Notebook

IDAT, the Institute of Design, Art and Technology of Barcelona is holding its 1st Interaction Design Competition based on the theme of designing applications for the next generation Internet of Things.

The competition calls for ideas of interfaces, interactions, and applications that can be designed with technologies such as embedded Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), short-range wireless communication, ubiquitous data networks, mobile devices, hardware prototyping tools and digital fabrication.

The deadline to submit projects is December 15, 2010, and the award is 16.000 euro. If you haven't already started tinkering with physical computing, this may be a good opportunity to start. ;) Find out more about entry details.

We launched an overhauled Balsamiq.com this week and I wrote about the effort. In addition to doing interface design on the product (myBalsamiq mostly up to now) I also get to be the "webmaster." :) What that means in our small startup is doing the user research, interface design, visual design, and front end development. If you know me, you know that I dig getting to do more than one thing, so that's a win.

In any case, take a look and see how we evolved our little site. I'm planning to do another article on some the CSS 3 techniques I learned, but this high level blog entry will give you an idea of what I learned doing this project.

Visualizing.org looks like an exciting new community devoted to information design and sensemaking--making sense of complex issues through data and design. An excerpt from their about page describes the site:

It's a place to showcase work, get feedback, ensure that your work is seen by lots of people and gets used by teachers, journalists, and conference organizers to help educate the public about various world issues. Visualizing is also a free resource to search for data. Use Visualizing to keep up with and be inspired by the latest work from other designers and design schools. You can learn about new visualization tools, blogs, books and other resources here.

Visit visualizing.org and share your work or get data to start participating.

Harry Brignull's Dark Patterns is a pattern library dedicated to user interfaces that have been designed to trick users into doing things they wouldn’t otherwise have done. He describes the site he created to address this issue:

Dark Patterns ... are carefully crafted with a solid understanding of human psychology, and they do not have the user’s interests in mind. The purpose of this site is to catalogue various common types of Dark Pattern, and to name and shame organizations that use them.

Harry's talk at UX Brighton 2010 illustrates examples of brands that are using dark patterns including opting customers in to options they didn't explicitly choose, and adding items to their shopping carts. The talk calls for a code of ethics among professionals in the user interface design industries, and for professional associations to acknowledge that these practices are unethical. This does seem to me as simple a principle as a professional and professional association could adopt, in keeping with the familiar phrase from the principle of ethics for Medicine, "First, do no harm."

The User Interface Stack Exchange is a free, community driven Q and A site for user interface researchers and experts. It was created through the open democratic process defined at Stack Exchange Area 51, part of the Stack Exchange Network and Stack Overflow. Help out by registering and contributing your expertise.

This is a fantastic interview of Jeff Bezos on Charlie Rose where Bezos talks about why Kindle shouldn't be the iPad and why Amazon's new mission is "Earth's most customer-centric company."

This is a pretty fun comparison of a Windows 7 Hanvon tablet and the iPad. Mute the music and Steve Jobs voice over unless your into that kind of cacophony.

Found via 52 Tiger.

There's no doubt about where the call to action is here. I especially like the useful copy on this page. "If for any reason you are unwilling or unable to click the giant button, please email us..."

Via @patio11

Harry Brignull did a thorough review of WhatUsersDo.com, a UK-based remote, unmoderated, qualitative usability testing service. To use the service, you pay £25-£30 per participant and you get back screen recordings with audio of them thinking aloud during the tasks. The test participants are chosen from a pool of users paid to take usability tests, similar to usertesting.com.

As Brignull notes, this is possibly valuable to companies with little experience doing usability testing on their own before, but is less likely to be of value to companies with the experience and budget for doing moderated usability research on their own, or with a usability research consultancy.

UX Storytellers is a blog that captures the stories that we share when we're talking UX with our peers at conferences and events. Jan Jursa's team are collecting these stories to publish as a free PDF, an online magazine and eventually a book.