Daniel Chen, M.Sc.

User Experience Designer & Information Architect

A highly motivated user experience professional with background in banking, advertising, e-commerce and social media.

About Me»

Portfolio

I have several years experience in user experience design and consulting. My portfolio ranges from banking to advertising, making me uniquely prepared for any user experience challenge.

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Publications

I have excellent communication skills having published and presented in several peer reviewed conferences and journals in the user experience community, including ACM SIGCHI.

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Research

Prior to working in user experience consulting I led a number of novel projects that pushed the boundaries of human computer interaction. I've accumulated a research video collection.

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I am passionate about user experience design. I have several years of experience designing simple and elegant user experiences for companies in various sectors including banking (the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, CIBC), advertising (BBDO, Leo Burnett), social media marketing (Social Dynamics Interactive) and e-commerce (Novator). My skills include gathering requirements, designing interfaces, and user testing of those interfaces to ensure ease of use.

I graduated from Engineering Science (Computer Engineering Option) at the University of Toronto, where I regularly worked at the EyeTap Personal Imaging (ePI) Lab under Prof. Steve Mann. After finishing my undergrad, I worked in Korea for Samsung Electronics at the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology where I learned a lot about the "real" world but also about life in general. I finished my Master's degree in Computer Science at Queen's University under the supervision of Prof. Roel Vertegaal at the Human Media Lab.

In my spare time, I enjoy learning new languages, and practising existing ones (French, Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese Chinese and Korean). I also continue to help with various side projects with Prof. Steve Mann.

Skills
  • User Experience and User Interface Design
  • Gathering and Defining Requirements
  • Communicating design through information architecture documentation: wireframes, storyboards, site maps, UI specifications etc.
  • Preparing for and Conducting User Testing


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My Process

Understanding the Problem

To better understand the problem, I speak to users, stakeholders (owners and maintainers), customers, and anyone else who may touch or is affected by the system. Often using tools such as personas can help in modelling these various individuals and help understand the nature of the problem better.

Determining Requirements

Requirements are defined from a business, user and technical stand point. Often, the needs of these various groups may conflict, so I help negotiate between the parties to design a better solution. Then, developing requirements documents such as use cases or user stories clarify exactly what needs to be done by the system in conjunction with the user.

Designing UX solutions

To model potential user experience (UX) solutions I develop sketches, mockups and prototypes. Design constraints from earlier, help guide the chaos, ensuring a solution that supports requirements. When an existing system requires re-design, I use techniques such as heuristic evaluation or expert reviews to determine usability pitfalls and find improvements.

User Validation

I verify solutions to meet requirements through user validation such as conducting user testing, where a design is tested on users to see if it requires changes. Similarly, I may perform A/B testing, where many users are tested with two versions of the same product. Sometimes, I enhance the design by studying feedback from online discussion forums.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)

Project: Safety Deposit Box Application on BranchNet (CIBC's intranet)

Understanding the Problem

CIBC had a problem at its bank branches with it's existing "green screen" keyboard-based terminal applications. These systems required memorizing various keyboard shortcuts to accomplish a task. Although expert users (ex. supervisors) had little issue with operating the terminals, new employees took a long time to learn the system. In addition, typical branch employees have a high turnover, so there's always new employees who must be re-trained on the "green screen" system. Another problem in addition to this was that all the existing branch applications were on various separate systems making it difficult to use.

Determining Requirements
  • Must be easy enough to learn and use for new users, meaning a mouse based interface.
  • Must fit on the bank's yet to be designed branch intranet system, "BranchNet".
  • Certain steps and conditions must be enforced in order for the various safety deposit box management tasks to be completed.
Designing UX solutions
  • A wizard design pattern was chosen to ensure that employees complete each step properly, one at a time.
  • Early prototypes were shown to business analysts and stakeholders, integrating feedback into design.
  • Task flow and wireframe documentation took a modular or object oriented approach, components were defined once and simply referred to when used again. This encouraged easy updates, and reuse of components.
User Validation & Results
  • The final design was shown as a high fidelity prototype to employees at various CIBC branches.
  • Employees were given various tasks to complete and asked for their feedback along the way. As well, a questionnaire was given to participants.
  • Results were video recorded using Morae software and showed that users found the application fairly straightforward to use with some minor usability issues, making the project a success.

Novator

Client: Brookstone

Project: Brookstone.com

Understanding the Problem

Brookstone is a leading e-commerce retailer, providing unique products across the world. Brookstone.com is an e-commerce website which required frequent updates and changes to functionality. This meant there was a high complexity of features, feature changes and timelines to keep track of. At the time I joined the project, Novator was already providing Brookstone with development and design expertise.

Determining Requirements
  • Maintenance and updating of specifications, to document any changes to functionality or content.
Designing UX solutions
  • Wireframes were designed and documented by myself to capture design details for the complex website.
  • Meetings were frequently held between myself, business analysts, program managers, and graphic designers to keep track of current changes and plan future updates.
User Validation & Results
  • Although there was no explicit user testing done for this project, feedback from the client who deals with users was very positive.

BBDO

Client: Pepsi

Project: Pepsiaccess.ca

Understanding the Problem

At BBDO, I worked for several clients, however the largest client which I spent the most time on was Pepsi. Pepsi wanted to redesign their existing Pepsiaccess.ca website. The existing site was focused on redemption of Pepsi points (which could be found in Pepsi bottle caps), however this approach had a limited reach of potential customers, and it did little to re-enforce to Pepsi brand. Pepsi needed to have a fresh approach, one that took advantage of it's various content partners.

Determining Requirements
  • Instead of offering a small number of users prizes, Pepsiaccess.ca needed to offer an experience to it's users. This meant bringing together it's various content partners (such as music, sports and games), and tying this new content together in a coherent way that reflected the vibrancy of the Pepsi brand.
Designing UX solutions
  • Frequently collaborated with a team of graphic designers, copy writers, project managers, and technology partners to conceptualize what design could support the needs of users and satisfy the business requirements of Pepsi.
  • Performed expert heuristic reviews to catch any usability issues.
  • Delivered information architecture documentation, which was scrutinized by the entire team, including wireframes, site maps, and user flows.
User Validation & Results
  • Conducted online discussion forum research for the existing site to determine what usability issues users had.
  • Wrote a report and tabulated a graph illustrating the most common problems users had with the site.
  • Presented research results to the team, and the feedback was incorporated into the re-design of the Pepsiaccess.ca website.

Client: Colorectal Cancer Screening Initiative Foundation

Project: Screencolons.ca

Understanding the Problem

Colorectal cancer is one of the most deadly forms of cancer, yet it is preventable with early detection. The Canadian Colorectal Cancer Foundation's (CCSIF) goal was to spread awareness about colorectal cancer and encourage early screening. CCSIF had an existing web site, however it was poorly designed and disorganized. BBDO offered to do some pro-bono (free) work for CCSIF, and assigned me the job of independently investigating improvements that could be made for the usability and ultimately user experience of the existing website.

Determining Requirements
  • CCSIF would require a usability report to document precise suggestions to improve the overall design and usability of the website.
Designing UX solutions
  • To create the report, I conducted a heuristic evaluation or review, which systematically went through the various usability pit falls the site currently had.
  • An evaluation was provided for each website page, and the usability pain points were examined according to design, content and navigation. Screenshots and labels were used to illustrate precisely where the usability issues existed.
User Validation & Results
  • The account manager that assigned me this project found my report so compelling, that he felt it was too valuable to give away completely free to the client. Instead, he felt it would be better to give a condensed power point version to the client and charge money for the rest of the report later.


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You can find below a number of projects which I've been involved in over the years. You will need the divx codec to view the downloaded video:

Digital Signage and Video Jockeying

Real-Time Video Effects: I've always liked clubbing with my friends and I thought it would be neat to bring what I've been experimenting with at school to the nightclub. Nightclubs understand the importance of delivering an experience and so do Human Computer Interaction (HCI) researchers. I, along with a group of colleagues with a background in computer graphics and computer vision, co--founded a Video Jockey crew called adfusium.com that would perform at local nightclubs. We first began performing at Elixir in Kingston, writing the video jockeying code during the day while staying up late at night mixing the videos live. We used a mixture of live feeds and previously recorded video. Later, we helped set up permanent "Designer digital signage" systems at Elixir so that they could use the systems for pushing their advertising content while patrons lined up at the bar.

Physiologically Attentive User Interface (PAUI)

Predicting User Availability from physiology: We often need to let others know how available we are to prevent being interrupted when we are busy, or to receive notifications when we are available. Typically, instant messenger users let other users know their current availability for interruptions by manually toggling a status bar. The PAUI was an Attentive User Interface that allowed a computer to automatically determine the availability (or interruptability) of a user and display this information to others.

Downloads:
PAUI Clip from the Discovery Channel Feature. [mpg 32 MB]
Entire Discovery Channel Feature on Attentive User Interfaces. [mpg 72 MB]
My Master's Thesis: "The Physiologically Attentive User Interface: Towards a Physiological Model of Interruptability". [pdf]

Direct User Interface

Using Real Hands for Virtual Interaction: One of the most interesting input devices is the EyeTap which is a type of electric eyeglasses that allows users to experience mediated reality, whereby a computer can computationally modify the user's perception of reality. In this way it becomes possible to interact with virtual and real worlds, both at the same time. One of my graduate school projects was to allow for hands to be used for interaction, since hands are one of the most natural extensions of the human body to interact with objects. I wrote some computer vision code based around some OpenCV demos that tracked the hand, allowed for a virtual marker to be manipulated and recognized basic gestures.
Downloads:
EyeTap Input Video [mpg 19.4 MB]

Direct Transfer Via Gloves


Metaphor free manipulation of virtual content:While working at Samsung Electronics I joined an existing group that was interested in an accelerometer based glove called Scurry. Scurry had 6 degrees of freedom. Scurry allowed for users to type in the air, and also move a mouse, without the need of a referential sensor (it was entirely MEMS based). However, if we look at how people use their hands, for millions and millions of years, much of it is to carry things. With this reasoning, I introduced a completely novel use of Scurry, that was to allow users to carry virtual information around and exchange it with others, much as they would do with their own hands.
Email me if you are interested in full details on the work.


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I am open to contact, the best way to reach me is through e-mail. I'm very likely to answer. Otherwise, you can reach me on chat and phone.

e-mail

dan @ danielchen.me

Chat

skype: hicamproject

msn: dan_chen33 @ hotmail.com

gtalk: daftcyborg @ gmail.com

Phone

cell: 647-202-3861













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