IxDA Interaction 09 | Vancouver

IxDA’s second annual conference, Interaction ‘09|vancouver is coming up from Feb 5-8.

Interaction 09|vancouver will be held from February 5-8, 2009 in stunning Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, in conjunction with Simon Fraser University’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology and the Faculty of Business Administration. Join several hundred Interaction Designers from around the world as we address the design of interactive systems of all types: applications (web and desktop), mobile, consumer electronics, digitally enhanced environments, and more. Start your year off with stimulating talk, fun parties, and smart discussions about our growing field.

Interaction 09 will feature three days of inspirational and tactical sessions geared at anyone who practices Interaction Design, as well as a day of pre-conference workshops.


10 Most Common Misconceptions About User Experience Design

Whitney Hess asked some of the most influential and widely respected practitioners in UX what they consider to be the biggest misperceptions of what we do. The result is not only a terrific list that debunks myths, but an excellent compilation of quotes that better describe what UX is about than a clinical definition can. Those who were quoted described UX as many things, from the reach and touch of customers with products and companies, to the processes we use and the roles we play when we take part in its design.

The Top 10 list of what user experience design is NOT…

1. …user interface design
2. …a step in the process
3. …about technology
4. …just about usability
5. …just about the user
6. …expensive
7. …easy
8. …the role of one person or department
9. …a single discipline
10. …a choice

Of course you're going to have to read the article to get what those points mean. But in essence all of these observations debunk myths that UXD is any one thing among the many parts that might describe it. User experience is both tangible and intangible--it's just exists when people decide to participate in the use of a thing. UX Design is the many parts in a holistic approach to design or enable the use of the thing, and every aspect related to its use.


Talking About Sketching About Interacting

This the audio and slides from the presentation Chris Fahey gave at SVA’s Interaction Design Program series dot dot dot. In this excellent short short talks (16 minutes), Chris talks about sketching and shows plenty of examples from his notebooks. Great series of events that Liz Danzico and company are putting on. Chris will be on the faculty of the MFA program.


Kindle vs. iPhone/iPod Touch: Human/Machine Interaction & User Experience

Tog's comparison and analysis of the human computer interaction versus the user experience with both the Amazon Kindle and the iPhone/iPod Touch is excellent. The separation of HCI/UX in his analysis really drives the point home that good interaction and industrial design can make the experience, and a good experience isn't only about the design.

I don't use a Kindle daily, so I can't comment personally on it, but the industrial design was a showstopper for me and kept me from wanting it. Truth be told, though, the kind of books I read are probably better on dead trees. The thing that impressed me most was the mobile connectivity and the screen. But when I held it in my hand and paged through, the buttons kept me paging through accidentally. I think the lack of back light for darkened rooms would also be a let down.

As for the iPhone, I'm not one of those people that dotes on it. Don't get me wrong. It's without a doubt the single most enjoyable device I use daily, and I wouldn't want to be without it. But many of the elements of the experience have frustrated me, and I still won't be convinced that typing on a touchscreen is a step forward from a physical keyboard. The Sidekick spoiled me.

The best part of this article is that step back that tells the story of why we need to take a holistic approach to the product, from the interaction with the interface to every aspect that radiates from the product.

Companies that pay attention to both the mechanics of the interface and the subtleties of the user experience win. Explore websites like Bed, Bath & Beyond and see how good screen design and carefully-plotted user experience come together. Don’t just examine look and feel; set up a shopping scenario and experience every step from thinking about maybe buying a product to selecting it and checking out. Bed, Bath & Beyond has perfected a superior experience in their real-world stores, and they have translated it beautifully into the cyber world.

There are no trade-offs here. Human/machine interaction is a subset of the user experience. Anything done to improve the mechanics of the interface will, by its very nature, improve the overall experience. Anything done to improve the user experience will amplify the good qualities of the human/machine interaction.

You must, however, research and design each of them separately—and to test each of them separately. They each require a specific frame of mind, and concentrating on just one will lead to the kind of uneven design that both the Kindle and the iPhone/iPod Touch have been offering.

And that last part strikes home most. These are separate activities, but require a holistic approach and frame of mind. Investing in research and design on both of them can be seen as either a luxury or a given depending on how and where you work. But the holistic approach ensures a better experience.