Inclusion through User Experience

How many words do you understand right away? Words matter. Wording and terminology make a difference in usability and user experience. If you struggle with words then you’ll also perceive a poor usability of a product or service. Jargon includes or excludes people from certain groups. Hence, as a designer please pay attention to the terminology in your product.

Happy Chinese class in Hamburg

A class of Chinese students has fun with recursive displays.

When I teach in front of Chinese students at the Brand Academy in Hamburg – although their German is much better than my Chinese – I am always aware of the issue that some thoughts might get lost or might change their intended meaning on the way from me to them. I mean, this can always be the case and it is astounding that communication works at all. But in this setting it is pretty clear that we have in addition to all language issues also a cultural gap that runs right through the middle of the class room. We have a different background just for instance because of the different TV shows we watched while growing up. The next generation might even ask, „what is TV?“

User Experience is what happens inside the user of a system or service before, during and after she uses the product or service. If you take teaching as a service then you can apply UX design principles also to the situation in the class room. In this setting inclusion means that the lecturer’s aim is to reach each and every student regardless of any circumstances like language, gender, age, prior education, home sickness or world championships in any kind of weird sports. I see inclusion as a humanistic attitude to respect and love your audience.

Well-designed user experiences allow for the uniqueness of people’s different strengths and believe to co-exist in a place of similarity and common ground.  Tools and technologies that embrace similarities to tap into the potential of all people creates conditions that promote people to be their best selves, to cultivate and nurture people will produce better outcomes in all we do.  – 29-Oct-2017

What? “user experiences…believe…” what? This is taken from this year’s home page of the world usability day. After pointing out my problem the authors confessed that they do not understand either. Here is my proposed update:

Well-designed systems and services offer great user experiences for all kind of people regardless of their background, their education, or their current situation. Each one has different strengths and weaknesses that should not exclude him or her from participating in professional or social life via communication technology. Tools and technologies that embrace similarities to tap into the potential of all people create conditions that promote people to be their best selves; designing usable tools to support people will produce better outcomes in all we do.

I hope this is an improvement. I hope this paragraph can be understood and you agree to the intended meaning.

Have you already scheduled your World Usability Day? We can even meet at our panel on Innovation though Inclusion. How many words do you…?

A spiffy computer mouse

A spiffy computer mouse. Sometime it can be quite hard to empathize with the user.


WYSIWYG stands for What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get. It is a concept developed at Xerox PARC; it means that the display on screen corresponds to the printed sheet of paper – a quite radical idea in the early days of desktop computing.  According to Wikipedia the expression was “coined by John Seybold and popularized at Xerox PARC during the late 1970s.”

Therefore it is quite stunning to hear the words in a totally different context. Tim Rice used the very same words for a chorus in Jesus Christ Superstar (music Andrew Lloyd Webber, 1970) in the piece The Temple.

what you see is what you get

Score of Jesus Christ Superstar, The Temple

Quite possible that John Seybold knew the song.

[Update 26-Apr-2017] I do not what to push this over the edge, but the following lines are kind of intriguing as well if you switch the context back to computing:

No-one’s been disappointed yet – success rate, ease of use
Don’t be scared give me a try –  familiarity, robustness, undo, user experience
There is no-thing you can’t buy – Business goals; revenue comes from happy customers

protonet design hacks

If your only tool is a CSS hammer, the entire world wide web looks like a nail.

This time I’ve implemented a couple of CSS design improvements for protonet’s user interface. The average user experience of the sample user group went up from sort-of-ok to relieved and delighted.

The motivation of all the changes is pure usability design: better layout, contrast, color scheme, legibility, control element recognition, focus on notifications, less noise, less scrolling, semantic colours for the calendar, and much more. The page protonet design hacks summarises and explains the changes. I’ve also played a bit with JuxtaposeJS to provide before&after comparison.

before and after comparison at protonet design hacks

There is more in the pipeline regarding protonet – other enhancements of my design lab apply to the twitter stream and google’s search experience. Let me know if you are interested in the comments below.

hee saith shipp

Yeah – ship – what else should a seaman say? This is a wordle cloud based on the complete 70th volume of the High Court Admirality between the years 1654 and 1656. 1511 pages have been scanned, transcribed by Colin Greenstreet at al., published on a wiki, [here starts my involvement] downloaded as RDF, republished on one page with XSLT, pasted into wordle, and adjusted the parameters to generate the image above.

>> more info here