UX & Service Designer for Connected Products

Reflections on Mobile UI Design (Part 1 of 2)

Category : Aesthetics, Blog Post, Interaction Design, UX April 9, 2010

About 2 months ago I resigned from Motorola. During the last 5 years, I gained tremendous amount of experience and worked with many immensely talented people. There is never a good time to end such a great relationship but personal life and new prospects call for a shift in direction. It was my time to turn a new page.

After reflecting on my past 5 years, I found my perspective on interaction design to be very different than when I left DePaul University in 2003. Here’s what I learned:

Interaction Design is an exercise to define context
One of my recent favourite quotes is Alice Rawsthorn’s comment on the new generation of products in ‘Objectified‘, to which she thinks “the form bears absolutely no relation to the function.” If that is a trend in product design, it is a tradition in digital interaction design. Most digital UI controls lack volumetric and tactile properties. Many designers, including myself when I started my career, seek arrangements of controls that ‘make sense’ and to create ‘affordance’ in the design. What I have come to realize is that correctly and efficiently communicate a context of use with the user is a much more reliable path to a usable and engaging design.

Generally speaking, users perceive an user interface in aggregate, not by individual component. If all the components on the first few screens efficiently and coherently communicate what type of application it is (e.g. an media player with online contents on my mobile) and the rest of the application also aligns with that character, usage is generally clear and fluid. Focusing the on the arrangements and placements of controls along is not enough. In fact, being overly stringent in building and applying usability guidelines put undue restrictions to the designers and leads to interaction designs are that overly instructional and non-engaging. Usability and rationality in design are of course important, but letting them lead the creative process is like letting a carriage lead the horse.

3D Game Screenshots

Category : Aesthetics, Blog Post June 17, 2009

Another one of those ‘why didn’t they think of this earlier’ feature. Automatic scrolling is a little annoying though.

Source: Gossip Gamers

Bruce Nussbaum on IIT Institute of Design

Category : Aesthetics, Blog Post, Photography, Usability April 14, 2009

I just found this 2005 article from Bruce Nussbaum, about how alumnus from my school are leading design thinking and innovation strategy in different fields.

Sony should send its people to the Institute of Design (Business Week)

Visualization of Stories Told using Flickr

Category : Aesthetics, Blog Post, Interaction Design March 26, 2009

Visualizations of data from Flickr that show the density, paths and persistence of memorable events captured by Flickr users. Data is beautiful.

(un)photographed Spain from senseablecity on Vimeo.