What do I do as a UX researcher?
What do I do as a UX researcher?
I was recently on a business trip with fellow ExperienceLabber, David, that included a stopover at Amsterdam Schipol airport. We had some time to kill and inevitably ended up browsing the electronics store. Amongst the usual phones, tablets, speakers and laptops, we noticed a prominent display for phone cases.
I'd like to devote today's blog post to a very important topic, and one that's close to my heart.
Automatic hand dryers.
For years, I have had a strained relationship with automatic hand dryers. Automatic hand dryers entice the wet-handed bathroom visitor to proffer their valued hands towards them. If accepted, the automatic hand dryer (henceforth AHD) will reward you with a warm vortex of air. However, the problem is that the bathroom visitor must return this favour with simultaneous rapid wringing of their hands in order to dispel the excess water. The typical AHD often takes offence to this and withdraws the warm vortex of air.
Then along came Mr. Dyson with his Dyson Airblade.
Summer holidays are always something to look forward to, and we're coming up to the time of year when booking something up is fast approaching.
While I know many of my friends and colleagues relish the opportunity to search the web for faraway destinations and deals, I've always hated the experience. Don't get me wrong, I love the holiday once it's all booked, but I've always found the booking process a headache, and I think it could be made much much easier for most holidaymakers. Let me explain.
Over the last few weeks, some of us at ExperienceLab have been trying out the Moves fitness app. It’s actually causing a bit of rivalry between us, we’ve been emailing screen shots to each other showing how many steps we’ve taken! My colleague is definitely winning so far with 32,589 steps in one day as he explored NYC!
In-between watching the closing events of the London 2012 Olympics, I took a couple of minutes to have a look on the App Store on my iPhone. I noticed a game called the The Heist which was free 'for a limited time period' and decided to give it a go.
The Heist is, at a basic level, a puzzle game with the goal being to solve the various puzzles to unlock a series of security mechanisms on a vault. However, the games uses a clever, and unique as far as I can tell, game mechanism to add narrative to the game.
Today mark's the 30th anniversary of the ZX Spectrum, an event being celebrated around the web - even Google are celebrating with a Google Doodle. Having celebrated my 30th anniversary a few years ago now, I have fond memories of the ZX Spectrum, so please bear with me while I take a stroll down Nostalgia Lane.
It was one of the first computers in the UK that people could afford and have at home. It gave me my very first experience of computer games, and programming. My earliest memories of the Spectrum were of my dad loading up some educational games to teach me my ABCs and 123s. I quickly progressed to more serious gaming with the likes of Horace Goes Skiing, and eventually the legend that was Elite (the creator of which has gone onto make his own homebrew computer system called the Raspberry Pi). Looking back at youtube videos now, you realise how very basic gaming was back then, but at the time it was cutting edge. Even that modem-like noise that the Spectrum made when it loads games takes me back.
But the Spectrum wasn't just about games. To run any program you had to enter a very basic piece of code: Load "". This magical piece of code allowed you to play games, but because you were typing code to play a game, it mean't you felt less reluctant to try coding yourself. It enticed you to try more. Spectrum magazines at the time would often publish code that you could enter yourself to program your own game. I tried a few times, but don't think I ever once managed to do it successfully - all it took was one misplaced comma and you would get a boatload of errors.
There's little doubt that this small, simple piece of kit contributed hugely in leading me to where I am now. It made me realise at a very early age the power of computers, while also making me very comfortable with technology. As I moved from the Spectrum to the Amiga, then onto PCs, games consoles and Macs - I started seeing how improvements in technology and UI helped to make the experience of computers better, and more human - ultimately making them more accessible. Nowadays we all have computers in our homes, and in our pockets in the form of mobile phones. Each leap and bound in progress has cast the net wider, allowing more people to benefit from computers and not be afraid of them. For me, the spectrum was a hugely important catalyst for this.
Over the weekend I drove out with my girlfriend to wilds of the North Downs near Dorking. I parked up in a car park at the foot of Box Hill, looking forward to the climb to the top. As I went to pay for the parking, I stopped short when I noticed that there was no payment machine. The only option was to pay by phone. This is something I've never done before, but was keen to try out to see how it compared to a regular coin payment machine - plus I didn't have much in the way of choice to pay any other way!
The stepping stones near the Car Park of Doom
The sign at the car park gave a phone number, and a location number - presumably so they knew what car park I'd parked in. I called the number, and was immediately connected to an automated voice recognition system. My heart sank as these are usually fine at recognising that there's a voice speaking to them, but not so great at figuring out what words the voice is saying...
Thursday 22 September saw the UK launch of revolutionary new gaming service: OnLive.
OnLive is essentially games in the cloud. The advantage being that you don't need an expensive games console to play the games - you can stream them via your computer, and you don't need the latest, more expensive 25-core processor to run the games: if you can watch fullscreen YouTube videos on your computer, then chances are that you can also use OnLive.
So, we decided to give it a go….