UXcamp Europe 2010 taking place in Berlin next May

UX Camp Europe 2010
The first UXcamp was a huge success if you read some of the blog articles from last summer (read the review from centigrade or have a look at the German blog feedback). That was encouragement enough to lift the UXcamp to the next level by opening the event to an international audience. This makes it UXcamp Europe 2010.

We still follow the BarCamp principle to bring together the European community for User Experience, Information Architecture, Usability, Interaction Design, Visual Design, and everybody who feels himself dedicated to the user of products and services. In case you fit somehow to that description, please join the UXcamp network and prepare yourself for a trip to Berlin on 29th and 30th of May 2010. The registration for the single days and the UXcamp party is planned to open next month. The concrete date will be published in our network once we decided which day.

Since we want to welcome participants from hopefully every country of Europe, we introduced the concept of Country Ambassadors. If your country is not yet represented by an ambassador, please let us know. The only thing you have to do as an ambassador is to spread the word and connect your local community with our network. We are sure this will be an exciting event to be for everybody!

Usually, a BarCamp is free to the participants to provide everybody with the possibility to join the event and participate by giving a session, discussing with the others, or simply by giving a hand whenever necessary. However, this requires us to cover the expenses with sponsorships. If your company is active in the User Experience field, or if you think your company should get active, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We are thankful for every support we can get!

If you  are still in doubt whether you should travel to Germany next May, there is also the International UPA Conference, taking place in Munich from 26.-28. of May, which is right before the UXcamp Europe. Oh, and two weeks before there will be the (German) IAKonferenz in Cologne. And if you’d like to extend your stay in Berlin, right after the UXcamp Europe there will be the Webinale, another gathering for all the Web geeks. So, plenty of events to go to next May.

The Beauty of Web-Based Paper Prototyping -Part 3-

The previous week, part TWO of this post was on the benefits which digital, web-based prototyping will make exportation and presentation easier. This FINAL part will show you how iterations can be made easy and that using digital solutions will in fact help against the fight of global warming.

Quick Iteration: share

One of the main benefits of using the digital solution is the possibility to make us of quicker, easier and cost-effective iterations. But this will only happen if the prototype can be adjusted to new requirements in an instant. Digital paper prototypes can be re-used and won’t have to be created all over again once a new iteration starts. You simply have to adjust specific elements once and then apply those changes to the rest of the prototype, that’s it.

Sustainability: green

The average usability testing project leaves a footprint of approximately 250 kilograms, or 0.25 a tonne of CO2. That may not seem much but that is close to amount of CO2 emission as a 3 hour flight. Usability testing is universally seen as the best way to improve a system’s ease and satisfaction of use. If one usability test itself emits the equivalent of a 3 hour flight, there clearly are considerable gains to be made! In an ordinary usability test, someone travels from his/her location to a laboratory or office where they interact with a test facilitator. Normally this takes about an hour and the process is repeated with 7 to 10 people.

The carbon emission for a usability testing project is based on an average of 10 participants, with each participant traveling 20 kilometers return to get to the test and spending 1 hour with the test facilitator.
More on: http://www.prnewswire.com


By making use of the newest technologies it is now possible to make the shift from paper-based prototyping to digital or web-based prototyping. User-centered design, sharing of ideas, iterative work-flow, collection of feedback and collaborative work are all aspects which speak in favor of implementing such process. Developers, designers, clients and test-users alike can benefit from working on digital prototypes which engage them from the very first idea. Unnecessary iterations which often confuse and hinder continuous work-flow can be a thing of the past since everyone will be up-to-date. Test-users can work in their natural surrounding whilst the design team can make changes on-the-fly.

Overall, web-based prototyping can only be beneficial for all parties involved. Also, since using excessive sheets of paper can be a thing of the past, it will be a make our planet a little greener.

Product Release: Remote Usability Tests and Specification Document

To start a great new year we have rolled out a brand new product which nicely integrates with the Pidoco Prototype Creator: the Remote Usability Tester.

Take one of your prototypes and do a Usability Test with zero set up time. You start a test session by simply inviting anybody via an eMail just as you would do for letting them view or discuss your prototype. There is nothing more to do for technically preparing a test session. You meet your test participant online within pidoco and can watch exactly what he or she is doing with your prototype. Via either a typical phone or our integrated Flash phone you can talk to each other to apply proven Usability Methods like “Think Aloud Testing”, but this time online from wherever you are. During the whole test session, everything is recorded automatically for playback. Take your time and replay the session as many times as you need to analyze what your test participant did and said.

Using the Prototype Creator and the Remote Usability Tester at the same time, you can test small modifications to your prototype with a test participant watching you. This gives you the unique possibility to apply Usability Methods like “A/B Tests” or “Wizard of Oz Testing”. Prototyping and Usability Testing can go hand in hand for the very first time!

Read what others say about our Remote Usability Tester.

Mircosoft Word or OpenOffice.org Export

This not being enough, we also added a long requested export to Microsoft Word or OpenOffice.org. With just one click you can add text notes to every element to specify and describe your prototype in great detail. All these notes are rendered into one document together with images of the Use Cases, Pages, and Layers of the prototype. All your discussions will be added to the document as well in order to keep track how design decisions evolved over time. Every single piece that is not visible on the pages is described in more detail, like link targets or menu structures. Special Highlight Images show the building blocks of your prototype. You can download a sample document of our homepage prototype.

Take the exported document as is or use it as a resource to write your very own specification document. We know it is a quite difficult task to create a document that satisfies everybody’s requirements. With this style of document we hope to support all of our users in the best possible way. However, please don’t hesitate to approach us with recommendations and ideas of how we can improve the word export.

Starting today, the word export is included for free to all our users. In case you don’t have an account yet, register for a free test account now.

The Beauty of Web-Based Paper Prototyping -Part 2-

The previous week, part One of this post was dealing with some of the core ideas of why classic paper prototyping is no longer sufficient. This week, I will talk about why versioning of prototypes and the ability to acces, export and present the results are a necessity.

The Need for Digital Prototyping:

Conference TableThat big round table to which everyone gathers around can never be big enough! The bigger the table becomes, the more sketches and papers are on the whiteboard, the bigger the chance of losing out on some detail. A reasonable alternative would be making use of digital prototyping and to have that table digitized (including the papers, sketches and the words being said). Why keep working with the whiteboard, stacks of paper which have to be carried around the office? Digitizing the work and all what comes with it would make the chaotic meetings a thing of the past. Using a digital solution is a  way which allows collaborative work-flow to be fully recorded, ammended, shared and viewed at at given time.

Team Work Challenge:


One of the requirements for successful team work is to administrate various versions of the same prototype. Versioning of prototypes has two meanings within this context:

(1) the different stages in development process which can be accessed at any time
(2) different versions of the same prototype

Once several people work on the same prototype the need for digital versioning quickly becomes apparent. While one is already working on the CSS, the other is still in the process of developing the menu bar; now can you see what may go wrong? Using a tool which gathers all the different process and work-flows of the various co-designers will help to unite the project into one single application and help the collaborative flow. Real-time collaboration will ensure that misunderstandings and miss-communication are reduced to a minimum. A team which works from different locations and on different elements within the same project are in dear need of such a tool!

Presenting the Results:

Once a prototype is finished, the real work starts. The prototype will be used for extensive usability tests, will be used for presentations and is part of the developers specification. All the various players need access to the prototype which again needs to be in various formats. Since it is pivotal to have a prototype ready for presentation, viewing and export, it should be digitized and ready-accessible on the Web. Well, not accessible to all, just to the one’s involved in the process of course!

Usability tests need to be run and an interactive and/or clickable prototype must be easily accessible to the test users. Furthermore, if qualitative feedback is what is needed, a moderator also would need to access the prototype without a problem. In addition, the developers and the rest of the design team must be able to quickly ‘click through’ and be able to make some minor changes if needed. This is why a prototype needs to be open to all the people involved, needs to be updated in real-time and be exportable to any format and at any time!

Part THREE will talk about the benefits of digital iteration cycles and talk about the positive impact digital prototyping can have on our environment. Hope to see you there!

Getting to the customer – why everything you think about User Centred Design is wrong

Great post on UCD and the common belief systems. By Thomas Petersen

“In broad terms, user-centered design (UCD) is a design philosophy and a process in which the needs, wants, and limitations of end users of an interface or document are given extensive attention at each stage of the design process. User-centered design can be characterized as a multi-stage problem solving process that not only requires designers to analyze and foresee how users are likely to use an interface, but also to test the validity of their assumptions with regards to user behaviour in real world tests with actual users. Such testing is necessary as it is often very difficult for the designers of an interface to understand intuitively what a first-time user of their design experiences, and what each user’s learning curve may look like.

The chief difference from other interface design philosophies is that user-centered design tries to optimize the user interface around how people can, want, or need to work, rather than forcing the users to change how they work to accommodate the software developers approach.

Testing the hammer

So as you can see a typical UCD process to define it in terms of the hammer test, is based on testing the drawing, the cutout and the Styrofoam hammer.

Not the actual hammer.So why is that? How comes something that seems to be an obvious problematic implementation of the goal of UCD, have become the norm?

Default UCD Process

This way, users have become customers and you can suddenly start to test where it matters with valuable feedback.

Revised UCD process

This will no doubt mean that many have to re-educate themselves and rethink how they approach design whether it be UX, IA, UI or GUI. It is none the less as stated, necessary to stay relevant for the future. A pivotal part of this will also be to re-educate clients and help them understand that they will need to look at at product design a little different.

Design is a decision, not a democracy. If you are serious about using design strategically then courage is the strategic advantage you should be looking for. And with the ability to quickly change wrong assumptions it’s not really dangerous, just common sense.

Agile User Experience Projects For The Small Agency

Jakob Nielsen’s article on Agile User Experience Projects suggests that good implementation of usability in agile projects can be vanguarded by:

“Separate design and development, and have the user interface team progress one step ahead of the implementation team. That way, when it comes time to build something, it’s already been designed and tested. (And yes, you can do both in a week or two by using paper prototypes and discount user testing.)”

Out of our own experience,  small software and design companies do not have the necessary funds to run a dedicated UX-team and by using the above mentioned approach, good design and usability can be achieved.

The Beauty of Web-Based Paper Prototyping -Part 1-

This article which will deal with the various benefits which digital web-based prototyping can bring to your production cycle. The main idea of this article is to promote the digital implementation from the very start of the production work. Many  design agencies still work with pen and paper, a method which has been used for a long time but which in today’s world should be seen a thing from the past. It is time to explore the possibilities which technology can offer us!

The article will be posted in 3 parts -which should be released a week after another. Part ONE will offer a little review on classic prototyping and talk a little about the general structures within the team. The following articles will go more in-depth and talk a little about the ambitions, requirements and solutions for making the product development a little easier and more fun. I hope that you will enjoy this article and hopefully be able to take something useful out of it. Thanks!


User-centered software development is a dynamic and creative process. In the prototyping phase and in the evaluation, one can see it’s benefits and new challenges arise for the production team. The conceivability of the clients must be fully understood, ideas of the heterogeneous design team as well as the gathered feedback of the target audience must be included into the design. A challenging task indeed!

Due to global requirements of today’s digitally connected world, ‘classic paper prototyping‘ often is no longer sufficient. A bunch of draft papers are easily misunderstood, mixed up or lost in the super information highway and the need for an all-encompassing, digital and rapid solution is becoming more of a demand.

Therefore, web-based rapid paper prototyping has been growing into a well known topic for designers, developers and clients. But what is it what makes digital sketching so appealing to the usability community? Are design agencies simply too lazy to do the manual work with pen and paper or do they simply want to be more Eco-friendly and want to stop the deforestation of the amazon by refusing to use paper-based prototypes? This article will touch some of the core points and issues within the field and will list the justifications of this development.

Paper Prototyping:scribble

The easy way to create low-fi prototypes, to gather the design team around the big table or the whiteboard and a chance for everyone to jot down their ideas on the project. This technique supports the main ideas of rapid paper prototyping. Everyone can make changes and also view the changes already made by others. Everyone knows what is going on.

However, there are a few problems with this method. Increasing the complexity of a prototype whilst keeping a full overview on the project as a whole can become a bit of a challenge. Once a change has been made, it it difficult to be undone. Of course you can simply delete or throw away an error prone design but it is not as easy as a simple ‘CTRL+Z’.
To add to this, imagine that the team works from different locations and with different tasks to manage … it can become a mess in no time! Therefore, paper prototyping is no longer sufficient for the demands of the modern design agency.

Prototyping Roles:

The main roles in the prototyping stage are of course the users, the design team, the developers and the client. In order to finish up with a satisfying product, the different needs of those interest groups must be met and considered. Gathering those people around the same table, meeting their requirements, dealing with time pressure, budget limitations and the different locations of the various key players are a tough one to call.

The Design Team:

The design team is a collective of some very smart and able professionals. The interaction designer, visual designer, information architect, human researcher, usability experts and prototype developers are just some of the many roles one can find in a team. In order to express their varied ideas on how the end product should be like, collaborative prototyping is the way to meet this ambition. This method will enable them to discuss and clarify the multitude of requirements.

Next week, part TWO of this article will follow. Subjects are the challenges of a team, collaborative working and requirements for digital prototyping.

New payment option: monthly payments without automatic renewal!

Dear pidoco° users,

we have included a new payment option for you.
If you need pidoco° for a specific project which lasts for a fixed period (e.g. 2 months), you can now pay for that exact period and not have to worry about cancelling your subscription.
Simply pay for your desired time (starting from 1 month) and use pidoco° without worrying about cancellation periods.
Simple, effective and tailored to your specific needs!

monthly payment

Your pidoco° team

pidoco° updates: Live Chat, Annotations, Timeline and Some Bug Fixes

Dear everyone,

we usually work double shifts to make your pidoco° experience even better. Now, we are proud to present you with a few additional features and bug fixes! In order make make your prototyping & usability testing even better, we have included some features which should aid the overall communication with your co-workers.

From now on, when opening the Remote Usability Tester,  you will be able to re-play, fast forward and skip through the test session via the new timeline function.

It also includes the new annotations feature which can be used for making notes on-the-fly whilst conducting a Remote Usability Test. This way, it will be easy to jump back to the exact point in time where your test user experienced certain difficulties or where you think that specific changes are needed. Simply re-play your test session at a later point and jump straight to the annotations in the timeline -easy, quick and convenient!

pidoco° time slider

pidoco° timeline function

You probably are know that the Remote Usability Tester is based on a live one-to-one telephone module which gives you the option to either use a normal land line telephone or the integrated FLASH module. Well, we have had several petitions and now we decided to include a real-time chat module. This way, you can run a usability test even if you do not have a telephone or microphone at your disposal.

real-time chat

real-time chat

Since we’re already talking about chatting:
in case that you are in need of further guidance, have some questions or if you simply are in need of human contact – why not chat directly with us? You now can make use of our integrated pidoco° chat where you can get in touch without needing to send out lengthy emails nor having to listen to our charming German accents over the phone!

chat with pidoco°

chat with pidoco°

Last but not least we have done some extensive bug-fixing and you should notice a definite increase in performance when using the Prototype Creator.

We sincerely hope that you can enjoy the new features and the increase in performance and hope that your work-flow will be even better.

Your pidoco° Team

What’s the real value of Unmoderated Remote User Testing?

In recent years, as user experience research has become more critical or even standard practice, there is a clear trend towards measuring user experience and usability using quantitative research techniques.

URUT is an automated test process whereby a script or series of questions is prepared and packaged into an application. Test subjects may be invited in advance to participate, or intercepted when they enter a website. Hundreds of participants may be involved and all their data is gathered and analysed automatically. URUT can be both simple and quite sophisticated, and Fortune Global 2000 and Internet 200 companies are increasingly using Unmoderated Remote Usability Testing (URUT) as part of their user experience and usability research toolkit.

1. To quantify your usability research
One customer base includes different personalities, usage patterns and perspectives. Quantifying site usability is the only way you can ensure that you are reaching a true representation of your diverse population. Using URUT you gain valuable data about that population and can validate lab findings – or alternatively target which critical tasks you need to be probing in a lab-based study.

2. To conduct benchmark studies
URUT allows researchers to obtain statistically significant usability metrics on how a website performs vs. other versions of the site or vs. competing sites. It’s a great way to measure user experience and compare results either across time or through industry benchmarking.

3. To test users in their natural context
My computer and environment is different from my friend’s computer and environment and most likely different than a good portion of the population. Testing participants in their natural context accounts for different systems, configurations, and setups. The data you gain not only accounts for a mix of these various environments and setups but also encourages participants to act as they normally would, as they are not being observed.

4. To understand user behavior
You want to understand why users are coming to your site and what they do once they come there. URUT uses a combination of web analytics (where users go) and surveys (the why) to create a complete picture and provide valuable data to support the best user experience for your site.

5. To validate or define your lab-based research
You want to ensure that the research you are currently conducting is valid and a true representation. With URUT not only do you gain data that supports your current research, you can also use URUT to target key critical issues and tasks to bring in the lab for further probing.

6. To test internationally without traveling
International research is very expensive and at times put aside due to the cost and time commitment. URUT allows you the flexibility to conduct a study in many international locations from one place. Not only does it remove the expense of travel it also removes the need for all data to be translated before analysis.

As the web becomes a more complex place and users interact with it in different ways, user experience and usability testing and measurement must evolve and continuously innovate. URUT is an example of this innovation and has proven its worth for the past 6 or 7 years. The key to solid research lies not only in proper execution and the right technology, but also in the ability of the research team to understand that different data comes from different methods and tools, and that each should be used with a purpose and to meet specific goals (what, why, when and how). The combination of methods and tools is often the best way to go. URUT is a great choice for specific purposes and, if well executed, can become an invaluable source of data about user experience.

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