Experience Design

DUX Conference Notes Here

Ok, as much as I like serendipity, I really want to aggregate the DUX notes out there. I was not fortunate enough to head to DUX last weekend, but I've been randomly stumbling onto the notes. Please post your notes or links to your notes if possible in the comments:

Amy Lee
Boxes & Arrows (Erin Malone)
Brad Lauster and Day 2
Update:
Aaron Oppenheimer
Gene Smith's Photos
Celia Romaniuk's notes on Buxton & Kapor
Uday Gajendar
Danny O'Brien in which he somewhat apologizes for the panel that he was on...

Good Experience Live writeup

Anil Dash writes up his thoughts on Mark Hurst's Good Experience Live conference.

The conference covered experience from a wide array of perspectives - from exploding dog to Amazon. While these kinds of events may not offer as much pragmatic know-how, they serve as inspiration for different disciplines.

While I'm hesitant about the dilution inherent in "everything is an experience, so experience design is about everything", innovation thrives at the periphery and at disciplinary intersections. Even without a New York conference, we can still gain a lot from exploring those edges through cross-training - talking with and learning from other disciplines.
(thanks Webword)

Update: Mark is collecting GEL wrapups.

One title to rule them all, one title to bind them....

Well, over on Beth Mazur's IDblog Dirk Knemeyer suggests that information design should assume a director role over all the other disciplines in a project and that IA isn't a discipline, but a tactical practice. Hope he wore asbestos undies ;-)

Seriously, I'm not sure that one can argue for ID, IA, or interaction design as the 'director' without also making the case for the other two disciplines. Experience Architecture or Design seems a better fit for said director role. I've said more to that effect in the comments on Beth's blog.

(thanks Gunnar)

Introduction to social software

Lee Bryant has compiled a fantastic introduction to social software: Smarter, Simpler, Social.

Social Software is reaching early stage critical meme mass, and is sure to be fueled by the current Etech conference being blogged right now. One thing I've noticed is that there aren't that many connectors between the social software community and the user experience community. This strikes me as a bit odd, since social software is all about the user's experience. Maybe I'm wrong and those connections are prevalent, but so far I haven't seen a lot of them.

Matt Jones has discussed social software. Lou and Peter wanted to put more social things in Polar Bear 2. Many IAs blog. My point isn't that UX people aren't interested in socialware, but that socialware folks don't seem to be reaching out to UX. Last week, in a small group of social software developers, someone said "I think we have pretty much all the major players here" which totally blew me away.

Trust By Design

Peter Morville tackles the credibility issue with his usual flair.

Since Studio Archtype and Cheskin released the first large online trust study in early 1999, I've been interested in trust, and particularly the propagation of credibility through social networks and word of mouth. While BJ Fogg has released research that includes whether or not a friend recommends a site, I have yet to see anything that addresses resonance effects within social networks. If two separate friends recommend a site, I'm more likely to visit. Whether it's word of mouth or RSS feeds, personal recommendations from people I trust are my biggest credibility factor, and I don't see credibility research addressing that as much as it could.

The collected resources in the 'see also' sidebar with Peter's article are a goldmine of recent thinking - I'll have to dig and see if there's much about resonance there.

Lace up your Adidas - time for some UX Cross Training

What's UX Cross Training you say? It's simple: Often the best place to learn about user experience isn't at DUX or CHI or the IA Summit - it's through other disciplines (72kb gif).

This week, I've really enjoyed learning from industrial designers. Take some time in the workshops section of the Design and Emotion Society, particularly the furniture section (requires Flash). One of the main contributors to the society, Pieter Desmet has some great stuff too (with some frustrating broken links, but I've emailed a request to fix them).

Lessons Learned Now it's all well and good to pursue becoming a T-shaped person, but driving improvements to practice should be part of our cross training efforts. To that end, here's my top 3 take aways:

  • Sometimes, designing for the wrong goals will teach you as much as designing for the right goals. At first I was puzzled, and then intrigued with designing furniture that would make people sad. What will we discover if we sketch ideas on how to make it difficult to find information? Hard to use functionality? Obtuse infographics?
  • My own approach creates sustainable products and services driving shared value at the intersection of business goals and user goals by delivering an offering through some channel. But I've realized that with value-centered design, I haven't thought much about the value of emotion. I need to do more to highlight emotion as part of the goals and context of users and design sponsors. Often, the real metric of success is how my clients and their users feel - emotions trump ROI.
  • Other disciplines are a great source for stories - and stories are one of the best sales tools UX practitioners have. I'm sure telling about a shower that turns into a vehicle will come in handy soon, since scope creep is always just around the corner.
Theories of Experience

Jodi Forlizzi is a pioneer for emotion, design, and experience. Her own experience framework and her distillation of other theories of experience should be read by all UX practitioners.

Closing the loop between theory and practice can be a challenge - we can catch glimpses of implication for Folizzi's framework in her portfolio and she also teaches a studio class for Carnegie Mellon's interaction design program. (thanks brightly colored chad)

Macromedia.com Progress Report

Macromedia.com has published a progress report detailing feedback they've received from users of the redesigned site and discussing progress they're making towards resolution of outstanding problems. They've been hit with a lot of complaints from Apple Safari users since they launched.

We have received a tremendous volume of feedback on the new macromedia.com experience. Your collective feedback has been thoughtful and detailed, and is helping to improve the macromedia.com experience.

Macromedia tagline: Experience Matters

Macromedia has launched a new design with a corresponding marketing message about creating great experiences. The new tagline 'experience matters' has its own website with example experiential flash sites.

I alternate between loving the increased exposure of user experience, and hating the dilution of something tangible and valuable to buzz-compliant marketing copy.

Update: Jerry Knight's article on the new UI and interaction design is worth checking out.

Door of Perception 7: Flow

there is literally a wealth of fascinating presentation material and cutting edge theory of experience design to be found in the collected talks available online from the Doors 7: Flow conference

this one by London's Design Council on Humanising Technology was particularly intriguing

Design Council's Humanising Technology effort

Design creates space for common language between disciplines.

One company we are working with is developing highly complex software for large businesses in the energy industry. The company moved from being knowledge consultants in the industry to developers of a new technology that will allow real time financial modelling. Even before they have a UI the small, highly specialised team realised that there was no shared representation of the technology and therefore different perceptions of the benefits it will bring.

Getting Started with a Career in User Experience

For those of you who might be new to the field of IA or user experience design, or almost anything related really, Marcus Haid has written a nice primer on breaking into the industry for Adaptive Path.

multimedia is not dead, it's just asleep

Some people believe that User Experience is something that can be designed, and dating back to the theme park ride sensorama where one sat on a motorcycle seat that vibrated and bumped along while displaying a movie of the motorcycle experience and even wafting some gasoline fumes the amusement seeker's way...there have been arenas where the imagineering was truly a designed User Experinnce art

fast forward from the days of the new york world's fair and coney island fortune telling machines to lucas/disney's star tours and universal's back to the future rides and we begin to see the true potential of a designed user experience. it's definately not about sitting on the couch watching a super bowl ad with a can of duff's in hand; & it's probably not about sending a global wire transfer via c2it.com either

it might be about feeling the vibe of an interactive branding presentation, especially if it's presented in letterbox format with some deafening sound effects

see what i mean at studiocom's groovy interactive agency website

the content is prety rightous, but why can't they keep the browser window to a proper size matching their letterbox media windows?

I'm not entirely sure the user experience itself can be designed into crt images and text entry fields [and i'm not convinced that any website is more engaging than eating a bag of munchies or party mix].

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

The latest Alertbox states that only 39% of the screen elements for the web sites studied were devoted to navigation and content. But that's 39% of everything that appears on the screen, and Nielsen admits that site owners have no control over OS and browser overhead. If we look instead at elements that are controllable by site owners, the "average" site's navigation and content take up almost 49% of this "controllable" space.

That seems to be a more relevant statistic (although it doesn't make for good sound bites).

Up my street

The Guardian has a good review of the UK site Upmystreet.com, which allows people to seek information/services within a neighborhood by entering a postal code. The site has gone a step further by connecting people in within that locale as well. The ability to mix information seeking and interpersonal interaction seems like an interesting idea. When you consider that mobile devices will can be used to access services like this, new possibilities as well as new concerns are inevitable. Apparently there are some issues of privacy and safety, such as concern over the safety of children using the service. Nevertheless, a cool new way of making connections via locale.

Interview: Maryam Mohit, Amazon.com

Mark Hurst interviews Maryam Mohit, V.P. of Site Development at Amazon.com to find out what makes that company one of the leaders in customer experience online and off.

    For us, it's a combination of listening really hard to customers, and innovating on their behalf.
I never knew about Amazon's butterfly ballot joke.

IA should get under the UX tent

That's what Sean Coon is saying at apperceptive's uxDesign. I agree with his contention that vocal IA's should be spending effort cross pollenating and talking big IA. Lou has been doing a lot of that lately as do some Adaptive Path who do IA as one component of their work. But even with the fiery debates that have been going on, I still feel there is a need for something like AIfIA, if only to support IA's that don't have a steady and constant lifeline of IA peers -- I suspect that isolated IA's, like those that have moved into in-house positions with small IA groups will feel this. I also feel that evangelism can make the people holding the purse strings see the light and spend money on IA where it's needed.

Apparently some people also believe that IA needs an egomaniacal figurehead. I agree with Thomas Alison on that one. I've said that a few times in the past few weeks to people I've spoken to about getting business decision makers to understand IA. When I say business decision makers, I mean in the big and maybe boring brick and mortar corporations who need in house IA's to work on stuff like enterprise IA.

Don't know where Sean's rockstar theory comes from. I never wanted to be a rockstar and I never really worked in a traditional library.

Nathan Shedroff: The V-2 Interview 1/2
    If IAs (and others) want to be taken seriously and gain back some of the stature they've lost in the last three years, they should start with turning down the volume on the entitlement and righteous indignation, and opening their eyes to a lot of other people who know a piece of the evolving puzzle that is called the customer marketplace.
Adam Greenfield interviews Nathan Shedroff to talk very candidly about Experience Design and Information Architecture. It's part 1 in a 2 part series that's turned out to be a lively debate with significant clashes occurring between the concepts of experience design and information architecture. Shedroff offers some succinct definitions that characterize ED as an umbrella encompassing a lot of smaller roles. I've tended to accept this classification to some extent, but found Shedroff's perceptions of the smaller roles (and the people who inhabit those roles) to be rather unclear at times (IA is not Information Design in my opinion) and condescending at others. It is interesting to read his perceptions of IA, however, particularly with regard to the growth of the field, the ability of IA's to view projects within a broader context. I disagree with those opinions as well.

At one point Shedroff also mentions Information Theory, stating that more IAs should be conversant in it. I found that amusing. I know that many of us come from LIS backgrounds, so there is no doubt that many IAs have some knowledge of that literature, but am wondering how they factor that into the work they do. For me, the experience of studying and working on Information Retrieval is informed by a lot of IR literature, but as a generalist, I rarely point to specific theories in order to make decisions. Shedroff also mentions Wurman, but I have no idea what Wurman has to do with Information Theory. Maybe this has to do with the fact that he lumps information architecture with information design.

In any case, it was a very open conversation -- with opinions that should be aired in the public in this manner. Looking forward to part 2.

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