User Experience (UX) is a series of strategies and techniques that account for the needs and expectations of the audience for your business offerings. If end-users are the stakeholders with ultimate veto power, then UX is the mic that makes sure what matters to the stakeholders is heard loud and clear by the business and accounted for in what is delivered.
Dara Solomon, Satori Interactive’s VP of UX Research and Strategy, has been doing UX since before the term “UX” was coined. In the Wild West days of the Internet in the mid-1990s, Dara was already demonstrating a forward-thinking, user-centered approach to designing solutions that is just as relevant today as it was over 20 years ago.
The Snakes and Ladders of Designing the User Experience
In 2000, Dara co-authored the “Designing the User Experience” poster as part of the Education Committee with the Usability Professionals’ Association (UPA).
When companies wanted to adopt usability into their organization, they needed a roadmap to help them navigate the landscape. By taking a common game that everyone was familiar with and creating an illustration of the roadmap, Dara was able to provide businesses the roadmap they needed in an easy to understand way.
Now, we have user journeys and flows that offer a different flare, but the concept is still the same. http://mprove.de/script/00/upa/_media/upaposter_11x17.pdf
Information Architecture and Dating
When Dara was an instructor at the Art Institute in 2003, she helped her students develop a poster that used their experiences dating to illustrate the elements of good information architecture.
From requirements analysis (“What personality am I most compatible with?”) to user scenarios (“What will my date want to do at this venue?”), the parallels proved to be an effective method for explaining the concepts. The team was also commended by Jared Spool for their poster they presented at the CHI Conference. http://www.jjg.net/ia/files/other/dating_poster.pdf
Order from Chaos: WaSP InterACT
Plenty of businesses and people throw websites online with too little attention to process or rhyme or reason. In 2009, Dara helped develop the WaSP InterACT Curriculum, which eases the challenges that schools around the world face as they prepare their students for careers on the Web. An extension of the W3C web accessibility initiative, the goal was to create standards in design, coding, accessibility, and usability. Dara co-authored the WaSP Usability 1 curriculum, along with the competency assignments and resources, based on the best insights from industry leaders. The online courses are still in use and free for all today. Read about the curriculum at http://teach.webstandards.org/curriculum/user-science/usability-1?overview
What’s Old is New Again
In the mid-1990s, Dara conducted human factors work for the U.S. government regarding tool affordance, workload, and user fatigue among military personnel. Today, as the number of gadgets proliferate – particularly in the fields of automotive and mobile devices – they have a great impact on how people interact with their environment. The insights Dara acquired in her human factors research are just as relevant today as they were 20 years ago.
Still a Driver for UX
Dara didn’t just jump on the UX bandwagon as it rose in popularity, she was an early driver for the discipline of User Experience. The work she did years ago is still relevant for current and future efforts – a key differentiator for Satori Interactive’s clients.