the human race. This book is about how to use something we already know in a new way. Stories help us gather and communicate user research, put a human face on analytic data, communicate design ideas, encourage collaboration and innovation, and create a sense of shared history and purpose.


Global UX book coverGlobal UX: Design and research in a connected world
co-author Daniel Szuc. Morgan Kauffman, November 2011
Twitter @globalux

As the world becomes more and more connected, the ways in which we work change. GlobalUX offers real world stories of successful UX practices, based on interviews with more than 60 practitioners , as examples of different ways of working globally. Throughout the book, you will find best practices and lessons learned to help answer common questions and avoid common problems in a multitude of situations.

Book Chapters

Cover image for the book Personas and Narrative
in The Persona Lifecycle by Tamara Adlin and John Pruitt.
Morgan Kauffman, March 2006.
Available on Amazon. Publisher's site.

The first how-to book on personas, filling a gap for anyone interested in using personas in their practice. My chapter explores the relationship between personas and the stories they tell. See other articles on personas and storytelling.

Content and Complexity cover imageDimensions of Usability
in Content and Complexity: Information Design in Technical Communication, edited by Michael Albers and Beth Mazur. Erlbaum, 2003
Available on Amazon. Chapters overview
(45K PDF)
Full text in GoogleBooks

A look at the 5Es (effective, efficient, engaging, error-tolerant, easy to learn) of usability and how they can help guide a design project from setting initial usability goals through design choices and evaluation techniques.

"All of (the chapters) are interesting and useful in their own way. But I must admit that I think Whitney Quesenbery's chapter on the Five Dimensions of Usability (aka, the "5 Es of Usability") is going to be on just a few syllabi in the fall." - Beth Mazur, ID Blog

Usability Standards: Connecting Practice Around the World
in Connecting People with Technology: Issues in Professional Communication, edited by George F. Hayhoe and Helen M. Grady, Baywood Publishers, 2008
Available on Amazon. Publisher's site

Do usability methods, process and practice depend on context and country? Is it enough to have a common approach, or do there need to be formal standards to connect practice around the world? This chapter looks at the successes (and failures) of usability and accessibility standards.


Storytelling, personas, and theatre

Storytelling for User Experience Design blog
Posts on storytelling and its uses at Rosenfeld Media

Designing Theatre, Designing User Experience
ACM Interactions, March/April 2005, p55-57
A few lessons from the theatre for designing the user experience.

Virtual Communities: Weaving the Human Web
STC Intercom, January 2004, p 26-28
Lessons on how to help people suceed with search, from usability research with consumers using online health information.

When the show must go on, it's time to collaborate or die
Boxes and Arrows, March 2002
What I learned about UI design while working in the theatre.

Storytelling: Using Narrative to Communicate Design Ideas
Presentation at the 48th Annual Conference Society for Technical Communication, 2001

Personas workshops
Making Personas Part of Your Team (slides) - with Ginny Redish
Putting Personas to Work

Usability techniques workshops

Three ways to help users understand your information
Center for Plain Language workshop with Ginny Redish and Kate Walser (November 2010)

Letting Participants Choose Their Own Tasks
STC Summit 2009, Atlanta, GA
Make your usabilty tests more engaging by tailoring the usability tasks to participants' interests.

Choosing the Right Usability Technique (Getting the Answers You Need)
User Friendly 2008, Shenzhen China (with Daniel Szuc)
A look at usability methods by starting from the question you are trying to answer.

Conducting a User-Centered Expert Review
STC 2007 (with Caroline Jarrett)
A technique for conducting an expert review that starts with users and their goals for using the site or application

Getting More Out of a Usability Test
User Friendly 2006 Hangzhou, China
Taking notes during a usability session to make analysis and reporting easier and more effective.

Reporting Usability Results
User Friendly 2005 Shanghai, China
What makes usability reports useful? Updates from the international standard on reporting summative usability results (CIF) and information from a workshop on more informal reporting.

Making Personas Part of Your Team - (workbook |slides)
User Friendly 2008, Shenzhen China (with Ginny Redish)

An introduction to personas, how to collect data for them, create them, and use them for design and innovation

Putting Personas to Work
STC Rocky Mountain Chapter
This workshop focused on how we can use personas to design products, documentation and web sites

How to look at a form - in a hurry
with Caroline Jarrett, UPA 2006: Usability Through Storytelling, Broomfield, Colorado, US
What do you do if you only have a day, or just thirty minutes to evaluate a form. A quick technique that work for any expert review.

Interaction Design: Helping Users Work Better
User Friendly 2004 Beijing
A user-centered view of different models of interaction design.

Plain language

Usability doesn't stop when you write the content
Apogee, May 2008
Too often, user-centered design stops where the content begins. But plain language is part of user-centered design; easy-to-read content makes sites more usable and accessible.

Applying usability principles to content for diverse audiences
with Caroline Jarrett and Ian Roddis. HCI 2006: Engage, London, UK
What we learned when re-writing content for teens and audiences new to university: avoid long blocks of text, create informative headings, and provide navigation options within the content.

More Alike Than We Think
UXmatters, March 20, 2006
Finding common ground in the usability needs of teens, older adults and low literacy

Language and Usability
(Proceedings notes, Presentation slides, 中文 - Chinese translation)
A keynote presentation at the 2004 Tekom conference in Weisbaden, Germany, November 10, 2004

Usable accessibility | Universal usability

Accessibility First—for a Better User Experience for All
UXmatters, 20011

Usable Accessibility: Making Web sites work well for people with disabilities
UXmatters, 2009

Creating a Univeral Usability Agenda
UXmatters, 2006

Why People Matter
UXmatters, 2006

5Es: Dimensions of usability

Balancing the 5Es
(中文 - Chinese translation)
Cutter IT Journal - February 2004, pp 4-11
Also in "Software Usability: Strategies for Meeting Business Goals and Users' Needs"

Functional requirements answer the question, “What does this program have to do?” Usability requirements answer different questions: How do users approach this work? How do they think about the tasks? How do they judge a successful experience?

Dimensions of Usabilility: Opening the Conversation, Driving the Process
Proceedings of the UPA 2003 Conference, June 2003
Using the 5Es to start a conversation about usability within a product design team.

What Does Usability Mean: Looking Beyond ‘Ease of Use
Proceedings of the 48th Annual Conference Society for Technical Communication, 2001
This paper accompanied a panel with Caroline Jarrett, Judy Ramey and Ginny Redish and introduces the 5Es concept of dimensions of usability.


Designing for search: making information easy to findWorkshop from User Friendly 2009, Shanghai

Designing for search: case studies from the Open University
Three papers look at different aspects of how we improved the user experience of a large university web site through user-centered design and search analytics.

  • Designing for Search: Making Information Easy to Find
    with Caroline Jarrett, Ian Roddis, Viki Stirling, Sarah Allen, STC 2008
    This paper looks the role that good content design plays in making information easy to find. Examples from the Open University web site illustrate how the design of the content works with the design of the web site to make information easier to find, easier to understand, and easier to use to meet a goal (or answer a question).
  • Search is now normal behavior. What do we do about that?
    with Caroline Jarrett, Ian Roddis, Viki Stirling, Sarah Allen, UPA 2008
    Some say "Search represents a failure of navigation”. This case-study challenges that idea with an intensive analysis of a large university web site. The result is a view of search as part of user experience, and how the site design can work with this reality.
  • Using measurements to inform development of a complex web site used for complex tasks
    with Caroline Jarrett, Ian Roddis, Viki Stirling, Sarah Allen, HCII 2009
    The role of measurements - usability testing, search log analysis, and web traffic analysis to inform site design. The paper describes an example of triangulating data taken from all three sources to help make design decisions.

Designing a Search People Can Really Use
STC Itercom, December 2003, p 18-21
Lessons on how to help people succeed with search, from usability research with consumers using online health information.

Who is in Control? The Logic Underlying the Intelligent Technologies Used in Performance Support
Technical Communication, Volume 49, Number 4, November 2002 (Frank R. Smith Outstanding Journal Article Competition - Outstanding Issue 2002)
Intelligent agents, information visualization, search engines, collaborative filtering and how they related to performance support.

On Beyond Help – User Assistance and the User Interface
Technical Communication, STC. April 2001.
Winner 2001 Frank R. Smith Outstanding Journal Article

Designing for different user approaches to search and finding information


What do we mean by user friendly? - Meeting expectations for e-health applications (PDF version)
A talk at Informatics for Consumer Health: Summit on Communication, Collaboration, and Quality, November 6, 2009

Learning about Clinical Trials: The importance of viewpoints (PDF version)
User Experience (UPA), Volume 6, Issue 4, 2007
What we learned in research about how cancer patients and their families look up information about clinical trials

Models of Healthcare Consumers' User Experience
A workshop at UPA 2008

Voting, elections and public policy

Better Ballots
This report, by the Brennan Center for Justice, looks at the impact of poor design and instructions - on paper and electronic ballots - on elections.

Connecting Usability and Accessiblity in Elections
Testimony at the EAC Roundtable on Usability and Accessibility, March 27, 2008

The Machinery of Democracy: Voting System Security, Accessibility, Usability, and Cost
This four-part report, by the Brennan Center for Justice, is the final product of the first comprehensive, empirical analysis of electronic voting systems in the United States. I co-authored the usability section, and contributed to the accessibility section.

Creating a Univeral Usability Agenda
Article in UXmatters discussing how we used a series of resolutions on human factors and privacy to create an agenda for our work on the federal VVSG 2005 - Voluntary Voting System Guidelines

Oops! They Forgot the Usability: Elections as a Case Study
Keynote at the Michigan State University Conference on Usable Information Technology, October 26, 2004

Putting People First: The Importance of User-Centered Design and Universal Usability to Voting Systems
with Sharon Laskowski, NIST. National Academies of Sciences (NAS) project on A Framework for Understanding Electronic Voting, October 2004

Starting from People: Designing Usable Voting Systems
NIST Symposium on Building Trust and Confidence in Voting Systems, December 10-11, 2003

What We Don't Know About Internet Voting and Usability
Georgia Tech Research Institute workshop on Internet Voting, November 13-14, 2001

Voting and Usability: Lessons Learned from the 2000 Presidential Election
STC-PMC News & Views, November 2001

Voters Learn the Importance of Usability
Usability Interface, STC Usability SIG, January 2001

Usability politics

Book cover images Forward to Usability Success Stories
edited by Paul Sherman, Ashgate 2006
This book is a collection of great case studies sub-titled "How Organizations Improve By Making Easier-To-Use Software and Web Sites"

The Politics of Design
AARP/Bentley College conference on Aging By Design, September 28, 2004.
Looking beyond the craft of design to the politics behind good design and design process

Why People Matter
UXmatters, November 3, 2005
The social benefits of human-centered design

Trust and Blame
UXmatters, February 20, 2006
Why is it that the only humans who seemingly make errors are the people who are trying to use a product?

Choosing the Right Channel for Communicating with Customers
with Daniel Szuc, Apogee, October 2005

Usability Half-Way Round the World
uiGarden.net, 7 March 2005 (中文 - Chinese translation )

What's in a Name?
Design Matters, STC Information Design SIG. May 2001
A short article looking at the various titles and how they relate to the different skills needed for usability.

Applying a UCD Process to Implementing a UCD Process
Proceedings of the 48th Annual Conference, Society for Technical Communication, 2001

UPA 99 Workshop Report: Crossing the Chasm - Promoting Usability in the Software Development Community
Common Ground, UPA, Vol 10 No 1, March 2000


Styleguides and standards

Towards the Design of Effective Formative Test Reports
with Mary Theofaonos, NIST. Journal of Usability Studies, Issue 1, Volume 1, November 2005, pp. 28-46
A report on an industry project to identify best practices in reports of formative usability evaluations.

Usability Standards: Connecting Practice Around the World
Proceedings of the IEEE International Professional Communication Conference (IPCC), July 2005, pages 451-457

Building Blocks to a Body of Knowledge for User-Centered Design: To Certify or Not to Certify
Usability Interface, STC Usability SIG, April 2002
A report on activities investigating certification for usability professionals.

Building A Better Style Guide
(Presentation Handouts)
Proceedings of Usability Professionals' Association, 2001
A report on ways of using style guides to build consensus within a design team

Using a Style Guide to Build Consensus
Usability Interface, STC Usability SIG, April 2001
A short introduction to the social aspects of style guides.

Prototyping and interaction design

Prototyping and Usability Testing with Visio
with Karen Bachmann
Society for Technical Communication, 2001
earlier versions Society for Technical Communication, 1997, 1998

Designing for Interactive Television
Published online, 1997

The Basics of Graphics That Really Do Work Online
with Paul Hoffman
Hyperviews (STC Online SIG) Vol 3 No 2, Summer 1996

UI Design - Keys to the Interactive Kingdom
IEEE Multimedia Conference, Washington DC, May 1995

Online documents and hypertext

Lessons from the InfoWeb - Creating a Successful Knowledge Management System
Hot Trends for Communicators - STC Region 5 Conference. October 1999

Get Smart: Interface Design and Production Meet Editorial on a New CD-ROM Magazine
Proceedings of the 43nd Annual Conference, Society for Technical Communication, 1996

An American Journey: Designing the Interface for an Electronic Document
Proceedings of the 42th Annual Conference Society for Technical Communication, 1995

Documentation's Holistic Role
Journal of Computer Documentation, ACM-SIGDOC. Vol 23 No 4, November 1999

Designing Library Reference CD-ROM Interfaces for Usability
Common Ground, UPA, Vol 7 No 4, October 1997

De-Confusing the User: A Taxonomy of Tools, Needs and Approaches for Effective Online Documents
Rensaelear Polytechnical Institute Symposium The Five Year Horizon: Skills and Education for the Information Technologist September, 1997

Steps to Success: Applying an Interface Design Methodology to Electronic Documentation
Spectrum 94, Rochester, New York. March 1994

Going Online: Developing a User Interface for an Online Document
STC-PMC News & Views, Vol 29, No 3, November 1993

Interface Design for Online Documents
American Association of University Publishers, June 1993

Hyperties User's Guide for Version 3.0
Cognetics Corporation, 1991




Articles on ...


Accessibility First—for a Better User Experience for All

Three ways to help users understand your information
Center for Plain Language workshop with Ginny Redish and Kate Walser.

Meeting expectations for e-health applications - Informatics for Consumer Health - 2009

Designing for Search
Workshop from User Friendly 2009

Choosing the Right Usability Technique (Getting the Answers You Need)

Letting Participants Choose Their Own Tasks

In other languages

Language and Usability

Balancing the 5Es

Usability Half-Way Round the World (uiGarden.net)

Trust and Blame

Utiliser les 5 E pour comprendre les utilisateurs
Using the 5Es to understand users

My Univeral Usability column explores the social benefits of human-centered design and ways in which we can create include more people in our work.

Accessibility First—for a Better User Experience for All

Usable Accessibility: Making Web sites work well for people with disabilities

Creating a Univeral Usability Agenda

More Alike Than We Think

Trust and Blame
(中文 - Chinese translation on uiGarden.net)

Why People Matter


Digital Reading: Thinking on Both Sides of the Screen, Anne Kostick, 4 Feb 2011

Improving your first page of search results
Giraffe Forum quotes "Search is now normal behavior", 22 Feb 2009

Design Critique Wordcast
Interview with Tim and Tom on plain language and its importance for usability, 23 Aug 2006

Keeping it simple gains ground
David Irvin, Montgomery Advertiser, 14 Feb 2006

Design and Architecture
Frances Anderton, KCRW Radio, 17 Jan 2006

Why are tech gizmos so hard to figure out?
Ed Baig, USA Today, 2 Nov 2005

Next on the Web: better writing?
An interview by Steve Marshall in Strong Language