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 www.mesec.cz.

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 www.wud.cz.

See you in Prague again on November 11, 2010!

Photos:


Monday Jan 26, 2009

Opening of Center of Excellence Focused on Accessibility and Usability in Prague

xDesign cooperates with Czech Technical University in Prague (CTU) for more than 5 years. For example in 2004, we have opened first local usability lab, from 2005 we organize every year local World Usability Day and also recently we cooperate together on local chapter of Prague ACM SIGCHI.

Czech Technical University is one from the oldest technical universities in the world, established in 1707. Computer science department was established in 1964. The department has long term experience in the field of accessibility and cooperation on European Union projects. Recently, since the part of the department dedicated to computer graphics, HCI and accessibility is still growing, was a new department established: Department of computer graphics and interaction.

Sun Center of Excellence is an official framework for cooperation with universities. There is an official contract signed with description of work and deliverables, usually for 3 years. This one, with CTU, is for accessibility and usability in the area of development of applications (web, desktop, mobile). All results will be open sourced.

The official opening was on December 9th done by Peter Korn and Pavel Suk (director of Sun Prague Engineering Center) and the dean of the faculty Prof. Frantisek Vejrazka.

CoE CoE

More pictures:
http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/mzourek/CTUCoE#

We closed the day in the atmosphere of accessibility in the restaurant "Pod kridlem noci", where you eat in complete darkness and you are served by blind waiters. Definitely interesting experience!

Wednesday Jan 21, 2009

Prague World Usability Day 2008

As every year, we were co-organizers of Prague World Usability Day. Theme for this year was "transportation". We had about 130 registered attendees.

In the beginning, we have introduced new form of local SIGCHI chapter: non-profit organization Prague ACM SIGCHI.
There were 3 talks in the morning: first one from Jan Kleindienst (IBM Research) about Voice User Interfaces, second one from Roman Schubert (Skoda Auto) about usage of Virtual Reality during process of car design and from Jakub Franc (Sun Microsystems) and Jan Vystrcil (Czech Technical University) about project focused on navigation of blind people in interiors.

In the afternoon there were 3 excursions: in the Virtual Reality Lab of Czech Technical University, Cave of Czech Technical University and Usability Lab in Sun Microsystems. After the excursions, who registered soon enough, could attend one from 3 trainings: UI Bloopers, Interviews & Surveys and Usability testing of webs.

WUD WUD WUD WUD

More pictures: http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/mzourek/WUD2008#

It was definitely great day!

Wednesday Aug 22, 2007

Building of Two Usability Labs in Prague, Czech Republic (Part 2 of 2)

Jiri Mzourek is a senior manager in xDesign, responsible for Sun Developer Products and SOA/BI. In his spare time, he evangelizes usability in the Czech Republic by organizing SIGCHI meetings, World Usability Day, and working closely with the Czech Technical University on usability and accessibility related projects.

When Sun's Prague office became too small, we all moved to a new building. So during the space planning, we made sure that we got a room there for a usability lab. Why build a second lab? The main reason was to have it in the same place as the engineering team so they could easily attend the test sessions.

This time, we decided to do everything on our own: one of our interaction designers, Rudolf Bock, selected the equipment. Based on our experience with the labs at CTU and at Sun in Silicon Valley, we created blueprints and made sure to have a big one-way mirror. From our experience, despite the fact that some participants feel less comfortable in this set-up, it makes a difference to observers -- they feel more connected to the participants.

We got the space with a one-way mirror in the Summer of 2006! Here are pictures of what we have now:

The lab is fully digital, again partially based on Morae. The equipment is:

  • 2x Dome camera Panasonic WV-CS570
  • 1x Panasonic WV-CU360CJ
  • 1x Data multiplex unit Panasonic WJ-MP204C
  • 1x Blackmagic Design DeckLink Multibridge Extreme PCIe
The first usability study was conducted in this lab in November 2006. Since then, we have used this new lab for the majority of our studies. We also plan to show it to the public as part of World Usability Day 2007. Stay tuned!

Monday Aug 13, 2007

Building of two Usability Labs in Prague, Czech Republic (Part 1)

Jiri Mzourek is a senior manager in xDesign, responsible for Sun Developer Products and SOA/BI. In his spare time, he evangelizes usability in the Czech Republic by organizing SIGCHI meetings, World Usability Day, and working closely with the Czech Technical University on usability and accessibility related projects.

In 2004, our xDesign team in Prague was facing a problem: the number of usability studies we needed to do in Prague kept growing and growing. Since we had no usability lab, we did all of our testing in two meeting rooms that the rest of the company also used. One served as observation room and the second one as testing room. It worked ... but there were two main issues. We had to "build" the lab every time from scratch, and it took about a day to run wires, set up the computer and camera equipment, and move furniture. The second, even bigger, problem was not having enough space. Sun had started its expansion in Prague, so we were hiring a lot of new people, and the building was very crowded. It became harder and harder to find two meeting rooms that were next to each other and available for a couple of days. And it was impossible to build a lab in the building: there was no space for it!

So I started a discussion with the Department of Computer Science at Czech Technical University. Our history of cooperation had started earlier, in 2003, when I was networking with other interaction designers in the Czech Republic. I found out that the person in charge of Czech SIGCHI was my former professor, Prof. Pavel Slavik. So I contacted him, and we quickly found that both Sun and CTU were interested in cooperating in the field of usability. But that's a different story, which deserves its own post.

Then in 2004, we discussed usability labs, reached an agreement and made a deal: Sun would supply the equipment and know-how, and CTU would supply the space and construction. Both institutions would share the facility, and, after three years, CTU would keep all usage rights and equipment. To construct the lab, we worked closely with the manager of Sun's U.S. usability labs at the time, J.O. Bugental, and we outsourced the equipment and configuration work to a vendor.

The lab was designed and built to contain both standard analog technology (a scan converter and DVD burner) as well as fully digital technology, which is currently mostly running on Morae. There is no one-way mirror -- we observe the tests using monitors and video cameras.

The lab officially opened on November 15, 2004, and the Czech Minister of IT, Vladimir Mlynar, attended. It was the first usability lab in the Czech Republic and, most likely, in all of Eastern Europe!

After the lab opening, we also supplied the promised know-how in two ways. First, we arranged for an external company, Relevantive, to provide a four-day training for teachers and Ph.D. students, which covered usability basics including usability evaluation. Second, we cooperated on ongoing projects, coaching and mentoring students as well as teachers.

Since 2005, CTU added usability to its standard curriculum and became the Czech Republic's leading university in this field. Hundreds of students have access to the lab every year and use it to run their accessibility and mobile device projects.

So this is the story of the first lab. I will talk about the second lab in a later post.

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