User characteristics are coming out of my ears

“Top part of black dog’s head showing eyes and active ears”

So to recap, my quest for last week was to look at the following and comment. I did look at the following but this is the first chance that I have had to comment as I have been deeply ensconced in putting some of what I have learned into practice within my IoT research project (sorry, I’m deliberately not providing a lot of detail on the IoT project, just reflecting on what I have learned).

’the following’: Read and think about BS EN ISO 9241-210-2010 – Ergonomics of human-system interaction (ISO, 2010).

I suspect that I shall mainly use the ISO 9241 document as a reference tool. The document itself, in a way, takes the form of several checklists. I particularly like the way that design principles are so neatly summed-up as a helpful list on page 14! The pragmatic advice offered in relation to sources that designers might investigate, when direct contact with users is not possible (pages 16-17), has also been helpful for the IoT project where working with users falls outside the scope. The same will be true of this project, so I really need to get into the mind of my potential users!

Read and comment on user profiles and personae or personas

Since last week I have created 5 draft personas and have started to flesh out three proto personas. The preparatory process of sifting through the user characteristics is time consuming, but it truly does mean that you are covering almost every angle and gaining valuable domain knowledge in the process. My next task is to come up with personas for this project! Which I shall start on in my next post (in draft phase at the moment).

Read and comment on Scenarios

I actually jumped the gun with this one a bit as it is this week’s reading (not last weeks). However, I have already been starting to create scenarios for my IoT personas and I am hoping to refine them based on some of the further reading that I do this week on the topic. I found the distinctions made by Lauesen (2005) to be helpful, when considering tasks and scenarios. For example Lauesen (2005) offers the analogy of a hotel; the act of checking in is a “general case” as that could apply to any guest; the personification of the act where a named persona checks into a numbers room is a “case scenario” and a story which encapsulates both these factors in a real-life situation is a “vivid scenario” (p.162). This book is written from a software engineering viewpoint, which may mean that it does not apply in all situations. In the UX Book (2012) I feel like I may have found a new mantra to repeat to myself…“Did it all seem too easy? Did the story seem a little too perfect?” (p.266).

My Project plan Idea

One of my tasks for the second session was to come up with a project idea for the module. I have decided to that my project will focus on designing interaction for an Open Educational Resource (OER) in honour of Open Access Week, taking place this week (19-25th) internationally. My OER will be a self-guided web application for academic staff. The application will take a tour of a typical Blackboard or Moodle course/module and explain how to make study materials as accessible as possible and how to signpost materials to students. The activity will include some quizzing and sorting elements and will focus on presentation and structural considerations. I also think that it would be immensely helpful to simulate how text and colours are seen by say dyslexic folks or those who are colour blind.

I have experimented with this in some of my own programming in the past and it really helped to promote better understanding (code sample originally here, no longer available - coded in Processing.js).

If you are interested in seeing some examples of how this might look in the end, here are some of my favourites - although I should say that this project is more of a planning exercise, so it may only ever exist in prototype form.

British Prime Ministers 1783 - 1852: [link no longer available]. This is a fantastic choose-your-own-adventure style OER created in Xerte which is an open source tool from the University of Nottingham.

Interactive Ear - A Guide to Human Hearing: This one is quite sophisticated and one of my all time favourites.


ISO. (2010). ISO 9241-210:2010 Ergonomics of human-system interaction – Part 210: Human-centred design for interactive systems (1st ed.).

Lauesen, S. (2005). User interface design: A software engineering perspective (1st ed.). Harlow, England: Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers.

Pyla, P. S., & Hartson, R. P. (2012). The UX Book: Process and guidelines for ensuring a quality user experience. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.

Fiona MacNeill
Fiona MacNeill
Learning Consultant &
UX Researcher

Passionate about creating inclusive and accessible experiences, tools, and services for learning and doing.