In the Highlander series of films and TV shows, a Quickening occurs when one immortal beheads another, receiving all of the knowledge and power of their defeated opponent. A similar phenomena occurs in the software industry when a company ignores their customers. Those customers end up drifting away to competitors. It’s a slow burn, rather than an explosion, but the metaphor works. I just...
Mind Your Ps and Qs
I had Christmas music playing this afternoon, and my elder daughter heard the following line from an old song titled Santa Claus Blues by Jimmy Boyd and Mitch Miller: …be sure to mind your Ps and Qs, or wake up Christmas morning with the Santa Claus blues. She asked me what your Ps and Qs are, and I was more than happy to enlighten her. It gave me the opportunity to explain how books,...
Mapping the Design Landscape
Lindsey Estep started out with a simple venn diagram as the basis of her map and built out from there. The initial three circles forming the diagram are: Creative Research: primarily focused on conceptual and visual consideration Engineering Research: significant testing and study, frequently requires prototypes, pragmatic Social Research: centered around research about the audience/user,...
Defenders of the Valley
Back in the Spring, I taught a course on game design. By the end of the semester, my students had conceived a Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game (MORPG) in which middle school students become park rangers, defending Canaan Valley from invasive species. Actually, the concept for the game was larger in scope, dealing with many environmental issues facing Appalachian wetlands, but for a proof of...
I live on top of a hill—a rather large one—overlooking the Ohio River. We often have high winds, and as a result, I and my neighbors end up with a fair bit of trash in our yards. You see, our community is fortunate enough to have single stream recycling, so we can recycle just about anything. I put a lot more out to be collected for recycling than for landfill. As such, I have a full-size trash...
Design Vocabulary: Learnability
Having written about both Discoverability and Findability, I feel obligated to address Learnability as the next vocabulary term. Learnability is not a term specific to Interaction Design. Dictionaries will provide definitions such as “the condition of being learnable” and “the ease with which something can be learned.” That’s clear enough, but the term does have more specific meaning when used in...
Working with Developers Survey
I mentioned some weeks ago that I’m pushing ahead with the presentation I’m not giving at Interaction 12. To that end, I have put together a survey for designers working with developers. My intent is to find out to what extent the average Interaction Designer is integrated into their software development team. If you are a designer working in the realm of Interaction Design and User Experience,...
Design Definitions and Relationships Realized by...
Aaron Geiger is one of my graduate students this semester, but he is actually a Master of Journalism student. He’s been taking the course because he needed an elective outside of his department, and he is very interested in design. This was actually the perfect course for him, as it was primarily reading, writing, and discussion. It is no surprise, then, that Aaron took a much different approach...
When Undo is No Help at All
I remember when Photoshop only had one level of undo. You had to take great care with every action, or you would be starting over. Today, nearly infinite levels of undo and redo are standard fare. Why would anyone complain about having an undo feature. There’s a particularly poorly designed piece of software used for media presentation in worship services called MediaShout. The UI defies all...
One of the capabilities of an application I’ve been working on for two years now is the generation of graphs as PDFs. The UI allows the user to choose a type of graph, select several parameters, specify which axes they go on, and set a number of options. We are using JFreeChart and JasperReports to generate the graphs. I was designing a new type of graph for the next version of the application...
Voice Mail Fail
My company outfitted our new office with Cisco VOIP phones. They seem to work as well as any other office phone, but the voice mail indicator is woefully inadequate. You see that little red line above the display? That’s the light that comes on when you have unheard voice mail. It doesn’t blink. It’s just on or off. I didn’t even realize that’s what it was until one of my coworkers pointed out...
There’s one week left in the masters-level class I’ve been teaching. It is mainly a seminar-style course with a few complimentary projects. The semester was organized into seven units. These are the readings that my students were required to write responses to and then discuss in class. This is a good survey of the current state of design theory. Defining Design Beautiful Diversion - NextD...
Museum of Obsolete Objects
There’s a rather amusing, and quite clever, YouTube channel titled the Museum of Obsolete Objects. Short videos demonstrate the use of objects that, as the name implies, have become obsolete. The dial telephone, instant camera, and abacus are examples. The videos are well-produced, and many of them point out unintentional quirks, such as how a pencil was used to wind up a cassette tape that had...