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Theory, Analysis and Reviews on UX User Experience Research and Design

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Why Professional Usability Testing Matters

How Do Development Teams Produce World-Class Products? For consumer-facing hardware or software to have high levels of usability and UX quality, they must undergo rigorous professional usability testing before design freeze. Such professional testing must make use of a wide range of mockups, simulations, and functional prototypes. It turns out that such testing is a fundamental requirement of all consumer-facing hardware and software systems that will eventually deliver a high degree of consumer engagement. One can often predict the potential usability and UX performance of a hardware device or software interface simply by examining the development process and the degree to which professional human factors science and unbiased professional usability testing has been applied during development.

Investors Don’t Link Poor Usability With High-Risk Usability and feature/function engagement are criteria that are rarely investigated by institutional investors when assessing the relative risk of making an investment decision. Defective usability has played a major role in the failure of numerous recent high profile products including the now infamous SNAP Spectacles. A few simple questions by investors during SNAP’s recent IPO roadshow would have likely revealed a failure to employ human factors research and professional usability testing during development of the SNAP Spectacles. More generally, when management is asked whether or not their products have undergone professional user testing and feature/function engagement testing they will often respond in the affirmative. Many executives wrongly assume that running a survey, or obtaining feedback from a few employees or a small group of consumers constitutes professional usability testing. It does not.

Design Does Not Replace Professional Usability Testing Professional usability testing is not the same as UX Design, Industrial Design or Design Thinking which are concept generation frameworks. Professional usability testing is a concept verification methodology. In order to have confidence that what has been developed will be usable and engaging one must apply a meaningful measure of marketing science. Professional usability testing is, first and foremost, a science-based process that is designed to produce unbiased and robust data on products and software user experience performance. In professional usability testing programs, there is always a need for statistical confidence that can aid management in making objective decisions about the usability and feature/function engagement of hardware or software before design freeze. Continue Reading…

How 4 Simple Usability Heuristics Could Have Saved SNAP Glasses

Wall Street And Hardware SNAP is the quintessential example of spinning gold from code. This is not to take away from SNAP’s apparent success as a virtual social media platform and possible business performance. Although the quarterly reports are, in real cash flow terms, terrifyingly low for such a staggering market cap, and marketers are not flocking to SNAP as predicted. We will leave that issue to the spreadsheet wizards at the investment banks that pumped SNAP stock to a heady IPO. Apparently during the pre-IPO roadshow, SNAP indicated that hardware would be a major part of its value proposition going forward. This was a big ask by the investment banks and a big promise on the part of SNAP. Based on a detailed usability and feature/function allocation analysis it is clear that for the most part SNAP Spectacles (Glasses) failed due to poor usability and a flawed feature/function design. Here is what SNAP could have done to dramatically improve the success of this potentially groundbreaking product concept.

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Why SNAP Spectacles Failed: A Detailed Professional Usability Heuristics Analysis

Spinning gold from code This is an object lesson in why hardware design is exceedingly difficult for software businesses. It is always an interesting exercise to watch a software-based and cloud-delivered business, even a very clever one with a massive user base and a seemingly successful business model, attempt hardware design. There is a certain arrogance that comes from developing a successful business based essentially on code, server farms and prodigious levels of capital looking for the next Facebook. Such business models, when they are successful, can be a lot like minting money without the attendant risks associated with producing actual physical products. With the right combination of usability, features, social media exposure and a large measure of luck, seemingly ridiculous ideas turn into billion dollar corporations backed by Wall Street and investors. Such is the basic trajectory of SNAP. Continue Reading…

User Interface Design and UX Design: 80+ Important Research Papers Covering Peer-Reviewed and Informal Studies

Important peer-reviewed and informally published recent research on user interface design and user experience (UX) design.

For the benefit of clients and colleagues we have culled a list of approximately 70 curated recent research publications dealing with user interface design, UX design and e-commerce optimization.

In our opinion these publications represent some of the best formal research thinking on UI and UX design. These papers are also among the most widely downloaded and cited formal research on UI / UX design. We have referenced many of these studies in our work at MauroNewMedia. Continue Reading…

Updates From Mauro Usability Science

MAURO Usability Science Publishes Featured Peer-Reviewed Case Study

The February issue of Ergonomics In Design features the award-winning case study by Mauro Usability Science covering ergonomic workstation design for Tiffany & Company. The program covered a multi-year engagement with Tiffany involving execution of large-sample ergonomic workstation and production analysis, with a focus on risk mitigation and process improvement through the application of user-centered design methodologies. The program included complex ergonomic field audits and analysis, followed by design and production of a new series of ergonomic workstation configurations. The following link provides access to the full article: Ergonomic Redesign of a Traditional Jewelry-Polishing Workstation. Please note: the publication is behind the SAGE paywall. Continue Reading…

Google Freaks… Usability Speaks


Of late, Google’s quarterly reports are not looking so great. To be clear, I am a loyal user of Google Adwords and have been one since the beginning. Also, in the interest of further transparency, I have spent the past 35 years in man-machine systems design, having worked on reducing the complexity of devices and software from Wall Street to Main Street. As technology has become more integrated (squeezed) into our daily lives, certain patterns have become apparent to those tasked with wringing some small measure of usability out of otherwise increasingly opaque user experiences (UX).

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30+ Best UX Design and Research Books of All Time

The “A” List: We frequently receive requests from colleagues, clients, and journalists for recommended reading lists on topics covering our expertise in UX design, usability research and human factors engineering. These requests prompted us to pull from our research library (yes, we still have real books) 30+ books which our professional staff felt should be considered primary conceptual literature for anyone well-read in the theory and practice of UX design and research.

A Surprising List: When we pooled the selected books for inclusion, we were a bit surprised. Most of the selected texts were published some time ago… in some cases, our selections were out of print. This set us to thinking: Why did we end up with books representing the best theory on UX design published before the term was even invented?

The answer resides in the fact that UX design, as we define it, encompasses a vast field of human-machine interaction variables covering cognitive processes, decision-making, task design, information architecture, graphic design, interactive brand development, market research, retail store design, product design, web design and at least a dozen other primary fields of expertise.

Where to Start: UX design is by definition a vast and overlapping set of expertise areas that find focus based on the nature of a specific UX design problem.  Therefore, to be well-read on this subject actually requires reading very diverse professional literature. The following 30+ books are those we consider the best general expositions on a given topic area that we know from professional experience is functionally or theoretically applicable to UX Design and Research.

It may come as a surprise to those of you who came to UX in the last decade that there was a vast and teeming world of man-machine science and related research before there was anything like the iPhone or even the Internet. Our list is as much about the history of man-machine design as it is about the future of UX.

Please Note: We have reviewed many UX-specific books for this list but have found that most of the new texts, including several popular books on UX design, are not nearly as useful as the original texts on which they are based. Most of the books on our list can be easily found online at Amazon.com or at other online sources. Many are out of print but not out of sight. If you purchase any of these books from Amazon or any other source, we do not receive any compensation. If you have books you feel we missed, send us a comment and if we agree with your suggestion it will be added to the list with a citation. We view our list, like our associated list of important recent papers on UX, as a living entity. Finally, if you are an author and your book(s) is not on the list, please do not send us a snarky comment. We will simply ignore it.

Thank you,

Charles L Mauro CHFP
Mauro New Media


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Amicus Briefs Filed in Opposition to Samsung/Lemley Positions for the Recent Apple v. Samsung Matter

The following links provide access to two of the major opposition amicus briefs filed on 8/4/2014 in the Apple v. Samsung matter. These briefs represent the combined support of 54 Distinguished Design Professionals and 26 Distinguished Design Educators. These two amicus briefs are in opposition to the Samsung/Lemley position calling for massive changes to the US Design Patent system.

  1. Amici Curiae Brief of 54 Distinguished Industrial Design Professionals in Support of Affirmance
  2. Brief of 26 Design Educators as Amici Curiae in Support of Appellee Apple Inc.

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Look Before You Leap…Intellectual Property and Crowd-Funding: Why Major Crowd Funding Sites Couldn’t Care Less About Protecting Your Ideas and How to Deal with It


1Recently, I was invited to speak at the Northeast Conference of the Industrial Designers Society of America on intellectual property and crowd-funding (CF). I am not a lawyer but I have consulted with some of the best around. Over the past 35 years I have been an expert witness in over 75 major patent cases related to product design, industrial design and GUI design. That experience has taught me a great deal about how innovators deal with the realities of their intellectual property. Continue Reading…