Category Archives: Usability

Design Secrets from the Android Team @ SXSW

Helena Roeber (@helenaroeber) and Rachel Garb (@rachelgarb), who have both contributed to the design principles of google’s android, share the thought process behind their design success.

  1. “Enchant me. Simplify my life. Make me amazing.” Love the girl power/female speakers at Android Design Principles #androidux #sxsw
  2. Make me amazing – isn’t that exactly what we want from our devices?  They extend ourselves beyond what we can do without them, and what a huge win if they can make us amazing too.
  3. For every interaction that might trigger a negative emotion, always offer 3 that offer a positive one. #androidux #swsx
  4. .@helenaroeber Android UX team: We wanted to speak more to people’s hearts [with our designs]. #androidux
  5. Bring a ray of sunshine into the life of users. Simplify their lives and focus attn in what matters to make exp amazing #androidux #sxsw
  6. Use beautiful images to create positive experiences for the user.
  7. The most luxurious principle of this presentation! RT @charohenriquez: Delight me in surprising ways! #androidux #SXSW
  8. Paradox: technology has the power to bring us closer except that the interface & hardware keep getting in the way. #androidux #SXSW
  9. Customer complaints are really just #innovation opportunities in disguise. #androidux #SXSW2013
  10. I love the idea renaming a list of things to fix into something approachable and positive. #androidux #sxsw
  11. RT Excellent explanation of design principles behind android UX. “decide for me but let me have final say” is my favourite. #sxsw #androidux
  12. Create defaults for users so they have fewer choices, but let them override those defaults if they choose.
  13. Users are overwhelmed by options and limitless flexibility. #androidux #SXSW
  14. Only show users what they need, when they need it.
  15. The Android UX team refuses to use the phrase “are you sure?” in their UIs #androidux #sxsw
  16. Keep it brief. Use fewer words. The world needs this advice! #androidux
  17. #androidux words are powerful. Encouragement is powerful. I first learned that in Sunday school #SXSW
  18. Little annoyances have the power to erase all the magic in your world #androidux #whyIdoUX

How to Create a Positive Applicant Experience

candidate experience

13 ways to create a positive applicant experience:  View Slides

 Career Site Tools for Self-Analysis

Visit for the following tools:

  • Usability Quiz
  • Usable Not Confusable White Paper
  • Webinar Recording

To Customers, Content, Service & Marketing Is Technology (Not Just the Code)


The big aha moment didn’t come for me until I strolled through the halls of SXSW this year. Having been at the front-end of a tech startup company, my focus has always been on what software can accomplish – on what the little 1s and 0s can automate for the customer. But at the national gathering of geeks, artists and marketers, it was obvious that the lines are completely blurred for the customer, just as the lines between programmers, artists and marketers are becoming more and more blurred. The customer sees technology as an entire package, a package that includes the image of the company (and how that image reflects on them), how they are treated by the people of the company, and what kind of information the company shares with them. A tech company could have the biggest, most intricate, innovative software product in the world, but if the content, service or marketing isn’t there, the software isn’t going to be adopted.

During a session on HTML5 for Film, the film makers on the panel talked about how the technology used to deliver their film affects how the audience experiences the product (film). In the audience’s mind, the code behind the delivery of the movie is an integral part of the quality of the movie. And vice versa – the information provided about and within your software, including the information the user is supposed to help provide, affects the customer’s experience of the product.

A recent comment on an article about the limited adoption of google plus mentioned that the mistake google made was not to import the user’s existing content from facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, etc, into google plus. Google, being the tech company that they are, focused on how the technology works. The customer’s experience using the software, however, was greatly hampered by the lack of content.

Letting the user share about their software experience has also become embedded into the technology identity.  Although normally a tech company would see sharing, tweeting and facebook-ing about their product as marketing, many customers consider the ability to share about their use of technology an integral part of it.

Technology companies that focus just on the functionality of the software will see less and less user adoption as the software marketplace becomes more mature.

Job Applicants Want a Touchable Application Process – It’s Time to Give it To Them

touch table at SXSW

I heard a lot of frustration in their voices.  A very tech savvy crowd yes, but still unsure how to present themselves as a job applicant.  “I have a beautiful resume, but the online application is asking me to cut and paste my resume,” laments one job seeker.

“I fill my resume with keywords, but never hear a word from the company after filling out the online application.”

“How do I link up to my online portfolio when they just want me to type in my work experience?”

The questions during the SXSW 2012 session on “Online Personality Disorder: Resumes and Profiles” highlighted the gap between the expertise of the applicant, and the technology of the average applicant tracking system.  I had to raise my hand and admit I am with an applicant tracking system (although one of those that does allow portfolio uploads, online profiles, and formatted resumes), and suggest that when a cut and paste resume is required (by an ancient system, ahem), make sure to put a link to your online profile/ portfolio at the top of the resume text.

In this age of TVs that change the channel based on your hand motions, video enabled vending machines that measure your smile, and touch table computers, basic electronic resume applications fall flat.

The truth is that applicants want to reach out and touch the application process.  They want to put their unique mark on their application – they want to demonstrate their passion and their skills.  They don’t necessarily want to apply with just “two clicks,” they want to interact with the organization and provide relevant information.

And the truth is, hiring managers want to let them.  But too often time constraints and technology get in the way.  The solution isn’t to go back to the paper resume or in-person hiring event.  The solution is to adapt applicant tracking technology to let applicants express themselves, while automating as much as possible.

Here’s some ideas on making the online application and the hiring process “touchable” for the applicant, and still protect the hiring manager’s time:

  • Allow the applicant to upload digital portfolios, images, and formatted resumes as part of their online application
  • Provide easy ways for the applicant to link to their online professional content
  • Give applicants status updates throughout the process – via email, text or a self-service portal.
  • Word status updates and email communication as personally and warmly as professionally possible, so applicants realize they are communicating with a real person
  • Consider using a company like Send Out Cards to send out recycled paper thank you notes with a status update after a phone interview.
  • Provide a kiosk in the employer’s lobby to allow applicants to apply online and/or check their status.  It’s relatively inexpensive to do with an ipad kiosk.
  • Use in-depth job descriptions and basic pre-screening questions to allow applicants who aren’t a fit to self-select out.  This allows more time for the hiring manager to review the information of qualified applicants.

Technology doesn’t have to be impersonal.  In fact, most innovation in tech sectors over the last few years has focused on making technology more and more personal.  Talent management systems and HR can provide a touchable application experience for applicants.  We all just have to try harder.

Takeaways for HR Tech from SXSW 2012

SXSW Interactive 2012 was my first time at SXSW, and I found inspiration for making HR Tech better from a number of channels including film, gaming, media agencies, and consumer focused start-ups.

Treat applicants like a consumer and let them be social

  • Let applicants be social about the jobs they are applying to, potentially letting them share the  fact that they are applying with friends, ask for recommendations
  • Help applicants sell themselves – they have a difficult time demonstrating their passion to an  applicant tracking system
  • Let applicants link to their rich online content, if applicable to the job application

APIs are a growing trend

  • Companies are making millions off just API transactions
  • APIs are now primarily written in REST, not SOAP
  • Well-document your API and make the documentation public
  • Create tools for programmers to build transactions with your API

Mobile is huge and is not being replaced by tablets

  • It is now an appendage to people, and everyone was a “cyborg” during SXSW12, per Amber Case
  • Mobile has become notebook, internet, phone, map, entertainer, camera, video cam and more, in one
  • Video and photos are the new “text”

From the gaming world we learn the importance of incentivizing users = goals & metrics

  • With gaming, people are incentivized to complete tasks
  • People like to see visually that they are making goals
  • Users by nature have a hard time figuring out metrics and are embarrassed by it
  • Requirements for a user to get into a good flow with software:
    • Goals, then challenges,  then skills, then feedback, then control

Relevance more important that simplicity

  • In user’s mind, relevance = usability
  • No matter how simple you make something, it isn’t usable to the user unless it does what they wanted to do
  • In the case of job applications, less clicks does not = user satisfaction.  Rather, the right questions and truthful feedback = user satisfaction.

#SXSW Interactive – Saturday & Sunday in Photos

Samsung’s smart TV – no need for a remote, just use hand gestures to change the channel, the volume, or any setting.  Development kit available.

Keynote speaker Baratunde Thurston inspired us to use comedy to change society. “Comedians are good at smashing idols” – per @occupyjudaism.

Touch table at the Nokia tent. I want this for our coffee house.

Cell phone charging lock boxes

Boxing robots powered by Kinect – using hand gestures. Motion technology is a big theme.

Third Eye Blind. Gotta love alternative music launched in the 90s. I do, so I had to throw that in here.

“make mistakes. Make big ones” #Tambor #SXSW

#SXSW Interactive – Friday Reflections of a Newbie

It’s rainy and cold in Austin, but the locals are cheering on the rain. That’s ok, because it can’t put a damper on the enthusiasm of #SXSWi.

This is my first time at the convention, so I have a couple newbie observations. First of all, I’ve never seen so many gadgets in one place – and that’s not on the trade show floor – but rather in attendees hands. High powered cameras, video cameras, mobile devices galore and of course ipads and laptops, so much so, that attendees camp around power outlets. (Someone please come up with a phone that lasts all day – when actually used all day.) Each session is given a twitter hash tag, and often the speakers encourage tweets throughout the session, and use twitterfeed to pull questions from the audience. I like that use of technology.

After this, I am convinced of the mobile device as a staple of society moving forward. (No, I wasn’t already). I’m excited to see what form it will take. We need innovators to break out of the rectangular box design.

Speaking of mobile innovation, one demonstrator that stood out to me, Isis, offers a mobile wallet solution. It requires a user to have a NFC-enabled phone, which will be release by major carriers this summer. Merchants just need to have a contactless reader that accepts Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express. To make it even simpler, the merchants should also have Isis software, although it can work without. Customers just select their payment option on their phone by clicking on the credit card icon they want to use, then tap their phone against the reader, and payment is transferred. Great concept, although it still gives a percentage to the big four credit card companies, which takes money out of local economies, but maybe this will allow for a surge of local credit cards? Might be possible with this setup. I was told I could integrate a local rewards program into the software.

Went to an intriguing session about training positive neuroplasticity. Too much information to share here, but I’m definitely going to share it with our development team. As you might have guessed, the condition of our bodies is directly related to the performance of our brains. However, moderation is the key – simple things can exercise your body and brain without hitting the gym five times a week. And easy nutritional guidelines help as well. It has implications for ADHD, Asperger’s and Autism, and I can’t wait to research that more.

Knowing there are a lot of smart people in attendance, I was surprised at the amount of lame questions asked at the end of the session (people not using their brains), until one attendee asked a GREAT question – if it is shown that these types of non-pharmaceutical solutions are available for our health, why isn’t science delving into these areas of research? WHY INDEED? Basically, the neuro-scientist said that a hypothesis is currently necessary to prove/ disprove something in the medical world. Thankfully with all the data floating around in cyberspace, we can start to figure things out by just chugging through all that data – without first having a hypothesis.

Was proud of the representation of my home state at a session by a group of Ohio design companies who highlighted some of the very innovative machines they’ve built – a vending machine that records your photo and dispenses ice cream based on the strength of your smile – various carnival games that exist in real-life, but that are controlled remotely by users over the internet – a mobile 1973 RV named MERV that interacts with students at college visitations – really creative stuff.

Creativity is the name of the game, and I’m ready to get some more inspiration.