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[ SIGCHI ]  [ 6th WWW ]  [ Fed Web '97 ]
    [ Position Paper ]  [ Actual Schedule ]  [ Actual Problems ]  [ Participants ]  [ Organizer's Backgrounds ]

THE TOPIC: The Toughest Web User Interface Challenges

The Challenge: Designing For The Web

User interfaces on the web are different from typical software interface because, as designers we are constrained by the rapidly changing technology, Hyper-Text Markup Language (HTML), its related tools, and a lack of robust widgets. Many of these problems may not be optimally solvable; but current design solutions are clearly less than optimal. In a workshop setting web designers can further their understanding of complicated interface issues and develop solutions to these challenges.

Focus of the Workshop

The focus of this workshop is to bring together experienced designers of web user interfaces to discuss, understand, and solve user interface design bottlenecks common to the web. The goal of the workshop is to take the "cocktail napkin" interface discussions that commonly occur at conferences and move them into a structured workshop setting. This can help identify problems and solutions to issues such as cross-platform compatibility, navigation complexity, object selection and manipulation, and other design considerations.

The workshop is based on participation in small groups. Design problems are proposed by participants just prior to the start of the workshop. Thus, participants are guaranteed that the discussions and results of the workshop will be current. Participants will use simple paper and HTML prototyping techniques. A user-centered design process will be used to facilitate the workshop.

Participants will come away with a refresher of the basic skills used to develop their web designs, tricks on how to simulate interface design problems, and possible solutions to problems that they proposed in the workshop. Although the workshop organizers provide facilitation, this workshop encourages and requires active participation of those involved. A website will be published following the workshop for participants to continue their exploration of the issues. A website generated from the results of a previous workshop was a good resource to participants[1].

Goal of the Workshop

The mission of the workshop is to provide a forum for experienced designers to solve problems in a collaborative environment, while learning about new methods for understanding the problems (user-centered design methodologies) and for solving the problems (web tools and technologies). The goals are focused on the individual user getting the most out of the workshop. Early in the workshop they will spend time reviewing and using methods for extracting requirements and solving design issues with paper prototyping. Later in the workshop the focus turns to exploring the bounds of design to generate useful design solutions using various web technologies (e.g., JavaScript, Java, HTML, layers, etc.)

Format of the Workshop

Participant Solicitation and Selection

We will solicit the CHI community using the traditional methods (e-mail, UCD mailing lists, BayCHI), and also will try to encourage new additions to the CHI community by finding web designers who are unfamiliar with CHI to attend the conference and our workshop. We are looking for experienced web designer who are familiar with the problems of user interface design for the web, and are interested in solving some of the problems of web design with HTML and other web technologies.

In a previous workshop 90% of the participants did NOT come from a design background, but were actively engaged in web design. We realized that our workshop can be a conduit for individuals at work in the field to experience some of the academic and scientific areas of the SGICHI conference. Flyers and mailings to the "web" community and posting at web conferences will also be used. We will be looking for all types of individuals in the web design community to come to the workshop so that the small design teams can represent a cross section of participant backgrounds. This might include graphic designers, visual designers, systems engineers, webmasters, web developers, and even web managers.

We prefer to limit the workshop to 20 participants who are active in web design. We shall select individuals by looking at the applicability and complexity of their design issues, and the extent of their web design experience. We do feel a limited number of on-site registrants is acceptable, even if they do not prepare a design issue for inclusion in the workshop.

Method of Interaction

Prior to the workshop, the organizers will review and combine all submitted design issues into a few "generic" design issues and then create simulated situations in which to place the design issue into context. This will allow the organizers flexibility in covering more of the participants' problems without focusing specifically on any one participant's design issue.

Every individual brings a specific set of talents to the workshop. Small work groups will be formed to give each group diversity in various talents. Groups will contain four or five people. In doing so, one person will take on the role of lead designer, one of lead developer, and one as a user. Additional individuals in the group can assume the role of a marketer, additional designer, graphic artist, developer, or user. Groups and roles will change before each new design issue is presented. The organizers will walk the teams through each step of the design process. Organizers will use user-centered design methodologies, and offer tricks of the trade to make sure that all participants are able to contribute to the process and to keep groups moving towards a conclusion. Since each group is small, we expect greater creativity in the design process than if this workshop was designed to be a CHI Tutorial.

The schedule of the workshop explains some of the details of the steps the groups will take to generate their design solutions. Although we expect to cover only three design issues, the final two issues will likely take into account many smaller design issues.

Comments: Happily Received!
Updated: 01.30.1998