Tag 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 http://pic.twitter.com/vqLw98PZkc
  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
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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 – 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.

The Maturation of Web Usability – Making the Job Application Great

online application usabilityThe user experience has been the rallying cry for software success stories over the last few years. After a long time of clunky interfaces that work hard but are also difficult to use, focus on usability has been a welcome change.

Usable design involves a focus on reducing the amount of work a user has to do to use an application – reducing the number of clicks, keeping it simple, and considering the user needs above all.

However, focus on just making it easy isn’t enough – a more mature design methodology has emerged that marries functionality and a usable interface with the mission of the application.

Human Factors International has been championing this more advanced design methodology with PET design, which involves integrating persuasive engineering into software design. “We recognize that usability is no longer enough. We need to go beyond making it so that people can complete a task; we have to make sure that they will do the task, that they will convert,” says Dr. Eric Schaffer, CEO, Human Factors International.

For e-commerce sites, this may mean creating software that takes longer to use, but actually results in higher purchases. Stores put milk in the back of the store for the same reason – making the milk harder to find actually increases store sales – thus meeting their end goal.

This approach needs to be applied in the HR world to the online job application. Because the online application has been largely ignored and difficult to use for applicants, software providers are rushing to make the online application super usable in an apology to applicants.  However, the ultimate online application meshes usability with functionality, while accomplishing the end goal of the application. In this case, the need the application meets is matching the right applicant with the right job. A long, clunky process doesn’t meet that need any more than a short process that doesn’t collect necessary information. A well-designed, usable application that gives applicants the opportunity to present themselves in the best light, even if it takes a few more clicks, is a win for all. Recruiters want to maximize their resources in finding the best candidates, applicants want to showcase their skills.  A marriage between the two is the goal.

HFI quote from the white paper: “PET User Interface Structure: Much more than just another pretty interface.” Human Factors International.

Happy Applicants and myStaffingPro

As a society we don’t spend enough time celebrating a job well-done.  We are always pressing on the next goal, finding another need to fill, and rarely stop and say “good job!”.

I keep a record of positive comments about our software that have been passed on to me.  I thought I would share some of the comments that have come from applicants applying for jobs.  It’s a way to congratulate our product team on a job well done!

Check out these actual emails or support tickets from job applicants using myStaffingPro to apply:

Subject: Help
Request. Support Code: 18431592

Thank someone at your company for making your on-line application process so easy.

Subject: Help
Request. Support Code: 19374142

I wanted to commend you on an excellent site.  The application and questioning process was very simple and quick.  Thank you

Subject: Just Thank You

Your Web site is very easy to understand.  The whole process is the best by far.

Subject: Help
Request. Support Code: 28576810

Not a question or a problem!

I want to thank the individuals who are responsible for creating and maintaining the web site where I just completed an application for a _____, for the tremendous job they’re doing.

I have submitted many online applications over the last several months, but although the experience is never pleasurable, it was pleasurable indeed to have the opportunity to provide ___ with all of the information they requested in a highly readable format with as little effort as possible while also being able to provide them with additional information that I believe will be useful to them.

Your online application process is very, very much better than any other I’ve experienced. Thank you!

Subject: Help

There is no question or problem.  I just wanted to let you know that your online job application is one of the best I’ve ever filled out.  Simple and efficient.

Subject: Visitor Email via Contact Form On Marketing Site

 I just wanted to leave a comment. I was searching for a job on the ____ website and noticed it is powered by you. It is a great tool. I am very impressed. It is easy to use, it works, and, is very aesthetically pleasing. I could go on and on. Every time I am searching for a job and see powered by ____, I want to write those people and tell them their product needs alot of help. It actually annoys me while searching for a job. It’s the opposite of your product. It never works right, it is ugly, etc. I hope you can try and persuade their customers to come to you. Maybe I should be writing them also. Have a great day.

And finally, for a good laugh… one of our help desk representatives had to share this unique experience with everyone in the company!

Live chat script:

Help Desk: Hello. How may I assist you?

Applicant: hi my name is jake and i am wanting to become a country music singer. i also know i need a manager and i have no idea what to do.

Help Desk: Hi Jake, I am a technical helpdesk for the application process and I don’t think I am able to help you. But, good luck to you.

My Usability Wish List for Apple

I’m picking on the big boys today.  If you’re going to tout your usability, you’ve got to be good.  There’s some big areas where I believe Apple fails in usability.  Here they are…

itunes for my iphone?
I came to Apple late in the game, so I missed the ipod entirely.  I was baffled as to why I had to create an itunes account to sync apps to my iphone.  I didn’t want music, I just wanted apps.  I was confused even more when I realized I had to…

… install software?
I just wanted to get apps on my iphone, not on my computer.  So why did I have to download and install an application on my PC from itunes.com, create an account, and then sync with my phone?  It would have made more sense if I could create the account on my phone and just use it “in the cloud”.  It felt very early 21st century.

Lack of real people
I was panicking earlier in the year when I checked my email only to find 100s of dollars of itunes receipts.  I looked everywhere to find a customer service number for itunes and couldn’t find one.  I wasn’t sure if I had been hacked and my checking account compromised, so I called the bank to cancel my checking account.  I went online to send an email request to Apple as well.  I was promised a response within “24 hours.” To make a long story short, my 9 year old son thought the game he was playing was asking him to spend pretend money, not real.  Within minutes, he’d racked up 100s of dollars in charges.  Thankfully, Apple did reply (24 hours later) and refunded my money.  I was very appreciative.  But if you’re going to deal in that much money, you need to have a way for people to call you.

iphone size and shape
It’s just too darn hard to hold to my ear.  I don’t even want to use it to talk on the phone with anyone.  It’s great for email though.

This list isn’t to bash Apple, because they’ve done amazing things.  I love my iphone and ipad.  But these examples show that anyone can miss the boat on usability because they haven’t stepped back to take a look at how the “novice” sees them.  The take-away from all of this is to always test your products and apps with new eyes, using actual novice users.  That is absolutely the only way you’ll be able to discover usability issues.  Because no one is immune from usability issues… even the big boys.

“After all, usability really just means that making sure that something works well: that a person of average (or even below average) ability and experience can use the thing – whether it’s a Web site, a fighter jet, or a revolving door – for its intended purpose without getting hopelessly frustrated.”
~Steve Krug in his book Don’t Make Me Think

What’s So Great About Netflix?

As I continue my examination of mega-popular web applications, I’m hoping to glean some insights that can be applied to HR Technology.  My next target is Netflix – purveyor of movies on demand.  Did its web application contribute to its success?  Let’s examine what attracted so many users.

It Works
Not only was its concept of sending videos through mail ground-breaking because of the speed at which they were delivered to customers, Netflix’s ability to stream consistent video over a variety of internet devices and connections has attracted large numbers of loyal customers.  I must admit that I’m one of them.  I am amazed at the quality of the video streamed over my Playstation 3, or laptop.  If I try to watch the same video of a TV show, for example, on the network’s web site, it is usually choppy or takes 5 years to load.

Singular Focus
The concept of the “movie queue” is simple and attractive to users.  The web site focuses on videos (movies, TV, etc.).  That’s it.

Easy to Use
My kids caught on to it too quickly.  Soon I was getting “Scooby Doo” sent to me in the mail instead of my latest choice.  So easy a 5 year old could do it.  I wonder if they tested the app with 5 year olds?

To be fair to the HR Technology arena, we don’t have the luxury of just being able to focus on one thing.  HR is a complex field.  However, focusing on the user and what is important to him/her is key.  In an applicant tracking system, each user has his own focus.  Is the interface for that user centered around that focus?