Friday, February 01, 2008

User Experience Design

Charles Mauro is a highly experienced user experience designer who I've worked with for the past several years. It's always a pleasure when I have a budget to find ways to work with Charles because he brings with him amazing analytical capabilities along with a finely tuned sense of what makes for good user interfaces. Each year his firm MauroNewMedia publishes an "Annual User Experience Design Review" where he looks at any and all major UED systems, products and designs. It's fascinating reading that should appeal to your inner usability designer.

This year's review includes discussion and analysis on the iPhone, MTV's virtual worlds and Second Life, Guitar Hero, Google Docs and much more.

If you want to know what it's like to work with Charles, this paragraph sums it up nicely:

Both Guitar Hero and the Nintendo Wii are exceptional examples of how creating a tighter connection between the user's interaction with the physical world and a screen-based display produces high levels of engagement and commercial success. Guitar Hero and several games for the Wii take advantage of the customer's ability to acquire skills through the use of familiar real-world gestures and actions. By creating an interface between these actions and the feedback mechanisms of the game, these products do one very important thing: they tighten the connection between the user and the user experience.
If you are looking for missteps, don't miss the Facebook/Beacon discussion or the One Child Per Laptop discussion towards the end.

This note on Facebook is probably my favorite in the entire document - because more and more, I think niche communities online is where it's at.
Facebook will continue to have problems monetizing its massive user base. New social networking sites will emerge in 2008 that begin to capture smaller specific segments of the Facebook user profile who aren't well-served by the Facebook user experience.
Enjoy the reading and feel free to debate anything with me in the comments.