You may want to read my previous post on day 1 of Yggdrasil 2008, while you’re at it.
Day 2 of Yggdrasil 2008 started off with a set of workshops. I had signed up for a workshop on creative collaboration, lead by Eivind Mølster and Kjersti Corneliussen from Making Waves. It was a nice introduction to strategic concept development as a way to integrate business and user needs within a limited solution space. Our mission impossible was to develop an overall communication concept for “matpakker” (Norwegian lunch packs), making teenagers realize that “matpakker” is both tasty, healthy and cool. Working with branding and communication on such a high level reminds me about the wide applicability of user experience.
Knowing when to apply the right UX method is a skill worth perfecting. Øyvind Brande-Lien from Objectware gave us a seemingly complete walk through his UX toolbox. Referring to the analysis-synthesis bridge model, he described a large set of methods for user observation, interviews, workshop techniques, user stories, personas and prototyping. I especially liked the Super-story, the mother of all user stories. It can be a short cartoon that communicates your solution to the initial problem(s), in a simplified and non-technical way that even your boss may understand.
User-driven prototyping may be a suitable term for “Min drømmearbeidsflate” (My dream workspace), a technique presented by Kristin Halvorsen, also working for Objectware. The idea is simple; let users design their own user interface with yellow sticky notes. I think it may be a great way to tap into their implicit knowledge, with a risk of creating unrealistic expectations.
The usability of software help texts was the topic of Scott DeLoach’s end key note presentation. Scott claims that we do use software documentation, even though we don’t like it. Help text should ideally provide quick answers, examples (especially for exceptional use cases), short stepwise procedures, and reasons (eg. why we ask for your birth date).
Scott briefly mentioned contextual links as a possible entry point for documentation. It makes sense to present help where help is needed, and to provide links between related help topics. I wish Scott had said a few words about search interfaces for end-user documentation, as well. How well does a basic two-term query work in terms of disambiguating the user’s need for help? What parameters can you include in the relevance model? That may be the topic of another Searchnuggets blog post.
I’ll update this post with links to presentations as they are published online. Meanwhile, read other commentaries on Yggdrasil 2008: