I took my girls to see WALL•E yesterday. The movie lives up to Pixar’s reputation. I quite enjoyed it. It’s amazing the amount of expression—of deeply felt emotion—communicated with so very little dialog. It’s no surprise that Ben Burtt, who, with Kenny Baker, brought R2-D2 to life in the Star Wars films, also gave voice to our new little robot who could. Also of interest from a design...
In the Details: Drag & Drop
UI design gets tricky when a single action can potentially invoke many functions. Take dragging, for instance. If I depress my mouse button and then move the mouse without releasing the button, my actions are interpreted as a drag. That’s straight forward enough. But a drag can be used for several things. If I drag across a list, I could be moving one item in the list, or I could be selecting...
Animator vs. Animation
I just enjoyed a clever animation by Alan Becker and want to share it. Alan is an artist who posts his work on deviantART. If you enjoy the original, there is a sequel, and Charles Yeh turned it into an interactive game hosted by Atom Films.
User Oriented Design?
For over ten years, I’ve been claiming that I practice User-Centered Design (UCD). To me, this has meant that my process includes learning about the people who will use the product I’m designing. Now, I’ve never seen much value in creating personas. Perhaps because of the types of customers I tend to work with, I study users as being in various roles: inspector, maintenance technician, tester,...
The Gauntlet Has Been Thrown
Ever since February, I’ve had a ghost task on my to-do list. Ghost tasks are the ones that haven’t actually been written down and prioritized, but you know that they’re on there. By the time I gained my company’s support to attend Interaction|08, it was too late to submit a topic. For the past four months, I’ve been intending to figure out what I want to present. Greg Petroff, the IxDA Conference...
On the return trip from my cousin’s wedding this past weekend, we took the ferry from Cape May, NJ to Delaware. While we roamed the ship a good bit (you can’t expect a seven and five-year-old to stay in one place that long), the longest period of time was spent outside on the middle deck where there was plenty of shaded seating. I was therefore able to observe a number of people pass through the...
This is the first time I have utilized the internet from inside a tent. Actually, that’s not quite true-I sent three email messages prior to writing this. It is also the first time I have been tent camping since I purchased my iPhone. So, which is more significant, the near ubiquity of my digital tether and the “freedom” it affords, or the incongruity of checking email while...
Last night saw our third, and best attended, programmed event for the local Pittsburgh chapter of IxDA. We were hosted by Fit Associates in their Shadyside studio. I’m afraid I missed the first thirty minutes of socializing, but I arrived just in time for the their presentation. Marc Rettig and Jenna Date gave us a compelling overview of their firm’s philosophy and their approach to solving...
There are a lot of software applications out there for creating visual artifacts from slideshows to spreadsheets, any number of different types of documents, flowcharts, family trees, photo albums, calendars, and labels of all sorts. One might think that all the bases are covered several times over. Bee Docs thought of a new one. I was reading a Macworld article about the Apple Design Awards...
A Plug for Green Plug
There is a box in my basement of old computer peripherals and other consumer electronics. Each device is packed with its own DC power supply, fittingly referred to as wall warts. I just counted thirteen of them in the room in which I’m writing this post. They are wasteful in a number of ways. It is expensive for electronics manufacturers to have to include them with every device. Because they are...
Designer’s Toolbelt: Versions
As an Interaction Designer, I work very closely with software engineers. To that end, I must integrate my own processes and tools with theirs. In the past year, my company decided to make the switch from StarTeam to Subversion for version control. I’ve been involved in two projects recently for which I’ve had to check files in and out of Subversion. I’m not about to do this using a command line,...
Blog of the Week: Design for Service
Service Design is one of the more recent sub-divisions of design to be recognized. It has only been considered a design discipline since 1991, and has just become fashionable in the past few years. It is not too surprising, then, that there are comparatively few resources for it. In fact, I know of only one blog solely devoted to service design: Design for Service. Jeff Howard started the blog in...
I’m compelled to make a few corrections. In my musings about the iPhone 3G announcements, I made some incorrect statements. Now that I’ve had time to read a bit more and listen to a few podcasts, I’ve learned a few more details that weren’t readily apparent. The iPhone 3G is thinner… on the edges. It’s actually slightly thicker than the original in the middle. According to somebody who has...
After swiping my card in an ATM yesterday, I pressed the button beside the “Fast Cash $50” option. It threw up a dialog that said, “Not a multiple of 20”. Then it closed out. I had to start over completely by swiping my card again. Why didn’t it just return me to the menu to select the amount I wanted? Why did it allow me to choose $50 if it couldn’t fulfill the request?
It’s difficult for Apple to keep secrets these days. Nobody was surprised by yesterday’s announcement of the new iPhone 3G. GPS was rumored, although not everyone believed it would be included. Photos had been leaked showing all-plastic, black and white backs. One might think that the event wasn’t very exciting. However, as usual, the really good design is in the details. There were two primary...
The Problem with Patents
The news came out last Thursday that iRise has filed a patent infringement suit against Axure. For those of you that don’t know, Axure sells a software product by the same name used by Interaction Designers to develop working prototypes of websites and software. I’ve written in the past that I’m not interested in it myself, as it doesn’t fill my needs, but it has become quite popular in the...
Blog of the Week: Putting People First
If I were to pick a single source for news about usability, experience, service, sustainability, and innovation—in fact, most aspects of user-centered design—it would have to be Putting People First, a site maintained by Mark Vanderbeeken of Experientia. All it takes is a glance at the list of categories to know that their articles cover the design landscape in both breadth and depth: Audience,...
Gary’s on Crackow
I just saw what has to be the least informed commentary on Apple’s iPhone to date. Gary Krakow, senior technology correspondent for TheStreet.com, just doesn’t get it. Steve Jobs has to bite the bullet. He’s either gotta get BlackBerry on there or Windows Mobile on there. It’s the entire answer. Ummmmm. Right. Gary apparently believes that the only way for the iPhone to gain market share in the...
What We Do Best, Part II
Responses to my question have continued trickling in over the past week. I find interesting the number of responses that are not design-specific. Ask the questions that nobody else is asking. - Bryan J Busch …point out the obvious. I feel like it’s half my job. - Robert Hoekman Jr ...bring a design perspective and a design voice into a community of technologists. - Michael Micheletti ...
Eating Utensile Strength
I attended our annual church picnic on Sunday. I had heard that one of our members ordered eating utensils made out of starch. While I appreciated the attempt at greenness, I couldn’t imagine a starch fork working very well. Wouldn’t it start dissolving while you were eating? I was quite surprised, therefore, to find that the starch utensils were better than a lot of plasticware I’ve used....
Having a Fit
I had intended to give my wife a Wii Fit for her birthday last Wednesday, but was not able to acquire one in time. Like the Wii itself, FIt is in high demand. Nintendo continues the trend it started with the Wii in appealing to both market segments, women and men, resulting in a lot of sales. Fortunately, I was able to nab one from a Target on my way home from work Friday. My wife is enjoying it,...