I went to the IxDA Redux talk at Sapient’s offices in London last night. It was a series of seven 10 minute talks on the IxDA conference in Dublin, some spanning the whole conference, others focussing on a single talk.
Once again I forgot to bring a notebook with me (maybe there’s a reason I stopped doing industrial design) and so had to take down some notes on the iPhone. About half the people there were doing the same, being a room full of UX designers, so I didn’t feel like too much of a chump. I also realised that auto-correct whilst typing quickly doesn’t work anywhere near as well as handwriting: what would be illegible scrawls translates to either the right or wrong word. I guess digital will still be very binary for the foreseeable future.
From the notes mentioned above, here is some of the information I gleaned from the talks:
Innovation comes through disruption and disruptive technologies. Designers should provoke not predict, and be asking what could be done, not what should.
Wireframes don’t work for modern interactions. Things like sharing, syncing and working across devices don’t translate onto a single layout (responsive / mobile-first design approaches).
Users don’t have goals. Where the classic UX texts talked about users doing single tasks in the early age of interfaces, the same isn’t true anymore. Computers are omnipresent and goals are a product of several cognitive areas and are constantly shifting. A more interesting goal is that of users moving from novice to expert: the journey of experiencing a product.
Users will redesign and re-appropriate your design. As an example, Twitter has very tight limitations on what is generated, but the user’s pushing of these constraints is what has made the service so successful and in the case of the arab spring, instrumental in providing the vector for social reform. Applications should be very simple and provide few but strict rules, allowing users to be creative within the parameters set.
Rather than tasks and goals, modern interface design is about emotions, contexts and relationships.
Three important elements of web application design - UI, Blank State and Content Delivery.
Microcopy. Using text on buttons and short instructions to present a clear and uniform tone of voice throughout an application. Verbs are very important (Like, Tweet) and can become the hook for a service. But can also be inappropriate if not flexible enough to handle the variety of content going through your app: can you ‘Like’ all news articles?
Simple framework for microcopy: Who is the message for? How? Where? When? What tone?
The blank state of a system sets the tone for the application for new users. It presents the app’s way of thinking and introduces rules. The application should ask specific questions with regards to content being generated by the user: think Trip Advisor, not App Store.
Shapeshifting of content. Tasks follow you on your mobile, wherever you go, presenting a shift in contextual consumption.
There is still an obsession with layout, a legacy of print design and fixed-width web design. Instead, design should be responsive. Wireframes are not appropriate anymore. (Yeah, we heard these ones already, but they kept coming up and for good reason.)
We are in an age of Natural User Interfaces (NUIs), and have reached the limitations of Graphic User Interfaces (GUIs). Interfaces are becoming more organic and integrated into natural gestures and the way we operate day to day.
Comfortable computing: iPad in bed. Invisible interfaces, first talked about 30 or 40 years ago are becoming a reality. We don’t have to deal with physical products to the same extent anymore. With a tablet, the television can come with us to bed, to the toilet or when traveling.
Interactions accrue over time. Products facilitate exploration. Products sense intent.