Audio from the IDEA conference

· Events

I meant to post this a week or so ago, but Peter Merholz has put up the audio from presentations at this year’s inaugural IDEA conference in Seattle on the conference blog, saying

If you have only 30 minutes, then listen to Bruce Sterling’s closing keynote.
Honestly, though, there’s lots of great stuff here. Interaction designers will be keen on Dave Cronin, Jake Barton, Stamen, Fernanda Viegas, and Robert Kalin.
Brought to you by the IA Institute!

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What makes good design?

· Design

On the IxDA list, LukeW asked which metrics or criteria can be used to judge “good” interaction design. Kim Goodwin wrote an excellent reply, saying “A few of us at Cooper were kicking this question around with Hugh Dubberly several years ago. We came up with 4 criteria we felt applied to all sorts of design, not just interaction.”
Here four criteria boil down to some excellent ideals to shoot for:

  • Ethical: Do no harm
  • Purposeful: Help users accomplish their goals
  • Pragmatic: Meet constraints and accomplish business goals
  • Elegant: A good design is the simplest complete solution

The first rang a bell with me. I’ve been telling clients for years that I like to follow a sort of Hippocratic oath with web strategy. First of all, do no harm. Do not take away features the customer likes because you have something “better” coming. To quote Dave Winer, “don’t break users.”
Kim Goodwin elaborates this way:

Ideally, a designer’s first rule is the same as a physician’s: do no harm. In the case of surgery tools, car dashboards, and airplane cockpits, this is obvious: don’t kill people. However, even business software can do harm by wasting a user’s time, leading to errors, contributing to repetitive stress injuries, or just making people feel dumb. Of course, there are likely a few situations where this principle is challenging, such as a missile guidance system – if you had to design something of that sort, the principle might have to be interpreted as “minimize harm by making darn sure you hit the intended target.”

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Rahel Bailie discusses World Usability Day

· User Experience

Chip Gettinger of Astoria Software interview Rahel Bailie about World Usability day, noted via Scott Abel, the content wrangler, who writes:

In addition to providing a succinct overview of usability, Bailie discusses why understanding the user experience is critical for information experts, content management professionals, and content management technology vendors alike.
Is usability related to content management? “Absolutely!” Bailie says. “Content management is about usability in two ways. First, the content management system itself has to be usable. The system developers need to understand the mental model of users in order for clients to be able use the system efficiently. Usability testing is critical here, to understand how the system can support business processes, instead of contorting processes to fit the system – which still happens all too often, I might add. Then, the CMS output has to be usable by the front-end users.”

The right way to do a 10-foot interface

· User Experience

Todd, our resident Windows guru, directed our intention to the Xbox Live Video HDTV and HD movie download platform written up at Engadget recently.
Todd says, “See how simple it is? It doesn’t have a lot on the screen. There are muted colors in the background making it easy to identify the things that are focusable. It is easy to tell which item is in focus. It also doesn’t try to do everything, and it doesn’t keep all of the menu possibilities on the screen.”

South by Southwest panel approved

· Events

One of the two panels I proposed for SXSW next spring garnered sufficient votes to make the cut. It’s the one on identity, presence, attention, trust, privacy and so on, called “Every Breath You Take.” I’m excited about moderating this panel and I’m in the process of pulling together the other panelists, which I’ll announce as soon as everything’s settled.
Meanwhile, the deadline for proposals for the IA Summit (also next March) just passed and I managed to get in one for a presentation on Mobile IA and another for a panel on Lessons from Failure. Additionally, I’ve signed on as a panelist for two other cool ideas proposed by other people that I’ll discuss here if and when they are approved. As a director I’ll be involved in the annual public meeting of the board of the IA Institute at the Summit as well.
Looks like March will once again be a busy conference / travel season for me, with SXSW in Austin as always and the Summit scheduled for Las Vegas later in the month.

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