This issue features an editorial by Jeff Johnson and Austin Henderson who argue that the usefulness and usability of software is declining. They point out that there is an increasing number of products that have interactive software integrated into them and that the companies that make those products do not have user experience expertise. The authors’ solution is to stress the value of a user-centered design process to the managers of those companies rather than to the engineers who build the products. They urge user experience professionals to follow their lead.
Our first peer-reviewed article by Eva Siegenthaler and colleagues is about a usability evaluation of electronic reading devices, which focused on the value of touch. Their study shows participants preferred touch-screen controls over raised surface buttons that can be depressed like a key. Their findings are consistent with current e-reader technology, which favors touch over physical buttons.
Our second peer-reviewed article by Erika Noll Webb and colleagues investigated the use of comics in online training materials. Their two studies examined how comics can be used to convey both task-based and conceptual information. Participants preferred comics over more traditional training formats. For user experience practitioners, they point out that comics are easy to create with free, online tools.