Gerianne Bertocci sees design problems everywhere.
The usability expert at Manayunk web design firm Intuitive Company notices them on Netflix (she likes the breadth of information the platform offers but thinks that sometime it’s hard to find what you need), ATM machines and even her son’s stroller.
Bertocci, 33, of Drexel Hill, Pa. works with Intuitive’s clients to optimize the usability of the products her company builds for them. She runs usability testing, a trial run where people test what it’s like to interact with the products. She helps identify a client’s user base to make products that are built with that audience in mind.
Below, Bertocci talks about what it’s like to be a usability expert and how it affects her daily life.
How’d you get started doing usability?
When I first started, I had no technology background. I have master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Penn in cultural anthropology, and I kind of fell into tech — happily. I worked at design firms in Center City like Electronic Ink and Design Science. At Design Science, I did ethnographic research on how people use medical devices. I spent time in operating rooms watching how doctors use surgical devices. I realized that my anthropology background wasn’t so removed from the technology world; I was able to use my ability to understand systems and logic to do my job.
What’s a design problem you encounter often?
The biggest one I run into is at ATM card readers. It’s a common practice to have the “Cancel” button on the bottom right hand of the screen and the “Accept” button on the bottom left hand of the screen. But since we read left to right, you often end up canceling your transaction after you’ve gone through three screens. Those little things can be frustrating. I can’t help but see it everywhere even if it’s not something I’m working on.
Give us an example of the work you’ve been doing with a client.
When we design an app, we have to consider what that means on any device. We have one banking client where we did an initial evaluation of who their customers are, and it turned out to be both small startups and larger companies. We had to figure out how to design it appropriately for both those customers. At larger companies, banking work is often done at the desktop, while with startups, it’s mostly done on devices. So we provide a framework for the client to determine whats needed for tablets and desktops.
Whose design do you admire?
I like the simplicity of the mobile apps from [banking startup] Simple and Moven Bank. It’s as simple as possible. The companies have reduced as much of the content as they can because they realize it’s not going to translate to a mobile device.
Any design problems you’ve fixed in your daily life?
My husband and I Macgyvered our son’s stroller. It has two metal bars surrounding the hammock where he sits, and if he moved his head from left to right, he’d hit his head on them. So we wrapped foam around the bars to fix that.-30-
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