accessibility event thoughts

[Presentation] Focusing on your Users

This week I had the privileged of speaking at the Michigan Usability Professionals Association (MIUPA) meeting. I can’t explain what a great group of people they are, I feel humbled being around so many people with much more formal experience and training than myself.

[slideshare id=1884615&doc=miupa-focus-on-users-090820053609-phpapp02&w=500]

My Approach

Although I come from a computer science background I love usability, user interaction and user interfaces. My approach has always been ad-hoc and unscientific. I like to just sit back and watch or ask random people in their natural settings and see how they react. Which ultimately leads to an ever evolving UI based on these observations and actions.

This method comes from my belief in the release early, release often agile development methodology. Small incremental steps that lead to the full result while making improvement along the way.

Usability Professionals

The audience was primarily usability professionals who pretty much do this for a living. So although I created the presentation above it really did not get used. I made the presentation more of a discussion about everyone’s experiences and how mine synced or collided with theirs.

The best part was a group from MSU’s Usability & Accessibility Center came all the way from Lansing. It was great to hear and talk with them about similar struggles higher education web professionals have.

Thank You

Overall it was a great meeting with most people staying after to talk further. I wanted to thank the MIUPA again for hosting me and the Southfield Public Library for providing a rocking facility.


Social Media Panel Discussion – January 21, 2009

refresh-logoInterested in social media? Do you want to hear me speak? On January 21 Refresh Detroit is hosting a Social Media Panel Discussion at Washtenaw Community College. It is a free event and open to the public.

Learn about the opportunities social media brings for individuals, companies, and social causes. Find out how to use social media to

  • engage your customers
  • grow your career or business
  • drive social change
  • and more


  • Kevin Krason, President, Biznet Internet Solutions
    Founder of Biznet in 1994, Kevin’s strong leadership and business savvy have led Biznet to become one of the most successful web development companies in Michigan. Kevin’s skill at getting everyone on the same page has been instrumental for Biznet in establishing long term client partnerships.
  • Shauna Nicholson, Marketing Manager, Biznet Internet Solutions
    Working exclusively in online marketing strategy, Shauna is known for her insight on social media marketing, Shauna is a resource for metro-Detroit businesses who want to leverage the most powerful online tools available. By transcending the social media hype and pairing reality-based business and marketing strategy to the tools, she positions clients to effectively secure measurable ROI.
  • Ken Burbary, VP Digital at BIG Communications
    Ken has been involved in web development and interactive media his entire professional career. Constantly learning, he soaks up as many new pieces of information as possible. He’s equally passionate about both business and technology innovations driving his industry.
  • Nick DeNardis, Associate Director of Web Communications at Wayne State University
    Nick oversees a staff of eight dedicated to web communications at Wayne State. He has initiated and maintains all of the university’s current social media initiatives. He hosts the video blog EDU Checkup where he reviews a higher education web sites live. Nick is also a .eduGuru writer and an active member of the higher education web community.

Where: Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor, Michigan. We will be meeting in Room 121 at the Morris Lawrence Building (map). Plenty of free parking is available adjacent to the building.

When: Wednesday, January 21, 2009, 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Cost: Free! Open to the public.



Refresh Detroit March Meeting

So I attended the Refresh Detroit meeting a few days ago in Ann Arbor, MI. The speaker was Barb Hernandez, User Experience Manager at TechSmith. She talked about refreshing the UI of SnagIt.

SnagIt is a screen capture application for Windows. I am not familiar with too many trialware applications for windows since its not part of my daily routine. But I know there are quite a few programs like this out there since it is not a built in feature.

She went over the previous UI and some initial problems they identified. Then brought everyone through how they do user testing and what methods they found useful to make changes to the UI.

My opinion was they did a good job, I am not use to software being so clunky since I work mainly on the web and on Apple products so the UI changes they made looked pretty good. Hard to relate them to the web tho since Windows has a pretty constricting (boring imo) layout options.

It was interesting how their process worked. They did impression testing where they showed the mockup for 5 seconds then asked the participants to sketch as much as they remember. They also used emotion cards but she did not explain exactly how they conducted it, she just showed a list which seemed to be completely contradictory items, not very much help.

One thing I was disappointed about was how she made a big deal about Ethnographic Testing but could not explain how they conducted it or really explain it in any detail because it would ruin their “next release”. Funny because all the people in the room were pretty much from the web world and they are releasing it in the next few weeks, its not like we would have stole their idea and recreate their software.

Anyways, all in all it was a good meeting. Talking more with the Refresh Detroit leadership really got me excited for the upcoming meetings.

To see if there is a refreshing meeting near you checkout the Refreshing Cities site. It is a great way for web developers, designers and usability professionals to get together and learn from each other.