Yes, yes. I had intended to get this up sooner. Saturday as well. It is coming and soon. I promise.
It was obvious that Richard Buchanan had been paying attention to Thursday’s session when he started out his keynote with the three questions that had created a theme for the previous day: Who are we? Where are we? Where are we going?
His talk spoke a lot about how we design, those things which influence our design and the power of design.
“Design has no subject matter. That’s what makes this such a powerful discipline – we make our own subject matter.”
As designers, we bring a different perception. One of his examples was how a chair instead of just being a chair is a place of interaction or activity – interaction being defined as how people relate to other people through the mediatory influence of products (like a chair).
As a framework for the design Buchanan shared with us a philosophy labeled by his students to be the Triangle of Doom. The sides of the triangle represent the qualities of being useful, usable and desirable. The balance of these qualities has determines the voice of the product and the design, which falls into the center of the triangle, needs to reflect that.
It is also important to keep in mind that all three qualities are necessary. Something can be useful and usable, but if there is no desirability then it will not be adopted into people’s lives.
He also spoke about how interaction is not thing to thing, it’s person to person. Thing to person is interfacing. There is a difference.
It’s more than just designing environments for interactions to take place though. There needs to be something accomplished through this. With that in mind content needs to drive design not try to be squished in after the fact for if there is no content then will the artifacts we leave behind have a voice and will we be able to hear what they are trying to say?
In closing, Buchanan gave his answer to the final question. Where are we going? To support the dignity of our users and that should be the principle behind all of our designs.
Macro vs. Micro
The gents from Smudgeproof shared with us the differences between small team development and design versus working in a large company (like Yahoo).
The things that really stuck out to me were the sheer amount of management, which we’ve all seen, involved in the larger corporation and several of the changes in terminology. The one that actually made it into my notes was the use of ‘triage’ instead of ‘revisions’. To me it seems much more accurate.
Also, these guys were the ones who put together the app for the conference, which was awesome of them to do.
Design for Evil: Ethical Design
Is that not a cool title for a talk? It is also one of the most grumbled about talks of the conference from what I heard during and afterwards.
What I think Kaleem Khan was trying to say, though this is just my interpretation, is that because design is not neutral we need to think about the choices that we make in both the jobs we take on and how we actually design.
As Buchanan said, design is a powerful discipline and the choices we make can be a part of great good or evil. We need to be cognizant of this and choose with care the things that we do and do not do.
IxD & the New Media Pedagogy
Entrepreneurial journalism isn’t a term that I ever heard of while an editor for our college paper, but a lot has happened in the last five years and Steven Johnson is a professor preparing students for joining the workforce in this new age of digital media teaching just that.
Johnson teaches them beyond the journalism to the basic web developer skills that they will need along with interaction design, information architecture and user experience tenants. For example, he teaches them about site mapping by referencing the difference between a family tree and crabgrass (site mapping is the latter).
As a longtime Dilbert reader, one of my favorite sound bites of the day came from this talk.
“It’s Dilbert’s world and we just ideate in it.”
Many days that is exactly how it feels.
The Intersection of Physical & Digital Design
The last talk of the morning came from Lindsay Moore & Austin Brown of EffectiveUI. They shared with us ideas and examples of how digital interfaces could be developed to improve the interactions between people and the physical devices that they use.
One example they gave was of potential improvements to a thermostat that would not only give the consumers more system feedback like amount of time to heat and such, but also encourage community collaboration by tying into local energy challenges with neighbors. The idea being, of course, that community can provide collaboration and positive reinforcement that improve people’s habits.
Lunch and Beyond
Friday afternoon was our out and about day where we all headed off to different lunch locations and activities that we had signed up for ahead of time.
I was signed up for the design tour, so we went off to have lunch at Centro Latin Kitchen before hitting the sidewalks. Let me tell you, it was fabulous. If you’re in Boulder I recommend trying it.
Disney Online Kerpoof Studio
Our first stop was Disney Online’s studio in Boulder. They produce Kerpoof Studio, which focuses mostly on education as well as Disney Online’s Create section.
By no means do I fall into their core demographic of pre/young teen girls, but after seeing the work that they do on the create page I wanted to go and pretend that I was again. It was also interesting to hear how they handled things like innovation and development with a very artistic development environment.
Our second stop took us from art and children to graphs and money with Wall Street on Demand, a company which provides tools for financial services. They welcomed us with exercise balls for seating and a large bowl of chocolate then introduced us to their way of work through a presentation to the group.
Afterwards, we were invited to take the last few minutes to explore their space, check out their work on iPads and chat with their employees. It was obvious that they loved their jobs and they found something which many people might consider boring both interesting and exciting. It was great to see.
Crispin Porter + Bogusky
Our last stop was CP+B. A little further out of town than the other, they took what used to be an indoor soccer arena and transformed it into a really cool workspace. I may have gaped/drooled a little.
Here we did the reverse of the stop before by dividing up into two tour groups and then coming back together for a presentation about the company at the end. While I hadn’t been familiar with CP+B’s name, I have seen their ad campaigns and so it was interesting to hear how they came up with those ideas.
Each of the sites had a different product and energy, but what was interesting at the close was to think about how their processes were similar despite their differences (though not exactly alike by any means) and the ways that their company culture showed through whether it be in the architecture, work stations or the differences that did show through their work processes. It was definitely a great and thought provoking experience, especially with all the discussion of those subjects in the future of our office.
As for the evening, wow. There was a Coroflot recruiting/networking event already in motion when we got back which was the first event of the evening. Starting just a bit later were gatherings sponsored by Pivotal Labs, SapientNitro, Hot Studio & CP+B. At least, those are the ones that I was aware of. Needless to say, some folks were a bit, ehm, bleary-eyed the next morning. It was a great chance to meet people and connect further with those already met previously.
Recommended Reading from the Day:
Designing Interactionsby Bill Moggridge
Interaction Ritual – Essays on Face-to-Face Behavior by Erving Goffman