PMT Discussion Topics (Feb 18)


  • Typical day walkthrough: What kind of personal and public devices do you encounter in a typical day?

    • If needed prompt with examples: phone, tv, microwave (?) etc.

    • What do you do on these devices?

    • How long do you spend on these devices?

  • Set-up: Did you or someone else set up the personal devices before using them? How about the public devices?

    • What was that process like?

  • OS and application settings: Do you have any system or application settings on your personal devices? What are the settings?

    • If needed prompt with examples: screen reader settings, text settings, volume settings, contrast settings

  • Web settings: Do you modify settings on web services - such as mail, social networks, etc. - to make them easier to use?

  • What, when, why,  where: How often do you change settings on your devices?

    • What settings do you need to change most frequently?

      • If needed prompt with examples: video volume, zoom level

    • What circumstances prompted you to modify those settings?

    • Where do you go to modify those settings?

      • If needed prompt with examples: hardware buttons, application settings, toolbars, shortcuts, etc.

  • Experience reflection: How comfortable do you find modifying settings in [ tools user mentioned in above ]?

    • What makes the experience [ comfortable/uncomfortable ]?

  • Future: Have you come across any devices that you wish to use but can’t?

    • What prevents you from using those devices?

    • Is there any settings you think would benefit you, but are unavailable?


  • WHAT (else) to test?

  • HOW to best structure the testing to answer these questions?

  • when (in a user’s workflow) are settings changed?

    • in the midst of / prior to starting a task?during a designated “preference setting” session?

    • From - external events: office moves, personnel changes, going on trips, etc. that force users to stop their normal work and think about how they organize their time / social pressure: from colleagues who want to share preferences / software changes: breakdowns, upgrades, or addition of a new program / internal factors: boredom or sudden access to spare time

  • when would preference tools be introduced to a user? (see above)

  • where do users go to make changes to settings/preferences?

    • website, browser,  OS, hardware?

    • how does the process of changing settings vary across different circumstances?

    • where might users expect to find a preference setting tool?

  • what do users view as a preference? (this could be a direct user test question)

    • From Shari’s email - [GlobalPreferences] consulting with users: These potential users do not differentiate between accessibility features and other computer features. When I asked what would make computers, smartphones or tablets easier for them to use, the things they brought up were mostly not related to accessibility, but to everyday challenges and frustrations with using technology.  For example, one person wanted "more gigabytes for less money", and another suggested that "more ports" would make his computer more useful…

    • also, UIO contextual inquiry & SME research

  • when presented with items we define as preferences how do users  categorize them?
    • include items we don’t define as a preference? e.g. hardware options, ‘no ads’, etc.
  • do users distinguish between an ‘ephemeral/temporary preference’ vs a ‘ permanent preference’?  (this relates to saving - when and how)


search bar ease of use

  • with label ‘search all preferences’
  • with label and good example (e.g. eyes tired)
  • with label, good example, and recommendations

curated categories relevance

  • need based (e.g. “Easier to see”)
  • function based (e.g. “visual enhancements”)
  •  ‘iconic’ preference/preset based (e.g. “Text size”) - reference point for further refinement (e.g., last step in Songza)

switching between preferences and presets

  • should presets always be available? or only on initial use?
  • when and how to make connection between presets and individual preferences?
  • conflict between presets?
  • applying a preset, modifying related preferences, then un-applying a preset?

adjuster variations

  • which one(s) works best
  • when to offer multiple types of adjuster
  • consistency
  • variation based on input method & context

conditions (page 11-15 / )

  • conditions to preference sets
  • conditions to individual preferences (more like exceptions)
  • preferences to conditions
  • conditional preference (e.g. auto-brightness)


  • no sets: conditions are added to preferences
  • sets: ‘base set’ preferences are used as a foundation, subsets are preference exceptions to the base set. preferences that exceptions aren’t made for in the subset are changed according to the value made in the ‘base set’
  • sets: all sets are independent

saving expectations ( )

  • auto-save
  • auto-save with option to apply last auto-saved set on new device
  • explicit save


* any device a user encounters responds to their preferences

user preferences are applied to devices, but devices maintain unique features

- - - or - - -

any device a user encounters responds to their expectations

same interface is presented on every device (e.g. keepod)

- - - or - - -

a user carries around a device they use to interact with their environment

the user’s personal device customizes their experience to fit their needs (e.g. buying tickets on phone vs person/machine kiosk)


a user first creates a preference set in any of the C4A tools

* a user first creates a preference set with specialized C4A tools (e.g. PMT, discovery tool)

* a user first creates a preference set through existing tools (e.g. OS system preference)

* a user first creates a preference set by importing a shared set created by someone else


* a user modifies preferences only in set of C4A tools

preferences automatically transfer between tools

a user modifies preferences through a wide range of C4A and non-C4A tools

preferences automatically transfer between tools? (e.g. what happens when user is making adjustments in both spaces?  how are they prioritized? how will common terms vs non-common terms be handled?)



a user's preferences represent all transformations or enhancements possible on a device

- - - or - - -

* a user's preferences represent general transformations or enhancements possible on  devices (i.e. common terms)

 - - - or - - -

a user's preferences represent essential transformations or enhancements for the user to be able to interact with a device (simplified, need-based preference set - user selects from broader categories with limited granularity - presets?)

a user’s preference set effects settings for:

  • * os
  • * applications

* web services (related to sharing preferences privacy work?) e.g. Google drive

a user’s preference set effects settings for:

  • * os
  • * applications

* web services (related to sharing preferences privacy work?) e.g. Google drive

when refining/tweaking preferences, a user has access to:

  • * preferences they have modified before
  • * preferences they have indicated in the past that they wish to modify in the future
  • * system recommended starters
  • * preferences related to the ones they’ve modified before
  • * preferences related to the context they’re in
  • * completely new preferences

things to consider

  • keeping the tool as simple as possible
  • avoid creating barriers to access by limiting availability
  • realistic use cases


* a user has different preferences set depending on the context and the device responds accordingly

different sets of user preferences are applied to devices depending on the context

* the device monitors a user’s behaviour and makes context based adjustments

user preferences are changed automatically by the device (this could even be one preference set which contains multiple conditional preferences)

* user has only one preference set - if user has context-dependent preferences adjustments are done manually

things to consider

realistic use cases for multiple preference sets?

* a user can modify preferences for any context (device, location etc) from any context

- - - or - - -

a user can only modify preferences for their current context

i.e. does user have to be in a given context to make preference adjustments for that context?


any modified setting is a preference (autosave always across all devices)

- - - or - - -

* any modified setting is a preference for the device it was modified on,  a setting needs to be confirmed on a new device to become a preference for that device (auto-saving option)

- - - or - - -

* modified settings need to be confirmed to be a preference (explicit save & apply button)

when a user re-visits a device, the preferences applied are the same as they last left the device

- - - or - - -

when a user re-visits a device, the appropriate last saved set is applied to the device