The U P A voice
April 2004 Contents

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Reports on recent UK UPA events

Louise Ferguson

Digital Habitats Ltd.

[upcoming events]

Children are Users Too! - March 2004

At the March UK UPA meeting, Ella Tallyn and Jon Pettigrew were the guest speakers who offered lessons from their own experience as well as practical advice for working in user-centred design with children. What kind of mental models do children have? What are the best - and worst - ways of working with them? What should you watch out for when planning to work with children? And how can you get the most out of the experience?

Read GiGi Demming's event report, which draws together what practitioners
need to know. (pdf, 52 KB)

Eye tracking - February 2003

Eye tracking has come a long way in the two years since we last held an event on this topic. Back then, we saw head braces and complex set-ups. For this event, two distributors of eyetracking hardware (Eyetracker and Bunnyfoot) gave hands-on demonstrations. Both the solutions use infra-red sensors that are built into lightweight flat-screen displays, making eye tracking hardware portable and quick to set up. Both coped with people wearing glasses and contact lenses, and even people with dark irises - again, an advance on two years' ago. Rental and purchase prices for equipment mean that it is now within the reach of a medium-sized specialist lab.

So if the hardware is now ready for mainstream use, is the technique useful? NOP spoke about their experience using equipment from Eyetracker. They had developed rules about the placement of navigation elements and online advertisments based on their observations of users' eye movements. Bunnyfoot showed videotapes of usability tests to demonstrate how knowing where a user was looking could improve the interpretation of what they were saying and doing. Tantalisingly, they promised that they would be publishing results of six months' worth of usability testing which had revealed rather more subtle patterns.

It's clear that as portability, price and performance improve, eye tracking is entering into the mainstream. Maybe one day, we'll see it as a standard part of all professional usability tests.


Upcoming Events

Panel on Internationalisation and Localisation

Thursday 22 April:
Time: 6.30pm for 6.45pm start
Venue: Microsoft London, Microsoft House, 10 Great Pulteney Street, London W1

Careers Event

Thursday 20 May:
Time: 6.30pm for 6.45pm start
Venue: Microsoft London, Microsoft House, 10 Great Pulteney Street, London W1

For all evening UK UPA events in London, please confirm attendance by emailing:, giving your name and organisation, and whether or not you are are a member or student. Please do not book if you think you will not be attending - this may prevent someone else from being able to do so.

Out of london usability event

In Manchester, Andrew Swartz is organising an event for anyone interested in usability and living in the north of England. Andrew promises an evening of presentations and lively discussions, with drinks and nibbles. If you would like to attend, can offer a presentation or a demonstration, or would like to register interest for future events in the north, please contact Andrew Swartz at:

Thursday 29 April
Time: 6.30-8pm
Venue: central Manchester, to be announced


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