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PRESENTER: OK Good I’m going to be very short I know you’re here to see Jakob, not me But just a couple of words of introduction First, it’s my pleasure to welcome Jakob to Google It’s not his first time here He actually was on the Google initial advisory board years and years ago, and was one of the original early consultants at Google So he’s actually returning Jakob is, I think, arguably the world’s foremost expert on usability right now He wrote a book last fall called “Mobile Usability” on mobile usability, and I think there’s some copies in the back that– if you are interested– some are free, and you can buy them as well, if you’d like Jakob has a Ph.D. from the Technical Institute of Denmark He’s worked at Bellcore, Sun, IBM, and now is in his own company with Don Norman– Nielsen Norman Group One interesting thing that I found when I joined Google a few years ago was– we were over in 42– and the design group was centralized at that point And there was a picture of Jakob on the wall, kind of in an angelic pose And underneath it, it said, WWJD [LAUGHTER] PRESENTER: And under that, in case you didn’t understand, what it said was, What would Jakob do? So it’s kind of a little bit of an irreverent play on Jakob’s influence at Google and the field of usability So please help me welcome Jakob to the stage [APPLAUSE] JAKOB NIELSON: Thank you, John Thank you, everybody Yes, I won’t really talk about mobile usability now, because I’m sure all you are working on that anyway I’ll talk more about the past and the future, really– kind of a combined little set of things there Some of the themes I want to cover are that we have a lot of things we know about usability that is very stable in this otherwise fast-changing field I want to touch a bit on the question of the specific technology and platforms– whether it matters or not– and kind of both are the answer here And then I want to end with talking about how we get usability more widely applied Before I do that, I was just going to show you a little video clip of one of– you know, we do a lot of user testing, as you do as well– Is to show you a video clip of one of the studies And this is a study– was done, actually, in London, as it turns out But we did it in a hotel, because we didn’t have a lab there So as you may know, in hotels, when you want to get onto the internet, they first show their own hotel screen, and then you kind of click through that, and then you get online Right? And for everybody in this room, that’s not anything you consider to be a usability problem But we had this user– and I’m going to show you what happened when he was trying to get onto the– so he’s just trying to get online, basically– that’s the problem So all of your work is for nothing, because you can’t get to Google And the reason I’m showing you this is that it really– I think this showcases, in many ways, the design challenge we’re facing– that we have a lot of users whose mental model of computers and the internet is like there’s no distinction between what’s a browser, or what’s a web site, what’s an operating system, what’s this and that and the other For all the people in this room, we have those very clear distinctions And that helps us then understand all the fancy stuff But this guy couldn’t even get onto the internet, really He couldn’t get to Google He didn’t distinguish between what’s a browser, what’s a Google, what’s a website Our moderator who was running this study was kind of violating, a little bit, some of the rules for doing user testing, because he was helping him here But the reason for that was that we were not interested here in studying how he gets online We’re interested in studying how he would use various websites We had to get him to those websites, which is why you should try to help them Well, maybe if you use another browser, it’ll be easier No, that was not the problem, actually So I think we have still a lot of things in usability And that’s just going to– again, for a little bit of history– show some of the cases where I have taken big companies to task Because, of course, small companies make design mistakes as well, but the big ones are the ones that are worth talking about Flash– 99% bad I mean, that was just really– at that time– a great assault on usability WAP was the early way of doing mobile devices And I think WAP is a great example of that the technology actually does matter Because it’s not just that it was mobile way of getting onto the internet It was such a bad way of getting on to the internet that it was said it didn’t work We did a big study of this in 2000 And usually in my company, when we do a study, we publish a big report with guidelines and how we recommend

you should do design But in that case, there was only, really, one guideline, which was, don’t do it Because WAP was so bad Right? PDF online So the one I had here, the search engines This is actually not a complaint about Google being bad It’s a complaint about Google being too good The others, I complained about the bad design This is actually a complaint about good design, because I think Google has been so good that it has kind of almost taken over the internet more than I would like to see But I can’t really ask you to do worse work So I don’t really know how to handle that problem, other than, ask other people to do better work, I guess Amazon’s Kindle– that’s another good example that the details really matter Because their first attempt at doing a tablet was really terrible And we did user testing on this, and just with a handful of people And it’s a great example of why you can do it with few people, and you will really learn Because we had– just with those few people, it was clear that it was insufferable to get anything done on– I would say– on the 2011 model of the tablet Now, last year’s model is already much better Another example of that, by the way, was the WAP study Because I believe we had about 10 users or so in that study And after we published the findings to the telecoms industry– the entire telephony industry was just a huge industry, particularly back then Kind of rejected our findings Said, well, you only tested it with so few people, and they only had their phones for a week And it’s kind of like, well, if after a week you still can’t figure out how to get tonight’s weather forecast, and we asked people, would you like to use it, and they say no, it’s kind of like– [LAUGHTER] JAKOB NIELSON: This is not a small finding, in which case, for sure, if it had been a little issue, then it wouldn’t have been a big enough study to determine the big and small issue But for a big issue, for sure The latest example is Windows 8 And what I wrote about Windows 8, it should be called Microsoft Window– [LAUGHTER] JAKOB NIELSON: In the singular Because they abandoned multi-windowing, which is their trademark, really And that’s another example where it’s– reportedly, they’re now going to kind of scale back, and do it either right– or at least better– the second time around But for a lot of these cases, a lot of these kind of really big failures were things that could have been found with relatively small studies I mean, our studies are not big studies We don’t have the budget of Microsoft Usability department, or Amazon Design Group, or anything of that nature And we find, with very small studies, that these are failed products So I do think that these big companies need to get better– except maybe Google needs to get worse I don’t know But because I have been doing these things, it’s been somewhat controversial over the years And so I do see things like this from time to time getting out there This one I kind of like better This is when I did this talk with Don Norman And it’s like– feel like the rebel alliance, you know, trying to make things better for the people But one of the big things that people say against all of this work that I’m talking about here is that, when we have our usability findings and these guidelines and recommendations, it constrains their creative freedom So is it true that designers are sort of suffering under these nasty usability people? And I would say no And I’ll give you a few different arguments for that And so my first one, I’ll take an analogy from the field of music And I’ll do this little participatory exercise here So I’m going to play for you two pieces of music So this one piece of music, but performed twice And it’s by two different opera singers So they’re both going to sing the same little piece of an opera, and your job is to identify which of these two opera singers is Luciano Pavarotti– you know, this rather fat, very famous opera singer, Pavarotti So which of these two people– the first or the second– they’ll sing same thing– who is Pavarotti? [OPERA SINGING] JAKOB NIELSON: OK Exact same thing, second singer [OPERA SINGING]

JAKOB NIELSON: OK So who thinks that number one was Pavarotti? We have 5% of the audience Who thinks number two was Pavarotti? And we have 80% of the audience And the last 15% have no opinion OK, so the majority was right, which means that you guys are all big opera fans Well done But it’s clear– in this example, it’s clear there there’s a difference And the first guy was a great singer, too But there’s still a difference between the singers And this is a very constrained design problem, to create this operatic performance, because every single note they’re singing was written more than 100 years ago Every word they’re singing was written more than 100 years ago And yet, there’s plenty of creativity left in the performance And design is not nearly that constrained, you know And what we’re doing in usability is, we’re documenting the facts of the world, which is how things really work And so as an example– another example– let’s see if I have a pen here I have a pen So here I have a pen And since I’m actually giving a lecture now, I don’t really need a pen So therefore, I’m just going to leave my pen here You see the pen, right? I’m going to leave it there And maybe later I think, maybe I do need my pen anyway So I’ll go, I’ll get my pen And do you remember where to leave my pen? I left it here I’d swear it So this is bad I leave my pen here This is where I want my pen Now I’m very annoyed with Sir Isaac Newton Why did Newton come up with this stupid law of gravity that causes my pen to not be where I want it? Well, that’s clearly the wrong reaction It’s not Newton’s fault that things fall to the ground It’s not my fault that people have trouble using certain websites It’s because that’s the way human people are And so, in my view, usability constrains design in one way, which is that it reveals the facts of the world, which is the fact of the users And users are very different than you guys Users are like the first guy we saw in the video And that’s how it is And they are like that whether or not we’d show the video clip They are like that anyway And you’ve got to design for the way people actually are And so that’s really what I’m trying to kind of get through is those issues And we have a lot of things we have learned over the years about usability There’s also things that are not unchangeable facts So let me show another example to demonstrate that So what am I doing now? Anybody knows what I’m doing now? AUDIENCE: Holding a pine cone up JAKOB NIELSON: You’re being very literal here [LAUGHTER] JAKOB NIELSON: I’m guarding against evil spirits If you’ve ever been to the British Museum, you will have seen this This is the gesture for guarding against evil spirits But you don’t have to go to British Museum, you can also go to Louvre in Paris, and you’ll see there as well There’s in fact endless of these monuments that show this guarding against evil spirits When you hold up like this, it’s guarding against evil spirits So it was universally accepted– at least in Syria 3,000 years ago And today, I think nobody knew, right? So in that sense, that’s kind of like, well, can we use this icon? I mean– well, if it’s universally known, yes, I can use the pine cone gesture to guard against– to make you feel I’m guarding you against evil spirits On the other hand, there’s no inherent reason why that should be so That can easily change over time And a great example of that in the web world is whether blue indicates click-ability There’s no real inherent reason blue should mean click here For a long time it did, because that was the way all websites worked And today, it’s one of the ways It’s probably still– marginally speaking– the best way But there’s not a big thing there specifically in blue On the other hand, a lot of other things are pretty long lasting and universal So for example, if you have a big head, you’re probably important guy [LAUGHTER] JAKOB NIELSON: Right? And that’s many thousand years ago, and we can still see the same thing today Or you want to give people an idea of what’s ahead, which we sometimes call information send up, before people go there So this is a photo from the Las Vegas airport It’s very useful, very good usability

to have things like that And those are more universal Or that complexity is inherently more difficult to use So I have both these two kitchen timers, but the one with the big numbers that can read without glasses, and it’s easier to set it– and how often do you really need to keep track of like three different roasts at the same time? It’s not nearly as useful, right? So I think a lot of these things we have found over the years really do still matter Another example is that a lot of people have been kind of rejecting this because of banner blindness, but which I keep finding it again and again So to the right are some examples of some eye tracking studies And I put in these little boxes indicating where the ads are, and you see no fixations there To the left, on the other hand, I have an example from one of the first studies we did Enough– is it annoying enough yet? Had a little running car there So in that study, we asked people to find out about delivery information on this flowers website And nobody could find And this thing– this blinking delivery truck– was on the screen at all times, and people couldn’t find it And it’s because if it looks like– it was not an ad It was, in fact, important delivery information But if it looks like an ad, it’ll be tuned out And this is just a learned behavior that keeps being like that I’ll show you another example, because it’s really nice We did a few years ago a study on the Ask website How can you not notice that? [LAUGHTER] JAKOB NIELSON: Big rat right in the middle of the page, right? But that’s how it is And I can spend another five hours showing you more video clips of the same phenomenon But they really are true And so what I want to talk about– so therefore, that’s why a lot of the technology issues don’t matter as much as we think I think there’s a lot of tendency in our field to believe that because we moved to a new platform, all the rules are different Because we have, let’s say, faster bandwidth Something that– things changed So some things do change That’s very true But a lot of them don’t And we are too enamored, I believe, with technology, as opposed to these kind of really basic human factors phenomena So I’m going to show you an example of that from one of my own very early work, just to show you how I make bad mistakes as well So this is a study I did in 1984 And the problem is, if you have more information than you can fit in the screen, how do you do what– that’s a very– how do you deal with that? And so there are two ways of dealing with it So if I’m going to, let’s say, want to watch– view line K, right? Is that up or down? Right? So it could be I move the information up So that was, mental model is Up It could also be that I move my view port down, and now K is visible So those are two different ways of thinking about the same problem So at the time– in ’84– I’d been to some usability conferences And there was some research done at IBM And at IBM at the time, they had these full screen text only terminals– the– whatever they’re called– 3270 terminals And they had done a study showing that if people had the mental model, in this case, Down, then they will perform a little bit better than if they had the mental model Up So you just change what you call the commands I mean, the same thing will actually happen, but if you change what you call the commands, people will be a little bit faster if they think of it being a Down command to display the line K And of course, they test display the line A as well, and all that And I had seen these early computers that had come out at the time, like Macintosh and stuff like that– really early revolutionary graphical user interfaces– and so I went to the university I was too poor to actually buy a Macintosh They were expensive at the time So I didn’t have one But I had seen the demos And in demos, it was very clear to me that you could see the graphical user interface– you could really see the text move up in a more smooth manner then you could see in those full screen terminals So to me, it very much felt like it was an Up command to move the K up to become visible, because you could see it move up So we actually did get hold of a graphical computer at university, and we implemented this thing, and did the study And I really expected that now I would prove that graphical user interfaces required the opposite mental model of text-based user interfaces, because clearly in text it was Down Text only screens were Down, and in graphical user interfaces it was Up Our study came out the same as the IBM study Down was a superior mental model I mean, not by a lot, but by a little And the reason was because the difference between up and down here was not the difference between text only versus graphical screen The difference was between you moving something and seeing it being moved

When I just saw the demo– I didn’t have the computer myself And when I saw the demo, the text was clearly moving But when I was there, I was clearly moving– or the user was there– they were clearly moving towards K I mean, their thinking was, I want to move down the document And that became the dominant factor in which of these two ways of thinking about the problem are superior And so I point this out because I’m kind of arguing against us being too enamored of technology, while admitting in this example I was too enamored of technology Because I thought that the difference in the type of display we were using would make a difference And in fact, it was a different user’s task that was making the difference And of course today, we do have, actually, an interesting difference, because now we have another way of moving information, which is with a gesture And so when you’re moving the gesture, then actually moving to see K actually does feel like an Up movement That’s because now I’m actually moving the text Before, I was manipulating the window So again, it’s a difference in the task that makes the difference And I think that’s important for us to keep remembering Now, after this long argument about how technology doesn’t matter, it actually does matter Because even though I think the big principles are definitely the same, a lot of the smaller details are very different And the details matter so immensely to usability It’s like people can have a lot of really big picture ideas that they do really right, and if people can’t figure out where to click, the entire thing is for nothing Right? And we’ve seen a lot of examples of this One of the most recent ones to come out was, I think, Facebook’s home thing for Android, which reportedly was a big failure, because it didn’t design, really, for Android’s special features But that is history repeating itself, because the exact same thing has happened many times over with, for example, people porting software from Windows to the Mac– just like earlier versions of Microsoft Word and things like that, that were not really native to that environment Or when Windows was young, people porting things from DOS to Windows, and it wasn’t a graphical user interface So it’s really just another example of the same point, which is, have a design for the characteristics of the device And as the devices– particularly the more primitive or simplistic they are, the more important it becomes to really fit with them If you have a very broad, general purpose, like powerful, it’s maybe a little bit less so important to exactly fit it right So if you have a really big, huge computer screen, and a very powerful computer, you can suffer a little bit more that it’s not 100% right And if you have a small phone, it’s more important that it’s exactly right And so there’s a lot of discussion today about things like responsive designs and so forth– about how you can makes things adapt and fit to the different environments, different screen sizes, and so forth And on the one hand, it’s very appealing, because you obviously want to design once and run everywhere But I remember once we had this slogan, code once and run everywhere And it really was like, code once and run everywhere, but test everywhere as well Because it still broke in half the cases And that’s the same here If you’re trying to make a design, it’s like reform flows itself, and you’re using it under different circumstances, then you do need some different prioritization of features Maybe certain things should not be visible initially, and so forth So I’m going to show you another example of this– of how the details matter And this goes back to this WAP study from 2000 So again, looking at it So this was considered to be an advanced mobile phone at the time And you can see here that if we wanted to see the news, first we get a News screen up Then the upper left and upper right is, we get a News menu Then we select News Lower left is the menu of news headlines We select one of these headlines– let’s say “Railtrack says Hatfield line not in good state.” So then we get an article, lower right What exactly happened is that over four screens we’ve gotten two lines of actual news, because they keep repeating the same things over and over again So for example, when we go from lower left to lower right, they repeat that headline that we just clicked on Now, in traditional design guidelines for things like websites and so forth, for hypertext navigation, all that, the traditional guideline is to actually confirm the user’s location Give them some navigational situations, and confirm from what they just did, they know where they are Also, things like “eXcite Latest News”– the top line– as well, is another example of navigational feedback

or confirmation So in that sense, they are following one of the guidelines that in 2000 we would have had for doing a website for a desktop computer But for this small display, those guidelines should actually not be followed– you should follow other guidelines instead that says, really maximize amount of content you’re giving to people when you have that small a screen And interestingly enough, it may be that these type of findings we had back from that study are relevant again now with design for watches, because smaller screens are getting popular again But my main point, anyway, is you really have to optimize for the device, the smaller device we get So I want to talk now about how to broaden this out to more people and more companies And of course, it’s nice that big companies like Google has a great user research and great designers and everything But we need more companies to do it We need all 300 million websites to do well in all of that So again, I want to reach back through history and give you an example here So this is from 1628 So if you go to Stockholm in Sweden today, you will see this ship here– the museum It’s an old warship And it was built in 1628 So at the time, Sweden was at war with Poland, and the King decided they had to have a really big warship to fight the Poles, and so they built this ship that was the biggest warship they ever built And when it had been built, it was still sitting at the harbor– hadn’t sailed yet But the captain said, well, before we launch this ship, we should do a stability test on the ship So you’ve got all these sailors on deck, and you had them run back and forth So they run to the one side of the deck, and all of them run to the other side of the deck And they run back and forth So as these guys run back and forth, the ship sort of starts leaning more and more– tilts and tilts and tilts And so at this point of time during the stability test, the admiral of the Swedish fleet comes down to the harbor and sees what they’re doing, and he orders the captain, stop that test– we’re going to launch this ship now So they set sail, they launched the ship, they sail out And while they’re in the middle of the harbor, a gust of wind comes and blows over the ship It keels over, it sinks And it sank in the middle of Stockholm harbor, which is why they recovered it hundreds of years later, and it’s a museum now But it never made out of the harbor It was that unstable a ship And so this story actually proved two things The first, of course, is that Star Trek was right– captains are smarter than admirals [LAUGHTER] JAKOB NIELSON: But the second thing– more to our point– is that, test before you launch, or your ship will sink And so it’s just proven hundreds of– I mean, every time, basically You’ve got to do it before you launch I saw a nice t-shirt by some guys in Italy that says, test it, or they will detest it It sounds better in Italian But that’s the basic point So we want to do these very early simple studies And here’s an example of a study that– one of my early studies of some early intranet icons, through testing with just four users And the first one was intended to be a bulletin board symbolizing what’s new And what the users said was– bulletin board, bulletin board, bulletin board, laundry Now, when you have one of four users telling you that your icon is completely mistaken, that’s 25% percent But it’s not really a statistically reliable number there So what are you going to do about that? And so this is where the expertise comes into play You interpret this data, and you say, well, it’s probably not going to actually impact, when we have people used to this, that they’re going to think it’s laundry, so we keep the icon But in further research, we keep in mind if it’s going to cause any issues And it never did So that was the correct decision The next icon– the middle icon– was intended to mean World Wide Web This was so new at the time, and it’s represented in the interface So what did people say? Networking on a world scale– that’s close enough, Map/location/global, the dimensions of the planet– really completely off the wall, and networking around the world, also pretty close Well, so here again we have just a few people getting it wrong It’s really the same as for the first icon, statistically speaking But here my decision was, there’s something wrong with this icon And the reason is, I can refer back to some usability principles, which in this case is a mismatch in dimensionality The globe is a three-dimensional object, and the network map is a two-dimensional map, and that’s a mismatch And that’s what causes people to not understand– the two things don’t feel connected So we replaced the 3D globe with a flat map– as you can see, the final icon– and that worked well

So this is kind of why, if you’re going to do these kind of very small end tests, you cannot really realign on a statistic You have to rely on interpretations So why is it OK to rely on interpretations? Because we do know things about usability This doesn’t mean that these interpretations are always 100% accurate But it does mean that they are likely to be correct And it’s going to be easier to make a decision and proceed on your project, while keeping in mind– like with this first icon– that just maybe you’re wrong, and you may have to revisit your position Because remember that no decision is also a decision And if you don’t act on the data, then you are much more likely to be wrong than if you let yourself be guided by just a little bit of data So the probability of making the right decision actually goes up dramatically with even a tiny, tiny amount of data So what we want to do is to want to expand the use of these user research usability methods around the world And I have the little– cited complex chart here to indicate this There are two ways, really, how you can do better in terms of usability And on the x-axis is better methodologies– so doing what I and many other people recommend And on the y-axis, we have you could have better management support You could have it more institutionalized, more a part of the official way the company is run So there’s two kind of– there’s a pragmatic how you do it, and then there’s kind of on how it’s organizationally Instituted and supported So there are two different ways you can worry about And these bubbles here indicate– we did a survey among people participating in an event that we run called Usability Week So 244 people positioned their company on these scales And in fact, there’s quite a lot of people from Google who go to this event So probably some of them are you But of course, it’s anonymous So I can’t say where Google is in the map according to the Googlers themselves But you can think about that That’s your little take-home exercise But what I want to point out is that– so the size of bubbles indicates how many people positioned their company at that spot in the diagram And what we really want to point out is how the vast majority of companies are in the red zone So they don’t do really quite the recommended methodologies, and don’t have that much management support for it either And this is, of course, a biased sample, because these are people who come to usability conference So if we think about all companies in the world, they would probably be much worse off But this is why we are still in the early stages of really making design driven by user needs So there are some companies up in the green area that do most– or maybe even everything, for a very few up at the number eight– do everything right But another thing that’s interesting about this chart is, we don’t have so many people out in the other corners– the upper left and lower right corner We have a pretty high correlation between these two dimensions of two different things you can do, so that every day, as I’m doing methodology work and the management support, and how much it’s part of the company culture and institutionalized, these two things tend to go quite together And that’s interesting, because they are two different strategies for how to get better design And different people have different opinions about it So actually, in the Nielsen Norman Group, I have been the one advocating the methodology approach Let’s do it And my colleague Don Norman has been advocating more the management support role– let’s convince management to do better And the truth is, really, that both of us are right In this instance you need both Because these things tend to be quite– as you can see from the data– quite correlated among companies But if you think about this point that almost everybody– even among the biased sample of companies that do care enough about usability to send people to usability conference– even there, most companies are in the red zone So we’re still in the early stages of really getting technology to work for people I mean, even just before we did this talk, I had trouble getting the projector set up And thanks to the good A-V staff here, we’ve made it work But it’s amazing that still– to this day– we have to struggle of just projecting a simple slide show And that’s because technology companies still care too much about, let’s put on some new feature, as opposed to make the old feature work I think we need more attention just to that simple quality assurance, really OK So to conclude here, some of the big challenges for usability I think we need to have much more focus on productivity growth for knowledge workers And so much of what we hear today is more about the fun or playful side of computers, which is also very important, admittedly But we do live in a knowledge economy

And supporting, essentially, our type of work, but many other types of work as well Collaborative work, all this kind of more information processing work We don’t really have, I think, a good enough grasp And that is one of the big reasons that growth in the economy is really slowing down in all the advanced countries is, we know how to make agriculture more productive for sure We know how to make industrial manufacturing more productive Those two segments of industry are both doing extremely well at being more and more productive every year But our share of the economy, which is much the biggest these days, we don’t know how to make us much more productive And one of the reasons we don’t know is that it’s not worked on very much So a project we did recently was about social networking in the enterprise– social networking and intranets And we studied a lot of different companies who are doing these type of things And the common feedback we asked about– so how do you make sure the ROI– the return on investment of your investment in adding these features to your internal computer system? People said, well, it’s obvious we should have that Just like email– it’s obvious we should have it Well, obvious is not good enough Because it’s actually not obvious There’s so many– we have had so many other examples of things that sounded good but were not good, or were done in a sub-optimal manner That I feel that that’s the same here That if we really found better ways of measuring which type of computer interfaces really make people, let’s say, better at problem solving, more creative, more able to get their work done in a more high value fashion, it would vastly increase our growth of the economy– our contribution to the economy That’s just one of the really biggest things Another one is the health risks of information technology, where I particularly want to point out the problem of driver distraction, which is a huge killer of people So it’s possible that the real answers with driver distraction is the driver-less car So maybe you guys are on to that But truthfully, even if that works– and it would be at least 10 years before everybody has one, that’s for sure So let’s just look at the 10-year perspective So over the next 10 years, about two million people will be killed by driver distraction worldwide So one more thing about this is– people who work on Android here, you’re going to be responsible for about one million people being killed over the next 10 years I mean, not personally responsible, but I mean, because they use it wrong, and so forth And so if we can work on driver distraction, and really try– not even solve the problem, but just reduce the problem So if we could reduce driver distraction to the point where we could cut these deaths in half, that way we could save a million people from being killed over the next 10 years It may be not as good as curing cancer, but it’s almost It’s a really major thing that we could do if we could really address this problem some more And there used to be this issue about couch potatoes– people sitting and watching television and getting sick And now we’re probably just going to have iPad potatoes instead So same type of problem again There’s also other issues that are maybe not as well known So the internet has really been pushing a much more shallow approach to information– as we know– this kind of in, out, and just kind of click quickly on things, and all that Which is what information forwarding theory predicts Because the easier it is to move around, the more people will move around And they will move around information So they don’t sit and immerse themselves deeply I just wrote a new book– I can’t help myself But the truth is that a lot of people don’t read books anymore They just look at– [SNAP] like this– a web page about the stuff And you don’t really learn as much from a web page as you do from, let’s say, reading a book So we need to do something to overcome this problem, and also look at what effect does this have for, let’s say, the school system or for children’s learning But just for our– adult people’s– our learning, our ability to understand new things It’s a very shallow information environment on the web, unfortunately My final point is about old users or seniors So as we all know we have a problem with the aging society, in terms of things like Social Security, because those pension schemes were introduced when there was a lot of young people available to pay for each old person to be retired And nowadays, two things happen First of all, people live longer, which is, generally speaking, good And secondly, lower birth rate means we have fewer younger people So now there’s fewer young people to pay for each old person to be retired So Social Security is going bankrupt soon We all know that But that’s only one thing There’s also the problem of– going back to the issue of productivity, we know

that productivity is declining as people age, in terms of some of the more raw measures of things you can do, like how fast you can get various different things done And so the hope is that, in return for that, old people are hopefully more knowledgeable, and so forth That goes to my first point We don’t really know yet how to really do well on that But in any case, we are an aging society We are going to have more and more old people around And so we need to really focus also on supporting old people in use of computers And that’s another thing that’s being quite ignored, and most companies are much more interested in chasing after teenagers than chasing after grannies I’m going to show you– this is a study that we just announced, actually, today– so this is news, the data we did We did a little study where we compared seniors versus middle aged people, I guess, using a variety of websites And you can see here– the usability matrix here Basically, seniors have lower success rate They’re slower– they’re 43% slower at doing the same things They make more errors And not surprisingly they, therefore, don’t like these websites as much So we put all that together, right? And we can see that we really have a significant problem if we want to empower this group of users, and empower in so many ways It could be to stay in the workforce longer to solve some of our problems in the economy Or it could be more on a personal fulfillment based thing I mean, people are living longer, so they should stay active longer as well So all these different ways we need to really work harder on making websites and other technology more usable for seniors I’m going to end with just a one video clip of one of the people in our seniors study [LAUGHTER] JAKOB NIELSON: So yeah– that’s how real people are, right? And so I show this video clip for two reasons One is, I think his last reaction is, that’s the business rationale for doing usability, right? Because delete if they can’t use your site But the other was maybe the more human and humane issue That we really do need to support a broader set of people And if we do that– we all talk about this great future of computers and how great technology can be But it only really will be great if we can support all of these peoples And we can We just have to work on it So thank you very much [APPLAUSE] PRESENTER: All right I think we have about 10 minutes for questions So we have a mic here And we also have a Dory that you can post a question to And let’s take one from the Dory before we get somebody here You’ve talked about this first one How do you think about designing across devices, such as mobile, tablet, laptop, glass, driver-less cars, consistency versus unique tailored features? JAKOB NIELSON: I think it is a paradox Because, as I said in my talk, it’s like on the one end, technology does not matter, and on the other hand, it does So I think you first have to find out what are the core user needs, and try to make those consistent across the devices But then you have to, on the other hand, adapt to the circumstances of the specific platform Because if you don’t do that– if it just kind of grates on people as they are using it on that platform– they will just not want to do it On the other hand, we already have more of a trans-media environment, where people do move between devices during the day And if they can’t keep their expectations constant– so it’s more like the deeper expectations should be kept constant, but the more surface manifestations should be adapted to the device PRESENTER: All right Next one– and if anybody has a question here, we’ve got a mic there But have you run any voice-related studies? If so, what are the primary insights that you’ve gained? JAKOB NIELSON: Well, I’d say this is so long ago that I’m not sure how much it translates But I used to work at the phone company, and we did some things that were only voice But it really is so long ago that I can’t really– I think the main problem, I think, with voice– well, the other thing we’ve done, of course, is a lot of accessibility studies with blind people, and that is voice only as well And I think the main thing I want to say about that is, the problem with voice is that it’s one dimensional It kind of has low persistence So as soon as the word is uttered, it’s gone So memory load is a much harder problem in anything that’s an audio interface And so that’s– again, it goes back to this thing about you’ve got to design for the device In this case, design to really try to minimize memory load But also, the word order becomes more important The thing that people should remember the most should be said last, which is more important in voice than with it on the screen, where they can kind of glance over everything almost equally PRESENTER: Let’s go live AUDIENCE: So there’s been a movement, especially with touch devices, away from words and menus, and more toward sometimes features that need to be– they’re not that obviously discoverable,

and you kind of discover them by touching sort of randomly and playing around Do you have any advice on how to teach people that are not normally familiar with touchscreen devices how to discover these types of features? JAKOB NIELSON: Yeah First of all, I would actually recommend against that, because I think that discoverability is an inherent problem And I think it’s better to make things visually apparent, hoping people will discover them Because most people don’t tend to explore so much Little children do that a lot They really like to poke around everywhere So we found and studied some kids that they actually prefer this kind of mine sweeping thing– move my hand around and touch things and see if it– not blows up, but if things happen Right? So that’s a nice kind of games-like environment But for grown-up users, they tend to be so focused on the thing that they know that they don’t explore other places I mean, you can do things like having little demo mode or reveal modes, and some form of animations But I think that’s also almost like Band-Aid type of solutions So I think anything that’s a core feature, I really would encourage to still emphasize discoverability Because the majority of people don’t like to spend their time playing with computers See, we do This is, again, about how we are different than the majority of people So the majority of people don’t spend so much time exploring, and therefore, they often will never explore these features And actually almost worse, sometimes they may discover them by mistake, not knowing what they’ve done This is called accidental activation, which is a big problem in touchscreens– that you touch something by mistake And if you didn’t know what you touched, it kind of is almost like it literally is blowing up under you So that’s another kind of downside of that So yeah AUDIENCE: Thank you PRESENTER: Let’s have another question live, please AUDIENCE: Hi I’m wondering, how do you think about change and change aversion? Like when people are iterating on interfaces or rolling out new versions of a service? That’s always a big topic internally JAKOB NIELSON: Yeah Oh, but I think the first thing is to recognize that it is real And so if you roll out something, you get a lot of nasty email, it’s not because you did a bad job It’s because users just don’t like change So that’s the first And just kind of steel yourself I wouldn’t say ignore that But don’t take it so seriously There’s a lot of criticism just when something new comes out But that said, it is real And therefore, you shouldn’t roll new things out just to be new And I think there’s a lot of problems with the people who work on a design project, to feel that it needs a kind of fresh approach Because you sit staring at this screen all day, whereas the users don’t Or even if they do, they don’t care about it, so they don’t absorb as much about it So that would be my kind of– another recommendation is to kind of be conservative, and don’t change unless it really is a major step up Because if it’s a small step, it’s probably not worth it Because you are going to aggravate a lot of people So those would be my main recommendations there But for sure, we want to do new things, right? So you want to have new design as well But only when it’s big news AUDIENCE: As a researcher, how do you distinguish when you’re getting feedback between something– how can you tell if it is change aversion, versus this is actually a step backwards? JAKOB NIELSON: True, true, true I mean, you probably can’t, really, other than you have to expect that there’s some change aversion So therefore, if people just say, I don’t like it, then it’s likely to be that it’s just because it’s different one to what they already know On the other hand, if they have difficulty using it, well, then you have to– of course, there’s a possibility that it’s just because they’re very used to doing things in one way And that’s when you may have to do a longitudinal study, and you may have to actually hire people for a week or something, that can just torture them until they get over that And then, if you still have the problem, well, then it really is bad On the other hand, if after a day or two, people are all of a sudden much better, then it’s just a temporary problem But still remember that the temporary problem may become an insurmountable hurdle, because in real life, you can’t force people to use it for two days until they have gotten better So often people just give up on something I mean, it depends on what it is whether or not people will stick through it But that’s why you need to learn these kind of assistance mechanisms that help people– if you move something around in an interface, in the old place, leave a little marker behind for a long time to teach people where it moved Things like that So you need to help people overcome that as much as you can Because it is real AUDIENCE: I’m concerned I’m kind of reiterating the last question I’ve noticed a bit of a trend– people back-porting mobile interface paradigms to the desktop, kind of like what Apple did with scrolling JAKOB NIELSON: Yeah, yeah AUDIENCE: Do you think that’s a good move in the long term for the sake of kind of normalizing those things? Especially for– my kids think in terms of touch devices,

for example Will that make more sense to them inevitably? Is it worthwhile? Or is it just arbitrary? JAKOB NIELSON: Well, I mean, first of all, part of it is arbitrary, like the example I showed with the pine cone That’s just a completely arbitrary symbol But if that is a symbol people know, then take advantage of that and then use it And It could be the same here If people have a lot of experience with, let’s say, mobile interaction paradigms, then that could be your first gold mine– the first thing that you go to mine or pick from when you’re coming up with ideas for a new design I mean, definitely leverage what people already know That said, one of the points I made in my presentation was that there are differences between the devices And one of the big differences is that on a desktop computer you have a much larger screen, you have a more accurate pointing device, and so forth So I don’t actually think that we really should move to having only touch interaction on the desktop, because I think we can do much more And also these bigger gestures you have to do on a really big screen also are more tiring and so forth as well So I don’t think we should make it the same But I think we should try– I mean, consistency is always good It’s good for its own sake This is why design is a little bit more challenging than just saying oh, [SNAP] this is how we do it Because you have kind of contrasting trends there PRESENTER: All right So let’s go to two more questions And I’m going to ask mine first, and then we’ll end with yours This question, I think it’s interesting, because it’s from the book And I’m interested in the relationship between client apps on mobile devices and web apps– or interaction with web-based products– and how you see that playing out over time JAKOB NIELSON: Right Well, I mean, over time is a little bit different But I think what we know now is that the native apps are definitely superior, just because of what I was saying, that you optimize to the device And the more impoverished the device is, the more important it is that you optimize as much as possible And that’s what the native app will do And that said, I think that over time we will expect that the mobile devices gets more powerful, the mobile bandwidth gets speedier, and so forth And also the web tool kits and whatever get better as well And so I would actually expect that this distinction will probably narrow and not be as big And in five years from now, it may well be that a well-designed mobile website will be just as good or better than a native app So it may not be something that one would want to invest in for the true long term But I think for the short term, I would recommend Well, if it’s something that’s a big, important thing, I would recommend doing a native app And if it’s a small scale thing that’s going to have five users, then just do the website But right now, I would say the app is still better PRESENTER: And our last question AUDIENCE: Hi Since you have the future in the title of your speech, so I wonder what you think about the future of the gesture-controlled input, or something like Xbox Kinect? How do you think? Do you think that’s the future of the interface? JAKOB NIELSON: That’s a great, great question I just don’t think it’s the future I’d say I had futures– in plural– in my title slide Because I do think that it’s going to be more diversified And I think as a lot of environments were having– well, having your body be the input device, having the world become the computational environment I think there’s a lot to be said for that At the same time, I don’t think that’s the only thing– even the optimal thing– for a lot of the tasks we will want to do So I think there’s a lot to be said still for having as big a screen as possible I don’t know what’s the biggest screen I have never yet seen the truly biggest screen But maybe certainly the size of an old fashioned big newspaper is probably the biggest screen we would want to have But about that size, at least 300 DPI resolution and so forth So a millions of pixels type of screen I think there’s a lot of value in that for a lot of the tasks people want to do So I think both types of interfaces will be there Gestures have several downsides They are less precise, and therefore, certainly, they have less of that persistence– whereas something that’s a visual interface And there’s a reason why all these icons and stuff have lived for so long It’s because they have a lot of usability and inherent benefits by being steady on the screen– you can see them, you can remember them, they tell you what to do, what to click on Whereas with a gesture, I got to make up the gesture, I got to remember the gesture, and so forth So you probably have a smaller vocabulary there There are a fewer number of fancy gestures you could– I mean, we know even now from tablets that any advanced gesture you will not see if you’re going to study with normal users, because they don’t do advanced gestures They only do, like, tap and slide and very simple things PRESENTER: All right Thank you all for joining us today, and please join me in thanking Jakob Nielson

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