Thursday Nov 19, 2009

Prague World Usability Day 2009

Just a few words about 5th Prague World Usability Day. This year, we have almost filled the capacity of the cinema, we had 290 registered visitors! We didn't use the official theme of the event (sustainability), we put together topics focused mainly on case studies.

Jakub Franc was the conference MC.  During the intro, I've presented highlights from the first year of Prague ACM SIGCHI operating as an official non-profit organization: we have 45 paying members, more than 300 people in our mailing list, we organized 8 talks and 4 trainings, and we evangelized UX on major local conferences (for example WebExpo). The second short talk was from Michal Horava, who presented the first local HCI book, which consists from several articles from different authors (including myself and Jakub).

The keynote was given by Tjeerd Hoek from FrogDesign, focused on innovations, design processes and convergence of hardware and software.

After that, there was a presentation from Adam Fendrych and Tomas Blaha about their experience of using eyetracking device during redesign of local finance website

The third talk was from the local Czech Technical University in Prague. They've presented first outcomes from Sun Center of Excellence focused on accessibility of RIA.

The last two talks were from Peter Korn and Theofanis OIkonomou focused on EU funded accessibility projects AEGIS and Accessible.

Slides, audio and more information about the conference (in Czech) is on our website

See you in Prague again on November 11, 2010!


Sunday Jun 14, 2009

JavaOne 2009: Thoughts from an Interaction Designer

JavaOne 2009 was a terrific event for developers.  Great engineers in the field presented their work and gave the attendees information on the latest Java developments. Vendors of Java frameworks, tools and other useful stuff were showing their wares in the Pavilion. Lots of new stuff like the Java Store, JavaFX 1.2 and JavaEE 6 was announced.

I've been attending JavaOne since Y2K and have learned a lot about both the platform and the developers who rely on it to get their job done.

Here's a blog entry from Karen Stanley, a member of the Java user experience design team who has just attended JavaOne for the first time.

And just for fun, here's my picture with Duke.Jeff and Duke at JavaOne 2009

Thursday May 21, 2009

Participate in Design at JavaOne 2009

Jeff Hoffman

Jeff Hoffman is the lead user experience designer for Java Standard Edition.

Hey There! JavaOne 2009 is almost here... The center of amazing developer activity will be the Moscone Center in San Francisco from June 2nd to 5th. Most of the exhibits and sessions highlight technology and the tools-of-the-trade for the Java developer set, however there is definitely content that is of interest to user experience designers.

I've made a list below of those sessions that are hosted by folks I know and respect. I heartily recommend checking them out. Make sure to add the ones you want to attend to your Schedule Builder since I expect that it may be hard to get in at the last minute.

I'm Speaking At JavaOne

Of course, there are the BOFs that I and my designer cohorts are hosting. We want to engage developers in an open discussion on user experience issues, help answer questions and provide pointers to useful resources.

I'm looking forward to seeing you at JavaOne 2009! Stop by the Designing the User Experience pod in the Pavilion to say hello, and come to one or both of the BOFs listed above.

Sunday Feb 01, 2009

Hamburg World Usability Day 2008 - Webcasts

The webcasts from World Usability Day 2008 in Hamburg have been posted. [All presentations were held in German.]


Matthias Müller-Prove is a User Experience Architect for Desktop Virtualization at Sun. Sometimes he blogs at Acetylcholinesterase –  sometimes not.

Monday Jan 12, 2009

Day 2 at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show

I'm now back from Las Vegas and the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show is history.  Below are some photos from Day 2 (Friday January 9).  More photos from Day 2 are available in this online album.

There really wasn't a lot of cool new stuff at this year's show.  Since this is the first time I've ever been at CES, I'm basing this statement not only on my own observations but also conversations with conference alumni.  Many of the manufacturers were demonstrating improvements on energy consumption, as well as other devices to save energy. 

This is truly a hardware show, so there was little software to be seen.  Big names like HP and Sony demonstrated some of their software (for example, the appropriately named Sony Vegas Movie Studio), as well as online services for photo sharing and backup. Video editing and DVD authoring software provider Nero was showing their latest software to bring TiVo to your desktop.

Sony, RCA and others debuted some inexpensive (less than $200) pocket HD video cameras aimed at bloggers.  They are small, lightweight and colorful -- focused on function and not overloaded with a lot of features.

There was also a large exhibit area devoted to automotive technology.  It almost looked like the auto show...  And I've never seen as many Ford Flex crossover SUVs in one place -- certainly not on the road...  But it seems they are a good platform for demonstrating automotive accessories.

Lastly, I have never seen so many ways to display flat screen televisions in my life.

Samsung brought ex-49er Ronnie Lott for a guest appearance and photo op...

 You can also view my previous posting, CES Day 1,  for more pictures.  

Friday Jan 09, 2009

2009 Consumer Electronics Show - Day 1

Greetings from CES in Las Vegas!

The city is buzzing with activity, and the entire convention center, as well as a couple of hotel convention centers are filled with exhibits.  I just want to share some of the photos I took on Thursday (January 8).  You can see more photos at my CES Day 1 Album.


There is definitely a focus on design here -- both of the products and the booths.

More later...

Sunday Sep 14, 2008

Bill Verplank sketches metaphors

That was quite a remarkable evening, Bill Verplank presenting at BayCHI on Sketching Metaphors. First of all his presentation style. He had an overhead camera connected to the projector in a way that the audience could follow all his actions on the desktop. This gave him the flexibility to simply point to images in a book, show his note cards, or develop (and explain on the way) something entirely from scratch. For example on the image above Bill describes the origin of the window scrollbar and the dead metaphor of an elevator for the thumb control in the bar to the right [metaphors in italics ;-) ]

In a closing section he provided an enlightening diagram on various computer paradigms.

The computer as a tool you can use, the computer as media for information sharing and communicating with each other, and the computer as an intelligent person to interact with. If you go a step further the tools become vehicles, media becomes fashion (take Apple's iPod as an fashion statement for example), and person becomes life – and ecosystem of self organizing systems.

Thank you Bill, for this framework of computer paradigms.

>> The entire photostream can be found at flickr.

Interaction Design Sketchbook by Bill Verplank

Matthias Müller-Prove is a User Experience Architect for Desktop Virtualization at Sun. Sometimes he blogs at Acetylcholinesterase. Sometimes he doesn't.

Tuesday Jun 24, 2008

Build social applications with Zembly

After more than a year of being in stealth mode, Zembly was launched earlier this month. As the interaction designer on the project, it was fun being part of a talented and driven team to deliver a platform for easily creating and hosting social applications. Using just your browser and your creativity, and working collaboratively with others, Zembly let's you create and publish Facebook apps, Meebo apps, OpenSocial apps, iPhone apps, Google Gadgets, embeddable widgets, and other social applications.


Zembly provides several features that allow you to get started quickly building social applications. Applications in Zembly consist of widgets, which are reusable pieces of user interface, and services, which are reusable server-side logic that ties everything together. Using just these two concepts, you can create social applications that run in many of the major social networking platforms. You also have access to what other users create on Zembly and the large number of APIs and data from anywhere on the web. These are available contextually from a find & use pallette while you build your application. Results from leading web API providers like Amazon, Flickr, Google, Twitter, and Yahoo appear alongside remixable pieces and parts from other zembly users. Just click to add the line of code that lets you call that provider from your application.

Zembly is in private beta mode and there are still invitations available. Go over to Zembly to know more about the product and to request an invitation. There is also the Zembly blog where you have access to documentation to get you started building widgets and applications. The Zembly team is always looking to improve the product, so your feedback is always welcome. Let us know of your experiences with the product at the Zembly forum or at GetSatisfaction. If you are on twitter and would like to follow Zembly, head over to the Zembly twitter page.

zembly_pic     Prasant Sivadasan is the user experience designer for Zembly

Monday Jun 09, 2008

How did our JavaOne talk go?

JavaOne 2008 is done...and there are lots of good memories. Jindra and I spent the week learning and practicing our talk, as well as wandering the pavillion and attending sessions. Our slides can be accessed here on the JavaOne Online site (note that you will need to log in as an Sun Developer Network member to view the slides -- registration is free and you won't be spammed so go for it). Also check out the slides for the other User Experience related sessions (TS-6929 Creating a Compelling User Experience, TS-6470 The Layperson’s Guide to Building a Better User Experience, and TS-5500 The Desktop Java Technology Lovers Survival Guide)

Speaking at JavaOne is totally exhilirating. Our session took place in a large room and was well attended. This year's JavaOne enabled folks to "pre-register" for each talk for guaranteed admittance, so we watched the number of prospective attendees grow during the week. In the end, about 600 folks signed up and 500 actually showed up. Neither of us has presented to this large of an audience before (we were really excited last year when our BOF had around 150 people). Since we were both new to delivering a technical session, we went through the material much more quickly than during our rehearsals. Next time we will be better prepared by making sure we have some extra material in case we finish too early -- it's easier to keep talking about stuff than to make things up.

Jeff and Jindra during Q&A

Here is a photo of us during the question and answer period of the talk. We definitely have a bit of that "deer in the headlights" look. One disadvantage of having your talk scheduled on Friday of JavaOne week is that you are nervous with anticipation for pretty much the entire conference. There are certainly benefits to presenting early and getting it "out of the way".

JavaOne attendees have high expectations, and since this year's conference featured a set of good user experience sessions, we were in very good company. Our audience was very supportive and we didn't lose many people after we started talking... If anything, I believe the folks wanted more details than our 101 level talk provided. Once we've reviewed the feedback on our audience response cards, we'll start planning for next year's session and take their comments in to account.

If you have some ideas for user experience topics that would be of interest to the wide range of Java developers who attend JavaOne, we invite you to leave your comments on this blog.

Jeff Hoffman is the lead user experience designer for Java Standard Edition.

Jindra Dinga devotes his time to improving the deployment experience of Java for both developers and end users.

Thursday May 08, 2008

JavaOne - the Pavilion

Today I was wandering around the JavaOne pavilion and took pictures of booths that showed stuff xDesign team has been working on. So enjoy! BTW: the pictures are randomly ordered ;-)

Because Sun is not the only one exhibitor in the pavilion, I also took some pictures of booths of other companies.

by Jindra

Wednesday May 07, 2008

A Quick Summary of One User Experience Talk at JavaOne

Jeff Hoffman is the lead user experience designer for Java Standard Edition.

It's the second day of JavaOne, and I attended a talk by Ben Galbraith titled Creating a Compelling User Experience. The talk was very well attended and almost filled the 826 person room (and it happens to be the same room that Jindra and I will be presenting in on Friday).

Ben is an entertaining speaker and put together a very slick presentation and demo. He conveyed key items that a developer needs to consider when designing a compelling user experience for their app. The presentation was peppered with quotes from the greats of usability and user experience design, including Alan Cooper, Jef Raskin, Donald Norman and Jakob Nielsen. A few of the points he made stick in my memory, so I'll share them with you:

  • Understand your user, and their expectations
  • Don't let your end user literally design your UI -- base your design on the goals they are trying to achieve
  • Get a visual designer to work with you -- UI design can be likened to fashion design, and you want your app to be "in"
  • Make sure your app is responsive, if the user has to wait more than a second for a response, their mind starts to wander
  • Respect the user's data, that is, don't lose anything the user enters in to the app

He also made some very positive comments about the new Java browser plugin that is included with Java 6 Update 10, and JSR-296 -- the Swing Application Framework. These features enable Java developers to create more responsive applications both in the browser and on the desktop.

Stay tuned... More photos from the show will be posted soon!

Tuesday May 06, 2008

Java One 2008 - Day One

As usual, JavaOne conference starts the second day in the week. The pictures below show a decoration you can see on streets, inside Moscone Center, as well as our friendly staff working at the registration desk.

This day started with James Gosling's talk. Right after him Rich Green came on the stage with his Java + You talk in which he mentioned how important is community and collaboration. During his talk he also showed us a demo of a application written in JavaFX. In addition to this day, the pavilion was open for the first time. On our pod, we showed some cool stuff our team is working as well as gave away some gifts.

by Jindra

Monday May 05, 2008

Today at Community One

Untitled Document

Today, it was CommunityOne day here at JavaOne. CommunityOne day started with a keynote given by Ian Murdock, who was talking about how Sun participates in open and diverse technology ecosystem; he also invited Jonathan Schwartz on the stage.

Later on, there was a panel talking about pros and cons of various approaches to community building. At the end of the session, Rich Green announced the first release of a new binary distribution of the OpenSolaris, which is now available for free at



by Jindra

Wednesday Apr 23, 2008

Speaking about User Experience at JavaOne

Jeff Hoffman is the lead user experience designer for Java Standard Edition.

Jindra Dinga devotes his time to improving the deployment experience of Java for both developers and end users.

Jeff and Duke at JavaOne 2007In a couple of weeks, my colleague Jindra and I will be presenting our process for creating a graphical user interface to the developers at JavaOne. In my last entry, I mentioned a set of user experience talks happening at this year's conference. Now I'd like to describe a bit more about how we developed our session and what's in it.

At last year's JavaOne, our merry little band of Java UE designers presented a very basic overview of user experience design best practices at a 9pm BOF. We dutifully put together a presentation with slides covering a variety of things, and cheerfully presented them to the much larger than we expected crowd. We were terribly nervous, but overall the experience was great and the questions were great too. Some months later the survey results came in and they weren't bad, but not great... Most of the comments were asking for more detail and more examples, so we started discussion about this year's presentation with that idea.

Based on the feedback, this year we are going to take a real example and walk through our process with it. Since we only have 50 minutes (and some of that time needs to be available for questions), we will try our best to reach the level of detail our audience desires. JavaOne Speaker

At the beginning of our presentation we will talk about why it is hard to create good GUIs and how important it is to understand the user's tasks and goals. Later on we take the existing command line process for configuring a network interface connection in Solaris (see Project Brussels) and make it over in to a GUI.

Jindra and I have spent years in the user experience field and we know that it's hard to follow an exact process for every project. We also know that making sure our designs work for our customers requires that we adhere to the principles of design, and we want to make sure that the developers out there understand how these principles apply to a real design problem.

If you're planning to be at JavaOne, sign up to come to our session (TS-4968). Also, if you'd like to say hello to some of the contributors to this blog, stop by the User Experience pod near the Spin-the-Wheel Game in Sun Booth at the JavaOne Pavilion.

Thursday Apr 17, 2008

Data Driven Personas

A week ago, I was in Florence Italy, giving a talk on a paper that a colleague and I wrote. The paper was a CHI Note, which described a new way to create "personas": fictional characters who represent user groups who will use the products that we develop. It's a lot like creating user profiles, but personas have names, photos, and other details added to them, so that designers and developers can meet the needs of, say, "Sarah" rather than a nameless, faceless "system administrator".

The process for creating personas has been around for about ten years, and usually starts by brainstorming user characteristics. Ideally, the details of the personas are drawn from facts that have been gathered through user contact. Sometimes, once the personas have been created, they are then validated, by conducting a survey or focus groups or by communicating with representative users in some way. Unfortunately, there are several drawbacks to the traditional method, usually revolving around trust in the accuracy of the personas and acceptance by the team that is supposed to use them. But it's a numbers game, too: if you interview 10 or 15 or 20 users, how can you ensure that they are truly representative of the larger population?

My partner in this paper, Nalini Kotamraju, is a user researcher at Sun, and it was she who initially proposed that we turn the traditional method around: rather than interview users first, and then validate the personas through a survey, why not conduct the survey first, and then interview them? Brilliant! Not only would the personas be an artifact of the data, but we'd have statistically significant numbers of users to base them on! Then, when we conducted the user interviews to add details to the personas, they would be "the right" (read that as "representative") 20 or 30 users, because we'd have done the stats first.

Our new persona creation process went well, but there were some surprises along the way... perfect for a paper submission :) Fast forward a little more than a year, and there I was in lovely Firenze, sharing our work with a receptive group. My favorite part was at the end, after the talk was over, when I was able to share more in-depth details with friends and colleagues. I even got a question and compliment from John Pruitt! But there were a lot of friends and colleagues who weren't there, so if you're one of them, I'll be giving another talk in May :)

Jen McGinn is an interaction designer in xDesign who is working to improve the user experience with software registration and Solaris system administration. She has an MS in Human Factors in Information Design and works out of Sun's campus in Massachusetts.


xDesign is a software user experience design group at Sun.
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