Articles & research papers

Interaction Design

The best Interface is No Interface

Creative minds in technology should focus on solving problems. Not just make interfaces.

As Donald Norman said in 1990, "The real problem with the interface is that it is an interface. Interfaces get in the way. I don’t want to focus my energies on an interface. I want to focus on the job…I don’t want to think of myself as using a computer, I want to think of myself as doing my job."

It’s time for us to move beyond screen-based thinking. Because when we think in screens, we design based upon a model that is inherently unnatural, inhumane, and has diminishing returns. It requires a great deal of talent, money and time to make these systems somewhat usable, and after all that effort, the software can sadly, only truly improve with a major overhaul.

There is a better path: No UI. A design methodology that aims to produce a radically simple technological future without digital interfaces. Following three simple principles, we can design smarter, more useful systems that make our lives better.

  • Principle 1: Eliminate interfaces to embrace natural processes
  • Principle 2: Leverage computers instead of catering to them
  • Principle 3: Create a system that adapts for people

The best Interface is No Interface

Design for mobile first, then desktop

More often than not, the mobile experience for a Web application or site is designed and built after the desktop version is complete.

Here are three reasons why Web applications should be designed for mobile first instead:

  1. Mobile is exploding
  2. Mobile forces you to focus
  3. Mobile extends your capabilities

Best Practices for Designing Faceted Search Filters

Some of the important best practices for designing filters for faceted search results are:

  • Decide on your filter value-selection paradigm—either drill-down or parallel selection
  • Provide an obvious and consistent way to undo filter selection
  • Always make all filters easily available
  • At every step in the search workflow, display only filter values that correspond to the available items, or inventory
  • Provide filter values that encompass all items, or the complete inventory

Best Practices for Designing Faceted Search Filters

Ergonomics for Interaction Designers

The topic of discussion is the increasing value of ergonomics knowledge to the interaction designer. Ergonomics is necessary for 3-dimensional, tangible product design where issues of physical fit and comfort are critical. But for interaction designers in the 2-dimensional world of the display screen, ergonomics has largely been...irrelevant. For example in most cases, interfaces are designed for existing, defined hardware that are out of the control of the interaction designer. But things are changing.

The continuing convergence of digital interfaces with physical products is putting interaction designers in a position where knowledge of anthropometrics, kinesthetics, and other non-cognitive human capabilities is valuable for creating effective design solutions.

Ergonomics for Interaction Designers: Part 1
Ergonomics for Interaction Designers: Part 2
Ergonomics for Interaction Designers: Part 3

Mobile Prototyping Essentials

As the presenter puts it, designers new to mobile interaction design don’t have the domain specific skills or heuristics to lean on. The best way to develop those skills is to prototype early and often. This presentation makes a great 101.

A Brief Rant on the Future of Interaction Design

As it happens, designing Future Interfaces For The Future used to be the author's line of work. He had the opportunity to design with real working prototypes, not green screens and After Effects, so there certainly are some interactions in the video which he is a little skeptical of, given that he has actually tried them and the animators presumably haven't. But that's not his problem with the video.

His problem is the opposite — this vision, from an interaction perspective, is not visionary. It's a timid increment from the status quo, and the status quo, from an interaction perspective, is actually rather terrible.

This matters, because visions matter. Visions give people a direction and inspire people to act, and a group of inspired people is the most powerful force in the world. If you're a young person setting off to realize a vision, or an old person setting off to fund one, you really want it to be something worthwhile. Something that genuinely improves how we interact.

In this rant, he does not talk about human needs or technology. He talks about a neglected third factor that is human capabilities- what people can do, because if a tool isn't designed to be used by a person, it can't be a very good tool.

A Brief Rant on the Future of Interaction Design

What is the Deep-Dive Brainstorming technique?

Deep-Dive™ is the name of a technique used to rapidly immerse a group or team into a situation for problem solving or idea creation. This approach is often used for brainstorming product or process development.

Originally developed by the IDEO group (a learning design company) for rapid product development, the Deep-Dive technique is now widely and increasingly used for innovation not only in product development, but process improvement and customer service strategies. The method used by IDEO was documented by Andy Boynton and Bill Fischer (of International Institute of Management Development (IMD) business school), who latterly further enhanced the process and sold the rights to Deloitte Consulting in 2006.

What is the Deep-Dive Brainstorming technique?

Sketchnote Army- a Sketchnotes Showcase

Sketchnote Army is dedicated to finding and showcasing sketchnotes and sketchnoters from around the world- from events, conferences, workshops or wherever sketchnotes are captured or created. If you want your sketchnotes to be featured there, you can send your sketchnotes URL and info to the webmaster.

Sketchnote Army

The Sketchnotes Channel at Core77

The Sketchnotes channel allows one to learn more about sketchnotes, including a great overview of a new kind of visual thinking and some basics to get started off.

The Core77 Sketchnotes channel

Will Ford learn that software isn't manufactured?

A recent article in the New York Times discusses Ford’s plummeting fall in user rankings this year, focusing the blame on their new touch screen interface. According to the article, J.D.Power, the auto industry arbiter, dropped Ford’s ranking from 5th to 23rd, and subsidiary Lincoln’s ranking from 8th to 17th place.

J.D.Power acknowledges that both Ford and Lincoln’s fit and finish are excellent. It was the “annoying” behavior of their driver-facing interactive systems that caused their ratings to plummet. Other reviewers concur, as Consumer Reports yanked their “Recommended” rating from Ford’s new 2011 Edge model.

... Digital solutions are so much cheaper and more flexible than mechanical ones that they will eventually come to dominate the entire company. Companies who can master the challenge of software’s unique nature, and particularly of how humans interact with it, will thrive. Ford is learning the opposite lesson.

Will Ford learn that software isn't manufactured?