what makes for a "good" interaction?

3 Dec 2003 - 9:11am
10 years ago
35 replies
1591 reads
Dave Malouf
2005

Since we are here to discuss interaction design as its own discipline, i was
wondering "what makes for a 'good' interaction?"

Yes, the term "good" is vague on purpose, as I really don't even know the
parameters.
I know what is usable or findable, but I don't know what is a 'good'
interaction. I also on purpose tried to stay away from the term "experience"
as I feel that the overall "experience" is beyond the scope of an
"interaction" and it is in the series of interactions among many connected
systems that creates an overall experience, many of which are constraints of
the design and not even in the designer's control.

So, "what makes for a 'good' interaction?" well designed if you will. What
is our target?

-- dave

Comments

3 Dec 2003 - 9:44am
Carrie Ritch
2003

I was just reading Joel Spolsky's User Interface Design for Programmers
(http://joelonsoftware.com/uibook/chapters/fog0000000057.html) when this
email came in. And in "Chapter 1: Controlling Your Environment Makes You
Happy" he provides a couple of stories to support the "cardinal axiom of all
user interface design":

"A user interface is well-designed when the program behaves exactly how the
user thought it would."

does this axiom sum it up for 'interaction design'? are there additional
axioms that apply or would anything else be a corollary to this single
axiom?

another question - is this achievable? i'm thinking there will be some level
of frustration that will occur, no matter how well designed, for newbies to
a new application.

carrie

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesign
ers.com]On Behalf Of David Heller
Sent: Wednesday, December 03, 2003 9:11 AM
To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: [ID Discuss] what makes for a "good" interaction?

Since we are here to discuss interaction design as its own discipline, i was
wondering "what makes for a 'good' interaction?"

Yes, the term "good" is vague on purpose, as I really don't even know the
parameters.
I know what is usable or findable, but I don't know what is a 'good'
interaction. I also on purpose tried to stay away from the term "experience"
as I feel that the overall "experience" is beyond the scope of an
"interaction" and it is in the series of interactions among many connected
systems that creates an overall experience, many of which are constraints of
the design and not even in the designer's control.

So, "what makes for a 'good' interaction?" well designed if you will. What
is our target?

-- dave

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3 Dec 2003 - 10:42am
Johndan Johnson...
2005

Aren't there frequent reasons to surprise the user? Not merely in
entertainment spaces, where the user interacts primarily for novelty,
but also in educational, exploratory, brainstorming, or even office
productivity areas?

I'm not arguing for software that's randomly difficult to use, or
completely uncontrollable, or incompetently designed, but for something
closer to an educational experience in certain instances: learners need
challenges and contingency in order to grow. And I think this need
exists in more than very specialized applications. Why not steal some
ideas from deconstructivist architecture, which frequently is both
useful *and* challenging (a deconstructivist information architecture,
a postmodernist interaction design)? Although it's easy to slip from
"contingency" and "surprise" into complete and utter anti-usability,
there's also a useful space there for both functionality and surprise.
As an educator, it seems to me that we've started to reach a time when
people are learning to deal productively with contingency and
surprise--not merely "getting by" in a bad situation, but thriving on
some forms of interface that we would traditionally refer to as
"cognitive overload." These are the users that thrive on a judicious
(and sometimes frankly out-of-hand) degree of suprise.

Obviously, how successful such experiments are is open to debate--and I
agree that the majority of interface elements need to seem intuitive
the majority of time--but it seems like contingency and surprise are a
crucial avenue to explore.

- Johndan

On Dec 3, 2003, at 9:44 AM, Carrie Ritch wrote:

> I was just reading Joel Spolsky's User Interface Design for Programmers
> (http://joelonsoftware.com/uibook/chapters/fog0000000057.html) when
> this
> email came in. And in "Chapter 1: Controlling Your Environment Makes
> You
> Happy" he provides a couple of stories to support the "cardinal axiom
> of all
> user interface design":
>
> "A user interface is well-designed when the program behaves exactly
> how the
> user thought it would."
>
> does this axiom sum it up for 'interaction design'? are there
> additional
> axioms that apply or would anything else be a corollary to this single
> axiom?
>
> another question - is this achievable? i'm thinking there will be some
> level
> of frustration that will occur, no matter how well designed, for
> newbies to
> a new application.
>
> carrie

3 Dec 2003 - 10:43am
vutpakdi
2003

--- Carrie Ritch <critch at rochester.rr.com> wrote:
> I was just reading Joel Spolsky's User Interface Design for Programmers
...
> "A user interface is well-designed when the program behaves exactly how
> the
> user thought it would."

Though stated in a slightly way, I've always thought that a good design is
one that is transparent enough that the user really sees/works with what
the user needs to be able to do and not the interface/tool. The user can
be so focussed on what she wants/needs to do that the tool is there but
takes very little or no active thought to use.

Ron

=====
============================================================================
Ron Vutpakdi
vutpakdi at acm.org

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3 Dec 2003 - 10:51am
Dave Malouf
2005

Hi, thanx for taking up the discussion everyone.

I'd like to re-iterate my narrowing of the topic to what is a good
interaction and not what is a good design. Design is broader and encompasses
a lot more things than just the interaction itself.

As I read the existing statements thus far I feel that we should be say,
"what is an interaction?" first and then defining what is a good one.

-- dave

3 Dec 2003 - 11:18am
Robert Reimann
2003

A good interaction (IMHO) is one that meets (or exceeds!)
the expectations of the person interacting. This
means that it should match (or build on) user mental
models for the objects and activities in context.
But it also means that (in most cases) it should match
user expectations for helpful, polite, considerate behavior.
Products with good interactions are well-behaved products.

So, to answer Dave's question, I'd define interaction as:

object(s) + action(s) + context + behavior

What makes good interactions will obviously vary somewhat
according to domain and context. For interactions in contexts
where users have very specific things they want to accomplish,
such as in productivity and business applications, the interaction
should facilitate *flow* (productive concentration on the tasks at
hand) without unnecessary interruption or distraction (such as those
caused by superfluous dialogs and Clippy-like agents; transparency,
as Ron mentioned). However, in an educational product (for example),
where exploration rather than a "results" focus may be the interaction
paradigm, distractions, diversions, and conversational agents may
be quite welcome.

Tone and behavior of the interaction is critical. Good
interactions with software-enabled products should, like good
interactions with people, be helpful, considerate, and to the
point. Such high-level behaviors might include:

* Taking an interest - remembering important things about the user

* Being deferential - making suggestions, not passing judgments

* Being forthcoming - providing rich, modeless, status information

* Using common sense - presenting appropriate info/functions in
appropriate contexts

* Anticipating needs - using remembered user information in context

* Be conscientious - relating low level tasks back to larger goals

* Not whining or gloating - eschewing unnecessary notifiers

* Being confident - not asking the user obvious questions

* Fail gracefully - preserving session and undo states

* Bend the rules - offering some of the flexibility of human
systems

* Take responsibility - following through on 2nd-order user
expectations

In general, keeping firmly in mind what the precise goals
of users are in context, remembering that users are also
humans with human needs above and beyond anything they hope to
accomplish with the product, and keeping this a design priority
even as technical constraints inevitably arise, is the best
way to arrive at good interactions.

Robert.

-----Original Message-----
From: David Heller [mailto:dave at interactiondesigners.com]
Sent: Wednesday, December 03, 2003 9:11 AM
To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: [ID Discuss] what makes for a "good" interaction?

Since we are here to discuss interaction design as its own discipline, i was
wondering "what makes for a 'good' interaction?"

Yes, the term "good" is vague on purpose, as I really don't even know the
parameters. I know what is usable or findable, but I don't know what is a
'good' interaction. I also on purpose tried to stay away from the term
"experience" as I feel that the overall "experience" is beyond the scope of
an "interaction" and it is in the series of interactions among many
connected systems that creates an overall experience, many of which are
constraints of the design and not even in the designer's control.

So, "what makes for a 'good' interaction?" well designed if you will. What
is our target?

-- dave

3 Dec 2003 - 11:20am
Robert Reimann
2003

I'd modify Joel's statement a little bit:

"A user interface is well-designed when the program
behaves *even better than* the user thought it would." :^)

I think there's a lot of additional axioms, some of
which I'm sure we'll get to in this discussion.

The key to managing newbie frustration is to manage the
learning curve. If your product is well-designed from an
interaction perspective, the period of newbie-ness will
be minimized. You're right-- nobody likes being a newbie,
but with the attention in the design, they'll become
intermediates quickly (and probably stay there). Though
the design target should probably be intermediates for
most applications, enough support must be designed in to
get beginners to an intermediate level...

Robert.

-----Original Message-----
From: Carrie Ritch [mailto:critch at rochester.rr.com]
Sent: Wednesday, December 03, 2003 9:44 AM
To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: RE: [ID Discuss] what makes for a "good" interaction?

I was just reading Joel Spolsky's User Interface Design for Programmers
(http://joelonsoftware.com/uibook/chapters/fog0000000057.html) when this
email came in. And in "Chapter 1: Controlling Your Environment Makes You
Happy" he provides a couple of stories to support the "cardinal axiom of all
user interface design":

"A user interface is well-designed when the program behaves exactly how the
user thought it would."

does this axiom sum it up for 'interaction design'? are there additional
axioms that apply or would anything else be a corollary to this single
axiom?

another question - is this achievable? i'm thinking there will be some level
of frustration that will occur, no matter how well designed, for newbies to
a new application.

carrie

3 Dec 2003 - 11:09am
Todd Warfel
2003

I'd also define good interaction as something, which enables a user to
accomplish complex tasks easily.

As an example - starting your car. There are a series of very complex
actions that take place when you start your car. However, the user, or
participant, only has to turn the key.

Cheers!

Todd R. Warfel
User Experience Architect
MessageFirst | making products easier to use
--------------------------------------
Contact Info
voice: (607) 339-9640
email: twarfel at messagefirst.com
web: www.messagefirst.com
aim: twarfel at mac.com
--------------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

3 Dec 2003 - 12:41pm
hans samuelson
2003

-- snip --
I'd like to re-iterate my narrowing of the topic to what is a good
interaction and not what is a good design. Design is broader and
encompasses a lot more things than just the interaction itself.

As I read the existing statements thus far I feel that we should be
saying, "what is an interaction?" first and then defining what is a
good one.
--snip--

I personally work with a model of three different kinds of interaction:

- physical interactions (hands and senses)
- social interactions (conversations)
- abstract interactions (interplay between datasets)

This may seem a little odd, but if you think of a context like game
design, it makes more sense. Games are a useful counterpoint to other
kinds of products; the user needs are of a very different order!

Physical interactions may include both real and simulated: think of a
game controller (joystick etc.), as well as any physical interactions
represented within the virtual environment.

Social interactions likewise - in the kind of multiplayer environment I
have been working with, there are both real and virtual agents (and as
people have correctly pointed out, people tend to anthropomorphize the
technology at the best of times, so this distinction is even trickier
to maintain). Designing for social interaction is a world unto itself,
mind you.

Abstract interactions are a strange class by themselves. Think of the
networked cause-effect relationships in a simulation game, where
building a bridge might lower the price of grain. Or think of the
relationships between world currencies, where fluctuations are so
densely networked as to appear arbitrary or even random. Representing
these, and revealing or hiding the underlying logic, seems to be a
particular kind of information design challenge unique to computer
technologies.

Each of these has a different logic of 'good' interaction, both inside
and outside the machine. And each interaction design context will
include one or more of these kinds of interaction. From this point of
view, it's our job to make sure that these are properly interwoven,
represented, and balanced, and that appropriate and timely feedback
support the context-driven tasks both physically and cognitively.

And if that wasn't enough, it's also important to distinguish between
the viewpoint: if the person 'fails' happily, is that a 'good'
interaction? If they 'succeed' but aren't satisfied, who gets to
judge? Naturally, one prefers failure in a game environment than in a
medical intervention.. though the interfaces often look oddly similar,
these days...

My two cents,

Hans

3 Dec 2003 - 2:12pm
Kristoffer Åberg
2003

Dave Heller:

> I know what is usable or findable, but I don't know what is a 'good'
> interaction.
>...I'd like to re-iterate my narrowing of the topic to what is a good
> interaction and not what is a good design. Design is broader and
encompasses
> a lot more things than just the interaction itself.

: I hesitate to narrow the topic ;-)...can we separate good design from good
interaction? But of course you are right in that we need a definition of
"interaction"...and also one of "design"...

I think the answer is hidden in Dave's first sentence above; the tired old
phrase "it depends". I find much inspiration in the work done on "use
qualities", where usability, findability, and other examples in this
discussion could be qualities desirable for certain interactive artefacts.
Good interaction elsewhere entails identifying desirable use qualities
specific to those, other artefacts. For an introduction to the concept of
use qualities as well as a full Ph.D. thesis see the respective links below.
Both includes examples of the use quality "surprise". The first is a quick
read (12 pages), let me know what you think.

"I propose to think about interaction design in terms of use qualities,
i.e., certain properties of a digital design that are experienced in its
use. Such qualities transcend the specific design and offer a language in
which to talk about desirable design outcomes."
Jonas Löwgren, "The use qualities of digital designs",
http://webzone.k3.mah.se/k3jolo/Material/uqDDv1.pdf

"Interactive artefacts are valued by users and their businesses for their
qualities in use...Use qualities are what characterizes the use of an
artefact..."
Stefan Holmlid, "",
http://www.ida.liu.se/~steho/publications/sholmlid_dissT.pdf

/Kristoffer

3 Dec 2003 - 2:41pm
ralph lord
2004

Maybe looking at some other things (non-digital) might open up an idea or two about what interaction is.

Of course, you might say that my subject isn't even interactive. Nevertheless.

If the question were "what makes for good interaction with a book?" you might scope it by saying that you don't mean good book design (the typography and the jacket design, the TOC layout, nifty chapter numbers, etc), you don't mean a good story (plot, characters, etc), you don't mean a good argument (clear hypotheses, clear reasoning, substantiated claims, etc) but you mean rather the quality of the interaction with the book itself. OK, what does that mean?

Maybe it's the quality of the interaction with the physical object: how it feels in my hand (is it heavier/lighter than it looks - which might be equivalent to it being heavier/lighter than it "should" be which might influence my opinion of the content), how the pages turn, how they lay flat (or don't), how easy it is to separate one page from the next when turning, can I set the book on edge on my belly if reading in bed and still be able to turn pages easily?, does the interaction support the subject matter of the book? (through long association, Bibles which have leather covers and that really thin paper feel more like Bibles "should" than paperback ones with regular bond paper. to the contrary, a John Grisham novella printed on onion-skin and bound in leather just would not feel "right").

So far I've defined good interaction for a book in physical properties of the book only. I don't think that satisfies as some of the "readability" properties such as type size, contrast, layout, etc would really play a large part in my impression of a book's having good interaction. I think I'd also include things like a good TOC or a comprehensive index as part of the interaction with the book. That's for non-fiction mostly. Looks like I've run up against the same fuzzy line between interaction and design as with software systems.

Which I think begs the question again, just what is interaction anyway?

Ralph Lord
Atlanta

> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesi
> gners.com
> [mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interac
> tiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Kristoffer Åberg
> Sent: Wednesday, December 03, 2003 2:13 PM
> To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
> Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] what makes for a "good" interaction?
>
>
> Dave Heller:
>
> > I know what is usable or findable, but I don't know what is
> a 'good'
> >interaction. ...I'd like to re-iterate my narrowing of the topic to
> >what is a good interaction and not what is a good design. Design is
> >broader and
> encompasses
> > a lot more things than just the interaction itself.
>
> : I hesitate to narrow the topic ;-)...can we separate good
> design from good interaction? But of course you are right in
> that we need a definition of "interaction"...and also one of
> "design"...
>
> I think the answer is hidden in Dave's first sentence above;
> the tired old phrase "it depends". I find much inspiration in
> the work done on "use qualities", where usability,
> findability, and other examples in this discussion could be
> qualities desirable for certain interactive artefacts. Good
> interaction elsewhere entails identifying desirable use
> qualities specific to those, other artefacts. For an
> introduction to the concept of use qualities as well as a
> full Ph.D. thesis see the respective links below. Both
> includes examples of the use quality "surprise". The first is
> a quick read (12 pages), let me know what you think.
>
> "I propose to think about interaction design in terms of use
> qualities, i.e., certain properties of a digital design that
> are experienced in its use. Such qualities transcend the
> specific design and offer a language in which to talk about
> desirable design outcomes." Jonas Löwgren, "The use qualities
> of digital designs",
> http://webzone.k3.mah.se/k3jolo/Material/uqDDv> 1.pdf
>
>
> "Interactive artefacts are valued by users and their
> businesses for their qualities in use...Use qualities are
> what characterizes the use of an artefact..." Stefan Holmlid,
> "", http://www.ida.liu.se/~steho/publications/sholmlid_dissT.pdf
>
> /Kristoffer
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List discuss at interactiondesigners.com
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> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
http://discuss.interactiondesigners.com
--
Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
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3 Dec 2003 - 7:32pm
Mitja Kostomaj
2004

DH> So, "what makes for a 'good' interaction?" well designed if you will. What
DH> is our target?

CR>"A user interface is well-designed when the program behaves exactly how the
CR>user thought it would."

JJE>Aren't there frequent reasons to surprise the user?

When I've started to write the answer what is good interaction I've
thought "Yes this is like good humor", which is in Psychology
explained as an incongruence.

Yes, sometimes good interaction is something which is inconsistent
with our knowledge of the world, like many of you suggested.

But good interaction can also be something we know, what we do not
have to learn and in something we can trust.

Good interaction is therefore sometimes connected with incongruence;
inconsistency with any of the mind maps, where our knowledge and
cognition of the world and its rules, are stored. Most of incongruent
stimulation in our lives release serious processes: learning and
sometimes laughter. Incongruent stimulation can also release our
interest in something, curiosity, but also anxiety and fear.

Therefore good interaction probably needs good balance of what is new
to us with something what we already know.

Regards
Mitja Kostomaj

3 Dec 2003 - 2:22pm
gleija at comca...
2003

In my opinion, good design is transparent to the point of being invisible.

Upon using something well-designed, the experience should feel "natural," as if it is the most obvious thing in the world that this is the way one would do whatever one is doing.

The only awareness a user should have after using something well-designed is that he or she was successful, not that the design was.

A slight, pleasant tingling sensation - that of aesthetic pleasure - is a nice bonus.

/G
>
> A good interaction (IMHO) is one that meets (or exceeds!)
> the expectations of the person interacting. This
> means that it should match (or build on) user mental
> models for the objects and activities in context.
> But it also means that (in most cases) it should match
> user expectations for helpful, polite, considerate behavior.
> Products with good interactions are well-behaved products.
>
> So, to answer Dave's question, I'd define interaction as:
>
> object(s) + action(s) + context + behavior
>
> What makes good interactions will obviously vary somewhat
> according to domain and context. For interactions in contexts
> where users have very specific things they want to accomplish,
> such as in productivity and business applications, the interaction
> should facilitate *flow* (productive concentration on the tasks at
> hand) without unnecessary interruption or distraction (such as those
> caused by superfluous dialogs and Clippy-like agents; transparency,
> as Ron mentioned). However, in an educational product (for example),
> where exploration rather than a "results" focus may be the interaction
> paradigm, distractions, diversions, and conversational agents may
> be quite welcome.
>
> Tone and behavior of the interaction is critical. Good
> interactions with software-enabled products should, like good
> interactions with people, be helpful, considerate, and to the
> point. Such high-level behaviors might include:
>
> * Taking an interest - remembering important things about the user
>
> * Being deferential - making suggestions, not passing judgments
>
> * Being forthcoming - providing rich, modeless, status information
>
> * Using common sense - presenting appropriate info/functions in
> appropriate contexts
>
> * Anticipating needs - using remembered user information in context
>
> * Be conscientious - relating low level tasks back to larger goals
>
> * Not whining or gloating - eschewing unnecessary notifiers
>
> * Being confident - not asking the user obvious questions
>
> * Fail gracefully - preserving session and undo states
>
> * Bend the rules - offering some of the flexibility of human
> systems
>
> * Take responsibility - following through on 2nd-order user
> expectations
>
>
> In general, keeping firmly in mind what the precise goals
> of users are in context, remembering that users are also
> humans with human needs above and beyond anything they hope to
> accomplish with the product, and keeping this a design priority
> even as technical constraints inevitably arise, is the best
> way to arrive at good interactions.
>
> Robert.
>
>
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: David Heller [mailto:dave at interactiondesigners.com]
> Sent: Wednesday, December 03, 2003 9:11 AM
> To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
> Subject: [ID Discuss] what makes for a "good" interaction?
>
>
> Since we are here to discuss interaction design as its own discipline, i was
> wondering "what makes for a 'good' interaction?"
>
> Yes, the term "good" is vague on purpose, as I really don't even know the
> parameters. I know what is usable or findable, but I don't know what is a
> 'good' interaction. I also on purpose tried to stay away from the term
> "experience" as I feel that the overall "experience" is beyond the scope of
> an "interaction" and it is in the series of interactions among many
> connected systems that creates an overall experience, many of which are
> constraints of the design and not even in the designer's control.
>
> So, "what makes for a 'good' interaction?" well designed if you will. What
> is our target?
>
> -- dave
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
> http://discuss.interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements already)
> http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
> --
> http://interactiondesigners.com/

4 Dec 2003 - 10:15am
Dan Saffer
2003

There might be two ways of thinking about "good" interactions, both
presumably intertwined. The first is in the sense of being appropriate;
the second is in the sense of reenforcing humanity and human dignity.

Good as in "appropriate" interaction design provides the necessary
amount of information at the necessary time for the user to act. And it
does so in an appropriate manner, sensitive to the needs (physical,
social, cognitive) of the user.

Good as in "for the good of all" interaction design comes from the
creation of products that affirm humanity, that do not de-skill users,
and that work towards bettering lives.

Dan

Dan Saffer
M.Des. Candidate, Interaction Design
Carnegie Mellon University
http://www.odannyboy.com

4 Dec 2003 - 10:44am
Robert Reimann
2003

I completely agree. 2nd order interactions, the way people
who aren't necessarily direct users of a product are nonetheless
affected by its use is an oft-overlooked area that relates
directly to the "good-for-all" that you mention. These
2nd order effects do get attention in medical products, but
more attention in other domains is probably in order.

While I was at Cooper, we developed a special kind of persona,
the "served persona" to represent people who might be affected
by design without directly interacting with it. Bringing
served personas and their goals into the mix can have subtle
but important effects on the design from the standpoint of
social good.

Robert.

-----Original Message-----
From: Dan Saffer [mailto:dan at odannyboy.com]
Sent: Thursday, December 04, 2003 10:16 AM
To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] what makes for a "good" interaction?

There might be two ways of thinking about "good" interactions, both
presumably intertwined. The first is in the sense of being appropriate;
the second is in the sense of reenforcing humanity and human dignity.

Good as in "appropriate" interaction design provides the necessary
amount of information at the necessary time for the user to act. And it
does so in an appropriate manner, sensitive to the needs (physical,
social, cognitive) of the user.

Good as in "for the good of all" interaction design comes from the
creation of products that affirm humanity, that do not de-skill users,
and that work towards bettering lives.

Dan

Dan Saffer
M.Des. Candidate, Interaction Design
Carnegie Mellon University
http://www.odannyboy.com

4 Dec 2003 - 11:09am
Dan Saffer
2003

On Thursday, December 4, 2003, at 10:44 AM, Reimann, Robert wrote:

> While I was at Cooper, we developed a special kind of persona,
> the "served persona" to represent people who might be affected
> by design without directly interacting with it.

This gets into an interesting area. On the flip side of things like
medical devices, there are things like targeting navigation systems
whose "affected users" are those being targeted (and potentially
killed) by weapons. Do we apply design talent to those things? Someone
has, maybe even someone on this list. These are ostensibly the things
that "keep us safe." But designers can't see all ends, especially with
things as complicated as geopolitical situations. The system we design
today could be used years from now in ways we never intended, against
people we consider allies. Or even against ourselves.

Dan

4 Dec 2003 - 3:48pm
Kristoffer Åberg
2003

> I completely agree. 2nd order interactions, the way people
> who aren't necessarily direct users of a product are nonetheless
> affected by its use is an oft-overlooked area that relates
> directly to the "good-for-all" that you mention. These
> 2nd order effects do get attention in medical products, but
> more attention in other domains is probably in order.
>
> While I was at Cooper, we developed a special kind of persona,
> the "served persona" to represent people who might be affected
> by design without directly interacting with it. Bringing
> served personas and their goals into the mix can have subtle
> but important effects on the design from the standpoint of
> social good.

: Interesting! My colleague Jo Herstad et al did a piece on this wrt
personal mobile technologies:

"The non-user is a person, or group, that is not directly using the
technology in question, but that at the same time is affected in some way by
the use of technology."

"Non-user centered design of personal mobile technologies"

http://gunther.smeal.psu.edu/rd/99841450%2C8216%2C1%2C0.25%2CDownload/http://gunther.smeal.psu.edu/papers/E-Commerce/273/http:zSzzSziris23.htu.sezSzproceedingszSzPDFzSz53final.PDF/non-user-centered-design.pdf

/Kristoffer

4 Dec 2003 - 3:52pm
Kristoffer Åberg
2003

>But designers can't see all ends, especially with
> things as complicated as geopolitical situations. The system we design
> today could be used years from now in ways we never intended

: Now it gets really interesting! Geopolitical situations and targeting
navigation systems aside, there is an abundance of examples where the stuff
that we (us designers) design is used in ways we never intended...so what
about the user's intentions, and how do we anticipate them, and provide the
necessary flexibility for people to use it in ways we never intended...?

Your examples, experience, thoughts?

/Kristoffer

4 Dec 2003 - 3:53pm
Dave Malouf
2005

This conversation is so interesting ... This will be what we are talking
about forever I guess.

My question isn't getting answered but getting appended and more and more
refined from the discussion, especially this one talking about the
"non-user" or what I used to call would a stakeholder.

So, to me a stakeholder is a component of the experience design, but not the
interaction design ... Now most of work in entire systems and thus we have
to deal w/ on our day-to-day w/in the realm of experience design, but I'm
curious as to whether or not there is a clear boundary, or even a gray one
where interaction design ends and experience design begins. To me the
"non-user" is way beyond the interaction design, unless you are thinking of
a scenario whereby there is a "co-pilot" like a parent w/ child when the
child is using a toy. A director of sorts if you will ... I'm sure there are
other similar models and metaphors, but still would hope that we have a
clear boundary to work from, no?

-- dave

4 Dec 2003 - 3:57pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Kristoffer said:
: Now it gets really interesting! Geopolitical situations and targeting
navigation systems aside, there is an abundance of examples where the stuff
that we (us designers) design is used in ways we never intended...so what
about the user's intentions, and how do we anticipate them, and provide the
necessary flexibility for people to use it in ways we never intended...?

Ani Difranco (folk singer http://righteousbaberecords.com/) said about 13
years ago ...
"Every tool is a weapon if you hold it right."

4 Dec 2003 - 4:53pm
Kristoffer Åberg
2003

> : Now it gets really interesting! Geopolitical situations and targeting
> navigation systems aside, there is an abundance of examples where the
stuff
> that we (us designers) design is used in ways we never intended...so what
> about the user's intentions, and how do we anticipate them, and provide
the
> necessary flexibility for people to use it in ways we never intended...?
>
>
> Ani Difranco (folk singer http://righteousbaberecords.com/) said about 13
> years ago ...
> "Every tool is a weapon if you hold it right."

: Indeed. In my domain of mobile communication we have the example of Short
Messaging Service, functionality that allows you to send text messages of
160 characters between mobile phones. Originally *intended* as a way to
indicate waiting voice mails, it was later picked up by teenagers as a
low-cost way of keeping in touch, and a few years back used by
anti-government protesters in the Philippines to co-ordinate protest and
spread news and rumours about the president Joseph Estrada, in the end
toppling him from power. A long way from the original intention...

But there are many "non-violent" examples as well, from the way people walk
outside the design(at)ed footpaths in parks to eventually create their own
paths, to hacking the Apple iPod:

"When the iPod first appeared, many of our more forward thinking readers
imagined that Apple was hinting at a possible future product line that
featured the iPod as just the starting point of an entire system. Whether
Apple has had such a system in mind remains to be seen, but it is obvious
that coders with time on their hands have found the iPod a fertile platform,
and it seems that Apple benefits."

http://www.macobserver.com/article/2002/04/08.5.shtml

/Kristoffer

4 Dec 2003 - 5:36pm
Robert Reimann
2003

Dave Heller wrote about:

> the "non-user" or what I used to call a stakeholder

I would distinguish a "served" or "affected" persona from a stakeholder,
which I usually associate with customers (as opposed to end-users),
business partners, or internal stakeholders.

The big problem with served/affected personas is that they usually
*don't* have a stake in the development process; they are overlooked
unless they are specifically brought into the process by design.

Robert.

-----Original Message-----
From: David Heller [mailto:dave at interactiondesigners.com]
Sent: Thursday, December 04, 2003 3:54 PM
To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: RE: [ID Discuss] what makes for a "good" interaction?

This conversation is so interesting ... This will be what we are talking
about forever I guess.

My question isn't getting answered but getting appended and more and more
refined from the discussion, especially this one talking about the
"non-user" or what I used to call would a stakeholder.

So, to me a stakeholder is a component of the experience design, but not the
interaction design ... Now most of work in entire systems and thus we have
to deal w/ on our day-to-day w/in the realm of experience design, but I'm
curious as to whether or not there is a clear boundary, or even a gray one
where interaction design ends and experience design begins. To me the
"non-user" is way beyond the interaction design, unless you are thinking of
a scenario whereby there is a "co-pilot" like a parent w/ child when the
child is using a toy. A director of sorts if you will ... I'm sure there are
other similar models and metaphors, but still would hope that we have a
clear boundary to work from, no?

-- dave

4 Dec 2003 - 5:51pm
Robert Reimann
2003

Indeed.

A client once came to us to help design a system for
tracking satellite launches. Okay, it could be a weather
satellite -- good! Or it could be a military satellite --
maybe not so good. But we took the business, because the
possibilities seemed more beneficial than not.

However, that same client later asked us to help design
a module for tracking cruise missiles. We declined.

I know a designer who recently decided to take a job
designing command and control systems for the US armed forces.
You can view this kind of work as saving lives, or the
other way. It's up to every designer to look deep into
themselves to make an ethical choice when faced with this
kind of project. It's not always an easy choice to make.

Robert.

-----Original Message-----
From: Dan Saffer [mailto:dan at odannyboy.com]
Sent: Thursday, December 04, 2003 11:10 AM
To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] what makes for a "good" interaction?

On Thursday, December 4, 2003, at 10:44 AM, Reimann, Robert wrote:

> While I was at Cooper, we developed a special kind of persona, the
> "served persona" to represent people who might be affected by design
> without directly interacting with it.

This gets into an interesting area. On the flip side of things like
medical devices, there are things like targeting navigation systems
whose "affected users" are those being targeted (and potentially
killed) by weapons. Do we apply design talent to those things? Someone
has, maybe even someone on this list. These are ostensibly the things
that "keep us safe." But designers can't see all ends, especially with
things as complicated as geopolitical situations. The system we design
today could be used years from now in ways we never intended, against
people we consider allies. Or even against ourselves.

Dan

4 Dec 2003 - 5:57pm
Peter Bagnall
2003

I've been using the term "constituent" to refer to those who aren't
served but are affected by the system.

The idea is that it gives the impression of a person to whom the
designer has a responsibility, and someone that needs to have their
voice represented by the designer.

--Pete

On 4 Dec 2003, at 22:36, Reimann, Robert wrote:
>
> Dave Heller wrote about:
>
>> the "non-user" or what I used to call a stakeholder
>
> I would distinguish a "served" or "affected" persona from a
> stakeholder,
> which I usually associate with customers (as opposed to end-users),
> business partners, or internal stakeholders.
>
> The big problem with served/affected personas is that they usually
> *don't* have a stake in the development process; they are overlooked
> unless they are specifically brought into the process by design.
>
> Robert.
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: David Heller [mailto:dave at interactiondesigners.com]
> Sent: Thursday, December 04, 2003 3:54 PM
> To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
> Subject: RE: [ID Discuss] what makes for a "good" interaction?
>
>
> This conversation is so interesting ... This will be what we are
> talking
> about forever I guess.
>
> My question isn't getting answered but getting appended and more and
> more
> refined from the discussion, especially this one talking about the
> "non-user" or what I used to call would a stakeholder.
>
> So, to me a stakeholder is a component of the experience design, but
> not the
> interaction design ... Now most of work in entire systems and thus we
> have
> to deal w/ on our day-to-day w/in the realm of experience design, but
> I'm
> curious as to whether or not there is a clear boundary, or even a gray
> one
> where interaction design ends and experience design begins. To me the
> "non-user" is way beyond the interaction design, unless you are
> thinking of
> a scenario whereby there is a "co-pilot" like a parent w/ child when
> the
> child is using a toy. A director of sorts if you will ... I'm sure
> there are
> other similar models and metaphors, but still would hope that we have a
> clear boundary to work from, no?
>
> -- dave
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
> http://discuss.interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements
> already)
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> --
> http://interactiondesigners.com/
>
>
-------------------------------------------------------------
Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding
of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they
are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of
patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the
same in any country.
--Goering at the Nuremberg Trials

Peter Bagnall - http://people.surfaceeffect.com/pete/

5 Dec 2003 - 10:31am
hans samuelson
2003

> Kristoffer said:
> : Now it gets really interesting! Geopolitical situations and targeting
> navigation systems aside, there is an abundance of examples where the
> stuff
> that we (us designers) design is used in ways we never intended...so
> what
> about the user's intentions, and how do we anticipate them, and
> provide the
> necessary flexibility for people to use it in ways we never
> intended...?

There is a nice essay called 'The ethics of industrial design' in Vilem
Flusser's "The shape of things: a philosophy of design." Doesn't
resolve anything, but the ideas are elegantly expressed.

Same book, different essay - 'War and the state of things';

"Let one simple example illustrate the problem: Take the case of
designing a paper-knife. Let the designer be elegant: Let the knife be
exceptional without being obtrusive (i.e. noble). Let the designer be
user-friendly: Let the knife be easy to handle without any special
knowledge (i.e. generous). Let the designer be good: Let the knife be
so efficient that it can cut through paper (or anything resistant). As
has already been indicated, the notion of the good is problematic.
After all, a knife can be too good: It can not only cut paper but also
its user's finger."

-- Hans

5 Dec 2003 - 11:34am
Coryndon Luxmoore
2004

> Kristoffer said:
> : Now it gets really interesting! Geopolitical situations and
> targeting navigation systems aside, there is an abundance of examples
> where the stuff that we (us designers) design is used in ways we never

> intended...so what

This entire discussion reminds me of the time I was watching a briefing
given by the generals who were in charge of the Bosnian war. They were
standing up in front of their room with a windows PC using PowerPoint
and windows video utilities to demonstrate how effective our bombs were.
Selling the business of war. It was such a visceral and creepy reminder
that all technology and design is so easy to adapt to nefarious use.

For each of us making the decision about what is ethical it is about
drawing a line in shifting sand. Is the video conferencing software you
are designing going to make it easier for war or terrorist minded
individuals to make their bombing decisions quicker and more effective?

If only we could easily deduce user intent during usage...but even that
capability could be misused. <Sigh>

--Coryndon

__________________________________________________________
Coryndon Luxmoore
Design Architect
Dakasa
133 Federal Street
Boston, MA 02110
USA
e: cluxmoore at dakasa.com
t: 617.292.7700
f: 617.292.7704
____________________________________________________________
This email message and any files transmitted with it contain
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intended only for the person(s) to whom this email message is addressed.
If you
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____________________________________________________________

5 Dec 2003 - 11:42am
Dave Malouf
2005

<coryndon said>
For each of us making the decision about what is ethical it is about drawing
a line in shifting sand. Is the video conferencing software you are
designing going to make it easier for war or terrorist minded individuals to
make their bombing decisions quicker and more effective?
</coryndon>

Ah, this is interesting. I would say that is the intent of the video
conferencing. Allowing people to communicate over long distances for
whatever purpose they deam.

That to me is different from the example of making a screwdriver and all of
sudden it is used to be a hammer, or a chisel, or worse a knife.

The example that Kristoph gave to me is a credit to the ingenuity of taking
the spirity of a design and expanding on its natural conclusion. Short
message alerting ... Ok, I care about my voicemail, but I also care about
telling my friend about the hot date I'm on too. Why should you tell me what
messages I get. The further example of using it discreetly communicate
during a Coup is awesome.

I think there is a difference between building a bomb and building a
satellite that could be used to deliver that bomb. Bombs are purely military
in purpose (for this argument), while the satellite has both military and
non-military applications, some of those applications are extrapolated over
time. Is it immoral to produce TNT? Of course not. It is a necessity of too
many non-violent purposes, but when delivered for violence that is the
problem. There is no non-violent purpose for a gun. Now the question is,
does your ethics equate violence and militarism with immoral?

-- dave

5 Dec 2003 - 2:09pm
Kristoffer Åberg
2003

> > Kristoffer said:
> > : Now it gets really interesting! Geopolitical situations and
> > targeting navigation systems aside, there is an abundance of examples
> > where the stuff that we (us designers) design is used in ways we never
>
> > intended...so what
>
> This entire discussion reminds me of the time I was watching a briefing
> given by the generals who were in charge of the Bosnian war. They were
> standing up in front of their room with a windows PC using PowerPoint
> and windows video utilities to demonstrate how effective our bombs were.
> Selling the business of war. It was such a visceral and creepy reminder
> that all technology and design is so easy to adapt to nefarious use.

: There are two issues here, and I think I fail to get my point across
regarding the second. No fault but mine, so I'll try again :-). The first is
how much consideration should we give to possibly violent, nefarious, etc.,
use. Our ethical stance as designers. A very interesting discussion, but...

...I'm saying "Geopolitical situations and targeting navigation systems
*aside*"...e.g., in my other post on the topic I wouldn't call the
transition from the intended use of the Short Messaging Service from voice
indication to teenager many-to-many communication a step in the negative
direction, a violent or nefarious use counter to the intentions of the
designer. But an unforseen development, an improvement over the original
intended design, a re-design, continuing-design-in-use by the users.

Who really is the designer in the case of SMS? If I design an mp3 player
with a huge harddisk...and someone turns it into a personal information
manager or a TV remote control; or if I plan the footpaths of a public space
like a park...and people walk wherever they like to create new footpaths; or
if I engineer an electronic mailing system which lacks support for conveying
emotions in plain text...and someone invents a vocabulary of emoticons - who
is then the designer?

What implications will or should such continuing-design-in-use have for our
role as designers? For the role of the so called "user"?

/Kristoffer

5 Dec 2003 - 3:18pm
Vince Frantz
2003

> In my opinion, good design is transparent to the point of being
> invisible.
>
> Upon using something well-designed, the experience should feel
> "natural," as if it is the most obvious thing in the world that this
> is the way one would do whatever one is doing.
>
> The only awareness a user should have after using something
> well-designed is that he or she was successful, not that the design
> was.
>
> A slight, pleasant tingling sensation - that of aesthetic pleasure -
> is a nice bonus.
>

Thats a good way of looking at it...

I think it comes down to the "play vs task" or "entertain vs execute"
purpose of the interaction.

For "tasks", the good interaction design is invisible. The aesthetic
pleasure is a bonus, but the slightest evidence of complexity or
confusion makes that aesthetic bonus look silly.

For "play", the interaction is designed for incongruence (as Mitja
mentioned) so that the interaction itself becomes the medium, like a
game or fancy flash website.

Case in point.. the iPod.. great ID (anyway you spell it) but it is
clearly a "task" (not "play") to push buttons, read the screen, roll
the wheel - all just to get to the song you want... the actual medium
you want to experience. The iPod becomes an "invisible" barrier between
a user and the object of her task: "listen to my song".

(with a healthy dose of aesthetic pleasure on top)

5 Dec 2003 - 3:53pm
Johndan Johnson...
2005

Here's a related issue: is aesthetic pleasure "task" or "play"? What
makes the connection between the "task" and the "healthy dose of
aesthetic pleasure"? Is it symbolic excess? Where does it come
from--not from the utility of the device itself, because this
calling-attention-to would seem to contradict the drive for
invisibility.

The reason I ask about things like this is that a task orientation can
sometimes degenerate into utilitarian approaches that, while they seem
strictly functional, aren't enjoyable to use. (My original field was
technical communication, which often ends up slipping directly into
that relatively soulless type of design, unfortunately.)

And is that "dose" really "on top," or is it a fundamental part of the
experience? There does seem to be agreement in ID that the best designs
are not simply utilitarian, but also posses something else. The
connotations of elegance? The aura of efficiency? Perhaps this surplus
shifts from object to object, context to context, user to user. The
modernistic images of silhouetted hipsters jamming with iPods on
posters and billboards?

- Johndan

On Dec 5, 2003, at 3:18 PM, Vince Frantz wrote:

> Case in point.. the iPod.. great ID (anyway you spell it) but it is
> clearly a "task" (not "play") to push buttons, read the screen, roll
> the wheel - all just to get to the song you want... the actual medium
> you want to experience. The iPod becomes an "invisible" barrier
> between a user and the object of her task: "listen to my song".
>
> (with a healthy dose of aesthetic pleasure on top)
>

5 Dec 2003 - 6:16pm
gleija at comca...
2003

I think you might be talking about a very ancient concept called beauty.
/Gail

Johndan Johnson-Eilola wrote:

> Here's a related issue: is aesthetic pleasure "task" or "play"? What
> makes the connection between the "task" and the "healthy dose of
> aesthetic pleasure"? Is it symbolic excess? Where does it come
> from--not from the utility of the device itself, because this
> calling-attention-to would seem to contradict the drive for invisibility.
>
> The reason I ask about things like this is that a task orientation can
> sometimes degenerate into utilitarian approaches that, while they seem
> strictly functional, aren't enjoyable to use. (My original field was
> technical communication, which often ends up slipping directly into
> that relatively soulless type of design, unfortunately.)
>
> And is that "dose" really "on top," or is it a fundamental part of the
> experience? There does seem to be agreement in ID that the best
> designs are not simply utilitarian, but also posses something else.
> The connotations of elegance? The aura of efficiency? Perhaps this
> surplus shifts from object to object, context to context, user to
> user. The modernistic images of silhouetted hipsters jamming with
> iPods on posters and billboards?
>
> - Johndan
>
>
> On Dec 5, 2003, at 3:18 PM, Vince Frantz wrote:
>
>> Case in point.. the iPod.. great ID (anyway you spell it) but it is
>> clearly a "task" (not "play") to push buttons, read the screen, roll
>> the wheel - all just to get to the song you want... the actual medium
>> you want to experience. The iPod becomes an "invisible" barrier
>> between a user and the object of her task: "listen to my song".
>>
>> (with a healthy dose of aesthetic pleasure on top)
>>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
> http://discuss.interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
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> --
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>

5 Dec 2003 - 6:25pm
Johndan Johnson...
2005

Possibly. Tell me more about this "beauty" thing.

- Johndan

On Dec 5, 2003, at 6:16 PM, Gail wrote:

> I think you might be talking about a very ancient concept called
> beauty.
> /Gail
>
> Johndan Johnson-Eilola wrote:
>
>> Here's a related issue: is aesthetic pleasure "task" or "play"? What
>> makes the connection between the "task" and the "healthy dose of
>> aesthetic pleasure"? Is it symbolic excess? Where does it come
>> from--not from the utility of the device itself, because this
>> calling-attention-to would seem to contradict the drive for
>> invisibility.
>>
>> The reason I ask about things like this is that a task orientation
>> can sometimes degenerate into utilitarian approaches that, while they
>> seem strictly functional, aren't enjoyable to use. (My original field
>> was technical communication, which often ends up slipping directly
>> into that relatively soulless type of design, unfortunately.)
>>
>> And is that "dose" really "on top," or is it a fundamental part of
>> the experience? There does seem to be agreement in ID that the best
>> designs are not simply utilitarian, but also posses something else.
>> The connotations of elegance? The aura of efficiency? Perhaps this
>> surplus shifts from object to object, context to context, user to
>> user. The modernistic images of silhouetted hipsters jamming with
>> iPods on posters and billboards?
>>
>> - Johndan
>>
>>
>> On Dec 5, 2003, at 3:18 PM, Vince Frantz wrote:
>>
>>> Case in point.. the iPod.. great ID (anyway you spell it) but it is
>>> clearly a "task" (not "play") to push buttons, read the screen, roll
>>> the wheel - all just to get to the song you want... the actual
>>> medium you want to experience. The iPod becomes an "invisible"
>>> barrier between a user and the object of her task: "listen to my
>>> song".
>>>
>>> (with a healthy dose of aesthetic pleasure on top)
>>>
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> Interaction Design Discussion List
>> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
>> --
>> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
>> http://discuss.interactiondesigners.com
>> --
>> Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
>> --
>> Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements
>> already)
>> http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
>> --
>> http://interactiondesigners.com/
>>
>

5 Dec 2003 - 9:34pm
Vince Frantz
2003

On Dec 5, 2003, at 3:53 PM, Johndan Johnson-Eilola wrote:

> And is that "dose" really "on top," or is it a fundamental part of the
> experience? There does seem to be agreement in ID that the best
> designs are not simply utilitarian, but also posses something else.
> The connotations of elegance? The aura of efficiency? Perhaps this
> surplus shifts from object to object, context to context, user to
> user. The modernistic images of silhouetted hipsters jamming with
> iPods on posters and billboards?

For some reason I instinctively said "on top" but I am glad you caught
that. After thinking about it I guess I would say that it truly is "on
top" because it is the last thing to be designed. The image of the
iPod.. its aesthetic appeal.. is skin deep. It IS important because
part of the design problem is making it sell (the elegance and aura of
efficiency hint at what's in store.)

But the interaction starts with the raw parts. An understanding of the
information to be interacted with, limitations, purposes, context, etc.
don't get decided in a 3D program.

Case in point... the F-117 stealth fighter. It might look cool to us,
but at the time of conception, it was not "looking" so hot. At a time
when jets were designed by aerospace engineers who had a way of making
planes that "looked like they would fly", the F-117 was designed by
electrical engineers to first avoid radar - THEN they figured out how
to make it fly. By having computers aid in flight control, the odd
shaped plane that would be nearly impossible for a pilot to control
became service worthy and we all know the rest of that story. (and I
bet most aerospace engineers think it looks cool now!)

I know we don't window shop for stealth fighters, but my hunch is that
Apple's engineers probably started with the tiny toshiba hard drive and
made it first play MP3s THEN made it fun to hold and cool to look at. I
had another MP3 player that seemed like nothing more that a CD player
that played digital files instead of CDs. It looked great and was
smaller and lighter than the iPod. But I didn't completely ditch CDs
until I started using an iPod and found that they were no longer
needed.

Anyone know the whole story? Did they do the industrial design first
then make the technology fit or vice versa?

oh yeah, here is an image of the stealth fighter:

http://www.spitcrazy.com/F-117---STEALTH.jpg

7 Dec 2003 - 7:07am
CD Evans
2004

At 9:34 pm -0500 5/12/03, Vince Frantz wrote:
>On Dec 5, 2003, at 3:53 PM, Johndan Johnson-Eilola wrote:
>
>>And is that "dose" really "on top," or is it a fundamental part of
>>the experience? There does seem to be agreement in ID that the best
>>designs are not simply utilitarian, but also posses something else.
>>The connotations of elegance? The aura of efficiency? Perhaps this
>>surplus shifts from object to object, context to context, user to
>>user. The modernistic images of silhouetted hipsters jamming with
>>iPods on posters and billboards?
>
>For some reason I instinctively said "on top" but I am glad you
>caught that. After thinking about it I guess I would say that it
>truly is "on top" because it is the last thing to be designed. The
>image of the iPod.. its aesthetic appeal.. is skin deep. It IS
>important because part of the design problem is making it sell (the
>elegance and aura of efficiency hint at what's in store.)
>
>Anyone know the whole story? Did they do the industrial design first
>then make the technology fit or vice versa?

Hello,

I don't think the iPod interface was a secondary thought, in my humble opinion.

I think that the interface was designed first, with the required
functions slotted in place once they found a design that worked. They
may have even ditched any functions that didn't fit into the design.
For instance, it doesn't have very quick access to 'random track
play' or the 'jazz acoustics' settings, they are up at the uber-top
of the hierarchy where they are unlikely to be changed very often.
While this leads users to a less customizing experience, it implies a
sense of comfort in accepting whatever the settings are. I would say
that this acceptance of the settings 'is' based on the Beauty of the
device. If it wasn't so 'nice' people would likely find the settings
being out of the way quite a bit more inconvenient.

I don't know for sure what Beauty is, but I do agree, it is Beauty
that we are trying to achieve. It is what makes annoying software
problems turn into "oh, nevermind....".

What makes an interaction Beautiful? This is a difficult question
indeed. Especially in regard to Usability.

Could it be said that Usable and Beautiful aren't as different as we
thought? Or perhaps they are the critical duality that makes success?

CD Evans

7 Dec 2003 - 2:03pm
Mark Canlas
2003

I'd like to recite the concept of transparency, as beauty. Something as
simple as icons and text properly aligned (graphical beauty) may also be
seen as transparent. Anything otherwise (ugly, misplaced icons) would
disrupt the user's experience and unnecessarily draw attention. But in a
more philosophical sense, we could also see grace as beauty, between the
interactions of concepts. Like Apple's advertisement on CD use. "Rip. Mix.
Burn." Isn't it beautiful how I can do all of those things in one,
convenient, beautiful-looking application suite?

G said:
"In my opinion, good design is transparent to the point of being invisible.

Upon using something well-designed, the experience should feel "natural," as
if it is the most obvious thing in the world that this is the way one would
do whatever one is doing.

The only awareness a user should have after using something well-designed is
that he or she was successful, not that the design was.

A slight, pleasant tingling sensation - that of aesthetic pleasure - is a
nice bonus."

Ron said:
"Though stated in a slightly way, I've always thought that a good design is
one that is transparent enough that the user really sees/works with what the
user needs to be able to do and not the interface/tool. The user can be so
focussed on what she wants/needs to do that the tool is there but takes very
little or no active thought to use."

And I agree with the notion that design was not a forethought in the iPod's
creation.

Tom Peters said (as cited by Tom Wilkens):
"The dumbest mistake is viewing design as something you do at the end of the
process to 'tidy up' the mess, as opposed to understanding it's a 'day one'
issue and part of everything."

And Usable and Beautiful aren't necessarily the same thing. Let's say... A
thick branch on the ground would be a usable (enough) walking stick. But a
well-crafted, ergonomically engineered rod would be a beautiful and usable
object. There was nothing wrong with an organic walking stick, it just
wasn't as beautiful as the crafted Rod. The reverse probably also applies,
as there are beautiful objects/concepts void of usability. It'd be beautiful
the way we would psychically communicate to one another and reduce noise
pollution, but it's barely usable considering none of us have psychic powers
(yet).

Mark Canlas
Human-Computer Interaction Representative
NJIT Student Senate

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.
com] On Behalf Of CD Evans
Sent: Sunday, December 7, 2003 07:07
To: Vince Frantz; discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] what makes for a "good" interaction?

At 9:34 pm -0500 5/12/03, Vince Frantz wrote:
>On Dec 5, 2003, at 3:53 PM, Johndan Johnson-Eilola wrote:
>
>>And is that "dose" really "on top," or is it a fundamental part of the
>>experience? There does seem to be agreement in ID that the best
>>designs are not simply utilitarian, but also posses something else.
>>The connotations of elegance? The aura of efficiency? Perhaps this
>>surplus shifts from object to object, context to context, user to
>>user. The modernistic images of silhouetted hipsters jamming with
>>iPods on posters and billboards?
>
>For some reason I instinctively said "on top" but I am glad you caught
>that. After thinking about it I guess I would say that it truly is "on
>top" because it is the last thing to be designed. The image of the
>iPod.. its aesthetic appeal.. is skin deep. It IS important because
>part of the design problem is making it sell (the elegance and aura of
>efficiency hint at what's in store.)
>
>Anyone know the whole story? Did they do the industrial design first
>then make the technology fit or vice versa?

Hello,

I don't think the iPod interface was a secondary thought, in my humble
opinion.

I think that the interface was designed first, with the required functions
slotted in place once they found a design that worked. They may have even
ditched any functions that didn't fit into the design.
For instance, it doesn't have very quick access to 'random track play' or
the 'jazz acoustics' settings, they are up at the uber-top of the hierarchy
where they are unlikely to be changed very often.
While this leads users to a less customizing experience, it implies a sense
of comfort in accepting whatever the settings are. I would say that this
acceptance of the settings 'is' based on the Beauty of the device. If it
wasn't so 'nice' people would likely find the settings being out of the way
quite a bit more inconvenient.

I don't know for sure what Beauty is, but I do agree, it is Beauty that we
are trying to achieve. It is what makes annoying software problems turn into
"oh, nevermind....".

What makes an interaction Beautiful? This is a difficult question indeed.
Especially in regard to Usability.

Could it be said that Usable and Beautiful aren't as different as we
thought? Or perhaps they are the critical duality that makes success?

CD Evans

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7 Dec 2003 - 11:00pm
Johndan Johnson...
2005

But if you *notice* beauty--and we all do--it can't be transparent, can
it?

I think we're also talking--even in this case--about a definitions of
beauty appropriate only in certain contexts, for certain users, at
certain historical points in time. If beauty is not merely utility,
then beauty has to be the *excess* of utility. Beauty, from our current
socio-technological perspective, is utility + perceived elegance or
wit, a sign, as you said, of skillful craft. (Am I the only person who
is most impresses by designs that seem witty?)

There are numerous other historical times, and other places, where
beauty was defined very differently. Just look the history of art, or
even the numerous, often violently disagreeing branches of contemporary
art. Is Jackson Pollock's work beautiful? How about Robert
Mapplethorpe's? Matthew Barney's? Thomas Kinkaide's? Beauty, and even
utility, are not culturally neutral terms.

I'm not trying to deny the notion of beauty, because there obviously is
something that most of us see in the iPod as beauty. But I don't think
it's transparency--I think it *masks* itself as transparency, but that
it's a thin but extremely crucial thread running through various
aspects of the processes of development, marketing, and use. So I think
we need to step back one level, and understand that good design takes a
*rhetorical* approach to "beauty" and "transparency," that those terms
are constructions. (This isn't a bad thing, although maybe the term
"rhetorical" might make it seem so.)

- Johndan

On Dec 7, 2003, at 2:03 PM, Mark Canlas wrote:

> I'd like to recite the concept of transparency, as beauty. Something as
> simple as icons and text properly aligned (graphical beauty) may also
> be
> seen as transparent. Anything otherwise (ugly, misplaced icons) would
> disrupt the user's experience and unnecessarily draw attention. But in
> a
> more philosophical sense, we could also see grace as beauty, between
> the
> interactions of concepts. Like Apple's advertisement on CD use. "Rip.
> Mix.
> Burn." Isn't it beautiful how I can do all of those things in one,
> convenient, beautiful-looking application suite?
>
> G said:
> "In my opinion, good design is transparent to the point of being
> invisible.
>
> Upon using something well-designed, the experience should feel
> "natural," as
> if it is the most obvious thing in the world that this is the way one
> would
> do whatever one is doing.
>
> The only awareness a user should have after using something
> well-designed is
> that he or she was successful, not that the design was.
>
> A slight, pleasant tingling sensation - that of aesthetic pleasure -
> is a
> nice bonus."
>
> Ron said:
> "Though stated in a slightly way, I've always thought that a good
> design is
> one that is transparent enough that the user really sees/works with
> what the
> user needs to be able to do and not the interface/tool. The user can
> be so
> focussed on what she wants/needs to do that the tool is there but
> takes very
> little or no active thought to use."
>
> And I agree with the notion that design was not a forethought in the
> iPod's
> creation.
>
> Tom Peters said (as cited by Tom Wilkens):
> "The dumbest mistake is viewing design as something you do at the end
> of the
> process to 'tidy up' the mess, as opposed to understanding it's a 'day
> one'
> issue and part of everything."
>
> And Usable and Beautiful aren't necessarily the same thing. Let's
> say... A
> thick branch on the ground would be a usable (enough) walking stick.
> But a
> well-crafted, ergonomically engineered rod would be a beautiful and
> usable
> object. There was nothing wrong with an organic walking stick, it just
> wasn't as beautiful as the crafted Rod. The reverse probably also
> applies,
> as there are beautiful objects/concepts void of usability. It'd be
> beautiful
> the way we would psychically communicate to one another and reduce
> noise
> pollution, but it's barely usable considering none of us have psychic
> powers
> (yet).
>
> Mark Canlas
> Human-Computer Interaction Representative
> NJIT Student Senate
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
> [mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-
> bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.
> com] On Behalf Of CD Evans
> Sent: Sunday, December 7, 2003 07:07
> To: Vince Frantz; discuss at interactiondesigners.com
> Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] what makes for a "good" interaction?
>
> At 9:34 pm -0500 5/12/03, Vince Frantz wrote:
>> On Dec 5, 2003, at 3:53 PM, Johndan Johnson-Eilola wrote:
>>
>>> And is that "dose" really "on top," or is it a fundamental part of
>>> the
>>> experience? There does seem to be agreement in ID that the best
>>> designs are not simply utilitarian, but also posses something else.
>>> The connotations of elegance? The aura of efficiency? Perhaps this
>>> surplus shifts from object to object, context to context, user to
>>> user. The modernistic images of silhouetted hipsters jamming with
>>> iPods on posters and billboards?
>>
>> For some reason I instinctively said "on top" but I am glad you caught
>> that. After thinking about it I guess I would say that it truly is "on
>> top" because it is the last thing to be designed. The image of the
>> iPod.. its aesthetic appeal.. is skin deep. It IS important because
>> part of the design problem is making it sell (the elegance and aura of
>> efficiency hint at what's in store.)
>>
>> Anyone know the whole story? Did they do the industrial design first
>> then make the technology fit or vice versa?
>
> Hello,
>
> I don't think the iPod interface was a secondary thought, in my humble
> opinion.
>
> I think that the interface was designed first, with the required
> functions
> slotted in place once they found a design that worked. They may have
> even
> ditched any functions that didn't fit into the design.
> For instance, it doesn't have very quick access to 'random track play'
> or
> the 'jazz acoustics' settings, they are up at the uber-top of the
> hierarchy
> where they are unlikely to be changed very often.
> While this leads users to a less customizing experience, it implies a
> sense
> of comfort in accepting whatever the settings are. I would say that
> this
> acceptance of the settings 'is' based on the Beauty of the device. If
> it
> wasn't so 'nice' people would likely find the settings being out of
> the way
> quite a bit more inconvenient.
>
> I don't know for sure what Beauty is, but I do agree, it is Beauty
> that we
> are trying to achieve. It is what makes annoying software problems
> turn into
> "oh, nevermind....".
>
> What makes an interaction Beautiful? This is a difficult question
> indeed.
> Especially in regard to Usability.
>
> Could it be said that Usable and Beautiful aren't as different as we
> thought? Or perhaps they are the critical duality that makes success?
>
> CD Evans
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
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> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
> http://discuss.interactiondesigners.com
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>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
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> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
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