It continues to perplex me how so many basic interaction conventions did not make it onto the web. With each browser revision, we’re slowly improving experiences online, but so much of it is simply catch-up and not new innovation. Sure, it was born as a method for structuring and sharing documents, but once we started building things with it that involved interaction, why didn’t we at least start with what we knew thus far? Simple patterns designed decades earlier are slowly starting to show up on the internet but so many are still not even technologically possible.
It’s unfortunate because it limits the internet’s potential. By requiring experienced users to learn new behaviors, requiring users to deal with a sub-set of features, or lowering standards and expectations by providing new users with a sub-par experience, we are doing them a great disservice.
“I used to think that, as a designer and a somewhat creative person, it was my calling to bring form to things I saw in my mind. In the creative act of making things, people would understand my thoughts and feelings through the work, in perfect translation. We would shape things with our hands based on notions of utility and delight, and provide them to others for repeated physical (and mental) consumption and use. If well-crafted, it would fulfill a clear human need.From The Blind Man and the Cheeseburger, by David Sherwin
“Now, I feel quite different. The act of form-giving is not a means to a clear end. Our senses continually map and remap in reaction to the elements that order our physical world, harmonizing those perceptions with the world we construct in our minds. Neither is more precise than the other, or ‘real’ in any standard sense of the word. Physical form and thought of form, messy, human interplay: yin and yang.”
“IxD Protip: Practice awareness of details. An invaluable skill best honed on a public park bench.”Eris Stassi, via Twitter
In interaction design, we talk a lot about user testing. After we have put together some rough prototypes, we like to put them in front of our users, give them some scenarios, and observe them attempt to perform some predetermined tasks. Something that I think is often overlooked however is observing the user using their current system. Most of the time the applications that we are designing are replacing current systems—even if the “system” isn’t a software application and it is paramount that we understand it.
“Designers need to stop thinking that they’re creating experiences. They’re allowing them to unfold with sound design decisions.”Bryan Zmijewski on why user experience design does not exist. I think he is spot on. We do not create experience, we design applications that allow experiences to happen. We are interaction designers. Just semantics? I don’t think so. It’s important to remember that the user isn’t a marionette.
“Interaction Design (IxD) is a reverse blanket term that describes how people apply many theories in psychology and physiology, including Heuristics, Cybernetics, Ergonomics, Planning Theory, and even more disparate fields dealing with Audio and Visual design.Read in a discussion at interactiondesigners.com. The members are discussing the difference between Interface Design and Interaction Design.
To reduce that. Interface Design is about where buttons appear on a page, and what those buttons look like. IxD is whether or not that page needs to exist at all.
Interface Design will tell you how best to ask a user for his address, IxD will tell you to harvest it from somewhere that you already have it stored.
Interface Designers design interfaces, IxDs design ways to avoid them.”
Alan Cooper challenges Interaction Designers to lead “an Insurgence of Quality.” I found this keynote presentation to be fascinating. Definitely worth watching.
“What creates success isn’t raw innovation, it’s considered design.”Alan Cooper
Yahoo!’s Political Dashboard provides users with a quick perspective of the current US presidential election polls.