5 Things I Love – April 25

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1. Cadbury Cream Eggs

I gave up candy for Lent this year, so it is with great pleasure that I am now able to indulge in these fine treats before they disappear for another year.

2. Daniel Pink: The Surprising Science of Motivation

The author of Drive and A Whole New Mind gives a great TED talk on motivation and creative thinking that is well worth the 19 minutes to watch the video.

3. The Marshmallow Challenge

This past week we did a design workshop with our company using this challenge and it was a great entertaining success with the tallest structure in round 1 being 33.5 inches and the tallest in round 2 being 38.5 inches :)

4. Zoya Nail Polish Exchange

In celebration of Earth Day, Zoya is offering their nail polish for $4 a bottle (including shipping!) through April 27th. All they ask is that you please use the bag provided in your shipment to send back old bottle of non-Zoya polish which they will dispose of properly.

5. Font Squirrel

While I am not nearly the font addict that some of my co-workers are, I do have an appreciation for finding just the right font for a project. Yes, there are a ton of font sites out there (and I’m sure some of them will appear on here later) but what I love about Font Squirrel is that it is %100 free for commercial use, so I don’t have to worry about what rights fonts I’ve gotten from their site have when I go to use them later, which is lovely for my peace of mind.

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Interaction11 – Saturday

So I realized as I was putting together a guest post for IxDA Lansing that I had completely forgotten to post this. I don’t know where my brain has been recently. I hope it’s warm and sunny wherever it is.

So… Saturday at Interaction11. Here we go…

The Neuroscience of Usability

For Saturday we didn’t start out the day with a keynote, but instead with two tracks of Lightning Talks. I stuck to my location in the main room and caught Charles Hannon talking about how neuroscience affects usability. While some earlier in the conference challenged design patterns, Hannon talked about how and why they work. When the patterns disappear emotions such as panic and anxiety edge their way into the picture keeping people from being able to focus on the big picture.

Up with Complexity! Challenging Users for Fun & Profit

In this talk, which Josh Clark said could also be ‘Make Me Think’, he contended that complexity and challenges are not the same thing. For instance, the Wenger Giant has every tool you can think of, but you can’t really use it. While complexity is not evil, it does need to be managed. Clark outlined focus, conversation, touch and exploration as ways of doing this.

Applying Film Making Tools to Interaction Design

For Adam Connor’s talk he introduced us to a number of film methods that can either be put to use in our development processes or taken advantage of for use in design. An example of the first would be the use of beat sheets to convey the emotional states of the system and user for various stages in a process, while an example of the second would be the use of rack focus or shifting the depth of field.

One piece of movie trivia – which side does the bad guy enter from?

Marketing is not a 4 Letter Word

I’ve done a lot of marketing related things in various jobs and so this was not a tlak I originally planned to attend, but I am glad I did. Megan Grocki did an awesome job talking about modern marketing and how Marketing methods of 10 and 20 years ago are, to large extent, no longer relevant. Instead, marketing needs to be approached from the view that anything a company does to engage their customer is marketing. Also, the best marketing is done when both company and customer are aware of what is going on and are satisfied.

Fun With Non-Digital Solutions

Scott Geoffrey Newson stepped beyond the digital world to the physical by sharing about the impact of real life interaction using references to Undercover Bosses, UBC’s Sprouts program, UK Waste Strategy Awareness Managers and the building men of Glasgow.

Keynote: Authorship in Interactive Media: Reflections on 35 Years of Change

Brenda Laurel kicked off the afternoon with an analysis of the changes that have occurred in the last 35 years through the eyes of one who was there through those changes. She reference 6 keys that brought these changes about – technology, action, senses, culture, nature & emergence. A few examples would include Atari (tech, culture), Hole in Space by Electronic Café (emergence) and the Girl Gamer Revolution (action, culture, nature, emergence).

Making Mistakes Fun: Game Mechanics are Not a Panacea, but They are Kind of Useful

Engagement is success and gamification is a hot field. Paris Buttfield-Addison denies neither of those statements, but did caution us that gamification needs to be done correctly. Pasting badges on top of a site is not the key to customer interaction. Instead, gaming aspects should be interested in achieving a higher goal and started with a vision – not just bolted on top. Think beyond fun to compelling interactions that will engage customers in a series of interesting decisions that are not too hard to be frustrating and not too simple to be boring.

To see gamification put to use for higher purposes, check out thefuntheory.com.

Pass it Back! Kid Apps on Grown Up Devices

This is another one that I didn’t necessarily think I would get a lot from, but as Nina Walia shared the findings from user research that she had been a part of for kids ages 2-5 and iPhone apps, I realized that a lot of these can be applied to adults as well. We are just grown up kids after all. We’ve just learned to compensate for the deficiencies of most devices like the difficulty of tapping and accidentally hitting the home button instead of back. Also, the videos that she shared of a few of the tests were super cute as well as informative.

Long After the Thrill: Sustaining Passionate Users

Stephen Anderson built on the base set up earlier in the day by Clark and Butterfield-Addison by encouraging looking deeper at the reasons that customers stay. Pasting a game on top isn’t enough. Its just sugar coating. It does need to be deeper, so he encouraged us to find the principles already at work in our products and use those to build engagement with our users. That may or may not involve elements of play. As he said, it takes more than delightful experiences to keep users. Long term they are more interested in whether it works and whether work is getting done to improve it.

Final Keynote

“This is a crisis. I really need a guy or a gal with a whiteboard and post-it notes.”
-Bruce Sterling on words we desire that are doomed for unfulfillment

Bruce Sterling is an entertaining speaker. He’s also not afraid of giving critique. So, laced with humor and supported by the immediately preceding happy hour, he combined his observations from throughout the conference with his previous knowledge of interaction design to give a good critical look at the community. He encourage user sympathy but cautioned against getting so caught up with users that we start suffering from User Stockholm Syndrome. He also cautioned us against getting so caught up in the design that we forget the less sophisticated user. Thus his final thought to us – How do you treat people who just don’t get it… that’s the real question.

So closed out the speaking portion of the conference. Afterwards, Microsoft sponsored quite the bash at the Absinthe House with an open bar, dancing, a photo booth and even a Kinect to play with.

It was a great event that I am very glad I had the opportunity to attend. Now to start plotting for Interaction12 in Dublin, Ireland.

Recommended Resources from the Day:
How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer
Mental Note Cards
A Theory of Fun by Raph Koster
The Art of Game Design by Jesse Schell
Fundamentals of Game Design by Ernest Adams
Gamasutra
The Escapist Magazine
Drive by Dan Pink

5 Things I Love – April 18

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1. Delivering Happiness

If you like a good read – read this book. If you’re involved in business of any sort – read this book. If you want to succeed in your chosen profession – read this book. Really, there’s a reason that it hit #1 on NYT Bestsellers. Tony Hsieh tells a great story about his journey to build Zappos starting all the way back with his childhood worm farm and in the process shares a lot of great lessons and tips not just about business but about life.

2. ‘You Never Let Go’ by Matt Redman

I learned this song awhile back and just recently it was reintroduced to my life. Even us glass half full people have down days and for me this song is a reminder that ‘through the calm and through the storm… in every high and every low, Lord, you never let go of me’, which is easy to lose sight of sometimes.

3. ‘Chicks Dancing’ Video

This past week Zoya Nail Polish put up this great video of their new spokeschick that is quirky, entertaining and cute. Never fear – not only is this video amusing but it is safe for the workplace and small children.

4. Knitted Dove

One of the things I love about Ideeli is that it introduces me to great new brands (or at least new to me), like Knitted Dove. The line is actually one I could envision my old roommate living in. It’s super cute, feminine and has a great aesthetic. The kind of pieces I might mix into my wardrobe for my less tomboy/bohemian/etc more embrace the femininity days. They’ve also got fun music videos for their Spring & Fall 2011 collections on their website.

5. My Mitten In Yours

One of my lovely friends of the blogging persuasion got engaged not all that long ago and has decided to blog her way towards a Michigan made wedding. She’s a great writer and I’m looking forward to reading along on this journey over the next year plus a few months.

5 Things I Love – April 12

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Last night I realized just as I was drifting off to sleep that I *gasp* never got back on here to post this week’s 5 Things I Love. The sheep, however, were calling and so here it is a day late…

1. Slideshare

While it’s not nearly the same as being able to see presentations, I often find myself here checking out the materials of talks either that I have seen & wish to refresh my memory of, or those which I was not able to see and wish to learn about. Case in point – I wasn’t able to attend MidwestUX but a lot of presenters have posted their slides up there for consumption (Thank you!)

2. Serious Eats Easter Recipes

They are so incredibly full of sugar, but the instructions amuse me to no end. Check out #1 on Cadbury Creme Deviled Eggs and #2 on How to make Peepshi – Peep Sushi. It will give you a whole new view on your Easter candy ;)

3. Remember the Milk

I don’t know what I did before I started utilizing this task list program. With it’s ability to run multiple to do lists from one interface I’m able to categorize them to see individual areas (like lia sophia or personal) or view all of my tasks at once. I even share my work to do list with my manager so he can see just those tasks which I’m working on for my day job.

4. Plants vs. Zombies

I actually completed the Adventure track last year over Easter on my iPod touch(I may have played a bit obsessively at the time…) but with the addition of new challenges to the game center I have found myself yet again pulled into the world of plant zombie warfare.

5. Red Tag Sales @ JoAnn’s

As I was reminded upon seeing this week’s ad, I both love and fear these. On the one hand – what could be better than getting half off the red tag (clearance) fabric? On the other – my budget hates me afterwards. Perhaps it’s a good thing that I’m so busy this week with JoAnn’s Daffodil Dash going on. There’s minimal time available to accumulate damages.

5 Things I Love – April 4

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1. Pound for Pound Challenge

I love the this program because it combines reaching personal goals with meeting the needs of local communities. Sure that 15 lbs I pledged (and lost) last year isn’t going to make huge dent in the recurring issues with shortages in food banks, but my pledge combined with others in my community can help make a difference AND if you’re not looking to lose weight you can sign up to maintain your current weight which counts as 5 lbs.

2. Starburst Jelly Beans

When it comes to jelly beans all are not created equal. Jelly Belly is, of course, lovely, but for more general jelly bean purchasing Starburst jelly beans are a great taste at a cheaper price. They come in three varieties – original, sour & tropical – all of which are tasty.

3. Interaction11 Videos

I know I am not alone in being excited that these are all now online. Now, not only can those who weren’t able to make it see the sessions, but those of us who were there can see the ones that we missed as well as refresh our memories on the ones we did attend. Of course, if you’re not sure what IxD (Interaction Design) is, Carl Alvani’s talk will assure you that you are not alone.

4. Glo-lite candles

The summer Partylite catalog started this past week and with it came a new style of candle which refracts light through the wax to create an all-over glow effect.

5. Dance Central for Kinect with Xbox 360

While I did get a chance to play with the Kinect a little bit back at Interaction11, it was only this past Friday that I had an opportunity to try out Dance Central and it was enough fun that it brought to fore once more the PS3 vs. Xbox 360 debate for my next console purchase. True, if you think too hard you may feel a bit silly, but once everyone else has had a t