User Experience Professionals Association of DC

The Washington DC Chapter of the
User Experience Professionals Association  


User Focus Conference 2007 Program

October 12, 2007

8:00 - 9:00

and Breakfast

9:00 - 9:10

Welcome from Lisa Battle, UPA-DC Metro Chapter President

9:10 - 10:15

Keynote Speaker: Jared Spool

10:15 - 11:00

The Future of Usability (Walser)

11:00 - 11:30

Coffee Break


Room: West A

Room: West B

Meeting Room 16

11:30 - 1:00

Web 2.0: Usability Issues

Remote Usability Testing - Observing User Behavior From Afar
(Horst & Schall)

What’s Better? Moderated Lab Testing or Unmoderated Remote Testing?

Tutorial: Guerilla Personas and the Gentle Art of Design Defense

1:00 - 2:00

Lunch and Birds-of-a-Feather Tables

2:00 - 2:45

Using Patterns for a Scaleable, Intuitive Design
(Arble, Green & Menard)

10-Minute Talks:
Breadcrumbs: They’re Useful, But Not for the Reason You Think

Low-Budget User Research for an Intranet Redesign (Huston)
New Methods for Measuring the Effects of Onscreen Aesthetics (Hazlett)

Tutorial: Hands-On Introduction to Eyetracking: A Live Demonstration Supplemented by Case Studies
(Summers, Summers & Fox)

2:45 - 3:30

How To Maintain Consistency without Demanding Uniformity

Coming to Terms with Keywords

3:30 - 4:00

Coffee Break

4:00 - 4:45

Incorporating Information Architecture Activities into the Redesign of the US Census Bureau’s Web Site
(Olmsted-Hawala & Hammersmith)

WIKI Platforms for Collaboration: When Convenient Access and Ease of Use Are Not Enough
(Roske-Shelton & Bangiolo)

Tutorial: Reporting Usability Test Data That Is Scientifically Sound

4:45 - 5:30

Searching for Better Web Usability

AJAX Usability: What Works, What Doesn’t

5:30 - 7:00

Reception & Happy Hour at RFD (810 7th St)


PDF versions of many User Focus presentations are available for downloading. They are listed with the sessions, below.

Keynote: The Dawning of the Age of Experience

Jared Spool
9:10 - 10:15

Experience design is no longer a nice-to-have luxury of a few organizations with tons of money and exceptional visionary management. It’s become commonplace for organizations that build products and web sites. Experience Design is a centerpiece of boardroom discussions and quickly becoming a key performance indicator for many businesses.

However, you can’t just hire a couple of “experience designers” and tell them, "Go do that voodoo that you do so well." Today’s business environment forces us to build multi-disciplinary teams, compiling a diverse group of skills and experiences to handle the many facets of the technical, business, and user requirements.

In his usual entertaining and insightful manner, Jared will talk about what it takes to build a design team that meets today’s needs.

He'll demonstrate how successful Experience Design:

  • Must integrate the needs of the users with the requirements of the business
  • Is learned, but not available through introspection
  • Must be invisible to succeed
  • Is cultural
  • Is multi-discplinary
  • Thrives best in an "educate and administrate" environment

You'll see examples of designs from Apple's iPod, Netflix, the Mayo Clinic, and Southwest Airlines, to name a few.

The Future of Usability

Kate Walser
10:15 - 11:00

The future looks bright for usability practitioners! Fast Company and others have touted the role of “Experience Designer” and “Web Designer” as two that will be in high demand for 2007. Having hurdled challenges of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, we have an exciting future ahead. Come learn more about what the future holds for us, including Web 2.0, mobile devices, and pattern-based design, and how to hurdle the obstacles in our way.

Panel - Web 2.0: Usability Issues

Katherine Kendall, Jared Spool, Kate Walser &John Whalen
11:30 - 1:00

PDF for two of the Panel presentations [3mb]

Web 2.0 has emerged as a mixture of web-based communities, services, and technologies:

  • Social networks, collaboration, and communication
    (MySpace, LinkedIn, Second Life, etc.)
  • User-created content and tagging
    (Amazon reviews, YouTube, Wikipedia, Flickr,, folksonomies, etc.)
  • One-to-many and many-to-many publishing
    (RSS, blogs, podcasts, videocasts, etc.)
  • Dynamic interfaces, open architectures, and web services
    (AJAX, APIs, mashups, etc.)

While Web 2.0 offers a variety of exciting applications for users, it introduces a number of challenges for usability professionals. The panel will talk about their experiences researching or developing Web 2.0 applications and how usability techniques and approaches to design are changing in the Web 2.0 world.

Remote Usability Testing - Observing User Behavior From Afar

Dick Horst & Andrew Schall
11:30 - 1:00

PDF for Remote Usability Testing presentation [600kb]

Web-sharing applications offer the opportunity to conduct usability testing “remotely,” without the test moderator and test participant being co-located. This presentation will include a live demo of some methods for interacting with remotely located users, and show configurations for likewise accommodating remotely located test observers or an out-of-lab test moderator. We will discuss the pros and cons of remote testing, approaches for moderating remote tests of different types of user interfaces, and some best practices.

What’s Better? Moderated Lab Testing or Unmoderated Remote Testing?

Susan Fowler
11:30 - 1:00

PDF for Lab and Remote Testing presentation [140kb]

You’re probably very familiar with moderated in-lab usability testing, and you may have tried a few unmoderated tests — an online questionnaire, for example. However, full-scale unmoderated tests may be less familiar. For overviews of remote unmoderated testing, in-lab testing, and moderated remote testing, come to this talk. You will hear about the advantages and disadvantages of the two approaches in terms of statistical validity, data quality and quantity, expense, timeframes, finding qualified subjects, and more. 

Using Patterns for a Scaleable, Intuitive Design

Fran Arble, Craig Green & Deirdre Menard
2:00 - 2:45

PDF for Patterns presentation [1.25mb]

This presentation addresses the redesign of the interface used by customers to manage their online services. We were interested in developing design patterns that worked for various tasks and applying them across a diverse set of our services. The presentation includes:

  • A discussion of customer usage and the limitations of the original design.
  • A discussion of our design goals, the new UI patterns and how they are applied, and feedback from usability testing.


Ten-Minute Talks

2:00 - 2:45

Breadcrumbs: They’re Useful, But Not for the Reason You Think

Angela Colter

PDF for Breadcrumbs presentation [750kb]

Breadcrumbs — the text links that represent the current page’s location within the hierarchy of a Web site — are a common navigation element, but do people notice, use, and understand what they are? When we conducted a study to explore user mental models of breadcrumbs we found that people did use them, but not to ascertain their own location within a Web site. Instead, they used breadcrumb links to get to what they wanted more quickly than other available methods, such as using the back button, menu labels or search.

Low-Budget User Research for an Intranet Redesign

Melanie Huston

PDF for Intranet presentation [320kb]

The National Library of Medicine's intranet is overdue for an overhaul. The standard navigation makes sense to the reference librarians, but not to technicians, supervisors, or researchers. Some content is outdated, and searching returns unhelpful results. Find out how simple, low-budget surveys, interviews and card sorts generated data we could use to uncover the information gaps perceived by employees at this federal agency.

New Methods for Measuring the Effects of Onscreen Aesthetics

Richard Hazlett

PDF for Aesthetics presentation [100kb]

Onscreen aesthetics convey an emotional tone that is an important aspect of onscreen communication. Standard measures have been unable to touch the effects of onscreen aesthetics. The impact of font personality on the reader’s perception of the emotional tone of onscreen words and pages was investigated with affective decision tasks and brief page glimpse methods. The congruency of font and written content had a beneficial effect on communication. The methodology is explained and demonstrated.

How To Maintain Consistency without Demanding Uniformity

Rob Rhyne
2:45 - 3:30

PDF for Consistency presentation [75kb]

How many times has a developer quipped to a usability designer, “We can’t make it look pretty because you made us make it accessible and usable?”  The purpose of this talk is to invigorate designers and encourage them to challenge the tried and true, while not forgetting the conventions that have emerged during the last 20 years of the personal computer usage.  The usability profession must branch out from merely maintaining uniformity to establishing and cataloging common patterns and conventions.

Coming to Terms with Keywords

Duane Degler
2:45 - 3:30

PDF for Keywords presentation [80kb]

In the practice of User-Centered Design and Information Architecture, we often need to identify key words and phrases for the subject domain and the content in order to support navigation, search optimization, faceted browsing, and labeling. This session presents a brief overview of automated tools that can help. Keyword generators, semantic parsers, and concept extraction software do not remove the need for the individual and group design activities, but they can make it quicker to get started by identifying important terms which you can then discuss with subject experts and users.

Incorporating Information Architecture Activities into the Redesign of the US Census Bureau’s Web Site

Erica Olmsted-Hawala & Carollynn Hammersmith)
4:00 - 4:45

PDF for Census Bureau presentation [400kb]

The Usability Lab collaborated with representatives from across the U.S. Census Bureau to redesign to better serve our users.  We used card sorting to learn how users group and organize our information.  This presentation describes our methodology, including how to create representative cards for a large data dissemination Web site, run the sessions, and analyze results.  We discuss our recommendations and next steps which include lower level topic area card sorts and low-fidelity prototype testing.

WIKI Platforms for Collaboration: When Convenient Access and Ease of Use Are Not Enough

Renate Roske-Shelton & Lois Bangiolo
4:00 - 4:45

PDF for WIKI presentation [575kb]

Wiki spaces for idea and knowledge work originated with the purpose of providing users with a “quick” tools interface to minimize new learning and enable easy writing contributions and file postings. Their early promise has not always been fulfilled as expected and productive collaborative user behaviors are at best evolving very slowly.  This presentation will address some “macro-usability” features which appear vital for a successful and persistent WIKI project evolution.

Searching for Better Web Usability

Mike Steadman
4:45 - 5:30

PDF for Search presentation [700kb]

Studies show that an ever increasing number of users begin their web experience with a search, even when presented with intuitive and highly “usable” navigation options.  This session covers the emerging field of Search Analytics.  Attendees will discover the major features and components to look for (or build), and how many organizations are effectively using search analytics data to constantly improve site design and usability as well as drive content.

AJAX Usability: What Works, What Doesn’t

John Whalen
4:45 - 5:30

PDF for AJAX presentation [3.17mb]

This presentation seeks to define AJAX, give the briefest of notions about programming with AJAX (e.g., the XML RPC command), but ultimately to focus on the capabilities of AJAX and other Rich Internet Application (RIA) tools by illustrating user experience successes and failures.  Based on the UPA Workshop on AJAX Usability in Austin, I will present the latest on our field's collective agreement on the promising uses of AJAX/RIA technology, and its usability pitfalls.


Tutorials are 90-minute sessions at which conference participants have an opportunity to learn specific usability or design skills. Session sizes are limited to 25 participants, and there is a $20 charge in addition to conference registration to attend a tutorial.

Tutorial: Guerilla Personas and the Gentle Art of Design Defense

Lorelei Brown
11:30 - 1:00

PDF for Guerilla Personas presentation [125kb]

Personas are an invaluable tool to help organizations stop thinking inwardly and start serving their users.  We’ll explore to how to craft a set of personas in 10 hours or less, using whatever data you have, even if you don’t have access to your logs, search data, or have a call center! Finally, we’ll role play the Meeting from Hell, where you can learn to defend your design decisions using the personas that we’ll create during the tutorial.

Tutorial: Hands-On Introduction to Eyetracking:
A Live Demonstration Supplemented by Case Studies

Kathryn Summers, Michael Summers & Jean Fox
2:00 - 3:30

PDF for Eyetracking presentation [9mb]

This tutorial will provide attendees with a practical introduction to eyetracking.  After a brief theoretical and methodological history, participants will conduct a live study and use the eyetracker to attempt tasks in front of their fellow participants.  After analyzing the data and demonstrating data analysis software, we will review case studies of how eyetracking data was used in client deliverables.  The focus will be on how eyetracking provides practical input to solve specific user-centered design issues.

Tutorial: Reporting Usability Test Data That Is Scientifically Sound

Bill Killam
4:00 - 5:30

PDF for Reporting Test Data presentation [400kb]

Since testing is nearly always conducted with a small sample, there are restrictions on how usability test results can be reported and still be considered valid. This presentation will discuss how best to report effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction data with or without statistical significance. Even though this is listed as an advanced topic for experienced practitioners, experience in calculating statistics is not a requirement. 

Other Events

Birds-of-a-Feather Tables

1:00 - 2:00

Birds-of-a-Feather Tables provide opportunities to meet with other conference attendees to talk about a specific topic during lunch.

Reception & Happy Hour at RFD (810 7th St)

5:30 - Until

Join us for an informal social gathering after a long day of usability. Discuss the day’s presentations with the speakers, local professionals, academics, employers, and students.

Location: RFD (Regional Food and Drink), 810 7th Street NW at H Street, across from the Gallery Place/Chinatown metro station and close to the Marriott Renaissance Hotel. Light hors d’œuvres will be provided and cash bar.

Can’t attend the conference?  You don’t have to miss out on the networking!  Join us at the reception 5:30 pm at RFD — you don't have to be registered for the conference to attend the reception.


Great value for the price and very practical case studies.

Exposure to the research going on; practical steps I can take in my work.

- Quotes from previous conferences


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