Category Archives: Events

PhillyCHI – iSchool Panel: "The Role of Failure in Design"

Date: Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Time: 6 – 8PM
Refreshments will be served from 6 – 6:30PM
Location: Bossone Center, Drexel University
31st & Market Streets Philadelphia, PA 19103

“In the case of a real design problem, even our conviction that there is such a thing as fit to be achieved is curiously flimsy and insubstantial. We are searching for some kind of harmony between two intangibles: a form which we have not yet designed, and a context which we cannot properly describe. The only reason that we have for thinking that there must be some kind of fit to be achieved between them is that we can detect incongruities, or negative instances of it. The incongruities in an ensemble are the primary data of experience.”

– Christopher Alexander, the originator of the concept of design patterns. ‘Notes on the Synthesis of Form’ (1964)

“Success and failure in design are intertwined. Though a focus on failure can lead to success, too great a reliance on successful precedents can lead to failure. Success is not simply the absence of failure; it also masks potential modes of failure. Emulating success may be efficacious in the short term, but such behavior invariably and surprisingly leads to failure itself.”

– Henry Petroski. ‘Success through Failure: The Paradox of Design’ (2006)

Please join PhillyCHI and the iSchool at Drexel University for a panel discussion on the different perspectives of how failure can inform design. The iSchool has gathered a panel of researchers and practitioners to discuss in theoretical and practical terms what and how we can learn from failure in the design process. The panel will begin with a brief introduction of the topic by the moderator, Dr. Michael Atwood. Panelists will then present brief statements relating their background and experience on the topic. The remainder of the session will be a moderated discussion among the panelists and the audience.


Michael Atwood, PhD
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs/Research, The iSchool at Drexel University

Dr. Atwood’s major teaching interests include human-computer interaction, computer-supported cooperative work, and artificial intelligence. His research focuses on human-computer interaction, supporting communication and collaboration among groups involved in system design activities, and on organizational memory. His professional experience includes research and development of interactive systems and expert systems, software engineering process improvement, software project management, and software product development.


Liza Potts, PhD
Director of Human Factors, Electronic Ink

As Director of Human Factors, a leadership role at Electronic Ink, Liza Potts heads up the team of cognitive psychologists, anthropologists, quantitative analysts, and user experience architects who are dedicated to bringing the understanding of target audiences to new levels. At Liza’s direction, leading-edge research is conducted at Electronic Ink’s Usability Lab at company headquarters, or on-site with the company’s Mobile Usability Lab. The lab’s technology includes state-of-the-art eye tracking equipment that pinpoints visual response to discover key findings that drive the functionality of custom applications for Electronic Ink’s clients.

Tom Hewett, PhD
Professor of Psychology and Professor of Computer Science, Drexel University

Tom’s teaching includes the Psychology of Human Computer Interaction Design and the Psychology of Problem Solving and Creativity. Tom is a published software author and has written on the use of computers in teaching. His current research focuses on understanding the computing support needs of expert knowledge workers.

Mathieu Turpault
Senior Designer, Bresslergroup

Mathieu has more than eleven years of experience in the field of industrial design and has won numerous awards including IDEAs, ID magazine and AM awards. Mathieu is currently client manager and lead industrial designer in addition to his role as production manager for Bresslergroup, an award winning product development consultancy, with a 35 year history of design excellence and long term client relationships.


The iSchool at Drexel University – empowering society by uniting people, technology, and knowledge through innovative education and research

Founded in 1892, the iSchool at Drexel, College of Information Science and Technology educates students in information science and technology at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels and features Drexel University’s Cooperative Education program. The College is a founding member of the iSchools Caucus of 19 prominent schools dedicated to teaching and learning about information use and management.

PhillyCHI | CreativeConnects Joint Happy Hour

* Note: this PhillyCHI social event is one day earlier than the standing third Thursday of the month. *

Date: Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Time: 5:30PM – 8PM
Place: Alfa Bar
1709 Walnut Street, Philadelphia 19103
No RSVP Required.

For our November social event, PhillyCHI will join the CreativeConnects Happy Hour at Alfa Bar from 5:30PM to 8PM.

CreativeConnects is a free monthly social event, hosted by The BOSS Group for creative, marketing, communications, advertising and web professionals. Come network with colleagues, meet new people, keep up with industry news and get leads on jobs and business opportunities. Light appetizers and one free drink will be provided courtesy of The BOSS Group.

About the BOSS Group
The BOSS Group is, literally, where talent and opportunity meet. It’s where creative, marketing and web professionals come to find jobs and assignments, resources and industry connections, and where clients find the talent that will help them succeed.

We’re committed to meeting the employment needs of employers and individuals with equal success. Our unparalleled creative staffing expertise and close partnerships with our talent and clients alike offer a true competitive advantage.

The BOSS Group is a certified Women’s Business Enterprise and a 2007 and 2006 Best Place To Work.

PhillyCHI October Meeting – Dennis Schleicher & the Raiders of the Lost Glove Box: How Anthropology and Web Design Go Together

Please join us for a very interesting discussion of anthropology and design at this month’s PhillyCHI meeting.

Date: Tuesday, October 30th
Time: 6:00PM – 8:00PM
* Refreshments & socializing from 6:00PM – 6:30PM *
Location: Wu & Chen Auditorium, Levine Hall, University of Pennsylvania
Address: 3330 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Please RSVP:

About the Presentation

In this presentation, Dennis will share some of his adventures using anthropological tools to inform design including some fascinating insights uncovered from raiding people’s glove boxes, which directly drove the experience design of the Ford vehicles owners’ website. The presentation will help attendees begin to look at Web Design through an anthropological lens, shedding new light on old design problems.

Dennis will also discuss some of the cutting edge ideas and methodologies recently presented at the EPIC2007, the premier international event for practitioners of ethnographic work in industry (not academic). In addition, he will speculate as to what might be some near-term trends we all should take note of.

About the Presenter

Mr. Schleicher is a Senior Information Architect at in Baltimore Maryland. He has a background in business and industrial anthropology and has been working awhile in the field of information technology and culture. He later moved into Information Architecture and found, to his surprise, that many anthropological tools and skills were very useful to IA and Web design.

Learn about Dennis at:

About Our Sponsor


Messagefirst is Philadelphia-based design research consulting firm. We work with companies to help them increase revenues, decrease costs, and ultimately improve the user experience of their products or services. Our goal-oriented data-driven design process improves performance and creates compelling experiences that solve business problems in a beautiful way. And unlike other consulting firms, we don’t just redesign products and service – we actually work with your team to plan and implement the design solution.

To learn more about Messagefirst, please visit:

PhillyCHI September Meeting – A Hands-On Introduction to Eyetracking

Date: Thursday, September 27, 2007
Time: 6:00PM – 8:00PM
* Refreshments & socializing from 6:00PM – 6:30PM *
Location: GSI Commerce
1075 First Avenue, King of Prussia, PA 19406
* Please note: this is event is not at GSI headquarters (935 First Avenue) but at the GSI Interactive building (1075 First Avenue). *

More Than an Introduction to Eyetracking

We’ve all attended “Intro to…” presentations that are long on generalities and summary, but don’t really provide the specifics we need to decide if a new method is right for us. This introduction has been specifically designed to be very hands-on, providing attendees with an introduction that will actually help them understand and use eyetracking.

For PhillyCHI’s September meeting, Jean E. Fox, Ph.D., Kathryn Summers, Ph.D., and Michael R. Summers, M.S. will introduce participants to a brief history of eyetracking, explain some of the basic theoretical and methodological foundations of the research, and share how it can benefit usability testing. They will then conduct a live study that will allow volunteers to use the eyetracker to attempt tasks in front of their fellow participants. They will then briefly discuss how and why to set up eyetracking studies and how these evaluations are different from standard usability tests.

They’ll cover topics such as
* designing the study (specifically selecting tasks and whether to use think aloud),
* recruiting participants, and
* setting up the test environment

After the eyetracking demonstration, the presenters will briefly analyze the data and demonstrate Tobii’s data analysis software before embarking on several case studies that show detailed examples of how eyetracking data was used in real client deliverables. The focus will be on how eyetracking provides practical input to solve specific user-centered design issues. Implications for eyetracking on current research, and question-and-answer with attendees will cover a range of topics including practical ways to start using eyetracking in an affordable way.

Whether you are planning to introduce eyetracking into your user research practice, are currently using eyetracking, or are simply want to learn more about the technology and methodology of eyetracking, you are sure to get a lot of this engaging presentation and demonstration.

About the Presenters

Jean E. Fox, Ph.D., Bureau of Labor Statistics
Jean Fox has been involved in the usability field since 1988, when she joined American Institutes for Research. At AIR, she worked on a variety of projects for government and industry clients. Currently, Jean works at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, where she is responsible for the usability efforts in the design of data collection applications for the Consumer Price Index and a variety of other BLS programs. She has presented at numerous usability-related conferences and workshops.
Jean has been involved in BLS’ recent effort to incorporate eyetracking into their usability evaluations. She and her colleagues are working to incorporate their lessons learned from this effort to refine their methodology. She will share her experience with others learning to incorporate eyetracking into their usability methodologies.

Kathryn Summers, Ph.D., SUMMERS Consulting / University of Baltimore
Kathryn was one of the first researchers in the DC Metro area to begin using eyetracking. She introduced NN/g, HFI, and several other organizations to eyetracking. She teaches user research, usability testing, and interaction design for the University of Baltimore’s master’s program in Interaction Design and Information Architecture. Her consulting work integrates the theoretical and the concrete through usability testing and usability design reviews. She rigorously applies recognized usability principles and test methods to careful, detailed observations of user interactions.

Along with a host of projects for major corporations, she has done research about navigation, on-line reading comprehension, and information design. She has spoken at a number of international research conferences, and published in industry journals.

Michael R. Summers, M.S., SUMMERS Consulting
Prior to founding SUMMERS Consulting, Michael was User Experience Specialist with Nielsen Norman Group, Director of User Research with Scient New York, and Senior Information Architect with USWeb/CKS Washington DC. He has advised several global organizations about user experience, including AltaVista, AstraZeneca, GSI Commerce, Major League Baseball, Morgan Stanley, Pfizer, REUTERS, and The National Council on the Aging.

Michael has been invited to speak about user-centered design to the American Center for Design, the American Institute of Graphic Arts, the Association for Computing Machinery’s special interest group in Computer-Human Interaction, and the Usability Professional’s Association.

About Our Sponsor

gsi commerce

GSI Commerce is a leading provider of e-commerce solutions that enable retailers, branded manufacturers, entertainment companies and professional sports organizations to operate e-commerce businesses. GSI Commerce began its e-commerce business in 1999 and initially targeted the sporting goods category. Since fiscal 2001, they have expanded their reach and now offer solutions to companies in seven additional retail categories: apparel, health & beauty, consumer electronics, entertainment, home, jewelry & luxury goods and toys. GSI Commerce provides e-commerce solutions for more than 50 partners. They provide solutions for their partners in the United States through our integrated e-commerce platform, which is comprised of three components: technology, logistics and customer care, and marketing services. They employ approximately 1,550 people, the majority of which are based at headquarters in King of Prussia, Pa., two fulfillment centers in Kentucky and customer care center in Melbourne, Fla. GSI also offers international e-commerce solutions through GSI Commerce Europe Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of GSI Commerce. GSI Commerce trades on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange under the symbol, GSIC.

To learn more about GSI Commerce, please visit:

PhillyCHI August Meeting – Taxonomy: Shoulders to Stand On

“Taxonomy: Shoulders to Stand On”
Date: Thursday, August 23, 2007
Time: 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
* Meet & greet from 6:00 pm – 6:30 pm *
Location: Berger Auditorium, Skirkanich Hall, University of Pennsylvania
210 South 33rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
RSVP (not necessary, but nice):

For this month’s PhillyCHI meeting, we’ve assembled a panel to discuss a foundational topic: taxonomy.

Most of us know that taxonomy has something to do with organizing things. We hear it occasionally during meetings or when speaking to certain system specialists who contribute to our projects.

Few of us know, however, that taxonomy is the practice of classification, which originally began as a science devoted to the classification of living organisms. And that over time, taxonomy has become known as the classification of just about anything and everything.

Even fewer of us get down into the weeds and do the work that goes beyond simple classification that makes today’s information systems work: meta data, facets, controlled vocabulary, thesauri, synonym maps, ontologies, tagging…

What’s troubling about this divide between those that know about taxonomy and those that don’t is the very importance of taxonomy. For many of us, our waking hours are spent creating applications, websites, and interactive products that could not function without well-structured, carefully crafted information structures.

This month’s PhillyCHI meeting will explore in practical and tangible terms the specific ways taxonomy is important to the work we do. We will discuss the design, implementation, and governance of taxonomies by examining four real-world case studies:

  • a user-centric catalog for a large e-commerce site and its impact on the user experience
  • a content-heavy non-profit information site
  • a system processing data through controlled vocabularies and thesauri
  • a consumer-driven search engine

Whether you are a librarian, a designer or developer facing ever-increasingly complex information structures, or a product manager tasked with getting the client on board with investing in meta data, you’ll find interest in this meeting’s discussion. Plenty of time will be reserved at the end of the meeting for discussion, so bring your tough questions!

Panel Participants

Dave Cooksey, GSI Commerce, Inc

Dave is an Information Architect who works to ensure usability and findability a place at the table during the design & development of e-commerce sites. He currently focuses on taxonomy & faceted search/navigation, user research techniques, usability practices, and how to bring business & design closer.

Emily Culbertson, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

As web managing director at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Emily oversees user experience and information architecture. Previously, she has managed health information Web projects for pharmaceutical and consumer products clients at I-SITE and at the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

John Ferrara, Vanguard

John is an Information Architect and human-computer interface practitioner responsible for structure, information design, and interface usability at Vanguard. He is experienced in design and administration of a variety of evaluation methods including: user testing, heuristic evaluation, cognitive walkthrough, surveys, and quantitative methods.

Julia Remick, Yellow Book USA

Julia is an Information Scientist within the Internet operations of Yellow Book USA, working primarily to ensure the integrity of their website’s taxonomy and to maintain its cohesion with the current search logic. She examines site metrics to determine keyword frequencies and search trends, forecasts how the development of new logic will interact with the present structure of the taxonomy, and is currently exploring new tools to expand and enhance the performance of the current taxonomy.

PhillyCHI | UPAPA Joint Meeting – Jared Spool

“Brave New World: Usability & Web 2.0″
Date: Monday July 23, 2007
Time: 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
* Meet & greet from 6:00 pm – 6:30 pm *
Location: Berger Auditorium, Skirkanich Hall, University of Pennsylvania
210 South 33rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
RSVP: Space is limited so RSVP early!

About This Event
Once again, everything is exciting. The advent of social networks, APIs, mashups, RSS, aggregators, and folksonomies promise a world where the information and services we’ve always wanted are delivered right to our browser.

However, delivering on the promise is easier said than done. Moving from a great concept to an exceptional user experience proves to be more of a challenge than many people thought. What works on a small scale is a very different story, when put into production.

As Spiderman’s Uncle Ben pointed out, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Just because we can do all these things doesn’t mean we should do them. In the early 1980’s, the cheap availability of laser printers and digital fonts produced a plethora of documents that more resembled ransom notes than professional publications. We could easily imagine designers going wild with the capabilities of this new technology and not using the restraint necessary to ensure they produce an optimal experience.

In this entertaining and informative presentation, Jared will show examples of the usability challenges we face as the web continues to change and evolve. He’ll discuss the implications of “The Long Tail”, the introduction of a mashup mentality in business environments, and how basic techniques, such as usability testing and field studies, change when social network is at the center of the design.

About Jared Spool, Founding Principal, UIE
If you’ve ever seen Jared speak about usability, you know that he’s probably the most effective, knowledgeable communicator on the subject today. What you probably don’t know is that he has guided the research agenda and built User Interface Engineering into the largest research organization of its kind in the world. He’s been working in the field of usability and design since 1978, before the term “usability” was ever associated with computers.

Jared spends his time working with the research teams at the company, helps clients understand how to solve their design problems, explains to reporters and industry analysts what the current state of design is all about, and is a top-rated speaker at more than 20 conferences every year. He is also the conference chair and keynote speaker at the annual User Interface Conference, is on the faculty of the Tufts University Gordon Institute, and manages to squeeze in a fair amount of writing time.

About User Interface Engineering (UIE)
User Interface Engineering is a leading research company, specializing in helping design professionals produce delightful and enticing user experiences. They work with all of the top organizations in the technology space and help thousands of designers every year. Hosting events, such as the annual User Interface Conference and the brand new Web App Summit, UIE continues to push the envelope of new design practices and techniques.

You can find more information about UIE and learn about their latest research at

About the Sponsor: Refinery, Inc. now G2
This event is sponsored by Refinery, Inc., now known as G2, an award-winning Advertising Age Top 30 interactive agency servicing area Fortune 1000 clients.

You can learn more about Refinery at