Designing for One User (Bespoke User Interfaces)

Chris Fahey discusses the merits of bespoke UI design, referencing the successful design of John King's touch wall which was created for King by Perceptive Pixel. Bespoke design--the practice of designing something specifically for and individual--might be more prevalent in the digital world than most people realize.

The examples provided out in the quotes of software designers and developers point out the most common case where this is happening. Designers who design products by focusing on what they want/need for themselves is common enough. What's being exposed here is probably not profoundly eye opening. What it demonstrates should be obvious to UX people who spend most of their time researching people (users) so they can empathize with them and guess what they desire. If you are your user, there's a good chance you'll be able to design the right thing for you. If you're a good designer, that is.

Designing for yourself means having the luxury to skip the middle man. It means you'll have a better chance of getting the right design. I think Chris' examples point out exactly why user research is valuable--because when you're designing for others it is not easy to get the right design unless you understand who you are designing for.

MEME: Tools of (IA) destruction

Nick Finck picked up on my habit of taking pictures of my sketching tools and such and memified it with his Tools of IA Destruction desk shot.

MEME: Take a snap of your writing tools and pads/notebooks and upload it to Flickr, mark all of the tools you use, tag it with TOD and “toold of destruction”, and share it with your friends.

Note: You can switch out “IA” for “Design” or “Copywriting” or whatever it is you like to do!

Here’s the one that started it. Check the Flickr page for notes.

Need a bigger pencil holder

Also check out My Workspace set.

And the list on flickr by tag toolsofdestruction.

What do you look for in a sketch notebook?

It’s getting kind of old skool over here in the home office. I haven’t yet gotten around to talking about why I’m spending time on notepads and notebooks, and just how I use these things. But I’m going to post an article describing just that. This photo is just a teaser to let you know that I’m still working away at this sketch paper stuff because it’s an itch that just won’t go away.

That big old looking machine you see is a wire ring binder. I’ve been going through various needs I have for notebooks. I can’t live without my Moleskine or Rhodia. One of them goes with me everywhere. Lately it’s a Moleskine softcover plain notebook for my sketches, and a small cahier for my todo lists. These are great, but I still want a better notebook just for sketching user interfaces and interaction.

There are a few things I look for:

1) It lays flat and cover can fold over
2) Is small and portable
3) Has some tooth
4) Has a sturdy cover
5) Has perforations for removable pages
6) Has a good graph paper design

I’d be interested in hearing what other people look for.

Right now, I’m mainly concerned with creating the tool that’s most useful for the type of work I do. Sometimes a blank canvas is better. Sometimes a grid is better. Some people will always only want blank paper. But maybe there are others out there, like me, who are looking for something a little better. I spent some days trying and being frustrated with what’s out there. Most of the time I’m happy with what I have, but other days I just want nicer grids.

I’m just working on finding the right tools to make my life easier. But I’d love to hear if there are things you look for in a designer’s sketch book that you just can find right now. I’ve been thinking that what might come out of this process for me are a small collection of customizable notebooks that I’ll produce for fellow designers with various papers that they select and configure. I don’t foresee producing a lot of these now.

iStik Designers Make a Better iPod Holder

Core77 talks about a couple that makes good with self-designed iPod accessory, the iStik. Great example of designers finding buyers in a market saturated with accessory makers. They stand out because they’ve thought of the problem, researched how to make the better mousetrap and deliver a product that sells the story of sticking your nano wherever you want when you work out. They’ve made $50K in 6 months. Excellent stuff.