UX Kuali

The stuff we don't have to know but want to know

Millennials Embracing Collaborative Consumption

by Kevin Makice

Zipcar, the car-sharing service, did a study that says millennials like to share instead of own.

The Zipcar survey, now in its second year, shows that millennials—comprising 23% of our population—are becoming more open to sharing vehicles and less likely to drive, stating environmental concerns as a big motivating factor. Zipcar CEO Scott Griffith argues that designers, manufacturers, and policy makers need to take note:

Our most forward-looking policy makers are thinking about housing, land use, highways, bridges and gas taxes like it’s 2015 rather than 1971.  It is my hope that these thought leaders will inspire a broader dialogue on mobility policy instead of sticking with an outdated transportation policy that directs limited funds almost exclusively toward highways.

Setting aside any bias in the source of that finding, the collaborative consumption movement is evident elsewhere, too, in everything from media to homes. The way our society views material goods, large and small, appears to be de-emphasizing ownership.

Shareable (December 21, 2011 by Beth Buczynski)


The Debate of Design and Equine Excrement

by Kevin Makice

One of the pre-Christmas ripples in the design world was a rant by yongfook that took issue with the trend toward emphasizing design in founding startups. Among the many responses, Joshua Porter’s take at Bokado included this observation:

For some reason, Yongfook wants to separate “value creation” from “design”. But that’s hard to do…as design is in part the process of discovering problems and then conceiving of solutions to them. The idea that a founder would go out and “create value” without actually designing something along the way doesn’t make much sense…in solving the problem they would end up designing something, even if it only be conceptual design of a proposed product.

This is not an uncommon problem for designers to face in their workplaces and when talking with biz types. Eli Blevis at Indiana University liked to depict design as two co-centric circles, one very big an the other very small. Most people who hear “design” believe it incorporates some amount of decoration (i.e., making pretty screens). The yongfook’s of the world see decoration as the big circle, though, with everything else crammed into the small one. Designers, however, know that decoration is the small circle, just one part of a skill set that supports the communication of a vision that changes the world for the better.

Bokado (December 17, 2011 by Joshua Porter)

Free HCI Course, courtesy Stanford

by Kevin Makice

Stanford, long a leader in use of technology in open education, is accepting registrations for a series of courses to begin in January 2012. Among them is Scott Klemmer‘s Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) introduction:

This course teaches core techniques for rapid prototyping and interface evaluation, as well as some ways to conduct fieldwork that gains input from the people who might use new designs before you build them. The course materials consist mainly of Khan-Academy-style short videos (about 2 hours per week) that students can watch at their leisure, taking quizzes and interacting with faculty through a special forum, where other students can vote up questions.

In addition to acclimating people to HCI who are unfamiliar with needs-based design, it might be a low-overhead refresher for professionals, as well. Stanford also offers about a dozen other free online courses in computer science and entrepreneurship, such as Natural Language Processing, Game Theory, and Anatomy.

Klemmer, an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University, has helped design and develop open-source design tools used around the world. One of his student’s recent projects is Bricolage, a tool for applying the content of one page to the design of another.

Human-Computer Interaction, a Stanford University online course

“I Believe That Hands Are Our Future”

by Kevin Makice

Most humans believe the future is supposed to look like this:

According to Bret Victor, however, that’s a limited vision of what humans actually need. In a compelling visual rant earlier this month, Victor made a case for tactile experience as being the future of technology.

“[T]his vision, from an interaction perspective, is not visionary,” Victor writes. “It’s a timid increment from the status quo, and the status quo, from an interaction perspective, is actually rather terrible.”

Victor argues that a tool addresses human needs by amplifying human capabilities. Good design is when the tool can address both. A future that emphasizes “pictures under glass” — an idea well over four decades old — is neglecting any capabilities of humans that take advantage of our dexterity. 300 joints and 600 muscles in the human body afford hundreds of degrees of freedom. “Any dancer or doctor knows full well what an incredibly expressive device your body is,” writes Victor.

“With an entire body at your command, do you seriously think the Future Of Interaction should be a single finger?”

A Brief Rant On The Future Of Interaction Design (November 8, 2011 by Bret Victor)

Agile UX Requires the Right Culture

by Kevin Makice

One of the ongoing challenges for designers in a large ad-hoc organization is where in the culture to inject user experience practices. This is a chicken-and-egg kind of problem most of the time: UX has to work to change the culture to see the value of their practices, but success in doing so often requires the right culture before such changes occur.

Jeff Gothelf, a user experience designer from New York, identifies some of these cultural factors in a Smashing Magazine article from last month. Gothelf is currently the Director of User Experience at TheLadders.com, a resource helping jobseekers and recruiters to connect. Among the key insights gleaned from Gothelf’s post:

  • To foster dialogue and investment in outcomes, include non-designers in the design process.
  • Embedded designers foster more accessible use of services
  • Centralized UX teams provide a way to vent and troubleshoot challenges.

In addition to culture, Gothelf also has articles discussing hiring and integration issues.

How To Build An Agile UX Team: The Culture (October 18, 2011, by Jeff Gothelf)

Designing For Learnability – Is It So Simple?

by Kirk Bridger

My eldest daughter has started kindergarten this week. Part of the preparatory material sent to us over the summer included a pamphlet on “intelligence” – apparently teachers get a lot of questions from parents about if their child is intelligent or not. The pamphlet briefly describes 8 “areas of intelligence” and outlines examples of each area, allowing the parent to begin to identify which areas their child excels in, and those in which they may not be so strong. Here are the 8 areas and their brief descriptions: Read the rest of this entry »

Deliniation: Professional development for IxD

by Kevin Makice

At my alma mater, Indiana University, a couple of recent graduates — Nina Mehta (@ninamehta) and Wes Michaels (@wmichaels) — assembled a professional development guide. While it is primarily targeting the students and new graduates of our Informatics HCI/d program, there is a lot of useful information in this publication about the interaction design profession and being a professional within the design community. The authors draw from experts like Carl Alviani, Kat Nevill and Chris Pirillo to provide some advice on what to do. The tips on attending conferences, caring for portfolios, staying informed, and sharing ideas are relevant for anyone, whether or not you currently have a job.

Delineation: Professional development for interaction designers (2011, by Nina Mehta and Wes Michaels)