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.