CHI '96 Tutorial Choices

Subject: CHI '96 Tutorial Choices
From: "Jared M. Spool" <jspool -at- UIE -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 12 Mar 1996 23:23:54 -0500

[The following article is a repost from UIETips, a mailing list dedicated to
the discussion of user interface design and usability issues. This
particular article focuses on some excellent tutorials that are being
presented as part of the CHI '96 conference in Vancouver, BC
4/13-4/15. Information on registration at the end of the article.]

The CHI '96 registration dates are fast approaching. If you have
never attended one of these conferences, it is definitely a must.
This is the *premier* conference on Computer/Human Interaction, with
close to 3,000 people from all areas: industry, academia and

Every year the hardest part of registering is picking which tutorials
you want to go to. For several years now, I've been putting together
my pick list. These are the tutorials that either
1) I've been to and thought they were great OR
2) I've heard really good things about and want to go to OR
3) It's given by someone who I know has cool things to say.

If a tutorial doesn't make it on my pick list, it isn't because it
isn't good. I just haven't seen it or heard anything about it.

Disclaimer: I'm a software engineer by background, not an academic.
Therefore I have a tendancy to move away from anything that doesn't
have a practical use to it. This list definitely follows that bias.

Four Stars: Must See's (Cloning is the only solution!)
#21 - ****
Cognitive Factors In Design: Basic Phenomena in Human Memory and
Problem Solving -- Tom Hewett (Monday, 4/15)

This is an incredible tutorial. I have used the material from this
tutorial several times since I sat in on it last year. If you go to
this, expect to have a new appreciation for how people remember,
forget and figure things out. This should be required for anyone who
is doing any designs of interfaces. By the way, I'd sit in on it this
year, if I wasn't teaching opposite it.

#27 - ****
Inteviewing Customers: Discovering What They Can't Tell You -- Ellen
Isaacs (Monday, 4/15, Half-Day AM)

I reviewed this tutorial and heartily endorsed it. This is the kind
of practical material that anyone who is going to be conducting
usability tests, site visits or any other customer contact should know
about. I'll make sure that somebody from our staff is at this one.

#30 - ****
Interactive Learning Environments: Where They've Come From and Where
They Are Going -- Elliot Soloway (Monday, 4/15, Half-Day PM)

Elliot is my hero and inspiration. If you've never had the chance to
hear him speak, you should not miss this opportunity. It doesn't
really matter what he is speaking about. However, in this case, it
does. He is speaking about the future of how children (and adults)
learn. Not just learning to use computers, learning in general. I
sat in on this course last year and was fascinated with the
perspective that Elliot brings on education. He got me so excited,
that I've become a regular fixture in my daughter's 5th grade class.
(Last week I taught them about cog. psych. -- they got it too.)

Three Stars: Excellent Choices (if I say so myself!)
#2 - ***
User Interface Design For The World Wide Web -- Jakob Nielsen &
Annette Wagner (Saturday, 4/13, PM)

This is a CHI '96 premier, but both Jakob & Annette are worth seeing.
Jakob's research on Hypertext and Web based stuff is world reknown.
Annette, who worked for many years on the Mac, has been doing cool
stuff at CHI. This tutorial looks like it has everything you need if
you are going to be doing anything webbish. (Since the Redmond
crystal ball just announced that all future on-line help is going this
way, this means that anyone doing anything doc'ish is now going to
have to pay attention to this stuff.) I'm planning on going to this

#3 - ***
Designing Visual Interfaces: How To Create Coummunication-Oriented
Solutions -- Kevin Mullet (Sunday, 4/14)

Kevin delivers a wonderful course. While this is new material, it
seems that it contains a lot of the stuff from InterCHI '93 (where I
first saw him and Darrell Sano) and CHI '94. I learned a lot about
visual design from this tutorial. I particularly liked the fact that
he shows "before" & "after" designs. That really drives home the
impact of quality visual design. Kevin also shows a lot of the
history of design in a really fascinating way -- to prevent us from
re-inventing what others have learned the hard way.

#11 - ***
Practical Usability Evaluation -- Gary Perlman (Sunday, 4/14)

I heard excellent things about this tutorial from CHI '95. I have
also known Gary for years and am familar with his work. This is a
great tutorial for anyone who is starting in Usability Evaluations.
Gary is incredibly methodical and, being the keeper of the worlds
largest HCI bibliographical database, he has the resources to back it
up. He's also fun to listen too.

Two Stars: The Classics (Make sure someone in your group goes to
these) #1 - ** Human-Computer Interaction: Introduction & Overview --
Keith Butler, Rob Jacobs & Bonnie John (Saturday, 4/13, PM)

This is the tutorial to send anyone who is going to CHI for the first
time. Warn them, however, that it is purely from an academic point of
view. (Keith will tell you otherwise, but there is very little
practitioner oriented stuff here.) Once prepared, they should be able
to get a wonderful overview of the academic side of the house. This
is actually important, because otherwise much of the rest of the
conference will seem somewhat esoteric. The concepts here are
important to understand. I do wish they'd have a practitioner add
their perspective.

#6 - **
CSCW, Groupware and Workflow: Experiences, State-Of-The-Art and
Future Trends -- Jonathan Grudin & Steve Poltrock (Sunday, 4/14)

This is an old standard. If you want to know everything there is to
know about CSCW (Computer Supported Cooperative Work) & Groupware,
this is an excellent introduction to who's done what where. This is a
fabulous survey course. If, however, you are looking to implement a
groupware/CSCW application, you'll find this tutorial lacking in any
of the details you will need.

#9 - **
Managing The Design Of The User Interface -- Deb Mayhew (Sunday, 4/14)

This is the tutorial to send your manager to. I've never taken it,
but have heard lots of good things about it. Deb has a lot of
experience helping companies develop UI Design as part of their
processes. This course focuses on those details.

#14 - **
Contextual Inquiry: Grounding Your Design In User Work -- Dennis
Wixon, Alicia Flanders & Minette Beabes (Sunday, 4/14)

This is another old standard. And these guys know their stuff. What
I like most about this tutorial is that these guys do this all the
time. This is a true practitioner's tutorial -- you won't find any
"theory" here. If your company is thinking it needs to learn more
about who your customers are and what they want for products, make
sure someone goes to this tutorial.

#23 - **
Designing Icons & Visual Symbols -- Bill Horton (Monday, 4/15)

If you've never seen Bill Horton, you should see this tutorial. Bill
is fun to listen to. (I just saw him again at the WinHelp Developer's
conference: he introduced the Oat-Bran principle of developing help --
really clever stuff.) Bill's written a couple of hundred books
(*slight exageration alert*) on the topic of visual design, including
a classic called The Icon Book. Definitely worth going to.

One Star: Honorable Mentions
#8 - *
Object-Oriented Design From User Scenarios -- Mary Beth Rosson & Jack
Carroll (Sunday 4/14)

If you find yourself working with a development team that is adopting
OOD techniques, this tutorial could be quite valuable. Mary Beth &
Jack have done some neat stuff here. Mary Beth is a great speaker.
Jack has his moments. I heard that last year's version was too
Smalltalk specific, but they seem to have fixed that for this year.

#24 - *
Contextual Design: Using Customer Work Models To Drive Systems Design
-- Karen Holtzblatt & Hugh Beyer (Monday, 4/15)

I heard good things about this tutorial last year. Karen is always
high energy and fun to listen to. Hugh, while much lower in energy,
really knows his stuff. They've collected up some cool techniques for
representing how people work. Really useful if you want to design
products that are radically different from what is out there today.

Smarter Usability Testing: Practical Techniques For Developing
Products -- Carolyn Snyder, Mavis Robinson & I (Monday, 4/15)

This is a whole new tutorial for us. (No Repeat Material!) We'll be
presenting lots of info on techniques such as comparative testing and
retrospective analysis. You'll also get to see Mavis Robinson's debut
as a tutorial presenter -- she's great!

Your feedback is wanted: If you've attended a session in the past
that you feel would be of benefit to UIETips reader's, please post
your review.

If you want more information on CHI '96, you can look at the program
at Or you can contact the CHI'96
office at (410) 263-5382 or via e-mail at
chi96-office -dot- chi -at- xerox -dot- com -dot- The basic poop is that the conference
will be in Vancouver, BC from 4/13 through 4/19.

User Interface Engineering is a consulting firm specializing in
Product Usability issues. Our mission is to empower development teams
by providing key information for making strategic design decisions.
Our services include training, consulting and research.

UIETips is a mailing list dealing with product usability issues. To
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Jared M. Spool User Interface Engineering
jspool -at- uie -dot- com 800 Turnpike Street, Suite 101
(508) 975-4343 North Andover, MA 01845
fax: (508) 975-5353 USA

If you send me your postal address, you'll get
the next issue of our newsletter, Eye For Design.

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