Anthropology + Architecture

May 28th, 2009

I’ve always been wondering what type of methods traditional architects rely on for achieving forms that fit more appropriately to their surrounding contexts of use. Although I’ve been mostly working with visual interfaces, it always seemed like the field of architecture lagged behind in the methods and tools which are available to other design fields. In interaction design we’ve seen the user-centered philosophy permeate the field and give rise to such powerful techniques as user testing and ethnography. Do architects have similar tools at their disposal? Last week, it came as a surprise as one of my all time favourite social scientists, anthropologists and deep design research thinkers, Elizabeth Sanders, reappeared in a talk at TU Delft about her recent work in the field of architecture. Elizabeth presents her struggles in figuring out how to make traditional architecture a more friendly place with the help of participatory design techniques. Two thumbs up.

>> See video. (requires Silverlight but is worth it)

Stone Age Focus Groups :)

May 18th, 2009

YouTube Preview Image As the end cut tagline says: “killing good ideas can harm your future”. Would focus groups be a thing of the past? According to what we have been exposed to at TU Delft, healthier research approaches are composed not only of what people say, but rather a combination of what people say, do and make.

Video Walkthroughs

May 12th, 2009
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This technique of demonstrating an interface using video comes up more and more often these days. It’s basically a combination between paper prototyping, video recording and then eventual sharing of it using online video web sites. Perhaps seeing the interface change with the help of real people and voice overs feels a lot more engaging then just looking at a wireframe document stack alone.

Future of Wireframes

May 5th, 2009

In The future of wireframes, Isaac Pinnock writes about where the wireframe is heading. Some of the possible directions include:

  • Shortening of the lifespan of a wireframe
  • Widening of the audience being able to contribute to wireframing
  • Object-orientation and component approach, making adjustments easier to manage
  • More visual than functional
  • More exploratory
  • Widening of the possible spectrum of wireframing tools (supporting wider ranges of fidelity)

I think I agree with most points. What I am trying to do with fluidIA is to tackle the problem of the shortening wireframe lifespan by means of making changes a great deal more easy to accomplish (through object orientation).

Face Gesture Interaction

April 21st, 2009

Just found an April fools link about the Opera browser supporting face gesture interactions. Looks quite funny and some of the gestures look a bit difficult to master. Laughing aside however, I still think this has some really interesting interaction potential. FaceAPI has been developing the technology to make this possible.

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Human Centered Design (in 2min)

April 6th, 2009
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Lists of Prototyping & Wireframing Tools

March 25th, 2009

Quite some articles appeared in the last few weeks going over prototyping and wireframing tools and resources.

The Life of a Prototype

March 24th, 2009

The life of a prototype can vary. On one hand the time before a prototype expires and is thrown away can be very short like in wizard of oz paper prototyping. In this case the prototype also usually requires a great deal of hand holding and filling in the blanks. It requires someone to be present to breath life into it for the user to experience it during evaluation. In some way, the presence of the evaluator and short life makes such an evaluation more sterile or artificial.

On another hand, prototypes can also live longer on their own and be self-sustaining. These types of projects are visible in such things as labs prototypes which over the last few years have become quite popular. Such prototypes are very much close to finished products, yet the people behind them still see them as experiments worthy of being thrown away. More so, they allow the user to experience the prototype during a longer time frame making the evaluation of them closer to reality.

Good Design Stretches the Design Space

March 15th, 2009


Very much related to the posts on alternatives, here is a quick sketch about one snapshot of what I believe constitutes good design. The sketch underlines the importance of stretching the design space by means of exploring alternatives. The wider the design space, the richer the pool of ideas from which the best can be selected by means of evaluation. (This sketch has been inspired by 90percent of everything, Bill Buxton and evolutionary design.)

Patterns, patterns and more UI RIA patterns

February 18th, 2009

Nice find of 30 common patterns of rich internet application controls. – via Konigi. Ahhh… can’t get enough of jQuery samples. Last week I also came across the UI Pattern Library which also launched recently I believe. The site contains a nice collection of even more patterns and is scheduled to grow.