I have a confession for you all: I’m an affinity junkie. I mean, I LOVE building the affinity. It’s almost pure induction, one of the pillars of Design Thinking. It’s physical and tangible and can be a little bit manic at times, perfect for a hyperkinetic person like me. And best of all, this is [...]
Can you design a complex system of interaction and create an elegant UI to support it? Are you passionate about designing from real user data? Are you looking for an opportunity to think about the why, not just the what, of design? If so, you might be the right person to join our team as [...]
Are you looking for an opportunity to think about the why, not just the what, of design? To have your ideas challenged by real user feedback and then to iterate based on that feedback? To work on projects for top brands and have industry leaders and innovators as your colleagues? If so you might be [...]
I had a terrific time presenting the Interaction Patterns webinar last month! We had a lot of great questions, amazing attendance, and some excellent feedback. Here are a few of my thoughts regarding interaction patterns, in case you missed the webinar. Interaction patterns are different from typical “design patterns”. They’re not a collection or a [...]
So far the design highlight of 2013 was traveling to Toronto for Interaction13, the international interaction design conference. I was particularly looking forward to this event because I attended last year’s conference and the experience solidified my desire to focus on interaction design. To return a year later having found a job I love with [...]
I just hosted my first webinar, talking about the relationship between Agile development and UX. It was a good talk, but to someone used to live audiences the experience of speaking out into the great ether is slightly unnerving. I made like an old-time radio announcer (do they still have those?) and it was fine. [...]
I had a lot of fun presenting our webinar last week on Understanding Modern Interaction Design. We had great attendance and collected some really good feedback afterwards. Thanks to everyone who attended! I think it’s an important topic in design, so it was exciting to see so much interest. If you stop and think about it, [...]
Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last few weeks, you’ve already heard about the verdict in the technology Trial of the Century, pitting Apple against Samsung in a battle over who violated whose intellectual property. The blogosphere is abuzz with what Apple’s decisive victory means to the consumer electronics industry, Apple’s rivalry with [...]
A report from Agile 2012: on beyond Agile.
I’ve attended two conferences in the last three weeks—Jared Spool’s UX Immersions conference, and CHI 2012, the primary computer-human interaction conference. UX Immersions was the smaller conference, focusing this year on the Agile/UX interface and on design for mobile devices. It was a great group of very focused people and, as it was run by Jared’s [...]
Remembering James Q. Wilson and how he used field research to gain insights into real problems.
I’m pleased to announce my article on “What Makes Things Cool?” has just been published in the November issue of Interactions. See the front cover of your copy of Interactions or buy a copy of the PDF here. Any time that a new platform emerges, it calls for new design principles and techniques to truly [...]
It’s always exciting for us to see what we call practical innovation in action—companies leveraging existing and emerging technologies with their own unique skills and capabilities. So it was exciting to see General Motors announce their next generation driver experience this month.
One of the ongoing questions in Agile development is whether and how much up-front design needs to be done. This is my perspective.
I’m back from Agile 2011. Another week spent in one of the most beautiful parts of America, with sunny days in the 70’s—spent in windowless, air-conditioned rooms with a bunch of computer geeks. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. The Agile conference continues to be one of the more exciting conferences around, and [...]
“This is never going to work. I don’t get it. Why are we doing this?” “Don’t worry, Cody.” I’m teaching one of my 16-year-old son’s friends how to do an affinity analysis on some data he’d collected for a high school “critical thinking” project. Sometimes I’m not sure how I get myself into these things. [...]
Boston MiniUPA isn’t mini anymore, but it’s still good.
CHI 2011 was a whirlwind of classes and papers and people—and of course, great views of the mountains! But for me, the most exciting thing was to debut our new concepts articulating the factors behind people’s experience of “cool.”
As interaction design professionals, we need to understand the history of our field and pay attention to how it has changed. The basic interaction design principles that we introduced in the CHI course—prominence, relationship, flow, clarity, simplicity and consistency—have remained the same, but the way we apply those principles changes as our technology changes. This is because each new technology creates new opportunities and new constraints for interaction design.
Moving the industry to an effective integration of Agile development with UX and the larger product development practice is going to take a lot more education, promotion, and repetition of the basic message: giving the UX designers their rightful place at the Agile table.
“Complacence inertia.” I have seen it throughout my career. It’s natural to assume you understand your market and your customers because you talk to them in various forums, but it lulls us into complacence.
Has any Agile project ever kicked off without a Phase 0? I don’t think so. But if you’ve been working happily without a Phase 0, I’d like to hear about it.
When you think of a technology or a product as a noun, you concentrate on what it is, its object-ness. But a verb is something different. When you think of a technology or product as a verb, you think about what it can do for people. And that’s an important difference for the success of the product.
It’s a huge challenge for a print publishing company to transform into a technology company. Here are some of the pitfalls.
Celebrating good design, wherever we find it
This company’s confidence in their original business plan and product concept was so great that it had blinded them to customer realities. The train had already left the station before they really knew customer needs.
GM’s experience studying drivers shows that a close analysis of user behavior can indeed lead to innovation.
Designers are sometimes myopic. (Before you get defensive, you should know I’ve been designing for 20 years and I still include myself in that statement.) As designers, we tend to focus on our product but not the larger ecosystem in which it exists—even though almost everything we design is connected to other products or services. [...]
Do you ever get “the clutch”? You know what I mean—that feeling in your chest that THIS feature MUST be shipped or the product will FAIL. When a team member can’t let go of their idea no matter what the data from the customer, the reality of shipping, or the difficulty of the code, we [...]
Here’s the story: I’m at a meeting hosted by another company. A bunch of us walk into their team room, talking, and I wander over to the table in the center of the room and touch the keyboard laying there. Then I start swearing. I swore because Apple did it again. The keyboard was one [...]
“Agile is just a fad.” Somebody said that to me the other day, and I’m sure you’ve heard the same if you’re involved in Agile development at all. I had the usual half-defensive, half-annoyed reaction one has when on the receiving end of such a remark. But then I started to mull over the question. [...]
The Microsoft Kin was launched in mid-April—a social networking optimized phone aimed squarely and explicitly at teens and pre-teens. But by June it was dead. Did user research ironically help kill the Kin?
I’ve been telling people for years that thinking is hard work. At the end of a day building an affinity when everyone’s brain is completely fried even though all they’ve done for the day is stick Post-its on the wall—“See, thinking is hard work!” I say with a chipper smile, and everybody hates me. This [...]
It’s been fascinating over the last several years to watch the big hairy technology battle of our age play out—Google versus Apple. This is a clash of ideologies in how they approach design.
I’m on my way back from Agile 2010, the main industry conference on Agile methods and tools. If I had to choose one theme for the conference, it would be something like “Agile Grows Up”—not only has Agile become mainstream, but the community is starting to recognize and tackle the real issues of doing development in organizations.
People sometimes challenge me (politely) with reasons why Contextual Inquiry (CI) interviews can’t work with their specific industry or user population. Usually I go into some variation of my standard explanation with examples related to their situation to illustrate how CI does work, and why. But then the participants in a Contextual Design workshop in [...]
There’s a fair backlog of news from the Agile world that I want to share with folks. We’ve been involved in working with Agile teams, and working out the relationship between Agile methods and user-centered design for some years now. Here are our latest activities.
I walked out of Verizon yesterday having just ordered the Motorola Droid X. I was pretty excited to try it out, having waited for Verizon to get something I wanted. “You know what was conspicuously missing?” my husband said as we walked out of the store. “Nokia!” we said together. Where is Nokia in the [...]
BJ Clark over at Marked as Pertinent has an interesting post on who should do acceptance testing. He starts there, but he spends most of the post on the really interesting question, which is the role of the Interaction Designer (ID). His claim, which I agree with, is that the ID is responsible for the [...]
A recent discussion by Bruce Nussbaum (BusinessWeek) suggests the need for identifying the creative capability of individuals and organizations. This concept got me thinking about creativity and how or even IF we could or should measure such a thing. I think the motivation behind the concept of creative intelligence is to foster the generation of [...]
Malcolm Gladwell’s stories support doing observational user research in the field, show why it matters, and reveal how to convince management to let you do it. If you are fighting to justify going out to observe your customers in the field instead of doing traditional interviews—here’s some ammunition from a credible source not connected to the technology community.
I attended CHI 2010 week before last and it was interesting and insightful as usual. There were lots of great ideas, interaction paradigms and insightful research being presented. But one topic was not much addressed by official conference sessions, but was common in the hallway conversations: how to deal with agile software development. I go [...]
We had a wonderful time at our SIG on Understanding Cool this year at CHI 2010. Here at InContext we are taking up the challenge of understanding the experience of “cool” in the context of people’s lives and across people’s life cycle. Our advanced research is looking at people from high school through 60 to [...]
The really impressive thing in this year’s CHI is that our community has recognized the value of field data for the purpose of design. Understanding the details of people’s lives has become mainstream, central to the design process. This is real industry change and we are celebrating it.
We’re running a contest on Twitter that we hope you’ll find fun. Here’s what you need to do: Tweet about what you think is the single most helpful design principle. If you had to choose just one principle that you could get all those non-designer folks out there who are creating websites that are impossible [...]
We’re looking forward to attending the CHI 2010 conference next week and have a variety of exciting things planned. First, we’ll be leading a SIG, “Understanding Cool,” on Monday, April 12th, from 2:30-4:00. In this session, we’ll be discussing the challenges of designing “cool” products and services. We’ll lead discussions with participants to come up [...]
How do you deal with the fact that your desire to measure innovation can kill it? Great innovation is more Buddha than Black-Scholes. Find your innovation Zen.
The fun thing about being a consultant is that you get to work with lots of different teams and lots of different companies. And that means you get to work on very different types of problems. With that in mind, let me tell you about my week. I was coaching a firm that provides HR [...]
It’s strange how the concept of execution gets linked almost solely with operations. What would happen if we applied “execution” to the “fuzziness” of development’s front end?
InContext Design is looking for energetic and talented Interaction Designers and User Researchers — we call them “Work Practice Designers” — for our locations in Boston and Chicago.