Tuesday, April 8, 2014

IDIA Readings 4/8

Smashing Magazine Articles - Storytelling

These articles really spoke to me. Just today, I was working on a creative brief for our next television commercial and was trying to convey our audience's mindset under new circumstances for our product. I struggled to put it on paper. I don't know why I never made the connection before, but storytelling seems like the easiest way to communicate something like that for ANY design. To the writer's point, it brings the conversation to a level in which all stakeholders can understand. It also puts an emotional spin on the information – which is so important in direct response television.

More importantly, seeing the complex group of contributors that come into play when developing user experiences digitally, I see why a story can help get the project off the ground quicker. You spend less time explaining acronyms and jargon, and more time connecting with the user and making decision within your area of expertise based on that knowledge. I'd say it's a clear cut way to get to informed decisions for all parties. And that seems to be a recipe for success in the end.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

IDIA Readings 4/1

Saffer 7

It's hard for me to even think about adaptive design considering I'm still so new to interaction design overall. The amount of work that goes into a simple mobile app is enough to make my eyes cross, so the idea of foreseeing how adaptation could strengthen its usage is a bit mind boggling. On the other hand, maybe it's a "work smart not hard" idea, and by allowing your design to adapt, you actually make LESS decisions then when designing the supposed "
dumb" apps we use today. It's amazing how far we've come in just a decade, and astonishing to think that the rate of improvement in data, storage, and design is only going to exponentially grow faster as each day/month/year passes. Adaptation design seems to be the next important factor in getting ahead of the design curve and developing for future success with an interactive product. I can see now why there are certain apps that really speak to me, and others that don't. It's the interaction and adaptation design that best fits me and my habits that keeps me coming back to use them.

Monday, March 3, 2014

IDIA Readings 3/4

Saffer 8

As my company finally comes into the world of digital - we sell Medicare for seniors so we are a bit behind - one of the biggest topics of discussion is customer experience. This seems to be what Saffer is talking about with service design. It's about what the process looks like for a user of a service or company and their experience with the brand. And because that experience will often dictate whether they are a promoter or detractor in the end, it's important that the design be intelligently thought through. Right now, we have clear holes in our customer experience, even down to the main website visit. Our main company site is robust and offers a customer portal, but a link that takes you to our part of the site and our products feels antiquated. We are constantly talking about that broke user experience and how bad it must be to go through it. And we're doing something about it, but it takes time so we are feeling the pain. Especially when customers like to use our recently added Facebook page to complain about it.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

IDIA Readings 2/25

Berry Picking

Berry Picking was quite the read. I guess I've never truly analyzed how even I search the web. It can be a black hole indeed, and does make it very difficult for predicting behaviors. When I was in undergrad, the library was still the prime place to go for research. Nowadays, I would bet there is a large group of teens who seldom, if ever, step foot in a real library and not virtually. But why would they? With so much information at your fingertips on the web, it makes a hard case to promote the old way of searching through books. Web searching is fast and efficient, if you stay focused. A big downfall though is validity of the research found. It's important the users research their sources, which is a step quite unnecessary in the old-fashioned way. Unlike what most people think, it's not always true just because the internet says so. As fruitful as berry picking can be, one must be cautious in the information they choose to use.

How Children Search the Internet

Sometimes it's so hard to put ourselves in others' shoes and I find this to be the case when it comes to children. What seems so obvious to us, is a complete challenge or even miss on the part of a child. I wasn't shocked but rather dumbfounded that these findings didn't seem more obvious to me. Except for the vocabulary and spelling. I can tell you from my own experience with nieces and nephews that I'm amazed how many mistakes they make in texts, emails, and the such. It's as if all proper skills are left behind when using the casual world of digital communication. I find this as a gap amongst the younger generation of professionals, and quite honestly, also with some older executives. 

I do think the one that surpassed me the most was the lack of screen use when typing. I don't even look at my hands, but then again, I had "typewriting" as a high school course….on an electric typewriter, note even on a computer! It's unreal. Although, I do think some things come more natural to children due to their exposure. They are growing up with this stuff, whereas my generation had to learn it along the way.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

IDIA Readings 2/11

Saffer 4

Design research is clearly an advantage to any designer. And while I agree with most of the sentiments Saffer has regarding the time and effort one should take in doing research, it's just not always feasible for all design. I do agree that when it comes to interaction design, it's probably more important. However, sometimes you just need to get it out there and watch how it's used and make tweaks along the way. I guess it depends on the scope and cost. This approach obviously wouldn't work for designing a new car. But a new paper clip? Maybe.

Snyder 4-7, 9

This has probably been the most useful reading thus far. As a primarily print designer, I want to dive right into the aesthetics of a mobile app. And while I know a lot of thought and prep should go into it before that stage, I hesitate as to where I begin. Some of the advice Snyder provides around paper prototyping seems clear, although I'm still unsure how it will actually work in use. She does note that first-time prototypers may find the initial usability tests cumbersome but with the right prep and pilots, hiccups can be minimized.

Chapter 6 regarding task design was especially enlightening. Snyder did an excellent job of laying out how and why you build certain tasks to test your design.

I've never really seen this type of testing. Most usability tests I've had the chance to work on (albeit only at results and design changes stages) were with live sites. I'm still wavering on which is faster – hand drawing or basic coding. However, it makes sense that the hand drawn version allows for easy changes while testing. That makes sense, I've just need seen it done this way. From a user perspective, I think the combination of interface screen shots with hand drawn pieces might be the way to go. This is particularly true if the interface is not being built from scratch.

AARP Guidelines

I'm happy to note, as a marketer in the seniors' space, that we are following some of these guidelines. Although, it's interesting to see how much they do depend on consistent visual queues to guide them through a website. As a generation who did not grow up using the internet, I can understand why. Another behavior that grabbed my attention was that Edith was clearly the weaker user, but did well within sites she had already visited. This tells me that with common use, it can be picked up. The goal is to make that learning curve decrease or diminish altogether so first-time or novice users can navigate easily.

I thought is was a very well planned study. Mapping the personas on the 4-factor chart showing their age, aptitude, attitude, and ability was really helpful to set them up to expectation and measurement. The research uncovered some obvious and some not-so-obvious issues with most sites. I think if web designers followed more 508 guidelines, they may actually help resolve some of the difficulties seniors face using the web without even knowing – especially when it comes to text size.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

IDIA Readings 2/4

Saffer 1, 5

Having most of my background in print design, I wasn't really sure what interaction design was. Chapter one does a good job of explaining it, not only as it pertains to technology, but to all interactions in life. When asked to name an experience with interaction design from everyday use, I had a hard time coming up with something. Then it hit me. Interaction design is almost everywhere. It's part of how you use your microwave – which I'll note took me several days to figure out when I first bought my house. It's part of how you turn on a shower, blow dry your hair, and make breakfast. And because it's very much about the use of products or services and not the products or services themselves, it's very personal. The idea of using personas to work through interaction design development is so smart. It brings that humanized element to design, and that's exactly what is needed for interaction design.

Buxton 1-5

I really find it interesting that Apple is continuously used as a case study for all types of design discussions. Just in the past few weeks, books, professors and colleagues alike have shared the Apple story and mostly when talking about success. What I find interesting about the Apple story is that they were at the forefront of so many great ideas and yet they did little to no user testing. Their key? Keeping it simple. If it made sense, it worked. Oh, you want to select something? Then just touch it. It's that easy. Apple made interaction design what it is today, in my opinion.

The idea of designing for the wild is a great one. The story about the avalanche, while frightening, is a true testament to what good interaction can do. Under pressure and in a new situation, these people were able to work the system and ultimately save their friend. It's a much more dire situation than most people will be in, but it calls out to the main focus of interaction design – that good design will make it easy for people to use a product or service because it falls in line with the way they think and/or act.

Design is obviously important, and just like noted in these readings, there is often not enough research or thought put into it before executing. In a perfect world, we'd all research, test, adjust and test again. But in real life, it's hard to come by. And yes, it pays off in the end but hindsight is always 20/20 and it's hard to get people to see benefit sometimes…at least in my world.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Interaction Design Adventure

This semester, I'll be posting learnings from my grad course in Interaction Design. Let's see how this plays out. Should be interesting!