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on learning a new input device…

so, many thanks to Rachel, I’ve got my borrowed Wacom tablet all installed. Now I am spoiled for choice with ways that I can make my computer work – keyboard, trackpad, mouse, wacom/pen – it’s definitely overkill, but I love it!

I use a Wacom tablet as though I’m lefthanded at the moment – l’m trying to teach myself to use Denim, which I’ve mentioned before, as I think it might be a fun design/prototype tool.

It’s a whole new method of interaction and there is much to learn… as much as I’m trying to learn the software, I’m also trying to capture the experience of learning a new input method.

It’s only because I’m so committed to making Denim work that I’ve put in the effort to date. If I had less incentive I probably would have thrown the tablet away in disgust … I’ve been trying to apply the mental model of mouse usage to the pen – consequently all kinds of bizarre things happen as I’m compelled to hold the button down (thinking that it won’t do anything until I ‘activate it’.

Since then I’ve had a few ‘ah ha!’ moments as my brain *slowly* gets into tune with the pen and tablet model, and I’m almost able to make it do what I want it to now.

I’ll let you know how I get on with Denim soon!

How is an interaction designer like a choreographer?

Australian Ballet, Swan Lake Tour 2005

How is an interaction designer like a choreographer? They both rely on conventions and patterns to faciliate powerful and efficient communication.

Last night I went to the ballet. I’m not really much of a ballet girl. You’re much more likely to find me at the symphony. I haven’t been to the ballet for almost 10 years (and that was to see the Nutcracker one Christmas in London, so I’m not even sure if that counts!).

I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed it. A couple of hours of prancing on the stage with some nice enough music (how many people did I just offend with that sentence… I’m sorry). I didn’t have great expectations, but instead I had a completely unexpected experience of flow. The couple of hours at the ballet felt like minutes. I love that feeling.

Sadly, some might say, I spent quite a bit of the time thinking about the amazing challenge that the composer, choreographer and performers had in communicating what is a rather kooky storyline to someone like me (that is, someone who wasn’t prepared to shell out $15 for a program and ‘learn’ the storyline before watching the ballet).

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internationali(s/z)ation

it makes me flinch just a little when I read a page written from a usability perspective about how different countries and cultures have language and other nuances that need to be accounted for in experience design, and to find that the page is littered with US spelling. Now, I know, it was written in the States, and that’s how you spell things over there. It’s just feels a little ironic or paradoxical perhaps when the words are localization, globalization, and internationalization.

I propose that in this context (when we who talk about such things are talking to each other) we use this format: internationali(s/z)ation. It’s like a little natural reminder that the only our American friends use the letter Z with such frequency and that the rest of us English speakers have probably had Microsoft Word try to correct our spelling for the better part of the time we’ve been interactive with technology.

So, perhaps I’m a little sensitive… go take a look at this page on the new Usability Body of Knowledge website and see if you think I’m overreacting.

Good experiences on a bus (another instructional analogy)

Bus Driver

If you were in Sydney a few years ago, you might remember the best ever example of industrial action that I’ve ever seen. Rather than pulling another last-minute bus strike in peak hour and leaving people stranded in the morning unable to get to work, the bus drivers decided to run the buses – for free. Their industrial action was to refuse to collect fares. What a great way to get the right kind of attention – from the public AND from their bosses.

I’ve never understood why industrial action so often involves pissing off the people you want to support you – by striking, or holding protest marches through the city at 5pm.

I’m not really sure whether the bus drivers got what they wanted, but I do know that for quite a while, every one in Sydney was totally backing the bus drivers. They were the most popular guys in town. I bet their work was pleasant for those few weeks.

I was reminded of those days of free bus rides this morning, when I scored another free bus ride. This one was much less pleasant though, because the bus driver did NOT take the opportunity to create a positive user experience.

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