Designing for People Who Struggle with Reading and Attention

I had the honor of presenting once again at the UPA Boston User Experience Conference. My slides are embedded below, but I encourage you to view the slides on SlideShare, as the transcript of the talk is included in the ‘Notes’ tab below the slides.

Designing for People Who Struggle with Reading and Attention

Imagine you’re almost done with your taxes—but you’re ravenous and the smell of Indian food is wafting through your window, your electricity is randomly turning off for 30-second blips, and the neighbor’s infant is incessantly scream-crying. How successful will you be finishing your taxes? This session included simulations so you can get a sense of reading as a low-decoder, and of completing web-based tasks when you lack the ability to filter out distractions and/or struggle with short-term memory. We observed usability test session video clips of some of the obstacles introduced by interface design choices. You can’t design effectively for low literacy and attention disorders if you don’t understand how these issues affect people as they try to work online. We looked at good and poor design implementations of forms, touch and ajax interactions, search interfaces, and layout choices. I hope the talk helps people improve design for as much as 15% of audiences.

References in Presentation

Baumeister, R. F., & Vohs, K. D. (2004). Handbook of self-regulation: research, theory, and applications. New York: Guilford Press.

CDC Data & Statistics | Feature: Developmental Disabilities Increasing in US. (n.d.). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved May 6, 2012, from

H.L. Chace, 1956. Anguish Languish. by Prentice-Hall, Inc. Englewood Cliffs, N. J.

Resources in Presentation

Captcha Alternatives

Writing and Plain Language


Fact or Question: Analytics for User Experience

The slides and links below are from a presentation at UPA Boston Mini-Conf 2011.

Tools mentioned in the presentation

Clickstream Data

Competitive Data


  • 4Q (customer satisfaction survey)

Resources mentioned in the presentation

People mentioned in the presentation

Dana Chisnell
Co-author: Handbook of Usability Testing

Richard Dalton
Presentation: A Practical Guide to Measuring the User Experience

Avinash Kaushik
Blog Post: Rethink Web Analytics: Introducing Web Analytics 2.0

Lynne Polischuik

Erin Richey
Presentation: Qualitative / Quantitative – Learn More About Your Users With Web Analytics

UX Stories: User Control

We often want to persuade people to prioritize customer control, both online and offline. We’re not going to convince our business colleagues by citing Shneiderman’s Eight Golden Rules of Interface Design or Tognazzini’s First Principles, so here’s a story that might do the job.

Two Banks

I needed to pay some bills. I went to check one account but couldn’t remember the password my husband said he’d changed it to. I clicked the forgot password link and was asked for my email address. I received an email with a link, which took me to a page where I could reset my password. I changed it and got into the account, but unfortunately, did not have enough in that bank account to pay the last bill, due the next day. Read the entire post: UX Stories: User Control

Looking for Affordances in TweetDeck

I almost posted a TweetDeck support ticket when I realized the interface was just hiding what I needed. My Direct Messages (DM) column had disappeared. Last night I tried using the ‘Add Column’ feature to get it back, but I did not see an option to do so. Today a new version was released: I installed it, but still no DM column. I tried the ‘Add Column’ again, with no luck, so off I went to search for a solution. Nada. Here’s what I was seeing:
screen shot of add column dialog box Read the entire post: Looking for Affordances in TweetDeck

Looking forward to Interaction 10

Interaction 10 logoThe buzz is building for the February 2010 Interaction10 Conference in Savannah, with good reason. There’s an outstanding line-up of speakers and an impressive community of attendees. (Including many people I haven’t met in real life, but talk to quite a bit on the twitters.) I was amazed at the inclusiveness of the 2009 IASummit, and was a little concerned IxD10 wouldn’t live up to welcomeness I found in Memphis. Those fears have disappeared. I’ll report back, but it’s looking like there will be no lack of making new friends. Read the entire post: Looking forward to Interaction 10