Design and Innovation Daily

More from Interaction10

Posted in culture, interaction design, philosophy, product design, theory, user experience by Dan on February 26, 2010

Picking up on yesterday’s topic, here are a few more highlights from Interaction10, the recent conference on interaction design. Talks at the conference presented an interesting mix of theoretical and practical insights into design (and not just interaction design).

Yesterday, I pointed to summaries of the talks from the first day of the conference. Johnny Holland Magazine also published summaries from the second and third days (their server was down last time I checked, so here are Google’s cached versions of the articles from day 2 and day 3).

On day 2, Ezio Manzini discussed the role of digital platforms in the economies and communities of the future. Christropher Fahey gave an even more fascinating (and perhaps bold) presentation about the humanization of technology, which implies that technology will become more human-like without replacing or replicating humans; in addition to the overview in the above article, take a look at his slides. From day 3, Dan Hill’s talk is interesting because he brings the subject of urban design into the context of interaction design—similar concepts applied to very different time frames.

Since I wrote yesterday’s post, I also found the slides from Nathan Shedroff’s talk about the forms and roles of meaning in experiences and designed experiences. The slides can be downloaded from Shedroff’s website.

I highly recommend Nicolas Nova’s reflections on the conference. He pieced together many of the theoretical elements of the talks and made an interesting comparison of the design models that appeared throughout the conference.

Sarah Mitchell traced a few of the core themes from the talks and posted photos of her notes.

Finally, Dave Malouf, interaction design professor at SCAD, wrote a compelling (if cryptic) piece about the importance of social responsibility and even activism in interaction design.


Lessons from the Interaction10 conference

Posted in interaction design, philosophy, product design, theory, user experience, web design by Dan on February 25, 2010

Around three weeks ago, the Interaction Design Association held its annual conference, Interaction10. I finally got around to reading some of the attendees’ recaps and notes from the conference. I’ll post a couple highlights today, and more tomorrow.

Johnny Holland Magazine published daily synopses of the conference sessions. Two notable talks were those given by Nicolas Nova and Jon Kolko, both towards the end of the article: “Live at Interaction’10: day 1.”

To go along with that, Nova’s slides can be viewed here; I think the compelling title speaks for itself: “Design and Designed Failures: From Observing Failures to Provoking Them.”

Jon Kolko followed up on the conference in Design Mind: “An Emerging Divide: Some Thoughts from the IxDA 2010 Conference.”

The traffic guru; UIs that lie

Posted in architecture, interaction design, psychology, theory by Dan on February 4, 2010

The Dutch traffic engineer Hans Monderman had surprising insights into the effects of warning signs, traffic lights, and other elements of traffic safety infrastructure. His most famous idea, which hasn’t made it into American traffic engineering but has been influential in Europe, was that removing most of that infrastructure could make streets safer. By redesigning aspects of a certain town to make it seem more “villagelike,” he was able to change drivers’ perception of the environment and encourage them to drive more slowly and carefully without the influence of signs and other interventions. This article by Tom Vanderbilt explains more about Monderman’s approach and how the traffic insfrastructure affects individuals’ behavior in unexpected ways: “The Traffic Guru.”

This is a remarkable phenomenon. It shows that the framework for the usage of the system, which is, in this case, a traffic system, informs the way people use the system—but not through constraints, not through direct communication, and not through affordances. Users’ perception of the environment changes how they think they ought to drive, even though the surrounding town might have nothing to do with their intention to travel to a destination.

David Lindes writes about a similar pattern in a completely different environment. In the process of redesigning an application for a certain business process, he set out to learn about the clients’ workflow and found out that it was excessively complicated. This reflected a problem with the client’s old application. It wasn’t just that the old program was a bad match for the process, but that the program’s complicated workflow had actually changed the way the client understood the process. Even though the original business process was not to be driven by software, “user interfaces are one of the principal sources from which a person learns about his or her work.” The implication for our own design process is huge. “UIs that lie & the users who believe them.”

David Airey on letterpress; Decision-Based Design

Posted in culture, graphic design, interaction design, theory by Dan on January 25, 2010

In a post about letterpress (an early printing technique used from the time of Gutenberg up to the beginning of the 20th century), graphic designer David Airey shared a video about Hatch Show Print: a 130-year old letterpress shop which has preserved the old printing techniques as well as the associated design styles for many decades: Hatch Show Print

On a completely unrelated topic, Dan Brown republished a 2005 article in which he describes an unusual approach to software design. Instead of using functional specifications, information architecture, or user personas as the main drivers of the design process, Brown focused on the large and complex set of decisions that users must make while using the software; he treated the software as a system built primarily to support the users’ decision-making: “Decision-Based Design.”

Recommended blogs: Pasta&Vinegar and 52 Weeks of UX

Posted in interaction design, theory, user experience, user research by Dan on January 13, 2010

I was going to post another link from Nicolas Nova’s blog, but then I realized that I’d like to share just about everything he writes, so instead I’m going to recommend that you read his blog in general. From the description of his blog: “I study people’s practices as well as usage of technologies and turn them into insights, ideas, prototypes or recommendations to inform design and foresight. This blog is a selection of the material that I collect, especially in fields such as mobility, urban environments, digital entertainment and new interfaces.” Pasta&Vinegar: mind/tech bazar from outer space.

Another promising blog, which just began last week, will present weekly entries on user experience: 52 Weeks of UX: A discourse on the process of designing for real people.

Santa as a designer; the personality of doors

Posted in emotional design, interaction design by Dan on December 23, 2009

Here are 10 reasons why Santa is a great designer, from UI Trends. I have to say, though, that Santa is also a great manager if the elves are still there making all the toys for him.

Nicolas Nova blogged about a paper from the International Journal of Design about how people interpret the movement of automatic doors as a gesture. The simple interaction pattern involved with automatic doors contains a rich set of challenges with regard to emotional design. The study described in the paper analyzed participants’ responses to different door “gestures.” The paper (by Ju and Takayama) can be downloaded here (PDF). The subject reminds me of the XKCD cartoon “Automatic Doors” as well as the Pizza Planet airlock in Toy Story (see below).

With that, I wish you a happy holiday and new year! DIDaily will return bright and early on January 4, 2010.

Armored guards block the automatic doors at Pizza planet
Automatic doors open and the guards move out of the way
Buzz and Woody get ready to sneak into Pizza Planet

Citation for the paper: Ju and Takayama. “Approachability: How People Interpret Automatic Door Movement as Gesture.” International Journal of Design 3.2 (2009).

“Designing Interactions” and “What vs. How”

Posted in interaction design, interviews, sustainability by Dan on November 10, 2009

Each week, a selected chapter from Designing Interactions—a fairly recent book by the father of interaction design, Bill Moggridge—will be posted online, along with videos of interviews with other designers and innovators, to download for free. I don’t know if this is a one-time thing or if they repeatedly cycle through the chapters (this week is Chapter 4). Either way, the book and the interviews are both fascinating resources.

Designing Interactions:

For shorter reading, here are two instances where plants are ingeniously used to clean air in place of machines.
Toyota Creates Its Own Flower Species to Gobble Harmful Gases
Air Filter Uses Plants to Filter Toxins

And from the Brain Traffic blog, “It’s not what you do that sets you apart, but how you do it:”
“What vs. How”

Two Competitions

Posted in competitions, interaction design by Dan on November 4, 2009

The Interaction Design Association (IxDA) is running a student competition for Excellence in Interaction Design. The deadline for submissions is Nov. 30. Five finalists will get a free trip to the Interaction10 conference next February, where they’ll get to see Bill Moggridge, Paola Antonelli, and a bunch of other supercool designers.

By the way, since this is the first time I’m mentioning IxDA: if you’re interested in IxD, you can join IxDA and get onto the discussion list for free.

I’ll let The Fun Theory explain itself. The prize is €2,500. I don’t see any reason we can’t enter from the U.S., though.

Here’s Dan Lockton’s thoughts/analysis of The Fun Theory.