Posts tagged “demo”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Will gadget revolutionize our reading habits? – For the concept of a device that allows books to be read electronically, "this is the year we get it," said Steve Portigal, the head of Pacifica consumer research firm Portigal Consulting. "But there's this huge psychological chasm we have to cross before people buy them."
  • 15 Google Users Tried Bing for a Week and 10 of them Switched – Students often ask me about ethics, i.e., our findings being influenced by corporate agendas. Here's a study that Microsoft commissioned to see if Google users would switch to Bing if forced to use it. Results say "yes." The research question may not have been "Will Google users switch to Bing?"…it may have been "Help us understand how Google users react to Bing [once they don't have to think about the choice between Google and Bing at search-time]" It may be that the findings led themselves to this promotion.
  • Sports Illustrated future vision for their Tablet – So the future of reading is, apparently, television. They've managed to throw everything into this demo, including nekkid (almost) ladeez, game playing, and really bad sound effects (note: boop and page-flip don't make a coherent soundscape IMHO).

Tell me how you.. vs. show me how you…

We’re doing a bunch of fieldwork these days looking at how people are using their software and hardware to accomplish some tasks. It’s interesting to see the difference in the flow between the part where we ask people to describe what they do and how they do it, and the part where we ask them to show us how they do it.

The discussion part is hard. It’s a bit abstract to explain a detailed behavior in absence of any props or artifacts. People work to give clear explanations and it takes a lot of follow-up to get the details.

Most of the same people light up when they are asked to show us (although some simply decide to show us without prompting).

But I find myself liking the “tell me how” part of the interviews better; the comfort level is lower, but the struggle to articulate is very insightful. Looking at how people describe things from memory isn’t wholly accurate in capturing their perceptions or usage, but it pulls out some neat contrasts.

And ideally, we’re trying to get stories, not factoids. The discussion (not the demo) is much better for stories. The participant takes over in the demo, and it becomes a semi-hurried list of “this works like this, and this other thing works like that.”

Of course, we’re doing both, and we need to be doing both, and some of the insights will come of the tension or differences between the two.

I think we’ll switch the order on today’s interviews, and maybe try starting with the demo, and then doing a discussion afterwards. I sometimes feel the demo requires time, and rapport, and trust, before we can safely ask for it (especially if the equipment in question rests within an inner sanctum), and so this is a bit of a leap for me.

Of course, there are few “right” answers in evolving one’s technique, it’s about building up a larger palette of approaches and making intelligent choices about when to switch around. I’m not at all unhappy about how the interviews have gone so far; they’ve been fun and fascinating, but I’m thinking hard about how to keep doing better.

Watch nine inches

Last week I posted (on Core77) about Virgin America’s new on-board entertainment system.

Here’s a run-through of the system by Charles Ogilvie of the airline.

The information is good, the capabilities are good, but the video is filled with corporate/tech jargon. I’m always amazed at how unable some business folks are to talk to (or about) people in plain ol’ English.

Some of the scary phrases to listen for

  • globally available
  • primary navigation areas
  • list construct
  • watch-related options
  • toolbar will return but in a reconfigured state
  • a cache-format
  • hardware platform
  • running application over Linux
  • stock-out situation

Good marks, however, when a TLA is introduced and defined, and then explained, which is nice,

Much of the lingo is pretty far from how we might want to talk with Virgin (although they mention the dialog back and forth with us they are interested in).

Oh, and did you see the arrow cursor flipping around whenever they showed the on-screen display? Is that real, or an artifact of the demo actually being filmed on a desktop computer and not the seatback? A detail, for sure, but if you’re going to talk about open source, Linux, multi-stream, file servers and the like, expect that same audience to notice things like faked-out demos.

A quicker and more polished on-board tour is here.

Expression demo

I had a fun time at a Microsoft event in SF yesterday, essentially a product demo day, with 300 people watching presenters tweak HTML (and other arcane variants of such code), and then some more intimate discussions on design, user experience and so on by Chris Bernard. Given the emphasis on User Experience, I thought these demo kiosks were lovely but discouraging to use.
Things look nice.

I’m not sure about the term demo assets exactly, and why I need to get them ready, but the mess of a screen at least has a “do this first” zone.

Except it’s a non-stable trick. They put a Windows shortcut on top of that white triangle, but I accidentally dragged it when I went to click it. It’s not really a button, it’s a fake button, and one that easily breaks when someone tries to use it. Oops.

Okay, so now you do the double clicking they want you to do. And up comes a DOS window that lasts more than 1 second. Maybe I’m just un-tech enough to have that bother me, but it really seemed like the backstage was being revealed in a way that it shouldn’t. Why do I see DOS stuff when I’m running a new Windows app?

Anyway, it wasn’t clear what that was doing (perhaps restoring things to a pristine state) and it was even less clear what to do next. Some things to click were just Word documents that you couldn’t interact with (that’s a demo?), and others were apps that gave dire warnings about expiring betas. Again, maybe I’m not the right person to be trying this stuff anyway, but you can see that the commitment to design and user experience has a long way to go.

My hosts were exceedingly kind with their time and made me feel very welcome, so I apologize for having the poor grace to only post something negative. I suspect they are only too aware of the many instances of this sort of thing going on, and are marching uphill. But at least they are marching!


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