Yesterday Craig and I attended WebGuild Annual Conference 2006: Web 2.0 – The New Web. Industry leaders in usability engineering, internet strategy, web development, and design provided a perspective on how user experience is evolving as new web trends emerge. Much of what we heard validated that Extractable’s processes exemplify industry best practices. Here were some of the major highlights:
“Web 2.0″ is evolutionary rather than revolutionary Ram Shriram, founding member of Google, delivered the first keynote, defining “Web 2.0″ as not simply a new technology per se, but a change in user behavior enabled by more dynamic content. He identified the growth of social networking, predomination of mobile over PC and increased utilization by “bridge markets” such as China, India, Brazil and Russia as hallmarks of this new trend.
Don’t make me think Marissa Mayer of Google delivered the second keynote, describing the key behind strong information design-the user should never have to guess, “If I were the company, where would I put this feature?” Mayer discussed the incorporation of usability evaluation throughout the project lifecycle including UI designers and PMs defining user needs early in the process, multiple iterations of usability testing, and collecting alpha-beta analytics, in order to create an optimal experience.
Stop “hyperventilating about rich experiences” Jeff Whatcott of Adobe, in a panel on AJAX development, emphasized the importance of starting with user needs first, and then understanding how to address that need through implementation, rich experience or not.
Noone is born knowing how to use a scroll bar Jared Spool, in a very entertaining talk, discussed the importance of adhering to standards in design. Contrary to what most people think, Spool said, intuitive behavior (such as a scroll bar that works the way the user thinks it should) is actually learned from previous experience. Even if a convention is arbitrary, it should be followed to ensure an intuitive experience. This initiated an interesting discussion on how “Web 2.0″ sites and applications can ensure an intuitive experience, as the user experience standards are currently evolving.