I aim to shape products, interfaces and services that mediate meaningful dialogues between people, systems and their environments within everyday life.

Posts tagged ‘design thinking’


Aug
19
2010

The Strategic Arc of Interaction Design: Moving Towards Holistic System Design

I came across a great article talking about interaction design as a high-level problem solving process that can take on a strategic role in organizations and society. Designing interactions has gone beyond simple input/output interfaces; it engages in holistic system design in which the individuals, organizations and technology involved are understood and considered.

Designing the interactions people have with other people, with organizations, and with systems is both a simple and a complex undertaking. Simple in that the mechanics of an individual interaction can be well-defined and articulated. The problem, and the solution, can be narrowed down significantly. Indeed, so simple can interaction design seem at times that the discipline is often collapsed to a plane of request-response interfaces that sit between the participants—the design of a web form; the layout of an ATM machine; or a ticketing booth for a public bicycle share scheme […]

This simplistic view of interactions and their design, is not the only view, nor the most appropriate. When designers apply their more holistic lens to the design of interactions it becomes clear that the practice is a much more complex and deeper undertaking […]

As designers of interactions broaden their perspective and take a higher level view of the problem, they simultaneously make another transition: they stop solving interaction design problems and begin solving problems with design. And it is in taking this step that designers—of all types—begin to play a more strategic role in the organisations and societies for which they work.

Source: Core 77

Apr
29
2010

UX Book Club: Thoughtful Interaction Design

This month’s Toronto edition of the UX Book Club focused on Thoughtful Interaction by Jonas Löwgren and Erik Stolterman, who take an academic and theoretical approach to discussing the field and practice of interaction design. Most of us at the meeting found the writing to be a bit dry and that it jumped from one thought to the next without diving deeper to expand into details of the topic.

We had the pleasure of having one of the authors Erik Stolterman join us via video conference for an engaging Q&A and discussion session. The discussion covered topics such as: how thoughtfulness and reflective thinking makes one a better design practitioner, reflection in action versus reflection on action (the words of David Schön), explaining a rational design process to a junior designer is not what you actually DO, good design versus efficient design, and the importance of making a good case for the design process.

Related to the field of interaction design specifically, Stolterman brought up these interesting comments and ideas for further thinking and reflection:

  • interaction design does not have a long tradition as other design fields such as architecture or industrial design so it ends up borrowing a lot of theory, language, and  studio/critique techniques from other design areas, yet because interaction design is more future thinking and is constantly changing, is has become more open/collaborative, theoretical, and intellectual-based than its other design counterparts
  • future work will shift from software to the physical world of products and spaces – what kind of material will we be working with in 10 years?
  • ethical considerations come into play in how will we influence public and society as a whole; in designing the future world and its behaviours, norms and activities we must consider a social- and cultural-specific context
  • “deception of the small steps” refers to continually adding more interactivity slowly into our daily lives. So where will these small steps eventually take us? And what are “natural” and acceptable changes?

Nov
03
2009

CASCON 2009: Day 1

Today was my first day at IBM’s CASCON conference featuring talks and workshops from industry leaders and academic researchers.

Computing for a Smarter Planet

The

conference was kick-started with a keynote session by Martin Wildberger from IBM Canada speaking about Computing for a Smarter Planet. As the world becomes smaller, flatter and globally integrated, companies are adjusting their business processes to fit into this transforming ecosystem. As a result, technological solutions are providing businesses innovative and strategic ways for social change.

Wildberger describes our world as becoming instrumented through RFID and ubiquitous technologies, interconnected by networks, process chains and horizontal integration, and intelligent as we collect more data and information. The more data available can provide new insights and thus new intelligence to spur a process of innovation for smarter work, smarter food, or smarter telecom to name a few.

An interesting example discussed was the idea of smarter cities, in which we can incorporate sensor technologies through the infrastructure to make cities cleaner, safer and more efficient. The use of ubiquitous technology can effectively change social behaviours: traffic congestion and pollution in Stockholm was greatly reduced by automatic charges based on flow and time of day, acoustic sensors and recorders in Chicago allow police to triangulate the source of a gunshot, and drivers looking for parking in New York City can be immediately notified of the location of a free parking spot.

Notification Design in Collaborative and Social Networking Environments

This workshop looked at technology as interruption in our daily lives. Joanna McGrenere from UBC presented her research on notification design in the Jazz collaborative development environment before we broke into small groups to examine and discuss instances of notifications in technology, systems and devices. Phone rings, emails, and calendar reminders are obvious examples of notifications as are less noticeable forms such as seat belt signs, PA systems, traffic lights, microwave beeps and elevator floor signs to annoying examples like fire alarms and alarm clocks.

So when does notification become interruption and when are interruptions considered disruptive? We determined that notifications interrupt when they make us stop one activity to attend to the notification. Phone calls and alarm clocks are interrupters while seat belt signs and traffic lights are not.

In terms of the level of disruption that these interruptions cause, it depends on the context of the situation in which we find ourselves, the content of the interruption and how valuable it is to us, how much control we have over the situation, and the frequency and duration of the signal. A false fire alarm is then considered a huge disruptor as it has no value to us, forces us to evacuate a building, and continually signals off loudly for an extended period of time. Another big disruptor occurs when software/OS updates take full control of our system and we are left twiddling our thumbs in front of the screen until it has completed.

The subject of the new Google Wave came up in regards to its playback concept, in which the non-linear collaborative discussion can be played back see how the conversation unfolded in context.This could be an interesting platform in which notifications can be eliminated; rather than receive notifications every time an update has been made and by whom, users can now simply access the conversation whenever they want and still remain in the know.

Mar
03
2009

Analyzing Vending Machine Interaction

We focused our analysis on the drink machines we found on the HK PolyU campus and examined the current task scenario of buying a drink. James documents his experience as follows:

scenario-storyboard

After walking through the scenario we documented the problems we encountered:

Transaction

  • requires preselecting monetary amount for desired drink
  • narrow coin slot is quite cumbersome and time-consuming
  • requires adequate control of manual dexterity
  • using the Octopus card
  • close proximity to the card reader will inadvertently process the transaction automatically when selecting a deduction amount
  • confusion between product interface and associated transaction interface

Information and Selection

  • pressing wrong button accidentally
  • not realizing desired drink is sold out

Accessibility

  • physically bend down, flip up flap, reach into machine to pick up drink
  • problematic for those with physical limitations
  • not enjoyable or hygenic to stick hand in the dark, unclean slot

User Experience

vending_machine_frustration

Source: http://www.uselog.com/2007/11/please-do-not-hump-vending-machine.html

We encountered a lot of interaction points that provide an experience that is not enjoyable nor delightful. If we look at the vending machine with goals of convenience offering quick, self-service for purchasing small snacks and refreshments, we can liken them to convenience stores like 7-11. Let us consider the advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages Customers have visual information of the actual drinks and availability. They can use the physical action of picking up a drink, read the information, re-select, etc. before making a decision. Payment is easy and natural via cash (bills and coins) or Octopus. Additionally, going to a store is a sociable activity; people tend to go as a group eat together afterward.

Disadvantages Stores are located in certain locations and only open only during particular hours, so people are limited to location and time. Another problem customers encounter are long lineups during busy hours.

Social and Cultural Dimensions

An interesting side observation we noted was the role of communication and cultural dimensions that played into people’s decisions and behaviours in relation to the use of the vending machine. In a collectivist society such as Hong Kong, people tend to look to others for decision-making cues; that is, people are influenced by what they see others doing. In our studio, there have been “trends” of popular drinks that everyone will start drinking. Once somebody has started to drink melon soy milk and continue that pattern, others will notice and subsequently try out the drink as well. And now, the melon soy milk will often be sold out!

Dec
21
2008

One Stop Shop

Over the course of this fall term, my graduate studio workshop, lead by Elaine Ann of Kaizor Innovation, was sponsored by the Hong Kong government’s Efficiency Unit to create a “One Stop Shop” employment centre in which all employment services are centralized in one location. This collaboration was the first of its kind in Hong Kong with the aim to inspire the goverment with innovative ideas and to demonstrate the importance and value of design collaboration.

The aim of the One Stop Shop is to improve the job seeking experience for users and to improve the operational efficiency for government staff. Through a 3.5 month process we started with user research by interviewing users and staff and conducting on-site interviews then analyzed user needs and identified problems with the existing process.  With my partner, we used these insights to inform out concept designs from a service and system approach, and held an interim concept presentation for our clients.  The clients were incredibly receptive of my team’s concepts and presentation, which was a great sign.  For our final presentation we focused on a few important interaction points to flesh out the design details, and presented a comprehensive, persuasive and compelling arguments for our complete design solutions. In the end, my partner and I won the silver award and a cash prize of HKD $12,000.  Next spring our projects will be published in a book to be circulated through all the government departments.

What a wonderful experience for a school project.

Nov
22
2008

Light through the Darkness

As the economic crisis looms over the world, now is the time when innovation and creativity are essential for transforming current business models and for producing solutions that take a visionary stance towards the future to create positive social impact.  International Herald Tribune’s article talks about how the role of designers become more important than ever in times of economic recession.

“But the main reason why design could benefit from this recession is because it always thrives on change, and every area of our lives is currently in flux. The economic crisis will not only transform finance and business, but the way we think and behave. Then there’s the environmental crisis, and the realization that most of the institutions and systems that regulated our lives in the 20th century need to be reconfigured for the 21st century.”


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