Posted in 2010s, Articles, Interface Design
D’Silva, Pasquale, “Transitional Interfaces” (2013)
Folks keep throwing around the word “delight” when referring to animation and cute interactions. Cool and great for those guys. Guess what though? Animation can be used functionally too. It’s not just an embellished detail.
Animation leverages an overlooked dimension — time! An invisible fabric which stitches space together.
Posted in 2000s, Articles, Cogniton, Theory
Klemmer, Scott, Hartmann, Bjorn, and Takayama, Leila, “How Bodies Matter: Five Themes for Interaction Design,” 2006.
This paper presents five themes that we believe are particularly salient for designing and evaluating interactive systems. The first, thinking through doing, describes how thought (mind) and action (body) are deeply integrated and how they co-produce learning and reasoning. The second, performance, describes the rich actions our bodies are capable of, and how physical action can be both faster and more nuanced than symbolic cognition. The first two themes primarily address individual corporeality; the next two are primarily concerned with the social affordances. Visibility describes the role of artifacts in collaboration and cooperation. Risk explores how the uncertainty and risk of physical co-presence shapes interpersonal and human-computer interactions. The final theme, thickness of practice, suggests that because the pursuit of digital verisimilitude is more difficult than it might seem, embodied interaction is a more prudent path.
Posted in 2010s, Articles, Interface Design, Theory
Arnall, Timo, “No to NoUI,” 2013.
Invisible design propogates the myth that technology will ‘disappear’ or ‘just get out of the way’ rather than addressing the qualities of interface technologies that can make them difficult or delightful.
Intentionally hiding the phenomena and materiality of interfaces, smoothing over the natural edges, seams and transitions that constitute all technical systems, entails a loss of understanding and agency for both designers and users of computing. Lack of understanding leads to uncertainty and folk-theories that hinder our ability to use technical systems, and clouds the critique of technological developments.
As systems increasingly record our personal activity and data, invisibility is exactly the wrong model.
Posted in 2010s, Articles, Inspirational, Theory
Krishna, Golden, “The best interface is no interface,” 2012.
It’s time for us to move beyond screen-based thinking. Because when we think in screens, we design based upon a model that is inherently unnatural, inhumane, and has diminishing returns. It requires a great deal of talent, money and time to make these systems somewhat usable, and after all that effort, the software can sadly, only truly improve with a major overhaul.
There is a better path: No UI. A design methodology that aims to produce a radically simple technological future without digital interfaces. Following three simple principles, we can design smarter, more useful systems that make our lives better.
Posted in 1990s, Articles, Inspirational
Tognazzini, Bruce, “Magic and Software Design,” 1993.
Perhaps no field other than magic is tied so closely to the field of graphical interface design: The people working at Xerox PARC in the 1960’s and early 1970’s were aware of the principles of theatrical magic when creating the first graphical interfaces, to the extent that David Smith named the interface itself the “user illusion” (Kay). We are designing interfaces for an interface system based on magic, yet there is almost nothing written about it in our literature. (An exception is a single page by Heckel.) Magicians have been struggling with the principles, techniques, and ethics of illusion for at least 5000 years (Burger). There’s a lot we can learn from them.
Posted in 1980s, Articles, Cogniton
Carroll, John M. and Thomas, John C., “Metaphor and the Cognitive Representation of Computing Systems”, 1980.
Our starting point is the simple observation (dating at least to the time of William James, 1890) that people tend to try to learn about new things by making use of their past learning. New concepts are typically thought of in terms of old concepts-at least initially. We focus on a specific variety of this, the metaphorical extension from one structured domain into another. In particular we consider the role that metaphorical learning plays in the mastery of computing systems at various levels of “competence.” Professional programmers might learn a new system X by metaphorizing at least initially from what they already know about system Y. More casual or naive end-users might rely on metaphors drawn from more distant knowledge domains, e.g.. on what they have already learned about electric typewriters.
Posted in 1990s, Articles, Basics, Cogniton, Usability
Davidson, Mary Jo, Dove, Laura, and Weltz, Julie, “Mental Models and Usability,” 1999
An inaccurate mental model of what is happening in a system leads to errors. Many systems place too many demands on the humans that use them. Users are often required to adjust the way they work to accommodate the computer. Sometimes the result is a minor frustration or inconvenience, such as changes not being saved to a file. Inaccurate mental models of more complex systems, such as an airplane or nuclear reactor, can lead to disastrous accidents.
Posted in 2010s, Articles, Inspirational
Bret Victor, A Brief Rant on The Future of Interaction Design, 2011
Pictures Under Glass is an interaction paradigm of permanent numbness. It’s a Novocaine drip to the wrist. It denies our hands what they do best. And yet, it’s the star player in every Vision Of The Future.
Posted in 2010s, Articles, Basics
Chad Vavra, The Ten Principles of Interaction Design, 2011
To steal a metaphor from E.L. Doctorow, “[Interaction Design] is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as the headlights, but you can still get to your destination”. When a task seems too big, start by picking two things, like a page and a button. Establish their relationship and interaction. Once that is done, pick something else that relates and keep going. Everything will come together thanks to the brain’s natural ability to spatially model the world.
Posted in 2010s, Articles, Inspirational, Interface Design, Mobile
Mike Kruzeniski, How Print Design is the Future of Interaction, 2011
The literal analog affordance is no longer necessary, and yet, it’s the default path that so many interactive experiences follow. We don’t need to make an eBook look like a book for people to understand how to use it. The book isn’t the cover and binding, it’s the images and the text that make the story. Similarly, a movie doesn’t need to look like a DVD on a shelf to understand that it belongs to a collection, and an audio mixer doesn’t require cables and knobs to be capable as a tool, and a Notebook does not require leather and a spiral bind to be familiar. In the early days of interaction design when software concepts were best explained through heavy handed metaphors, the familiarity of these objects and textures was appropriate. However, the rendering of artifacts has outlived its usefulness as the definitive approach to UI design. As Designers we should be critiquing it for what it often is: shallow, meaningless, and often distracting from the information it surrounds.
Posted in 2010s, Articles, Inspirational, Robotics, Theory
Matt Jones, The Robot-readable World, 2011
Computer vision is a deep, dark specialism with strange opportunities and constraints. The signals that we design towards robots might be both simpler and more sophisticated than QR codes or other 2d barcodes.
Posted in 2010s, Articles, Hardware, Mobile
Dan Hill, Portable Cathedrals, 2011
Each mobile phone handset is not a mere product, perhaps like the other products that have traditionally adorned the pages of this magazine—as a chair is, or a lighting fixture is. Instead, each handset is a play in a wider global contest, a node in logistics networks of immense scale and complexity, a platform for an ecosystem of applications, an exemplar of the internet of things, a window onto the daily interactions of billions of users, of their ever-changing personalities and cultures, a product that consumers traditionally consider the most important in their possession, after the keys to their home.
The phone is an intimate device, not simply through its ubiquity and connectivity, its relationship with the body. While objects have long been cultural choices and symbolic goods, the mobile phone, being the most personal connection to the internet, is a device for generating symbolic goods, a vehicle for culture, a proxy for the owner’s identities. It is vast business and cultural phenomenon, all at once.
Posted in 2010s, Articles, History, Inspirational
Stefan Boublil, What The Telephone’s Unbeatable Functionality Teaches Us About Innovation, 2011
Design has become almost useless to mankind since so few people pursue single-mindedness as a foundational purpose, but would rather purposelessly chase multi-functionalism down a dark and long tunnel that may well lead to magazine covers, but to little else.
Posted in 2010s, Articles, Inspirational
Tom Armitage, Blessed are the Toymakers, 2011
The best toys have hidden depths. The best toys are all super-simple on the surface; super-obvious. They let you know exactly what you ought to try doing with them. But as you explore them, you discover they have hidden depths. And: hidden affordances. Spaces for imagination to rush in. Toys allow you to play games, inventing rules that make the toy more fun, not less. Toys allow you to tell the stories you imagine, not that are baked into them.
Posted in 2010s, Articles, Robotics, Ubicomp, Visionary
Matt Jones, Gardens and Zoos, 2012
This is near-future where the things around us start to display behaviour – acquiring motive and agency as they act and react to the context around them according to the software they have inside them, and increasingly the information they get from (and publish back to) the network.
In this near-future, it’s very hard to identify the ‘U’ in UI’ – that is, the User in User-Interface. It’s not so clear anymore what these things are. Tools… or something more.
Posted in 2010s, Articles, Interface Design
Mark Cossey, Mission Transition, 2012
A transition that has been designed to be slow can feel awful. When designing an application, an interface or any type of structured content, we must ensure that users understand where they have come from as they arrive at the new page or state. The transition from one screen or group of content to another should feel natural and should be tested on devices of varying power and speed to get a wider view of how the transition feels. Too fast, and it may appear broken or jumpy; too slow, and it will be frustrating to use.
Posted in 2010s, Articles, Cogniton
Jason Gross, Redefining Hicks’s Law, 2012
The human mind has trouble choosing between several options unless one clearly stands out as the best. When you water down a design with widgets and secondary content, you reduce the value of the primary content and force a harder decision on the user. The process of eliminating distracting options has to start here and should be carried on throughout the design process. The more choices we eliminate, the more enjoyable the experience will be.
Posted in 2010s, Basics, Non-Fiction Books
Lukas Mathis, Designed for Use: Create Usable Interfaces for Applications and the Web, 2011
“Weaving together hands-on techniques and fundamental concepts, you’ll learn how to make usability the cornerstone of your design process. Each technique chapter explains a specific approach you can use during the design process to make your product more user friendly, such as storyboarding, usability tests, and paper prototyping. Idea chapters are concept-based: how to write usable text, how realistic your designs should look, when to use animations.”
Posted in 2010s, Articles, Process, Project Management
Fred Beecher, Requirements-Driven Software Development Must Die, 2011
The process by which most enterprise software is developed is fatally flawed. There are flaws in any software development process, but in the past 13 years I’ve seen one approach produce more bad software and blow more budgets than any other: requirements-driven software development. Thankfully, I’ve also had the opportunity to see the success of an alternative type of process, a process in which user experience design drives what gets developed. This type of process helps teams deliver good software on time and within their budgets.
Requirements-driven software development fails mainly due to communication issues. Huge spreadsheets of detailed requirements, by themselves, are simply not an effective way to convey what an interactive system needs to do and how users need it to work. What does work, however, is validating those requirements with an interactive prototype.
Posted in 2000s, Articles, Process, Programming
Michael Mateas, “Procedural Literacy: Educating the New Media Practitioner” (2007)
Procedural literacy, of which programming is a part, is critically important for new media scholars and practitioners, that its opposite, procedurally illiteracy, leaves one fundamentally unable to grapple with the essence of computational media. In fact, one can argue that procedural literacy is a fundamental competence for everyone, required full participation in contemporary society, that believing only programmers (people who make a living at it) should be procedurally literate is like believing only published authors need to learn how to read and write; here I will restrict myself to the case of new media scholars and practitioners.
By procedural literacy I mean the ability to read and write processes, to engage procedural representation and aesthetics, to understand the interplay between the culturally-embedded practices of human meaning-making and technically-mediated processes. With appropriate programming, a computer can embody any conceivable process; code is the most versatile, general process language ever created. Hence, the craft skill of programming is a fundamental component of procedural literacy, though it is not the details of any particular programming language that matters, but rather the more general tropes and structures that cut across all languages.