What we learned at Interact

This blog post is based on our experiences from Interact 2021, which is one of the biggest conferences within Human-Computer Interaction in the World.

Tina Øvad, CXO Preely
10-09-2021
Interact

This year Interact was held in Bari, Italy and also online, with the theme ‘Sense, Feel, Design’, highlighting the new challenges of interaction design – especially seen in the light of the global pandemic.

This is a collection of thoughts, learnings and experiences from Interact. Further down we list the keynote speaks that drew our attention and curiosity.

We explored ways to improve remote testing

We co-hosted the workshop ‘Remote User Testing – Experiences and Trends’ together with Aalborg University, the IT University of Copenhagen, and Reykjavik University. The workshop was a hybrid as half of the participants were together with us in Bari, and the other half joined online. The workshop’s focus was to explore areas of remote user testing, how we can improve the fiels, and how we can assess the value created from continuously conducting remote user testing, even after the pandemic is over.

Remote testing releases time to focus

Not everything can be tested remotely and unmoderated. In the beginning of product development it is very important to get to know the users and the context the product is to be used in. Moderators and participants are likely to benefit from being physically present when user testing in the early stages of product development. When you have a better understanding of your users and the context they use the product in, you would probably like the task of tracking progress and performance of product development to be nearly automatic. In this regard, conducting user tests remotely and unmoderated can free up considerable time and resources for UX practitioners to drive other activities forward; for example, in-depth and explorative activities, which require a high level of attention.

Autonomy in data collection and analysis

We dream to be able to collect and analyze qualitative data automatically, and it is something we have on our radar at Preely. At Interact, we discussed the opportunity of being able to continuously track user testing on the same basis as an automated software – or GUI test. The dream is to be able to track continuously and have the results displayed on a live dashboard.

Remote testing in the future

It is unquestionable that participants of Interact believe that remote, unmoderated user testing is here to stay since it’s very cost and time-effective. More importantly, many believe that we can automate it better. The opportunity of testing with participants from all over the world enables us to reach people across countries, cultures, and languages. Working globally enables much greater samples – potentially leading to more thorough user understanding.

A hunger for new methods

Another topic is the methods and processes being used for user involvement. A majority of participants at our workshop agreed that there might be a problem in the lack of innovation when it comes to methods, tools and processes within usability and UX. Service design seems to be doing better in this area. But what can we do in our field? The gap between academia, where most methods, tools and processes are being developed, and where they are applied is getting bigger and bigger by the day. There seems to be a misalignment between what can be done from an academic perspective, where time and resources are nearly limitless, and where the detail orientation is extremely high. This compared to the industry where we always look to maximize outcome and minimize cost, and where we prefer to discover the top five or top ten worst usability errors, since we will not have neither time nor resources to fix everything. To be honest, maybe it is more important to include a new, useful feature instead of fixing a minor usability error that only 2% of users might experience.

Highlighted keynote speaks and talks

Multisensory Experiences:Where the Senses meet Technology;
Marianna Obrist

Understanding Users Through Three Types of Personas;
Lene Nielsen (presenting), Marta Kristin Larusdottir, Lars Bo Larsen 🧡

Focus,Structure,Reflection! Integrating User-Centred Design and Design Sprint;
Virpi Roto, Marta Kristin Larusdottir (presenting), Andrés Lucero, Jan Stage, Ilja Šmorgun 🧡

Experiences of Personal Sound Technology;
Stine S Johansen (presenting), Peter Axel Nielsen, Kashmiri Stec, Jesper Kjeldskov 🧡

Introducing Asynchronous Remote Usability Testing in Practice: an Action Research Project;
Jonna Helene Holm Pedersen, Malene Sørensen (presenting), Jan Stage, Rune Thaarup Have Høegh 🧡

Don’t Tell Me The Cybersecurity Moon Is Shining… (Cybersecurity Show and Tell);
Luca Viganò

Facilitating User Involvement in a Large IT Project: A Comparison of Facilitators’ Perspectives on Process, Role and Personal Practice;
Øivind Klungseth Zahlsen, Dag Svanæs, Yngve Dahl (presenting) 🧡

Digital Work Environment Rounds – Systematic Inspections of Usability Supported by the Legislation;
Jan Gulliksen (KTH Royal Institute of Technology)

How HCI Interprets Service Design: A Systematic Literature Review;
Christine Ee Ling Yap, Jung-Joo Lee (presenting), Virpi Roto

Detecting Emotions Through Machine Learning for Automatic UX Evaluation;
Giuseppe Desolda, Andrea Esposito (presenting), Rosa Lanzilotti, Maria Francesca Costabile

Helping Professionals Select Persona Interview Questions Using Natural Language Processing;
Joni Salminen (presenting), Kamal Chhirang, Soon-Gyo Jung, Bernard J Jansen

Consumer needs and design practices for trusted social commerce platforms;
Aisha Ahmed AlArfaj (presenting), Ellis Solaiman

Future digital challenges: social-emotional skills as critical enablers for good technical design work;
Geraldine Fitzpatrick

Sniff Before You Act: Exploration of Scent-Feature Associations for Designing Future Interactions;
Giada Brianza (presenting), Patricia Cornelio, Emanuela Maggioni, Marianna Obrist

Tales from the Materialverse: Comic-Based Narratives and Character Cut-outs for Co-Design Fiction;
Eleni Economidou (presenting), Susanna Vogel, Nathalia Campreguer França, Bernhard Maurer, Manfred Tscheligi

Find more information on Interact’s website.

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