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Nov 2004 Contents

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uiGarden

by Christina W.J. Li
christina.li@uigarden.net

uiGarden is a bilingual on-line magazine that provides an opportunity for researchers and practitioners who work in the user interface design (including user experience, information architecture, GUI, and usability) field in the Chinese and the English speaking worlds to publish their thinking and exchange views with each other.

Why we want to do this project?

There are two main reasons for us to do this project.

First of all, as practitioners in the UI design field, we hope to walk in this field farther and believe there is very wide development space for user-centred design. The motive force of building uiGarden stems from our persistent passion for user-centred design. We hope that uiGarden can become an open platform, where swift and free information exchanges are offered to professional people.

Secondly, this world is emerging everyday. People encounter different cultures everyday, especially in immigrating countries like Canada, the U.S, as well as in the UK. As designers who have worked both in the east and in the west, we would like to become a bridge between the western community and the eastern culture. There’s much potential to explore the Chinese market, - nearly one forth of the world’s population. On the other hand, we also want to bring the newest research and development in the west to China, in order to help the Chinese design and usability industry to keep up with the world.

Why it is ready to do this project?

We determined that the current environment is ready for the launch of an interactive webzine for working professionals in the UI field. Key conditions for this decision include the following:

  1. Fast growing industry
    As a newly developed industry, user interface design has captivated more and more designers, usability specialists, information architects, software engineers, and cognitive scientists, etc. to step into its field. There are 32 HCI consultancies registered on the British HCI group’s web site (1) and 242 companies registered on HCI Bibliography web site (2). Every year more than 50 conferences related to HCI are held around the world; about 100 books and 400 articles are published (3). At the same time, more and more enterprises have noticed the importance of the user-centred design and the great ROI that the usability strategy can provide (4).

    In China, the idea of user interface design is even newer. However, as the Chinese Government gives benefits for software businesses, the Chinese software industry is growing at the high rate of more than 30% every year (5). More and more people are participating in the process of user interface design.

  2. Requirements for information exchange and research
    Information access and exchange are soaking more and more into practitioners’ daily lives. People need to quickly know the research result and get feedback from other practitioners and researchers in this field. There’s also a demand for sharing experience with others. More and more on-line communities, discussion boards and mailing lists have been developed for exchanging ideas and thoughts. In addition, on Interaction Designers discussion group, many list members have complained that there’s not enough research on other cultures and people make mistakes when developing product to the Far East market (6).

  3. Requirements of Chinese practitioners for theory and methodology guidance
    A large amount of Chinese practitioners come from graphic design or programming backgrounds. They are eager to learn usability theories and new methodologies. However, usability and information architecture are very new in China; the integral level of UI design in China is only at the starting stage at present. In contrast to the rising expectation of theory and methodology instruction, there are less than 10 research labs conducting HCI research in China and only one of these is doing usability research (7). Although many websites are taking designing as their themes, it is actually rare to find an outstanding website which targets the UI and usability field, not even one that can offer not only abundant information, but also dynamic exchange and interaction with western practitioners. Lacking in specialized publications, swift trade information and lateral communication in the industry, UI designers are finding it difficult moving ahead whilst trying to develop.

What we will bring to you?

For western practitioners, we aim to create a place to communicate and exchange views with other professionals. The site will also act as a window on the user interface design industry in the Far East, helping to give insights into this increasingly important market.

From the point of view of Chinese practitioners, the website will give access to the latest developments in the West, featuring articles from leading Western experts translated into the Chinese language and providing discussion boards which facilitate discussion of each article.

How we achieve our goal?

The site is still at the design stage. We aim to launch it by the end of this year. We are working in co-operation with the Usability Professionals Association in China and the UK in order to achieve the benefits to our readers.

What we need from you?

First of all, we need contents from you! We are now looking for contents for the first issue. It's a great chance for authors to provoke thinking among peers and to have a readership both in the west and in the east.

  • We are interested in articles with a focus on:
    • exploring theories and concepts that reflect current industrial practice
    • future looking articles that address the challenges faced by our discipline
    • articles relating to the teaching of user-centred techniques and methodologies
    • case studies from projects demonstrating the application of user-centred techniques
    • reviews of books, conferences, sites, software, tools and interactive projects
    • interviews with leading experts in the field showing their point of view to professional issues

    If you feel you would like to share your views with other colleagues, please send them to editor@uigarden.net

  • In addition, we also need volunteers helping us on:
    • translating articles
    • designing and developing the site
    • moderating forums

    If you are willing to volunteer some of your free time, please send an email message to volunteer@uigarden.net

Who are there behind the project?

  • Christina W.J. Li (originator, designer and developer)
    Christina studied Fresco Painting at Xi'an Academy of Fine Arts, China and continued working in the graphic design field before switching to interface design. From 1998 to 2002, Christina worked as a managing director for software user interface design at the biggest IT Company of China (Lenovo Group), where she led various interface design and usability research projects for software, website, Set-top Box, etc. Having graduated with a MA in Interactive Multimedia from The University of Arts London, she currently works as a freelance designer and information architect in London. Her research interests lie in user-centred design, information architecture and mobile phone user interface design.

  • Ann Light (advisor)
    Ann Light is editor of Usability News (www.usabilitynews.com) and also consults on communication strategy and usability. She balances this with an academic presence as visiting research fellow at the University of Sussex, under whose wing she publishes on interaction design and networked communication. She is part of the HCI community that seeks to introduce insights from arts and humanities into digital product design, just now helping to launch the Leonardo Network (www.arts-hci.org). Before devoting herself to the relationship between people and technology, she was a political journalist and her first serious job was drama teaching, an early example of her interest in interaction design. Her education includes an English degree, a PGCE in Drama, an MSc in Knowledge Based Systems and a PhD in 'Interaction through Websites' from Sussex.

  • We also thank Lin Qin (The president of UPA China Branch) and other friends for help from China and the UPA China Branch.

If you feel you would like to be more involved in this project, to become an editor, adviser or sponsor, please feel free to contact Christina on christina.li@uigarden.net.

End Notes

  1. http://www.visualize.uk.com/bcshci/conslist/searchresults.asp
  2. http://www.hcibib.org/hci-sites/COMPANIES.html
  3. Dongjianming, Fulimin, Gavriel Salvendy. Human-Computer Interaction: User Centered Design and Evaluation. Tstinghua University publishing. 2003. pp. 1-3.
  4. According to The Usability Company’s experience, the average return on investment ratio is 1:8 (for every £1 spent on Usability services the return is £8 in a 12 month period). http://www.theusabilitycompany.com/approach/return.html
  5. http://www.chinatech.com.cn/techforum/techforumhtml/ techindustry/20010921.05001.htm
  6. From the Interaction Design Discussion List
  7. http://www.chinaui.com/text/t1.asp?id=362
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