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Usability Symposium

November 27th, 2009 by

On wednesday Will and me visited the Usability Symposium 2009 of the Network for User Oriented Software Design, a group which consists mainly of people from the Georg Simon Ohm University of Applied Sciences here in Nuernberg and people from local companies such as Astrum. It was the first symposium of this group and they gave three presentations about software usability.

One of the presentations were given by Evamaria Fuchs and Dr. Sigi Olschner, both former SUSE employees who worked in the usability lab. They presented about the development of the KDE KickOff menu that we shipped in version 10-something for KDE 3. Its successor became the KDE 4 default menu. Eva and Sigi presented how consequent usability work which goes along with the development effort can improve the quality measurable. They also gave a very good insight on free software and open source development in general, taking into account that most people from the audience did not have any experience with it. It was a very nice talk.

While Will was presenting KDE 4 to some interested people Sigi gave me some lessons on how to set up and use the eye tracking device that we have in the Boosters team now. We certainly need another lesson and much more knowledge about usability in general but that was a good start – thank you Sigi :-)

Usability experts out there – our Eye Tracker is ready to be used by you for the good of free software! I am wondering when we will have the first session where we try to examine user experience of our software with that device.

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3 Responses to “Usability Symposium”

  1. What type of eyetracker do you have? The problem with most of the ones I know of is that the hardware only runs in Windows. As a result you have to use VMWare in order to run KDE. I’ve had problems with this in the past because all of the eyetrackers I’ve used are resource hogs, and even with high powered machines, everything runs slow.

    Also, please please PLEASE triangulate your data if you use eyetracking data. By itself it is useless because it can’t tell you what the user is thinking. It has to be used in conjunction with some reflection data in order to mean anything.

    • It’s a Mangold eyetracker. Sigi and Eva were displaying KDE apps via VNC on the Windows eyetracker machine.

      A HD webcam and mic are also part of the eyetracker suite so it’s fine for ‘thinking aloud’ studies.

  2. Also, liking the Kickoff improvements. However, in the All Programs tab, when you go into a category, the name of the current submenu shouldn’t be used in the link back to the previous menu. The same visual design could be used, but only make the area around the arrow infront of the label part of the link. Links should be the name of the target, not the current location. Using the current location as a link to the previous location is very confusing.