Meet The Authors of ShinyHappyUsers

-Eric Drewski graduated from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication. He is currently working towards a master’s degree in journalism/mass communication at the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication at Iowa State University. He is researching the uses and gratifications derived from mobile communication devices, specifically mp3 players. Eric’ss research interests include informatics, information science and scientific and technical communication.

-Kevin Godby has degrees in computer systems/networking, technology management, and psychology. He is currently a doctoral student in the Human Computer Interaction Program at Iowa State University. His research interests include user interface design, developmental robotics, human-robot interaction, computational linguistics, and cognitive psychology. Kevin can be contacted at [email protected] or

-Trent Grover graduated from Iowa State with his bachelor’s degree in computer science in 2001, where he was already exploring the artistic uses of technology. Before graduation he cofounded Micoy, a company specializing in immersive video technologies. As acting CTO, he has developed five patents in the area of panoramic stereoscopic video capture and display technologies. Trent has since returned to ISU to pursue his master’s degree in integrated visual arts, focusing on novel uses of technology in the creation of interactive fine art.

-Elena Maximova is on a quest to bridge the divide between art and science through human–computer interaction. Originally trained as an actress at the Russian Academy of Theatre Arts in Moscow, she has also worked as a fashion photographer, costume and set designer in her native Odessa, Ukraine, before moving to the United States and earning bachelor’s degrees in management information science and accounting. She is now working towards a doctorate in the Human Computer Interaction Program at Iowa State University, where her thesis project involves the production of Eugène Ionesco’s “The Chairs” in a virtual reality environment.

-Michael Oren is currently pursuing a master’s degree in the Human Computer Interaction Program at Iowa State University (Ames, Iowa). He did his undergraduate study at DePauw University (Greencastle, Indiana) in computer science and English. Mike’s thesis work is on an audio game for the visually impaired, which attempts to represent the core objects in a platform game (think Mario or Sonic) through audio cues. The goal of the project is to create an audio game where people with visual impairments will be able to complete levels in roughly the same time as sighted users playing the game wth graphics.

-Derrick Parkhurst was the instructor of record for the course that resulted in the creation of this text, but is much more of a student than any of the actual students realize. Derrick is also the associate chair of the Human Computer Interaction Program at Iowa State University and assistant professor in the Department of Psychology. His research interests include understanding how humans process visual information and the development of new human computer interfaces. Derrick can be contacted at [email protected]

-Janea Triplett is a doctoral student in Human Computer Interaction at Iowa State University. Her background is eclectic. In the early 90s she stumbled into Web development. A decade later, she returned to school to pursue studies in anthropology, business, language, and sociology. As a volunteer consultant, she has worked in Africa and southeast Asia on systems design and small business development. Her research interests include health information systems, assistive technology, geographic information systems, and technology and social change.

-Valerie Williams – Choreographer, dancer, and director, she has been working professionally in modern dance, musical theater, opera, and Renaissance dance since 1973. She believes that dancers are smarter than dogs and in 2001 became interested in developing interactive technologies that allow her dancers control over their stage environment. Currently she is working toward a master’s degree in HCI at Iowa State University. She continues to make dances that you can check out at


Know the Story


Shiny Happy Users is a collection of short essays that explore issues surrounding the design, development and testing of user interfaces. These essays were produced by the participants in the graduate course entitled Scientific Methods of Human Computer Interaction offered in the spring 2007 as part of the Human Computer Interaction Program at Iowa State University. The assigned text for the course was Observing the User Experience: A Practitioner’s Guide to User Research written by Mike Kuniavsky and published by Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, an Imprint of Elsevier, in 2003.

Observing the User Experience is an excellent and extensive book that reviews the why, when, who, and how of user experience research techniques. Over the semester, we read one chapter per week as background reading. The weekly coursework required each participant to research and review a secondary source related to the chapter assigned for that week and then post a brief summary of the secondary source to a public blog for the course. Class activities consisted of 15 minute presentations made by each participant followed by group discussion. At the end of the course, we had collected well over 100 essays on our blog. Each essay was supplemented by a digitally recorded audio video presentation and an electronic copy of the presentation slides.

We benefited from each other’s presentations and hope that our work might similarly benefit others. Thus we have decided to make our essays and presentations available in an archival format. You may wish to use Shiny Happy Users as an additional resource as you read Observing the User Experience. To make this as easy as possible, we have organized our essays by chapters as presented in Observing the User Experience.

We also hope that Shiny Happy Users stands on its own as a collection of interesting essays relevant to improving the user experience and creating shiny happy users.

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Learn how to think like, study, and design for Shiny Happy Users

Shiny Happy Users is a series of essays and audio-video podcasts focused on website design, implementation and user research. Topics include user experience, usability testing, iterative development, website design, interface prototyping, user interviews, user profiles, personas, contextual inquiry, card sorting, focus groups, surveys, and diary studies. You can read more about Shiny Happy Users.

Shiny Happy Users is worth your time! You can check out example essays and podcasts!

Shiny Happy Users is free! You can download the eBook and Podcasts from this website. Alternatively, you can order the book and DVD from The book and DVD are inexpensive, priced just at the cost of production.

Shiny Happy Users can be shared! All of the content is licensed under the Creative Commons Noncommercial Share Alike 3.0 License.


What is Design

Design – Understanding design is a creative activity to plan and design something that is generally functional and does not exist before in order to solve a particular problem so that it has more value and becomes more useful for its users.

This statement is reinforced by one of the design experts JB Reswick who argues that design is a creative activity that involves creating something new and useful that has not existed before.

However, the notion of design is not only that simple, because design is formed from the various contexts that form it. Starting from dictionary definitions, goals, functions and even to other extrinsic factors such as social acceptance.

So we should explore one by one the definition of design based on its constituent elements, starting from the most basic understanding, namely from the meaning of the word itself or lexically (the definition of a language dictionary).

Definition of Design based on the Meaning of the Word

The word “design” is a new Indonesian word from English: design. Actually the word “design” or “design” is a translation that can be used. However, in its development the word “design” shifted the meaning of the word “design” because the word could not accommodate the activities, knowledge, breadth and prestige of the profession or competence of designers (Sachari, 2000).

Through etymological studies, it is known that design comes from the Latin, namely: designare which means: to make, shape, mark, point. The definition of design itself in the Oxford Dictionary is a plan or drawing made to show the appearance and function of a building, clothing, or other object before it is actually made. In addition, oxford also lists another definition option for design, namely: “decorative pattern”.

Meanwhile, when it is absorbed and used by Indonesian, based on the KBBI the meaning of Design becomes: 1. form framework; design, 2. motive; pattern; pattern.

So it can be concluded that the notion of design is planning and designing to make an object, both in terms of appearance and function. Design can also mean objects or pictures/graphics resulting from the design activity itself.

As it turns out, the design itself can mean the object or image that it produces itself, not just the process. In addition, it turns out that something produced by design can also be in the form of pictures/patterns/patterns, not just objects. So we have to explore, actually what can be produced by design.

Design Science Branch

Design can produce a variety of products ranging from physical objects or wearables such as clothes, household appliances, crafts, etc. Contrary to these various objects, design is also used to create more psychic things such as producing visual comfort in the interface of websites, mobile applications, etc. Architecture and interiors can also be a product of the design process.

Due to the wide variety of results, the design can be derived into several branches of their respective sciences. The following is the division of several branches of design science:

Graphic Design (Visual Communication Design); Is a branch of design science that prioritizes the visual communication it produces. Graphic Design must produce communication that provides sensory comfort and conveys well to the masses. A full explanation of graphic design can be found at the following link.

Product Design (Industrial Design); Product design focuses on the functionality and appearance of disposable items to be produced industrially. In addition to the beauty of the appearance, this concentration also requires a designer to pay attention to ergonomics or physical comfort in the objects that are created. A full explanation of the product design can be seen at the link below.

Design interior; Interior design focuses on designing the interior of a space in a building. What furniture should be provided in a room, how will it be laid out, etc. Interior design must be able to make efficient use of the space that has been generated by the architectural design.
Architectural Design; The branch of design science that is concentrated on the design of buildings. Because there are too many technical aspects of the building, this discipline usually doesn’t bring design frills in front of it.

Through the division of concentration, the science of design becomes more focused and focused. The division of the branch of design science also answers the question of what design can produce.