August 2007 Contents
User Experience in Brazil - USIHC 2007
By Paul Sherman
Paul Sherman has worked in the field of usability and user-centered design for the past 10 years. He is currently Senior Director of User-Centered Design at Sage Software in Atlanta, Georgia, and Vice-President of the Usability Professionals' Association. He is also the editor of the 2006 Gower book "Usability Success Stories: How Organizations Improve by Making Easier-to-Use Software and Web Sites.
Brazil was the site of the seventh International Conference of Ergonomics and Usability, Interface Design, and Human Computer Interaction. Held in the seaside city of Balneario Camboriu in the southern Brazil state of Santa Caterina, the conference was hosted by the Universidade do Valle do Itajai (UNIVALI). I was fortunate to be invited to participate in the conference.
The four-day program was divided into two days of focus on ergonomics and industrial design, and two days of usability, user-centered design and user experience. Dr. Deana McDonagh, Associate Professor of Industrial Design at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, gave keynote talks on industrial design on the first and second day. Her second talk, “Supra-Functionality: Products Need To Satisfy More Than Utilitarian Functional Needs,” explored the affective and emotional need fulfillment role that many products play in our everyday lives.
On the third day of the conference I presented about my team’s experience redesigning Peachtree Accounting in “Shaking The Tree: A Case Study of a Usability Turnaround.” The last day I spoke about the pitfalls of managing user experience projects in “Usability Successes and (Gasp…) Failures”, a condensed version of the panel I led at the UPA 2006 Annual Meeting.
A number of interesting papers were presented, among them an overview of the UX field in Brazil by Dr. Lucia Filgueiras, Professor at the Escola Politecnica da USP in Sao Paulo. Dr. Anamaria Moraes, a luminary in the Brazilian human factors field, was also in attendance as a stable of her current and previous graduate students presented on various topics such as accessibility, information architecture issues in government web sites, and voice user interfaces.
In all, it was an exciting and edifying conference. Despite my abysmal Portuguese, I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent with our Brazilian colleagues and partaking of the delightful Brazilian food and drink. One tip to share: if offered caipirinhas, try not to have more than three.
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