March 16, 2011
This is not new! I’ve been doing such user interface review work for some time, but have now “packaged” it as a service, and sent out the following news release explaining what I do.
Portland consultant offers “User Interface Review” service
Insight and Clarity, a consulting and coaching firm in Portland Maine, has introduced a new “User Interface Review” service, to help technology developers create products that are easy to use and hard to misuse.
Arthur Fink, owner of Insight and Clarity, explains that, “Most developers intend their products to be ‘user friendly’, but seldom does anybody spend enough time watching users trying to befriend the product”. Fink sees himself as a cyber-age anthropologist, observing business cultures to see what tasks are being done, what tools are used. how these tools are used, and — perhaps most important — where users encounter stress, frustration, boredom, fear, or angst. The result of this observation will be a strategy for revision or re-design, or, in some cases, a total blueprint for a new user experience.
In working on the redesign of a point of sale computer system for Subway restaurants, Fink spent many hours shadowing Subway associates at several Maine locations, and he worked for a few hours actually running the computer cash register. “What appeared to be a fairly simple job turned out to actually be quite complex, and I learned so much about the difficulty of doing that job with inadequate technology,” Fink said.
Fink’s graduate degree in computer science from Harvard, along with studies there in social relations, linguistics, and cognitive psychology all appear to be strong credentials for his current work. But Fink points to his years of experience visiting factories as a consultant and learning how to ask probing and provocative questions as his most important education.
Fink has been an independent consultant since 1982, working in such diverse areas as improving management structure for telecommuting programs, training system developers in user interface design, actually building database systems for a variety of industries, and helping senior managers improve communications within their organizations. He’s currently working on the design and implementation of a hospital messaging system, and is writing a book whose working title is, “Asking Great Questions”.
Fink has been a featured speaker at conferences in the U.S., Canada, Holland, Norway, Sweden, and Ireland, and has spoken four times at Pecha Kucha gatherings in Portland, Maine.
Contact Arthur Fink at arthur@InsightAndClarity.com or 207.615.5722.