A geeky friend of mine told me to always take updates to my system software and applications, and so I do—even though I sometimes wonder about the apparent results. Every once in a while I review all the cookies, pop-ups, and potential viruses on my hard drive, but most of the time I just live with them. In personal computing, as in gardening, there will always be a few brown leaves among the green. I guess I’m basically a trusting user, more out of efficient necessity than any deep-seated conviction. From that stance came the idea for this special issue of UX Magazine.
When we sent out the call for participation in a special issue on the subject of trust, we were afraid the idea might be a little too abstract; make that “a little too vague.” That was the first of several misapprehensions. The same call offered prospective authors the chance to write on the subject of collaboration, but we received only two proposals for that idea. We got six or seven times that number for the trust idea, all of them from professionals who are working to develop on-the-ground definitions of that T word.
Thinking of trust starts with guarding our social security numbers, avoiding the bullying and violence issues that sometimes result from Facebook or YouTube posts, confidence in sharing bank account information with PayPal, responding (or not) to email messages from strangers, and agreeing to automatic software “updates”—all situations in which we really have little or no control.
We expected the proposal authors to talk about users who trust or mistrust the computer interfaces and web content they see; our working title was “The User’s Trust.” That was the second misapprehension: several articles came in that talked about the extent to which UX professionals can trust their user participants…or vice versa; they mention the phenomenon of cognitive dissonance in a user’s own perception of what it takes to trust an electronic counterpart—what we say and what we do don’t always match.
So now the title is the appropriately vague “Trust and the User”—a two-way street. Here’s a brief overview:
- Aisling O’Kane and her colleagues focus on GPS devices as they compare digital systems to human acquaintances, leading them to conclude that in systems, as in friendships, visible failings are more trustworthy than the pretense of perfection.
- Chris Nodder tells a step-by-step story of iterative research and design, leading to a set of user-centered design principles that go under the acronym SECRET.
- Hillman and Neustaedter report on their study of trust in the emerging field of mobile shopping or m-commerce.
- Caroline Jarrett summarizes her reading and personal research in the context of asking users for information about themselves
- Swierenga and Pierce raise the question of ethics in usability testing: can participants trust the evaluators?
- In “The View from Here,” social psychologist Kelly Henry surveys some recent research on the trusting experience when the object may be perceived as either a loving “Mother” or a malevolent “Big Brother.”
In the spirit of “something for everyone,” this issue also includes articles less specifically about trust:
- Yu-Hsiu Li, a founder of UIGathering in Taiwan, shares the permutations of a matrix developed by his group to understand the differences in, and the challenges to, UX consciousness, both globally and locally.
- Mick Winter surveys the history and use of quick response (QR) codes and recommends some principles for deploying them effectively.
- Lynne Martin has formulated a unique approach to involving her developers in usable design from early in the project lifecycle, with the result of greatly improved usability by the product release date.
The role of UX Magazine in our newly renamed association is changing. With the great support and affectionate prodding of Rich Gunther and the UXPA board, we are in the midst of two exciting projects.
Since early 2012, we have made each issue available online in an automated PDF format. That has been only a stop-gap measure while we explore the way to a truly interactive web-based “zine.” It’s impossible for an organization with usability as its traditional focus to produce anything less. Fortunately, former UPA president Whitney Quesenbery stepped up to the challenge and is heading up the UX Online task force. It’s a force that might well benefit from some more experienced hands—yours, for instance.
Also in the works is translation of UX Magazine into languages other than English, an effort headed up by former managing editor Alice Preston. One of the most important elements in this process is the review of draft translations by native speakers of a target language. Alice has accepted this challenge and is beginning with Asian languages, which have been in high demand.
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