Tag Archives: Interaction design

An Insightful Video about IxD Big Picture

I came across this great video commissioned by Bassett & Partners, talking about the future connecting world and how interaction design can contribute to it. Many mind-provoking throughts.

My take-aways from it are two points: (1) Embrace “natural” interactions – removing constrains and artificials; (2) Connections among things through sensors and cloud will lead to environment- and context-dependent future interactions. What is yours? Enjoy.



Connecting from Bassett & Partners on Vimeo.

Eyes on USA TODAY’s New Design

USA TODAY disclosed it’s redesign of its logo, paper, and website, as a gift for its 30th birthday. As a media that is best known for its visual story telling, I am curious to see if the redesign succeeds its traditional advantage on visual representation.

Upon browsing through the beta website, I spotted the following 3 highlights that I would like to share and discuss with you:

  1. Similar reading experience with tablet-based e-magazine 
  • While reading one news section, next section is shown with its coded color on the right side, indicating a slide-effect can be used to view next section.
  • Visual-based story telling strategy is consistent in the new design, without any cluster of characters in main pages.
  • If choose to read one story, the story body will be loaded as a pop-up window above the current page, as shown in the second snapshot. Cross out the pop-up window can lead you back to the original page, which is snapshot #1. You can also click left or right arrow to view previous or next news in detail. This design actually lightens the navigation burden (adding breadcrumb trail…) and decreases the sense of loss, as the cross-out action is very intuitive and users know they can always go back easily.

    2. Simple, clean, and color-coded menu.

If you hover your mouse over one of the un-chosen menu item, the coded color will expand and fill in the rectangular menu button. This gives quick visual feedback and proper clue of affordance for users.

    3. Social media sites (e.g., Twitter & Facebook) alike features

Another thing I like about the redesign is its natural integration of common UX features adopted in modern SNS. For example, in the first snapshot, the expandable “RIGHT NOW” tab is a good stimulus for users to keep up to date. It forms an acute image of USA TODAY, compared to other static-looking news websites. Another example would be the continuous scrolling interaction mode, which is very common for SNS, such as Twitter and Facebook. Compared to the traditional pagination interaction mode (see below), continuous scrolling enables a more fluent browsing experience, with much more appealing looking.

Image

Overall, with the new look, USA TODAY would definitely be one of the news sites that I visit often. Because with the easier and fun interaction, it brings enjoyable reading experience. How do you like it?

EXCELLENT UX BLOGS: UX booth

UX booth is one of my favorite blogs about user experience study. This blog is run by a group of people named UX community. Its online presence delivers informative articles and resources on usability, interaction design, and user experience. The blog is updated regularly and has a readership mainly composed of beginning-to-intermediate user experience and interaction designers (just people like us).

If you take a look at this blog, it itself is a pretty nice, and user-friendly website (of cause, it has to be!). The map of the blog is easy to grasp (very good visibility!). As the blog consists mainly with articles discussing and sharing different aspects of user experience, it provides a clear achieve of related topics, which you could find either on the top of the page, or the bottom of the page. Other forms of information, such as video records, podcasts, tools and books that they recommend, or even some get together they organized, are achieved in “resources”.

Overall, I think this blog is pretty cool. It has something you might already know about, some more you might haven’t heard of. This is good for us as learners — you could have some reflections on your experience, and you could also learn new things as well. You could also join the community and contribute as a guest writer. As I subscribed this blog to google reader, it told me that there are already 13,693 readers has subscribed it (don’t leave yourself out!), and the update frequency is 1.4 posts per week. Check out the latest blog — “Personas: putting the focus back on the user” — isn’t it appealing to you?

[Reading Reflections] Use-centered Approach: What and Why?

Reading Material: Chapter 1 of  About Face 3, Measuring the User Experience, Design of Everyday things, and Designing Web Usability.

I appreciate these reading materials since they define the key concept — usability and/ or user-centered design — from different aspects. Why I said it is the key concept for this course as well as for today’s design? Because we don’t lack emerging designs and products in our life, but we DO lack good designs that make us just feel happy when we use them.

So, first, what exactly is user-centered approach? Different authors have slightly different definition fitted into different context. But I think we can put it as simple as “the design that makes people happy”. So just as Steve Krug put it, “get rid of the question mark”! Compared to the bad designs that based on designers’ or programmers’ own view, this approach focused on the ease of use rather than ease of make or ease of code. Thus, it requires designers to understand users’ desires, needs, motivations, and contexts, and put them in the center of the design strategies. Among these readings, I personally like the Cooper’s interpretation using goal-directed approach the best, because it offers a higher and broader point of view to direct our focus, instead of focusing on single task or activity (which might also be called user-centered design!).

Of course, things are always easy to say than done. In order to use this approach in our future design, we need to fall to utilizing the principles in a systematical way. Another good point about these reading materials is that they offer scientific methodologies that we could follow. For example, in About Face 3, Cooper brought up the design process based on goal-directed design; also in Measuring the User Experience, I am glad to find the quantitative way to support design decision.

In the end, I would like to share why usability matters. As we can image, usability is everywhere in our life. From playing a smart phone, or using a microwave at home, to operating a high-speed rail, usability is not only about pleasure but could be about life or death (if you have heard about the tragic high-speed rail accident just happened in China, partly because of bad design of communication system). As an engineer planning a career in usability research and interaction design, I believe it is never too careful about usability. It is about the success of your product, it is about revenue for a business, and it is also about changing the way people interact with the world.