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Putting People First

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February 2011
25 February 2011

Reflections on the LIFT conference on Core77

Lift
A few weeks ago, I went to the LIFT conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

It took me a some time to write up all my (personal) thoughts on the presentations, but now the writing is done and the result is online on Core77.

Thank you Laurent, Nicolas and others in the LIFT team, for once again hosting a highly stimulating conference, and thank you LinYee (managing editor at Core77) for the edit, the addition of videos and photos, and the encouragement.

I can’t wait to read some comments.

25 February 2011

On the UX revolution coming up

UX Magazine
Two articles in UX Magazine describe upcoming UX revolutions: data and the user interface.

The UX of data
By Scott Jenson / February 17th 2011
Data storage in the cloud enables user experiences that would be impossible with only local storage, and creates a new facet of design: the UX of data.

2016: the user interface revolution underway
By Peter Eckert / February 24th 2011
New interfaces are not going to be uniform; devices and applications will not possess common protocols. For users, each interaction will have to be learned, so despite the improved usability of products, individuals will find themselves learning the quirks and standards of more and more technologies just to get the functionality they seek.

24 February 2011

Experientia at Ecobuild 2011 in London

Ecobuild
Experientia will be taking part at Ecobuild 2011, March 1-3, in London, UK.

Ecobuild is the world’s largest event for sustainable design, construction and the built environment, and with more than 600 speakers, 1300 exhibitors, one of the most influential conferences in the sector.

Experientia, the international experience design consultancy, has extensive experience in innovative user-centred design and is now bringing its unique perspective to sustainable architecture projects.

The company is currently working with ARUP and Sauerbruch-Hutton on Low2No, a major low-to-no carbon impact development in Helsinki Harbour, Finland.

The Low2No project is run by Sitra, the Finnish innovation fund, and Marco Steinberg, Sitra’s head of strategic design, will make a case study presentation about Low2No at Ecobuild (Tuesday 1 March at 11:50). He will also participate in a Jonathan Glancey led panel on the role of design in creating a sustainable world (Tuesday 1 March at 13:00).

Experientia’s contribution to the Low2No project is to understand contexts, habits and beliefs that influence sustainable change in behaviour and design solutions that offer people control over their consumption and allow them to see the effects of their actions on the environment.

Renewable energy, smart grids and sustainable technologies will only make an impact if we also address the underlying behavioural issues of our energy use. Rather than individual smart meter designs, Experientia is therefore working on integrated demand management solutions, that is, a holistic approach in which advanced smart meters actually become an access point for social networking tools and services in the community, by offering things like bookings, deliveries, schedules for communal services, and information about public transport solutions.

At Low2No, Experientia applies its user research methods to evaluate the impact of the architectural and design choices on residents’ behaviours.

Experientia also led the mixed use planning of a regional and seasonal food hub offering a restaurant, cafe and natural/organic supermarket, an eco laundry and a communal sauna for the Low2No block. Engaging prospective residents early in various stages of the design of service and residential design, helped to understand people needs, desire, fears and expectations. This helped in addressing issues such as multi-story timber construction, natural vs centralized/decentralized ventilation systems, flexible layout of living spaces and the planning of smart systems to reduce residential carbon footprints in the post-occupancy phase.

Experientia researched the user requirements for smart systems to design smart home assistants:
– provide contextual real-time feedback
– analyse personal consumption (energy, water, waste…)
– incentivise reduced consumption through social reward systems
– integrate controls – holistic approach
– design intuitive and meaningful interface controls

Experientia can be visited at stand S334 of the Region of Piedmont, Italy. Representatives are Mark Vanderbeeken (senior partner) and Irene Cassarino (senior open innovation expert).

> Experientia profile page on Ecobuild website
> Background on Low2No

19 February 2011

Book: Make It So

Rosenfeld Media
Make It So: Interaction Design Lessons from Science Fiction
A book in progress by Nathan Shedroff & Chris Noessel
Publisher: Rosenfeld Media
Anticipated publication date: 2012

Science fiction has remained a pastime for designers, instead of a valuable source of insight and learning until now. Make It So, a book in progress by Nathan Shedroff and Chris Noessel, will be the first book to connect the inspiring “blue sky” designs of scifi with your own work in interaction design.

Interaction and interface designers can learn practical lessons from the interfaces in Science Fiction films and television. Though lacking rigorous engagement with users, production designers are nonetheless allowed to develop influential “blue-sky” examples that are inspiring, humorous, prophetic, useful, and can be incorporated into “real” work to make online, mobile, and ubiquitous interfaces more interesting and more successful. This book will share lessons and examples culled from imaginative interfaces free from traditional constraints. In addition, the authors will outline their process of investigation and describe a toolkit for others to make similar explorations into other domains.

Make It So will show how:
* SciFi interfaces allow us to see current issues from fresh perspectives, testing design techniques we don’t always expect but are, nonetheless, applicable to current work
* SciFi is a design tool like any other
* All design is already fiction (until it gets built)
* If it works for an audience, there’s something there that works for users
* Interaction designers can be inspired by a source they already love.

18 February 2011

The business of personal data

Personal Data
The World Economic Forum just came out with a report, “Personal Data: The Emergence of a New Asset Class,” that surely is going to raise some controversy, as it explores what it means to commercialise personal data and make good money doing so.

Personal Data: The Emergence of a New Asset Class looks at the necessity to rethink personal data as an economic asset class, as it has the potential to represent untapped opportunities for economic growth and social benefit, whilst the issues of movement and protection of data must also be addressed.

There are many interrelated and complex cultural, business, technology and policy trends shaping the personal data ecosystem, and the report presents a user-centric set of recommendations for individuals, private enterprise and policy-makers, highlighting five key areas for collective action:
1. Innovate around user-centricity and trust.
2. Define global principles for using and sharing personal data.
3. Strengthen the dialogue between regulators and the private sector.
4. Focus on interoperability and open standards.
5. Continually share knowledge.

17 February 2011

The business of Inclusive Design

Innovating with People
Last year I wrote about the book “Innovating with people – The business of Inclusive Design” by the Norwegian Design Council.

It provides an introduction as to how Inclusive Design can be used as a strategy for better business and as an opportunity for profitable innovation.

At the time the book was not yet widely available. But now it has its own website, where people can purchase a hard copy (for 19.90 euro) or download an extract for free.

16 February 2011

Paul Dourish and Genevieve Bell on ubicomp mythology

Divining a Digital Future
Divining a Digital Future: Mess and Mythology in Ubiquitous Computing
Paul Dourish and Genevieve Bell
MIT Press, April 2011, 264 pages
ISBN 978-0-262-01555-4
264 pages
Amazon page | MIT Press page

Ubiquitous computing (or “ubicomp”) is the label for a “third wave” of computing technologies. Following the eras of the mainframe computer and the desktop PC, ubicomp is characterized by small and powerful computing devices that are worn, carried, or embedded in the world around us. The ubicomp research agenda originated at Xerox PARC in the late 1980s; these days, some form of that vision is a reality for the millions of users of Internet-enabled phones, GPS devices, wireless networks, and “smart” domestic appliances.

In Divining a Digital Future, computer scientist Paul Dourish and cultural anthropologist Genevieve Bell explore the vision that has driven the ubiquitous computing research program and the contemporary practices that have emerged–both the motivating mythology and the everyday messiness of lived experience.

Reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the authors’ collaboration, the book takes seriously the need to understand ubicomp not only technically but also culturally, socially, politically, and economically. Dourish and Bell map the terrain of contemporary ubiquitous computing, in the research community and in daily life; explore dominant narratives in ubiquitous computing around such topics as infrastructure, mobility, privacy, and domesticity; and suggest directions for future investigation, particularly with respect to methodology and conceptual foundations.

Paul Dourish is Professor of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine, with courtesy appointments in Computer Science and in Anthropology. He conducts research in human-computer interaction, ubiquitous computing, and social studies of science and technology. Before joining UC Irvine, he was a Senior Member of Research Staff at Xerox PARC.

Genevieve Bell is an Intel Fellow and the Director of Intel’s first user-focused research and development lab, Interaction and Experience Research. A cultural anthropologist, she studies the relationship between information technology and cultural practice both in technology design and in settings of everyday use. Before joining Intel, she taught Anthropology and American Studies at Stanford University.

15 February 2011

Documentary highlights how Programma 101 put people first

Programma 101
The upcoming documentary Programma 101 – Memory of the Future by Alessandro Bernard and Paolo Ceretto, celebrates Olivetti’s invention of the first personal desktop computer, back in 1965, and the wide implications it has had since.

Video reflections by Bruce Sterling, Massimo Banzi (of the Arduino), Mario Bellini and others are already online.

When Italian company Olivetti unveiled the Programma 101, it was more than just a technological revolution – it was a new way of thinking about people and computers. The compact, portable device revolutionised the idea of the computer, as well as how and where people really used them.

Instead of booking time on a monolithic machine guarded by experts, needing a whole room to house it, Programma 101 considered convenience, lifestyle and even aesthetics. Use it by the pool, or in the bath, convey the advertising images. It was perhaps the earliest example we have of user experience design in the computing field.

The 52 minute documentary recounting the story of this extraordinary machine and its makers will screen on Fox History Channel, Ur Sweden, SBS Australia, YLE Finland.

It describes the passage from a machine surrounded by men in “white coats”, where using it was as intimidating as being in a hospital, to a device that could be carried around wherever you were. The idea was so unbelievable at the time, that when it was first unveiled, skeptical viewers looked for the underground cable that must connect it to a larger computer.

“The Programma 101 is a real break in the history of computers,” comments American science-fiction author Bruce Sterling in a clip from the documentary. “You went from the mainframe to a thing on the desktop.”

A project that still resonates

For Experientia, the story has extra resonance, because not only is it an early example of thinking about the human side of human-computer interaction (putting people first, in other words!), but Experientia CEO Pierpaolo Perotto, is also the son of the Programma 101’s creator Pier Giorgio Perotto.

Recalling his father, Pierpaolo spoke about the three core elements – vision, planning and design – which helped his father and the small team of experts at Olivetti realise the Programma 101.

“They believed in a vision centred around people, and not around technology. My father was convinced that an electronic calculator could become a personal object. It was an act of courage. It was definitely completely counter-trend in terms of the culture surrounding technology in that moment in history. That vision characterised all the choices that followed.”

This vision was implemented by a grand level of planning, which involved both new and existing technologies. These technologies were aimed not just at creating an experimental prototype, but one that could above all be mass-produced, for an affordable price. In all, about 44,000 units were sold, for about $3,200 each.

The final element of success for the project was the integration between vision, design and technology.

“Having had the courage and the will to insist on a product design that was integrated with the vision and the technological choices made, they refused proposals that, although aesthetically interesting, would have constrained the innovative nature of the machine,” says Pierpaolo. “In that sense, it was my father who gave the job, against the wishes of his superiors, to a young designer at the start of a luminous career: Mario Bellini.”

The integration of these three elements – vision, planning and design – are also part of the way of thinking that eventually came to underpin Pierpaolo’s own work, particularly at Experientia, with its people-centred vision, and multi-disciplinary approach.

“I see these three elements as an instruction for anyone who wants to create a better future.”

A lifestyle machine

The Programma 101’s innovative approach is easily seen in its advertising: a businessman uses the calculating machine by the pool, while a woman in a bathing suit smiles at him after her swim; a woman taps away at the keypad from the comfort of a bubble-filled bath.

In a clip from the documentary, Bruce Sterling laughingly comments:

“In that advertisement you see a businessman sitting at the side of a pool, with a woman in a bathing suit, doing a little calculation. It’s a prophecy of the death of computers as something hidden away behind glass walls.”

While these images were no doubt slightly tongue-in-cheek, and seem charmingly quaint compared to the advertising images that surround us today, they are nevertheless the precursor of today’s computer as a personal assistant, and even a life partner. Pier Giorgio Perotto was able to envision a world where technology could exist in harmony with our lifestyles, which for the time was revolutionary.

Perhaps this vision comes through most clearly in the words of the father of personal computing himself. Commenting on the project later in life, Pier Giorgio Perotto said:

“I dreamed of a friendly machine, to which one could delegate all those operations that cause mental fatigue and errors; a machine that could learn, and calmly perform; that could store simple and intuitive data and instructions; that everyone could use; that cost little and fit with the dimensions of other office products that people were used to. I had to create a new language, which didn’t need interpreters in white coats.”

Perhaps this idea of a new language between people and computers, one that is simple and intuitive, and accessible to everyone, is the real inheritance of Programma 101. Pier Giorgio Perotto created a world in which you didn’t need to be an expert to operate a computer, and nearly fifty years on, his vision has been realised in ways that no one expected. In a world where technology is developing so rapidly, the challenge is to stay true to that vision, and make sure that new devices are designed with the vision of putting people first, and remembering that human-computer interaction should be designed above all for the humans.

11 February 2011

Female interaction – design for advanced electronic products

Female Interaction
Female Interaction is a 2.5 year, DKK 4.7 mio (630,000 euro / 850,000 usd) multidisciplinary research project focusing on female interaction design for advanced electronic products, in particular on how to make these products attractive and convenient to use for females – and for the rest of the world

User-driven development methods and tools are being developed and tested – focusing on the demands and desires of female users.

The project, which is co-financed by the Danish Enterprise and Construction Authority (DEACA) as part of its programme for user-driven innovation, brings together development and market-research specialists, scientists and designers in an interdisciplinary collaboration.

Female Interaction has been initiated by design-people in collaboration with Aalborg University, Aarhus University, Bang and Olufsen, GN Netcom, Danfoss and Lindberg International.

The project sets out to offer a novel approach to user-driven innovation in businesses by bringing together scientists, businesses, designers and market analysts for purposes of developing new process models and guidelines and new results for the benefit of the user.

10 February 2011

Experientia at Milan service design conference

Design dei Servizi
Experientia will present its expertise in service design next week, at a conference specially dedicated to raising the profile of service design as a discipline.

In an example of the vital role that services play in our economies, this year the prestigious Design Index prize offered by the Italian Design Association ADI (Associazione per il Disegno Industriale) will include a category for service design.

To promote the new category and highlight the growing importance of the discipline, the ADI will hold a Design dei Servizi conference in Milan on February 15th.

Experientia service designer Camilla Masala will present the innovative service design elements in the ongoing Low2No carbon emissions project.

The future low-carbon emissions block in Jätkäsaari, Helsinki will house environmentally sustainable services including grocery stores offering local food, an ecological laundry, public sauna, café and opportunities for small-scale urban cultivation. The presentation will focus on Experientia’s role in developing the retail strategy’s mixed use approach, sustainable ethics and participatory design methods.

The conference aims to contribute to the mapping, evaluation and development of service design, bringing service offerers together with design agencies who operate in this field.

The conference is organised by the Commissione tematica Design dei Servizi dell’Osservatorio permanente at Design ADI, together with the Centro Design dei Servizi del Dipartimento Indaco-Politecnico di Milano (DES), in collaboration with Domus Academy, Fondazione Housing Sociale (FHS), Laboratori Fabbrica del Vapore (FDV LAB), Nova24 – Il Sole24Ore, and Living24.

The event is open to the public, and will be conducted in Italian.

10 February 2011

Research on the importance of collaborative user innovation

Book scanner
New research suggests the traditional division of labor between innovators and customers is breaking down as more individual consumers invent and improve products on their own. Patricia Cohen reports in The New York Times:

“Tinkering is challenging a deeply entrenched tenet of economic theory: that producers, not consumers, are the ones who innovate. [...]

Financed by the British government, Eric A. von Hippel [a professor of technological innovation at M.I.T.’s Sloan School of Management] and his colleagues last year completed the first representative large-scale survey of consumer innovation ever conducted.

What the team discovered, described in a paper that is under review for publication, was that the amount of money individual consumers spent making and improving products was more than twice as large as the amount spent by all British firms combined on product research and development over a three-year period.”

Read story

8 February 2011

Latest developments on Low2No – the low carbon block in Jätkäsaari, Helsinki

Low2No
A team of international and Finnish designers, including Experientia, announced the current status and latest developments of the Low2No project today, at a sustainable urban development conference organised by Sitra, the Finnish innovation fund.

In particular, the block’s innovative retail strategy and new district heating agreement were showcased. The retail strategy offers a unique mixed use solution, and embodies the soft-side of the innovation process aimed at more sustainable lifestyles. The heating strategy, worked out together with Helsingin Energia will provide coal-free, renewable district heating.

Experientia has been particularly involved in developing participatory processes and coordinating stakeholder input for the retail strategy, while our involvement in the energy strategy focuses on demand management, including developing behavioural change strategies for more sustainable energy use and advanced smart meter design.

Read press release

7 February 2011

Experientia selected for second stage FredericiaC competition in Denmark

FredericiaC
A consortium made up of Arup, EFFEKT, Experientia, and consultants from NCC Management Group, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (KA), Conceptura, and Ars Electronica Linz GmbH (AEC),* has been announced as one of four finalists in the FredericiaC competition, to design a new sustainable urban space for the Danish city of Fredericia, which will then become home to 25,000 people.

Fredericia was once a strategic defence point of the Danish kings in the 1600s, and has been left with a legacy of historical ramparts surrounding the inner part of the lovely seaside city, with a view as far as the island of Fyn. The new part of the city, which will be located on an old brownfield site by the sea, must fit in character, tone and liveability with the rest of this historical city, while at the same time being daring and compelling in its own right.

It should also concentrate on great quality of life, active participation from the citizens, commerce and culture in Fredericia, and incorporate state of the art in economy, climate and health solutions.

Experientia’s role in the team is to focus on participatory design process, behavioural change strategies, sustainable demand management, service design and mixed use, to create high quality urban lifestyles.

The consortium is currently involved in phase 2 of the competition, making the bid more specific in terms of process and project descriptions, particularly on how to implement the project sustainably.

Experientia is working on refining personas and scenarios for the district, a comprehensive behavioural change strategy for more sustainable lifestyles, a participatory process of citizen engagement and decision making, and temporary use ideas for the site while construction is in process.

The teams will submit their refined proposal by April 2011, and the final decision will be made in June.

* The full consortium is made up of Arup, EFFEKT, Experientia, and Karl-Gustav Jensen from NCC Management Group, Bo Grunlund from he Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (KA), Anders Christian Ulrich from Conceptura, and Gerfried Stocker from Ars Electronica Linz GmbH (AEC).

7 February 2011

Passive magic, design of delightful experience

Stefan Klocek
Stefan Klocek, principal designer at Cooper, reflects on what it means to design for wonder and delight in the user experience:

“Why is Google Maps on a mobile device so amazing and delightful? Why does Word Lens feel so mind-blowing? Why does a Prius feel so good when you get in and go? Why does it feel satisfying to look down at the lighted keyboard on the Mac?

It is noteworthy when the design of an experience is so compelling that you feel wonder and delight. When designed right it feels totally natural, some might even say it is truly “intuitive.” No training is needed, no set-up, no break in flow, the tool fits seamlessly, improving without disrupting your experience; it’s like a little bit of magic.

So how to design the delightful, magical experience?”

The article lists a whole lot of examples (often illustrated with a video) and ends with Klocek’s rules of thumb on what makes a delightful, magical experience:

* Transformation must occur, adding utility, meaning, or even useful action
* It must happen without delay
* The transformation must maintain fidelity and accuracy to the original
* The transformation shouldn’t interrupt the larger experience
* The less abstract, the more magical
* The less management/preparation the more satisfying

Read article

7 February 2011

Reflecting on usability and user-centred design

UX Matters
Two new articles have been published on the UX Matters site:

Why don’t usability problems get fixed?
By Jim Ross
Why don’t usability problems get fixed? If we point out obvious usability problems and provide reasonable solutions for them, why doesn’t someone fix them? In this column, I’ll explore these questions and provide some tips to help ensure your recommendations get implemented.

Subject-matter experts: Putting users at the center of the design process
By Demetrius Madrigal and Bryan McClain
This month we’ll discuss the process of putting users at the center of the design process and what that means in regard to both design and product strategy. We’ll also discuss some different approaches to a user-centered design process that we’ve come across and outline their positives and negatives. Finally, we’ll outline the steps necessary to make user-centered design a reality and how to get the most out of a user-centered design process when working on different types of products.

7 February 2011

SEE conference looks at Europe’s design future

SEE Conference
Experientia partner Mark Vanderbeeken will be heading to his home country of Belgium in March 2011, to chair the SEE conference on integrating design into regional and national policies.

The SEE project has been running since 2008, and has involved a series of workshops with policy-makers on themes such as design in innovation policy, design for sustainability, evaluating the return on design investment and bringing innovative ideas to market through design.

The SEE conference is the project’s final event, and will provide delegates with an overview of design’s role in innovation, recent design policy developments in Europe and examples of successful design policies and promotion programmes. It also aims to review the next steps to be undertaken at European level in relation to design and innovation.

The conference, which will take place at the Flemish Parliament in Brussels on 29 March, will be opened by Polish MEP, Jan Olbrycht (wikipedia), with reflections on design as part of the Europe 2020 strategy.

Bryan Boyer, from the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, will also be among the speakers, talking about Design as a Government capability. Sitra is the funding body for the Low2No project in Helsinki, Finland. Together with engineering firm Arup, and architectural firm Sauerbruch Hutton, Experientia is working on building a city commercial and residential block with low to no carbon emissions, where people will be able to live enjoyable, sustainable lifestyles. The project aims to prototype some of the technologies and even behaviours that will need to be integrated with legislation and government policy in the future, to create effective sustainable building design by the European Union’s 2020 deadline.

Other highlights from the conference include:

Design as part of innovation policy in a global context
Gavin Cawood / Operations Director, Design Wales, UK

Making design policy happen in Denmark: the journey since 1997
Anders Byriel / CEO of Kvadrat, Chairman, Danish Design Council, Denmark

Innovate and integrate: Design support for companies in New Zealand
Judith Thompson / Director, Better by Design, New Zealand

Service Design Toolkit : a design strategy for public services
Caroline Van Cauwelaert, Yellow Window, Belgium
Kristel Van Ael, Namahn, Belgium

Design policy in practice: innovative strategies for local authorities in Flanders
Patrick Janssens (wikipedia) / Mayor of Antwerp, Belgium
Jan Van Alsenoy / Association of Flemish Cities and Municipalities, Belgium

EU Design and Innovation Initiative: What’s next for design in Europe?
Christine Simon / European Commission DG Enterprise and Industry, EU

The achievements of the SEE project over the last three years will also be presented at the conference, along with 11 short films about design policy developments in the SEE partner countries. Delegates will also receive a ‘Service Design Toolkit’.

The conference, which is organised by Design Flanders with support from Design Wales (lead partner of the SEE project), is a free event, but delegates are required to register.

5 February 2011

How video calls are changing our daily life

Deaf person making video call
From deaf people who previously had little use for mobile phones to grandparents wanting to connect with their grandchildren, video calls are changing our lives. Skype is at the forefront of the revolution, but companies including Apple, Google and Microsoft are all cashing in. Der Spiegel reports.

“Even the most skeptical are starting to recognize the magic of video interactions. Grandparents play with faraway grandchildren; divorced fathers do homework with kids who live with their mothers; long-distance couples check in before they go to bed, read to each other or fall asleep with their laptops next to them on the bed.”

Read article

5 February 2011

Core77 book review: Living with Complexity, by Donald Norman

Living with Complexity
The same Robert Blinn who reviewed Jon Kolko’s new book (see previous post), also wrote a review on Core77 on the latest book by Donald Norman: Living with Complexity (also reviewed on Putting People First in December 2010).

“While his book doesn’t exactly provide hard and fast rules for taming complexity, it does a very good job of framing the problem. After all, when the aspects of a problem are laid out clearly, problems begin to appear progressively less complex. Along the way, as Norman explains the problem, his text is accompanied by the usual assortment of author photographs of awkward and difficult devices. Digressing from the paradoxical nature of choosing from two rolls of toilet paper in a public restaurant to the “desire lines” caused by human behavior (creases in books and dead spots in public meadows where people walk), Norman covers social signifiers. He addresses forcing functions, grouping and countless other design/behavior problems. Norman even devotes an entire chapter to the nature of waiting in line (nearly every hospital does it wrong, and our recent visit to the Apple store on Prince Street showed that even Apple had stopped listing the names and timing of those in the queue, much to this reviewer’s consternation).”

Read article

5 February 2011

Core77 book review: Exposing the Magic of Design, by Jon Kolko

Exposing the Magic of Design
Robert Blinn reviewed Jon Kolko’s new book Exposing the Magic of Design (amazon) for Core77:

“Kolko’s book is subtitled “A Practitioner’s Guide to the Methods and Theory of Synthesis,” and this reviewer joked that it sounded like an undergraduate film or semiotics course. Kolko himself states that “the ability to ‘be playful’ is critical to achieve deep and meaningful synthesis,” but the tenor of the tome is far from the giant grin the author wears while using carrots as a “phone” on the cover of his previous work. Exposing the Magic of Design is blunt, direct, serious and self-assured. At less than 200 pages and full of diagrams, processes and methods, Kolko certainly didn’t have time for any hand-holding. In this era of easy distraction, Exposing the Magic‘s interaction design requires complete attention. Perhaps that’s the way the author meant it.”

I strongly concur with the reviewer and recommend this book for all UX practitioners.

Disclosure: Some months back I was asked by Oxford University Press to read the manuscript and write a few sentences to use on the book’s jacket and in marketing copy. I have no idea whether my few lines have been published.

Read review

5 February 2011

How do you create hybrid interfaces you touch, talk to and poke?

Gestural interface
With so many ways to control our interfaces, from touch to voice, what’s the key to designing for them all? Rob Tannen gives his take on things:

“Providing a choice in how to interact with product is not entirely new — for years computer users have relied on keyboard shortcuts rather than just the mouse for inputting commands, but these tend to be exceptional or specialized. While you can do some commands one way, you need to rely on a primary input to access all of the functions. But we should soon expect to see complete control through a choice of several user interfaces. In fact, people naturally interact with the world via multiple modalities –consider a rider “interacting” with a horse through a mixture of vocalizations and physical gestures. Now that our technologies are catching up to human (or at least animal) capabilities, product designers need to figure out the best way to choose and combine these interaction modalities.”

Read article