The raison d’etre for our user experience research team is driven by Google's keen interest in focusing on the user. So we help many product teams provide the best possible experience to everyone around the world, primarily by inviting thousands of people to take part in usability tests in our labs, and by analyzing our logs to identify problems which need fixing. From this we get the data we help our engineers make Google products as easy as possible to use for the millions of people out there who think computers are far too complicated. People like my Mum, Dad, girlfriend, Gran — and pretty much everyone I know!

We’re one of several Google teams that publish research at academic and industry conferences, and this week a number of us will be attending the CHI (Computer-Human Interaction) conference in Montreal, the world's premiere gathering for CHI researchers and practitioners. Googlers from several teams will take part in eight sessions, each focusing on different aspects of human-computer interaction. (The full program is here – it’s a PDF file.)

A Large Scale Study of Wireless Search Behavior: Google Mobile Search – In a session on Search and Navigation: Mobiles and Audio, we'll present the first large-scale study of search behavior for mobile users, highlighting some shortcomings of wireless search interfaces.

Scaling the card sort method to over 500 items: Restructuring the Google AdWords Help Center – Here we adapt the popular card-sorting research methodology to large information sets where the traditional approach is impractical and discuss how we've applied this technique.

No IM Please, We’re Testing – During the Usability Evaluations: Challenges and Solutions session we’ll discuss the use of instant messaging tools like Google Talk in usability tests, and the benefits of this technique for enabling live collaboration between test moderators and observers.

Add a Dash of Interface: Taking Mash-Ups to the Next Level – Here we contribute to the discussion of how extendable interfaces like Google Maps are enabling exciting new online innovation through the combining of data sources.

Why Do Tagging Systems Work? – This panel will address the design challenges of scaling tagging systems to meet their recent surge in popularity. Gmail is an example of email tagging that offers more flexibility than traditional hierarchical systems.

Design Communication: How Do You Get Your Point Across? – A key challenge for UI designers is communicating solutions and challenges within product teams. This panel focuses on effective ways to do that.

“It’s About the Information, Stupid!” Why We Need a Separate Field of Human Information Interaction – This interdisciplinary panel will discuss arguments for and against a distinct field focusing on information rather than computing technology. One for the theoreticians? (-;

Incorporating Eyetracking into User Studies at Google – In this Eyetracking in Practice workshop, we’ll talk about some of the challenges we’ve encountered in studies of eyetracking in our labs.

If you work in, or study, the area of human-computer interaction, the user experience team is hiring. Right now we’re looking for user experience researchers (including those with specialized quantitative skills), UI designers, and more.