The care and feeding of buttons.

November 18th, 2011 § 0 comments

Tomorrow, in a few hours, I’ll show a few slides to the audience at http://urfriday.com/, which should be pretty awesome. Thanks to Bolt Peters for putting this all together!

On my way home, slightly buzzed from an excellent party at http://www.momentnyc.com/, I thought: “I should just post my talk and write out what it’s all about…right now”

So I am.

At the end of the day, creating a new product experience out of thin air is a huge effort. Vasty resources must be marshaled over an expanse of time in order to hew iron and magnesium, silicon and gold and petrochemicals into a working machine that, in the hands of a person, works and breathes and lives. A washing machine is the tip of a huge iceberg of commerce and industry. So it’s no wonder that it can take a while to get a product to market

Interaction design has its own parameters: Computers and handset devices are already distributed widely. A broad network already exists for a programmer/designer to float their ideas out onto the world. Ironically, so much work has already been done by designers and engineers, so much road has been laid, that interaction design can run far and fast! We all stand on the shoulders of giants, really.

A device is a combination of an Interface and it’s object embodiment, the people who use it and the context in which they do so. In Science, when we have a multivariate problem it sometimes helps to fix a variable or two while you fiddle with some others. If you change everything at once, it’s hard to know what’s happening. What causes what? Of course, that is Abductive thinking, which we excel at.

Nevertheless…it’s best to try a simple model with a simple interface, with the right people, to get an idea if you’re headed in the right direction. Mock it up before you Fock it up, as my old professor Bruce Hannah would say.

So that’s what the talk is about, I think…mix up your fidelity…make some toys and share them. I think of the prototype interfaces I make as thought experiments…or probing for failure.

Once it seems like the user experience, the ID and IxD are on the right track, then I think it’s reasonable to increase the fidelity of the parts in parallel, coming back together periodically to mesh them. There’s always a give and take…ID might push for an interaction that messes with IxD’s wires and system maps…even eliminating some of them. The same can happen the other way around – IxD can push for a more unified solution. The question we always have to answer is, “why can’t I just use my phone?”…and you’d better have a good answer. Because there’s an app for that.

Then there’s the flip side. When something is just plain cool. We do it because we can. These days, I’m doing some very, very interesting work.Transparent touch interfaces at place called while Infusion. In such cases, user testing seems irrelevant. It works and it’s awesome.

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