All posts from
August 2008

Design for Emotion and Flow

“The psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1990) has described focused attention as ‘psychic energy’. Like energy in the traditional sense, no work can be done without it, and through work that energy is consumed. Most of us have experienced a mental/emotional state where all of our attention (or energy) is totally focused on an activity. Csikszentmihalyi (1990) named this state “flow,” based on how participants in his studies described the experience. In this state of consciousness, people often experience intense concentration and feelings of enjoyment, coupled with peak performance. Hours pass by in what seems like minutes. We tend to enter these states in environments with few interruptions, where our attention becomes focused by a challenge that we’re confident we can handle with our existing skills. Feedback is instantaneous, so we can always judge how close we are to accomplishing our task and reaching our goal. The importance of the task influences our level of motivation and perceptions of how difficult the task will be.” (Trevor van GorpBoxes and Arrows)

Exploratory Search in Different Information Architectures

“The ASIS&T 2008 IA Summit, Experiencing Information, emphasized users who want to know, do or share something. A user experiences information by creating, organizing, browsing and searching for information. These actions contribute to the notion of exploratory search that can be described as an information process in which the importance of a search system’s query-document matching power is diminished in favor of the user assuming a more assertive role in making decisions about the search results and the next steps toward fulfilling their information needs. A straightforward and common way to distinguish an exploratory search system is to examine the presentation of search results. Typically some browsing facilities to supplement or replace the popular list-based result pages are introduced and they feature grouping as a primary mechanism for search result display.” (ASIS&T Bulletin 34.6)

Sustainable Product Design: Terry Swack on the Importance of User Experience

“A 25-year veteran of the design and technology industries, Terry Swack hopped on the Internet bus a little earlier that most of us. As founder, in 1994, of web strategy firm TSDesign, and later Green Building Blocks and BlueEgg, she has witnessed firsthand consumers’ enthusiasm for (and resistance to) adopting new green products and technologies. She now heads up Clean Culture, a customer experience research and strategy consultancy focused on making clean tech and sustainable products more understandable and desirable. We asked Terry how the concept of user experience has helped shape her approach to product design.” (Sustainable Life Media)

Using Persona Advocates to develop user-centric intranets and portals

“Intranets and portals are all—or mostly—about serving and enabling users. What information do they need and what tasks must they accomplish? How will they look for information? How does it need to be organized and presented for them to understand and use it? Do users have expertise in different subject areas or varying levels of technical vocabularies? Do they need instant information gratification or will they patiently research until they explore all possibilities? Do users know what information they are seeking or do they need to be able to browse for something that will catch their eyes and provide the ‘Aha!’ experiences. Grasping complex information needs and uses can indeed be daunting. One powerful design tool, personas, can help make sense of these needs and provide a framework for building Intranets that will satisfy a variety of needs. Effectively developed and used, personas enable Intranet teams to hone in on user needs and build interfaces and user experiences that end-user audiences can and will use.” (Howard McQueen) – courtesy of jamesrobertson

Service Design and Experience Design: Starbucks vs Le Pain Quotidien

“What is service design? Particularly those that is delivered through a digital interface or through a peer-to-peer network. It requires a very different approach from traditional operations management and the economics is very different. Service is becoming a key part of any customer experiences. Many still find the concept a little abstract. Little attention is paid to service innovation or seeing services as structure.” (Idris Mootee – innovation playground)

Facial expressions: Reflections of user experience

“(…) Phillip Toledano, a photographer from New York who takes stunning portraits of real people playing video games. The immersive nature of videogames can engage users into user experiences which can almost be described as extreme. Toledano’s portraits depict this rather clearly. He managed to capture the whole range of emotions: frustration, joy, fear, surprise, hatred…” (Pierre-Alexandre Lapointe – YuCentrik)