Interaction Design Foundations

Now that David Malouf works for a art school every problem look like a “art” problem? In art school you need to master the primitives. There are 6 elements:

  1. line
  2. plane
  3. volume
  4. value
  5. texture
  6. color

David asks if there are similar primitives to interaction design? Here are his 5 elements:

  1. time
  2. abstraction
  3. metaphor
  4. negativity
  5. motion

David’s blog: Foundations of IXD

The only problem I have with this is that design school focuses on art. These 6 elements make for the foundations of understanding great art. I am not sure they are the foundation to design. The distinction I make is that art is for yourself and your expression. Design is for someone else. Design requires an enormous foundation of understanding the human:

  1. physical abilities
  2. cognitive abilities
  3. empathy
  4. context
  5. communication

I believe these are more essential to interaction design then all of the abstraction in the world. I understand that these are not the “foundations” of the art of interaction design but they sure are for the business of it.


Making things Less Complicated

Marc Rettig made a good presentation. It is interesting though, I appreciate the presentation more for the intimacy he created in a crowd of 500 then for the content. I will share some of the content nuggets then move on to the intimate moments ;>

How do you design to make things less complicated? We need to start by getting the team to understand the context. The immersion of the team in the customers world helps make them connect. For many of us true understanding can only occur throught that basic human need to connect. Marc had a couple of salient examples:

  1. healthcare is about the household not the individual – after spending time with people in their homes the team was able to see how important it was for each member of the household to understand and be involved in the patient’s care
  2. technology is about the household and the relationships to navigate the complexity – the team noticed that the insertion of technological devices such as clickers, TVs, VCRs, DVD players, microwaves, phones impacted the relationship of the family members – one family relationship was turned on its head because the mother could not figure out how to use the clicker so she would wait until her son came home so he could turn on the DVD player

Marc’s intimate conversation was about starting his consulting firm and the explorations they went through to define themselves. What was it they wanted to do? Change the world? Impact the most people by their designs? What is the most important thing? What types of jobs would they accept? Reject? What are their inner most desires around what they would like to work on? He was able to weave this into his presentation without sounding like he was promoting his company but rather that he was sharing a bit of himself. Marc’s firm is called Fit Associates.

It makes me think. I work 8-10 hours a day. What do I really want? How do I define that?

Holistic Design Parti

How do we talk about design? Are there concepts in other design professions that are worth using in interaction design? LukeW introduces the design Parti from architecture school.

LukeW read Matthew Fredrick’s 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School.  In the book Matthew introduces the concept of Parti and describes it as the central idea or concept of a building. The parti is usually expressed as a diagram showing the theme or experience of the new building.

Jumping off of the Parti concept LukeW describes a Design Sandwich. Yes you need a parti to have a sandwich. From the Parti the Design Principles are informed. These Design Principles help determine the Patterns and Best Practices as well as the individual Design Decisions. All of this informs the Design Considerations, Opportunities and Limitations.

Can the Parti and Sandwich help inform better design? Does the Parti help the architect or is it just tradition? I would wager that it helps and maybe large software projects should consider a Parti to guide its decisions.

Check out the presentation: LukeW at Interaction09

LukeW’s Blog Summary

Behavior is our Medium

Fabricant on using design to influence the user.

Robert starts by positing that interaction is not about computing technology. Technology is not medium … behavior is. This seems to ruffle some feathers in Vancouver. As noted by:

Robert went on to talk about how we can use design to influence behavior. If we make the design salient to the user it can change how they behave.


Drive Optimally


One example I thought was fabulous. A picture of a speedometer was shown and the needle was bent. It was bent to show the actual speed but started off by aiming toward the ideal and most efficient speed.

Presentation is here: Interaction is not about computing technology.

What is Reality?

Raby on Products Influence Reality

Fiona Raby had a hell of a time with Apple’s PPT replacement. It failed on every video. And her presentation was 90%videos. Mind you, she did tell us all that she did not test it ahead of time. It made me laugh. We were part of the experiment. How does Apple influence reality in a crowd of 450 designers?

Fiona Raby is a partner in the design practice Dunne & Raby. She presented different art installation that she had created that test the ideas of how there is an influence of products in your reality. She had a radio that was tuned to the BBC and reported deaths in different categories as they were reported. For example it would report the number of deaths in car crashes and then count out 1,2,3,4. Another installation tried to make long distant events more alient by having an air bag explode in your apartment when something aweful happened in a country half way around the world. She ended with examples from several of her students.

So how do the influence of products change your reality? Do you watch the news everyday? Do you feel a little paranoid? Did you ever think it could be the TV and the news programs you are watching? Does your cell phone make you jumpy? Can you ever relax without your phone? Or are you tethered?

Fiona’s Projects

Need 10,000 Interaction Designers

Spool MCs Panel

Is Jared Spool funny? Well he tried to be. He also tried to keep this panel interesting.

Jared posed to the crowd that the need for interaction designers is going to increase dramatically over the next few years. Several high powered CEOs like at Ebay, Apple and P&G have banked their strategies on design. They have found great rewards so others will follow. Jared estimates around 10,000 new designers will be needed if all the fortune 2000 decide to adapt similar strategies. That is a lot of designers.

Where are they going to come from?

Matthew Holloway from SAP, Josh Seiden from LiquidNet, Andrei Herasimchuk from Involution Studios, Liz Danzio from School of Visual Arts in NYC, Jeremy Yuille from RMIT University in Australia, and John Kolko from Frog Design were on the panel.

These design programs put out 10-50 designers a year. We would need 500 schools to meet this demand. Where do we get all of these designers? Overseas? Mentoring? Software developers? Graphic artists? Architects?

Where do you think they will come from?

Designing for Sustainability

Thackara on Designing for Sustainability

Oh how we have destroyed the earth as we know it? Dire consequences of industrialization – we have reached the peak of so much energy, protein, motion …

So what are we going to do about it? How do we start working on these problems? Are we going to design ourselves out of it?

What we build takes up a lot of resources. Look at your cell phone. Pick it up. How much does it weigh? A few ounces? From the very beginning of the process to this point 500 kgs of natural resources have been consumed for that 1 phone.

There are organizations and movements that you can join so that you and other designers can work together to solve the sustainability problem. There are companies leveraging design to solve aspects of these problems. For ethics, moral and organic monitoring look into For water reuse look at Rainwater Hog.

What is it that you can do in your designs to ensure sustainability? I will go one step further and say what can you do at home and in your community to design a more efficient use of reseources?

I thought this would a perfect opportunity for me to go back into my temple community and organize people to design and manage sustainability within that community as an act of Tikkun Olam — repairing the world.

Thackara’s blog