All posts from
December 2007

Magic Ink: Information Software and the Graphical Interface

“The ubiquity of frustrating, unhelpful software interfaces has motivated decades of research into ‘Human-Computer Interaction’. In this paper, I suggest that the long-standing focus on ‘interaction’ may be misguided. For a majority subset of software, called ‘information software’, I argue that interactivity is actually a curse for users and a crutch for designers, and users’ goals can be better satisfied through other means.” (Bret Victor)

Engaging User Creativity

“With so many choices as to how we can spend our time in the digital age, attention is becoming the most important currency. In today’s splintered media environment, new digital products and services must compete with everything under the sun, making differentiation key to developing an audience that cares, invests, and ultimately drives value.” (Jonathan FollettUXmatters)

Peter Merholz interviews Don Norman

“I really enjoyed this chat. If we did The Believer-style keywords for it, they would read: adaptive cruise control, ubiquitous computing, human plus machine, ‘user experience’, ‘affordances;, asking the right questions, coupling design with operations, busting down silos, TiVo has never made any money, Palm, many reasons for the Newton’s failure, boss as an absolute dictator, Henry Dreyfuss and John Deere, design evolving from craft to profession, systems thinking, “T-shaped people,” observing the world, water bottle caps. Sound interesting? Take a listen!” (Adaptive Path) – courtesy of markvanderbeeken

Flow Online: Lessons Learned and Future Prospects

“Although the flow construct has been widely studied over the past decade in marketing and related fields, it has proven to be an elusive construct to measure and model. In this paper, we first examine two of the most important themes in flow research in the last decade: the conceptualization and measurement of flow in online environments and the marketing outcomes of flow. Second, while the unique characteristics of the Internet contributed to our belief that flow was an important construct for understanding consumer use of the Web in 1996, the environment of the Web itself has changed radically over the past decade. Thus, we consider the current context of the Internet for the role and application of the flow construct, as well as important related constructs that will be useful for understanding compelling experiences in the contemporary online environment.” (Donna L. Hoffman and Thomas P. NovakUCR eLab)

R.S. Wurman @EG’07

“I did a fable in 1975, called The Architecture of Information, was running the AIA national conference with 5,000 people. Even I could not do the keynote at a conference I was chairing, that was too over the top, so decided not to have a keynote. Wrote a keynote fable, a historic fable of the future. One of my favorite books. The main character was the commisioner of Curiosity and Imaginition. First thing he does is change the laws of copyright to the right to copy, he flipped everything in society and flipped it. The only thing you could copyright was bad ideas. One new department, Waiting to be Wanted. Dedicated to old buildings and old people. Life didn’t come from chloroform. They found life coming from hot sulfur water, or cold methane gas.” (Matt MullenwegEG Blog)

Interactions 08 in the Garden of Good and Evil

An Interview with Dan Saffer – “We aren’t human-computer engineers, usability professionals, information architects, or industrial or graphic designers, even though we have a lot in common with all of those groups. We’re professional designers, not engineers or researchers or testers, and what we design is behavior – how systems behave in response to human action. The combination of interaction and design really set us apart from what existed.” (Chris Baum – Boxes and Arrows)

Foundations of Interaction Design

“The other day I had the opportunity to speak with David Malouf on his article, Foundations of Interaction Design. We discuss several foundations of Interaction design including time, metaphor, abstraction, and negative space. David also provides greater detail to comments posted on his article from readers from around the world.” (Jeff Parks – Boxes and Arrows)

Filling Much Needed Holes

“Ethnographic research is fun. You get to go out into the world and watch, take pictures, satisfy your curiosity and inherent nosiness. Back at the office it is great fun to scribble notes, to post them on walls and rearrange them to form patterns. Then we can create personas, colorful little artificial people with cute, interesting lives, or maybe overstressed, over-busy lives. We delight at personas, at prototyping, at watching people go through their paces. New products galore. Innovation is the new hot topic. But does all of this activity lead to actual success in the marketplace? I fear not.” (Donald A. Norman)

Why Design?

“Legendary designer Philippe Starck — with no pretty slides behind him — spends 17 minutes reaching for the very roots of the question “Why design?” Along the way he drops brilliant insights into the human condition; listen carefully for one perfectly crystallized motto for all of us, genius or not. Yet all this deep thought, he cheerfully admits, is to aid in the design of a better toothbrush.” (

Five Usability Challenges of Web-Based Applications

“(…) designing for web apps is different than just designing a web site. It lives in a browser, it has complicated activities and edge conditions, and little things can have big implications, especially when they go awry. You need to know different things when designing for web apps than when designing for any other type of interaction.” (Jared Spool – UIE)

Towards a UX Manifesto PDF Logo

“COST294-MAUSE affiliated workshop. Effie Law, Arnold Vermeeren, Marc Hassenzahl, & Mark Blythe (eds.) 3rd September 2007, Lancaster, UK. – In this workshop, we invited researchers, educators and practitioners to contribute to the construction of a coherent Manifesto for the field of User Experience (UX). Such a UX manifesto should express statements about issues like: Fundamental assumptions underlying UX (principles), positioning of UX relative to other domains (policy) and action plans for improving the design and evaluation of UX (plans). The UX manifesto can become a reference model for future work on UX.” (MAUSE COST Action 294)

The Perpetual Super-Novice

“(…) the problem of the perpetual super-novice. What is this? Simply put, it’s the tendency of people to stop learning about a digital product—whether it’s an operating system, desktop application, Web site, or hardware device. After initially becoming somewhat familiar with a system, people often continue using the same inefficient, time-consuming styles of interaction they first learned. For example, they fail to discover shortcuts and accelerators in the applications they use. Other people learn only a small portion of a product’s capabilities and, as a result, don’t realize the full benefits the product offers. Why? What can operating systems, applications, Web sites, and devices do to better facilitate a person’s progression from novice to expert usage?” (Paul J. ShermanUXmatters)

The Repertory Grid: Eliciting User Experience Comparisons in the Customer’s Voice

“Chances are that, if you do user research, you conduct a fair number of user interviews. When conducting interviews, our training tells us to minimize bias by asking open-ended questions and choosing our words carefully. But consistently asking unbiased questions is always a challenge, especially when you’re following a participant down a line of questioning that is important, and you haven’t prepared your questions ahead of time. Also, if you do a lot of interviews, you might fall into a pattern of asking the same types of questions for different studies. This might not bias participants, but you can bias yourself if you always investigate the same types of issues. Finally, are you sure you are asking the right questions? Your interview questions might be relevant to you and your project team, but are they the questions that will get at important issues from a user’s perspective?” (Michael HawleyUXmatters)