: How to Get Into ... Best Job Title

28 Jan 2004 - 6:37pm
10 years ago
36 replies
1794 reads
Jim Hoekema
2004

++ Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

On Jan 27, 2004, at 5:59 PM, Jim Hoekema wrote:

> Keep in mind that IxD did not exist a few short years ago. That means,
> by
> definition, that everyone in the field came here from some "other"
> background!

I have to take exception to the first part of this statement. I've been
working in interface design for some 14 years now, and interaction was
always a component of it. (Unless of course you think designing the UI
to Photoshop takes no IxD experience.) To say that IxD did not exist
until a few short years ago is to negate all the work did by so many at
places like Xerox in the 70s, Apple in the 80s and the rest of many of
us working on application design in the early 90s, before the web
become "the next big thing."

++ Remember that I came from a background of studying Greek and Roman
architecture! So in my mind "a few short years ago" could easily go back to
the '70s! (Indeed, my first interactive video project was, I hesitate to
admit, in 1978!)

> Also, bear in mind that technology changes so quickly that often the
> best
> experts around have only 6 months experience, because that's how old
> the
> technology is!

I also take exception to this statement. Much of what occurs in IxD
these days, at least as it appears in the web space, is mostly a
different expression of what has been done in the past. It's only
expressed differently due to certain technological limitations or fads.
Some technology may be changing fast, but that in my experience doesn't
change the fundamentals about what interface design, and it's sibling
interaction design, is all about.

++ Point taken. Indeed, you are entirely correct -- the fundamentals are far
more consistent and enduring than the changing technologies. (I was just
trying to be encouraging to the new voices eager to enter the field!)

Here's my take on it: http://www.designbyfire.com/000012.html
Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

++ Excellent article. The plethora of titles is indeed confusing. "Interface
Designer" is OK by me! (The entire site is elegant and informative.)

++ Jim Hoekema
www.hoekema.com

Comments

28 Jan 2004 - 9:35pm
Todd Warfel
2003

On Jan 28, 2004, at 6:37 PM, Jim Hoekema wrote:

> Here's my take on it: http://www.designbyfire.com/000012.html

Interesting piece, but fundamentally flawed. And while I'd love for us
to simplify it to ONE title, a) I just don't see that happening and b)
it's not accurate. There are a couple of falsifications in your theory:

[snip]
Should we really expect interface designers to be experts in the fields
of graphic, information and interaction design? Absolutely. Should an
interface designer be expected to not only provide unique visual
solutions to a project in terms of aesthetic appeal, but also be able
to break down the complex interaction problems or large database
navigational problems? You bet.
[/snip]

Knowledgeable of? Sure. Experts at? No. These are interesting claims,
but you've not presented anything that supports this perspective.

Here's the main problem with this theory: Graphic design, information
architecture, and interaction design are three interdependent
disciplines. Graphic design focuses on visual design. Information
architecture focuses on organizational models. Interaction Design
focuses on the human-system interaction and the system's responses to
the human interaction. There's a reason why they're three
interdependent disciplines.

Being unique, yet interdependent disciplines, means that I can be a
graphic designer, but not that great at defining IA and interactions. I
could also be great at IA, having a background in something like
information science, or library science. I could be really great at
creating organizational models and taxonomies, but not know that much
about colour theory and screen balance. And I don't need to. Likewise,
I can be great at defining interactions, but lack proper knowledge in
colour theory, weight, typography, etc. And again, I don't need to know
those things to define interactions between a system and how it reacts
to human interaction.

[snip]
An interface designer should be able to draw icons and symbols, layout
complex information, determine pleasing color systems, create the
visual language that flows through a product, create a taxonomy,
architect a framework, understand how to optimize a workflow, know the
best way to create graceful error handling, and organize content so
that it can be consumed for its intended purpose.
[/snip]

Again, why? Great statement, but you're not supporting it.

[snip]
Just as we would expect any architect to be an expert, or at least well
versed and highly experienced in multiple disciplines, like physics,
landscaping, lighting, materials, human traffic patterns, to name a
few, we should expect the people designing the complex products in the
high technology field to understand multiple disciplines. If it turns
out that the job is overwhelming for one person to execute, then
they'll need to be able to lead a team from the point of view of a
multi-disciplinary position.
[/snip]

By this logic, architects should also be structural engineers and
interior decorators/designers. They're not. These too, much like our
discipline, are unique, yet interdependent disciplines. Architects
create organizational models for the structures of buildings. Engineers
make sure those structures can withstand environmental stresses and the
weight of the building. Finally, Interior decorators/designers are
responsible for making it look great - visual design. Architects and
engineers don't have to know that you should use one larger piece of
furniture instead of several small pieces to make smaller rooms look
bigger to do their job. And Interior Designers don't have to know how
much weight an I-Beam can hold to do their job.

I'm all for simpler models. But I just don't see this in our case.
Instead, I'd opt for educating.

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.
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28 Jan 2004 - 10:14pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 28, 2004, at 6:35 PM, Todd R.Warfel wrote:

> [snip]
> Should we really expect interface designers to be experts in the
> fields of graphic, information and interaction design? Absolutely.
> Should an interface designer be expected to not only provide unique
> visual solutions to a project in terms of aesthetic appeal, but also
> be able to break down the complex interaction problems or large
> database navigational problems? You bet.
> [/snip]
>
> Knowledgeable of? Sure. Experts at? No. These are interesting claims,
> but you've not presented anything that supports this perspective.

I did. In the examples of the products that need this sort of
multi-disciplinary approach to solving design problems. You may
disagree with my examples, or think my examples do not need this
multi-disciplinary expertise, but that does not mean I did not provide
them.

As for other evidence, the projects I have worked on (Photoshop,
Illustrator and InDesign, plus enterprise web applications and my new
project), and seeing how many of the some of the most high-profile
technology products are designed (which includes everything from Amazon
to Google to eBay to Windows and Mac OS X), has led me to this
conclusion.

> Here's the main problem with this theory: Graphic design, information
> architecture, and interaction design are three interdependent
> disciplines. Graphic design focuses on visual design. Information
> architecture focuses on organizational models. Interaction Design
> focuses on the human-system interaction and the system's responses to
> the human interaction. There's a reason why they're three
> interdependent disciplines.

As I stated, the problems in designing high-tech products of the future
will require people who can make the correct compromises between the
disciplines, and ones that also know how to make them work in concert
with each other. They may have teams of people who are specialists, but
they themselves will need to expertise across the board. That is the
claim.

> Being unique, yet interdependent disciplines, means that I can be a
> graphic designer, but not that great at defining IA and interactions.
> I could also be great at IA, having a background in something like
> information science, or library science. I could be really great at
> creating organizational models and taxonomies, but not know that much
> about colour theory and screen balance. And I don't need to. Likewise,
> I can be great at defining interactions, but lack proper knowledge in
> colour theory, weight, typography, etc. And again, I don't need to
> know those things to define interactions between a system and how it
> reacts to human interaction.

That's all fine and good. All I'm stating is that someone who can do
ALL those things is an Interface Designer. Maybe I shouldn't expect
everyone to be an interface designer, but I do expect we'll need more
people with a blend of skills as products and technology begin to
require more use of all the strengths of the three disciplines. Without
people who can deal with all of them, we'll have a balance problem.
Products like Amazon and Google already exemplify this balance problem.
As the products become more detached from a web browsers this balance
issues will become more problematic.

> [snip]
> An interface designer should be able to draw icons and symbols, layout
> complex information, determine pleasing color systems, create the
> visual language that flows through a product, create a taxonomy,
> architect a framework, understand how to optimize a workflow, know the
> best way to create graceful error handling, and organize content so
> that it can be consumed for its intended purpose.
> [/snip]
>
> Again, why? Great statement, but you're not supporting it.

Maybe you should ask a specific question if think I'm not supporting it.

> [snip]
> Just as we would expect any architect to be an expert, or at least
> well versed and highly experienced in multiple disciplines, like
> physics, landscaping, lighting, materials, human traffic patterns, to
> name a few, we should expect the people designing the complex products
> in the high technology field to understand multiple disciplines. If it
> turns out that the job is overwhelming for one person to execute, then
> they'll need to be able to lead a team from the point of view of a
> multi-disciplinary position.
> [/snip]
>
> By this logic, architects should also be structural engineers and
> interior decorators/designers. They're not. These too, much like our
> discipline, are unique, yet interdependent disciplines. Architects
> create organizational models for the structures of buildings.
> Engineers make sure those structures can withstand environmental
> stresses and the weight of the building. Finally, Interior
> decorators/designers are responsible for making it look great - visual
> design. Architects and engineers don't have to know that you should
> use one larger piece of furniture instead of several small pieces to
> make smaller rooms look bigger to do their job. And Interior Designers
> don't have to know how much weight an I-Beam can hold to do their job.

Actually, the really good architects do know quite a bit about those
things. They also know a lot more, like what kind of materials look
good when used together, how certain materials degrade in weather, how
sunlight plays inside an office space, how spatial relationships work
with human emotions, what kind of organization should be used in
maximizing the use of space, plus so much more.

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

28 Jan 2004 - 11:32pm
Todd Warfel
2003

On Jan 28, 2004, at 10:14 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> I did. In the examples of the products that need this sort of
> multi-disciplinary approach to solving design problems. [...]

You're arguing that Interface Designers need to be Graphic Designers,
Information Architects and Interaction Designers. You're trying to make
this argument by stating that:

A) an interface designer works on (complex) products
B) (complex) products need graphic design, information architecture,
and interaction design
C) therefore, interface designers must be all of the above

-or-

in other words A+B=C (which is not the case - what's more accurate is
A+B!=C)

That's hardly accurate. Stating that a product needs a
multi-disciplinary approach doesn't satisfy the argument that an
Interface Designer should be all these things. Rather, it satisfies the
argument that complex products typically need to draw from multiple
disciplines to ultimately be successful. That isn't to say that one
person should be required to do all of these. See previous example of
Architects.

> As for other evidence, the projects I have worked on (Photoshop,
> Illustrator and InDesign, plus enterprise web applications and my new
> project), and seeing how many of the some of the most high-profile
> technology products are designed (which includes everything from
> Amazon to Google to eBay to Windows and Mac OS X), has led me to this
> conclusion.

I don't doubt that you've worked on these products. And I commend you
on your achievements here. However, saying you've worked on particular
projects doesn't make the argument that interface designers should be
all of the following... Additionally, I've worked with Adobe, Apple,
Macromedia, and many other product companies in the past on interfaces
for their products. I'm fully aware of how the product is designed.
Some do work as you've described, while others, even ones you've
mentioned above, have split roles. Again, this hasn't made your
argument.

> As I stated, the problems in designing high-tech products of the
> future will require people who can make the correct compromises
> between the disciplines, and ones that also know how to make them work
> in concert with each other. They may have teams of people who are
> specialists, but they themselves will need to expertise across the
> board. That is the claim.

That is the claim. Here's the issue - to make a valid argument, you
typically:
1. make assumptions
2. based on your assumptions, you make a hypothesis (claim)
3. you test your hypothesis
4. you support your hypothesis with factual evidence from your tests

You've got 1 and 2, maybe 3, but 4 is still out there. It might be your
opinion that interface designers should be all of the following..., but
that doesn't make it true, nor correct, but rather your opinion. And in
today's environment, it's simply not true. Again, see the previous
example of Architect, Engineer, Interior Designer. You're arguing that
an Interface Designer should be able to do the job of the following...
Well, Architects can't do an Engineer's job, and rarely can they do an
Interior Designer's job.

> That's all fine and good. All I'm stating is that someone who can do
> ALL those things is an Interface Designer.

But they're not. You haven't proven that. We can disprove that
Interface Designers are information architects, interaction designers,
and graphic designers. The very definition of interface alone defies
your argument.

It's nothing personal. And incidentally, I've spent some time on your
site - there's some great stuff there, much of which I agree with. This
just doesn't happen to be one of them. And while I respect your claim,
I think your argument is flawed for reasons I've already stated.

> Actually, the really good architects do know quite a bit about those
> things.

Knowing quite a bit and being those disciplines isn't the same, which
is what your claim is. Here's what I'm basing my argument on:

It just so happens I'm at a university that has one of the top
Architecture and urban planning schools in the nation - Cornell.
Additionally, my brother-in-law is in a graduate architecture program,
and several of my closest friends in college were architects at the
number three architecture school in the nation (Ball State University).
Additionally, two of my close friends are interior designers, and my
wife's best friend is a structural engineer. We've had numerous
conversations about this. And here's what I've found out based on our
conversations:

The three most respected architects in the industry Frank Gehry, Frank
L. Wright, and I. Pei don't concern themselves with structural
engineering or interior design. In fact, Gehry has a staff off 120 who
try and figure out ways to structurally support his monsterous
creations. He sculpts and then lets them take over.

Structural engineers have a love-hate relationship with architects, as
they make the engineers jobs a living nightmare - always wanting to put
walls at angles that are next to impossible to support, not allowing
for supports in long rooms, crazy layouts, etc. But their job is to
support these structures and make sure the bridge doesn't fall, or the
monument doesn't crumble, or the ceiling doesn't fall in at the local
museum. This is not part of the architects job, nor should it be.
Making it part of the architects job would kill their creativity.

Graphic design, interface design, information architecture, and
interaction design is much like this relationship. They are
interdependent, but not one discipline as you suggest, or claim.

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.
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29 Jan 2004 - 2:09am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 28, 2004, at 8:32 PM, Todd R. Warfel wrote:

> You're arguing that Interface Designers need to be Graphic Designers,
> Information Architects and Interaction Designers. You're trying to
> make this argument by stating that:
>
> A) an interface designer works on (complex) products
> B) (complex) products need graphic design, information architecture,
> and interaction design
> C) therefore, interface designers must be all of the above

Actually, I stated that:

A) The interface is "The point of interaction or communication between
a computer and any other entity, such as a printer or human operator"

B) "...all applications require an interface"

C) "Great interfaces are delicate balancing acts between graphic,
information and interaction solutions to any design problem"

D) " To get that balance requires a person who can understand all of
the issues that need to be resolved within these three specialized
areas as they relate to each other."

And I claim that person is an interface designer. You seem to think,
maybe you don't, I don't know, that to get that balance does not
require a person who understands all the issues. I have yet to see a
project succeed on all levels without that person. If you know of a
project that has, please let me know.

>> As for other evidence, the projects I have worked on (Photoshop,
>> Illustrator and InDesign, plus enterprise web applications and my new
>> project), and seeing how many of the some of the most high-profile
>> technology products are designed (which includes everything from
>> Amazon to Google to eBay to Windows and Mac OS X), has led me to this
>> conclusion.
>
> I don't doubt that you've worked on these products. And I commend you
> on your achievements here. However, saying you've worked on particular
> projects doesn't make the argument that interface designers should be
> all of the following... Additionally, I've worked with Adobe, Apple,
> Macromedia, and many other product companies in the past on interfaces
> for their products. I'm fully aware of how the product is designed.
> Some do work as you've described, while others, even ones you've
> mentioned above, have split roles. Again, this hasn't made your
> argument.

So am I. I'm also keenly aware of many of the short-comings of many of
the products those companies make due to a LACK of interface designers,
or the split team approaches, or the fights that occur when a visual
designer doesn't understand why the interaction designer won't use a
treatment where the visuals imply a certain set of behaviors. Too many
teams are heavily weighted towards one side of the equation, or front
loaded with visual people only. Or interaction people only. Or
information people only. And when this happens, if the manager is only
experienced in one area, they will implicitly or unconciously weight
their decisions in favor of what they know.

Mac OS X is a classic example today where this imbalance is playing
out. It's a gorgeous looking OS, but it severely lacks in the behaviors
department. All the interaction people were let go. Jobs is pushing
eye-candy over function, and what you have now is a bunch of pretty
looking interface widgets that behave very badly. The dock anyone? The
new Finder in Panther? The Open dialog? All of them are train wrecks.

I won't speak about Macromedia for obvious reasons. As for Adobe, I'm
here today, I helped build the team. I know the problems, and again I
won't speak about them publicly for obvious reasons.

But just look around us. Look at eBay, Amazon or Google. Yahoo as well.
They are all lacking or heavily weighted towards one side of the
equation when it comes to the entire product offering. Seeing as how I
know most of the people working on these teams, and how small the
Valley is, I won't go on record in this forum airing my thoughts on the
specifics of the issues I see here.

But can you honestly tell me when you use Amazon that they have their
act together across the board? That the visual appearance is as up to
snuff as their ability to deliver product in more personalized forms?
That the navigation scheme they use makes any bit of sense, and so
little that everyone pretty ignores it and falls back on the search
function? That the manner with which you browse items really makes you
feel as good as browsing items in the store?

>> As I stated, the problems in designing high-tech products of the
>> future will require people who can make the correct compromises
>> between the disciplines, and ones that also know how to make them
>> work in concert with each other. They may have teams of people who
>> are specialists, but they themselves will need to expertise across
>> the board. That is the claim.
>
> That is the claim. Here's the issue - to make a valid argument, you
> typically:
> 1. make assumptions
> 2. based on your assumptions, you make a hypothesis (claim)
> 3. you test your hypothesis
> 4. you support your hypothesis with factual evidence from your tests

Most of my factual evidence would come from getting into specifics
about the companies I have worked for, and that would do nothing but
get me in trouble. Further evidence would come from knowing what I know
about how many companies operate, and that would not make me many
friends. As I said, in the Valley, everyone knows everyone, so I'll
resist the urge to publicly vent on the state of affairs here.

So instead, I ask you this: How many technology products out there are
well designed? (I can count the number on one hand.) I mean really well
designed, that hit all cylinders, cover all bases, and hum perfectly?
Why is that the case? I'd be interested to here what you think the root
of the problem is, because from my point of view, it comes from the
people working on the products, and lack of design vision that
encompasses the entirety of the design problem as it relates to
high-tech. That entirety being graphic, information and interaction
design.

>> That's all fine and good. All I'm stating is that someone who can do
>> ALL those things is an Interface Designer.
>
> But they're not. You haven't proven that. We can disprove that
> Interface Designers are information architects, interaction designers,
> and graphic designers. The very definition of interface alone defies
> your argument.

The definition of the interface is stated in my article. Given that an
interface comprises of visual, information and interaction design
solutions, how does that defy my argument?

> It just so happens I'm at a university that has one of the top
> Architecture and urban planning schools in the nation - Cornell.

A very good friend of mine went to Cornell as well in the architecture
school. His opinion on the matter of multi-disciplinary seems to be in
line with mine on this subject, and a large part of it was due to his
experience at school. I'll have to ask him for more specifics on his
opinion.

> Structural engineers have a love-hate relationship with architects, as
> they make the engineers jobs a living nightmare - always wanting to
> put walls at angles that are next to impossible to support, not
> allowing for supports in long rooms, crazy layouts, etc.

Imagine what it would be like if those architects knew better, eh?

> But their job is to support these structures and make sure the bridge
> doesn't fall, or the monument doesn't crumble, or the ceiling doesn't
> fall in at the local museum. This is not part of the architects job,
> nor should it be. Making it part of the architects job would kill
> their creativity.

I would make this comparison as the same one as the designer and the
engineers who work with them to make the product. That sounds pretty
close to what I do with many of the engineers I work with at Adobe.

> Graphic design, interface design, information architecture, and
> interaction design is much like this relationship. They are
> interdependent, but not one discipline as you suggest, or claim.

I am not suggesting they are one discipline. I said an interface
designer needs to master all three. I said, "Interface design is the
larger role, comprised of three smaller categories, areas of specialty
that we are already familiar with: graphic design, information design
and interaction design."

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

29 Jan 2004 - 2:48am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 28, 2004, at 11:12 PM, Bob Baxley wrote:

> Unfortunately, what breaks this auteur approach is simply the scale of
> many of these efforts. When you talk about an Amazon or an eBay or a
> Schwab, it's just not possible for a single individual -- or even a
> small, unified team of individuals -- to handle the whole thing in a
> timely manner.

My experience has been similar to this. From my point of view, however,
it's not just the scale, which is indeed massive on many projects. It
also tends to be two other factors:

1) Disagreements between the various specialized teams. IOW, graphic
designers who don't understand interaction designers who don't grok
information designers who don't get along with graphic designers. One
big vicious cycle. This can compounded with managers who tend to favor
one over the other, whether intentional or not.

2) Since there is often not a unified front, or a single person with a
creative vision managing the "Big Picture," the teams or individual
contributors have to fight a very steep uphill battle when working with
other department to execute good work above and beyond the difficult
problems involved with everyday design.

Which was one of the reasons I brought up the need for a person who can
make the call on the various issues without sacrificing any one of them
at the altar. A person that had expertise or was at least well versed
across the board.

> Finally, in a somewhat different vein, I also think we have to stop
> fooling ourselves by saying that designers don't need to be concerned
> with technology. An interaction designer has to be able to express
> their designs in an interactive manner and that means possessing a
> meaningful command and understanding of an interactive tool, be it
> VisualBASIC, MM Director, HTML, or even PowerPoint. In the same way
> that architects understand the physics of buildings and graphic
> designers understand the mechanics of paper, ink, and printing
> presses, interaction designers have to understand computers as a
> medium.

Amen to that! This point right here cannot be stressed enough these
days, IMHO. But that is a whole topic unto itself.

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

29 Jan 2004 - 2:49am
Bob Baxley
2004

I question whether the drive towards team-oriented design is a result
of needing a wider range of skills or simply an issue of scale. For
example, although the large Web companies all take a multi-disciplined
team approach, the result is at best mediocre -- and that's being
generous.

Amazon has devolved into a complete visual jungle; Yahoo! is stuck in
1998; Google is little more than a text box and an overburdened results
page; and eBay is undeniably the most pathetically designed large-scale
site on the Web.

Now compare that to the auteur-style efforts of the blogosphere --
examples are many but clearly include Andrei's site -- and you have to
conclude that there exists a significant, though not necessarily
sufficient, number of individuals who possess the requisite visual,
interactive, and information design skills to create and world-class
Web site. While that doesn't necessarily mean these people would pass
for true polymaths, it does mean they have the required capacity to
envision, develop, and express a singular, comprehensive creative
vision.

In fact, I would argue that it is exactly that singular vision which is
both a prerequisite of a great product and fundamentally counter to the
natural compromises of a multi-disciplined team. That's not to say that
a good designer shouldn't supplement their efforts with targeted
experts, but the evidence before us -- in terms of the sites I
mentioned -- supports the conclusion that it is not only possible for
an individual to produce great work on their own but that it may
actually be impossible for a team to do the same.

Unfortunately, what breaks this auteur approach is simply the scale of
many of these efforts. When you talk about an Amazon or an eBay or a
Schwab, it's just not possible for a single individual -- or even a
small, unified team of individuals -- to handle the whole thing in a
timely manner.

Finally, in a somewhat different vein, I also think we have to stop
fooling ourselves by saying that designers don't need to be concerned
with technology. An interaction designer has to be able to express
their designs in an interactive manner and that means possessing a
meaningful command and understanding of an interactive tool, be it
VisualBASIC, MM Director, HTML, or even PowerPoint. In the same way
that architects understand the physics of buildings and graphic
designers understand the mechanics of paper, ink, and printing presses,
interaction designers have to understand computers as a medium.

........................................................................
..
Bob Baxley :: Design for Interaction

design :: www.baxleydesign.com
blog :: www.drowninginthecurrent.com

On Jan 28, 2004, at 8:32 PM, Todd R.Warfel wrote:

>
> On Jan 28, 2004, at 10:14 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:
>
>> I did. In the examples of the products that need this sort of
>> multi-disciplinary approach to solving design problems. [...]
>
> You're arguing that Interface Designers need to be Graphic Designers,
> Information Architects and Interaction Designers. You're trying to
> make this argument by stating that:
>
> A) an interface designer works on (complex) products
> B) (complex) products need graphic design, information architecture,
> and interaction design
> C) therefore, interface designers must be all of the above
>
> -or-
>
> in other words A+B=C (which is not the case - what's more accurate is
> A+B!=C)
>
> That's hardly accurate. Stating that a product needs a
> multi-disciplinary approach doesn't satisfy the argument that an
> Interface Designer should be all these things. Rather, it satisfies
> the argument that complex products typically need to draw from
> multiple disciplines to ultimately be successful. That isn't to say
> that one person should be required to do all of these. See previous
> example of Architects.
>
>> As for other evidence, the projects I have worked on (Photoshop,
>> Illustrator and InDesign, plus enterprise web applications and my new
>> project), and seeing how many of the some of the most high-profile
>> technology products are designed (which includes everything from
>> Amazon to Google to eBay to Windows and Mac OS X), has led me to this
>> conclusion.
>
> I don't doubt that you've worked on these products. And I commend you
> on your achievements here. However, saying you've worked on particular
> projects doesn't make the argument that interface designers should be
> all of the following... Additionally, I've worked with Adobe, Apple,
> Macromedia, and many other product companies in the past on interfaces
> for their products. I'm fully aware of how the product is designed.
> Some do work as you've described, while others, even ones you've
> mentioned above, have split roles. Again, this hasn't made your
> argument.
>
>> As I stated, the problems in designing high-tech products of the
>> future will require people who can make the correct compromises
>> between the disciplines, and ones that also know how to make them
>> work in concert with each other. They may have teams of people who
>> are specialists, but they themselves will need to expertise across
>> the board. That is the claim.
>
> That is the claim. Here's the issue - to make a valid argument, you
> typically:
> 1. make assumptions
> 2. based on your assumptions, you make a hypothesis (claim)
> 3. you test your hypothesis
> 4. you support your hypothesis with factual evidence from your tests
>
> You've got 1 and 2, maybe 3, but 4 is still out there. It might be
> your opinion that interface designers should be all of the
> following..., but that doesn't make it true, nor correct, but rather
> your opinion. And in today's environment, it's simply not true. Again,
> see the previous example of Architect, Engineer, Interior Designer.
> You're arguing that an Interface Designer should be able to do the job
> of the following... Well, Architects can't do an Engineer's job, and
> rarely can they do an Interior Designer's job.
>
>> That's all fine and good. All I'm stating is that someone who can do
>> ALL those things is an Interface Designer.
>
> But they're not. You haven't proven that. We can disprove that
> Interface Designers are information architects, interaction designers,
> and graphic designers. The very definition of interface alone defies
> your argument.
>
> It's nothing personal. And incidentally, I've spent some time on your
> site - there's some great stuff there, much of which I agree with.
> This just doesn't happen to be one of them. And while I respect your
> claim, I think your argument is flawed for reasons I've already
> stated.
>
>> Actually, the really good architects do know quite a bit about those
>> things.
>
> Knowing quite a bit and being those disciplines isn't the same, which
> is what your claim is. Here's what I'm basing my argument on:
>
> It just so happens I'm at a university that has one of the top
> Architecture and urban planning schools in the nation - Cornell.
> Additionally, my brother-in-law is in a graduate architecture program,
> and several of my closest friends in college were architects at the
> number three architecture school in the nation (Ball State
> University). Additionally, two of my close friends are interior
> designers, and my wife's best friend is a structural engineer. We've
> had numerous conversations about this. And here's what I've found out
> based on our conversations:
>
> The three most respected architects in the industry Frank Gehry, Frank
> L. Wright, and I. Pei don't concern themselves with structural
> engineering or interior design. In fact, Gehry has a staff off 120 who
> try and figure out ways to structurally support his monsterous
> creations. He sculpts and then lets them take over.
>
> Structural engineers have a love-hate relationship with architects, as
> they make the engineers jobs a living nightmare - always wanting to
> put walls at angles that are next to impossible to support, not
> allowing for supports in long rooms, crazy layouts, etc. But their job
> is to support these structures and make sure the bridge doesn't fall,
> or the monument doesn't crumble, or the ceiling doesn't fall in at the
> local museum. This is not part of the architects job, nor should it
> be. Making it part of the architects job would kill their creativity.
>
> Graphic design, interface design, information architecture, and
> interaction design is much like this relationship. They are
> interdependent, but not one discipline as you suggest, or claim.
>
> 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.
> _______________________________________________
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29 Jan 2004 - 6:08am
Narey, Kevin
2004

Andrei wrote:

"The definition of the interface is stated in my article."

This is not strictly true Andrei. You have not stated the definition of
interface as it is defined in dictionary.com.

Actual definition:

in*ter*face
<https://secure.reference.com/premium/login.html?rd=2&u=http%3A%2F%2Fdiction
ary.reference.com%2Fsearch%3Fq%3Dinterface> Audio pronunciation of
"interface" ( P )
<http://dictionary.reference.com/help/ahd4/pronkey.html> Pronunciation Key
( <http://cache.lexico.com/dictionary/graphics/AHD4/GIF/ibreve.gif> n
<http://cache.lexico.com/dictionary/graphics/AHD4/GIF/prime.gif> t
<http://cache.lexico.com/dictionary/graphics/AHD4/GIF/schwa.gif> r-f
<http://cache.lexico.com/dictionary/graphics/AHD4/GIF/amacr.gif> s
<http://cache.lexico.com/dictionary/graphics/AHD4/GIF/lprime.gif> )
n.

1. A surface forming a common boundary between adjacent regions,
bodies, substances, or phases.

2. A point at which independent systems or diverse groups interact:
"the interface between crime and politics where much of our reality is to be
found" (Jack Kroll).

3. Computer Science.

a. The point of interaction or communication between a computer and any
other entity, such as a printer or human operator.

b. The layout of an application's graphic or textual controls in
conjunction with the way the application responds to user activity: an
interface whose icons were hard to remember.

Why did you delete the first and second definition? Do you not feel that
these define 'interface' well enough?

If anything they are more relevant to me than no 3. and would be the sole
reason why I would state that while an interesting synopsis on what you
perceive to be Interaction Design, it is flawed from the start.

I see the problem being that we are trying to name ourselves in a format
that is not 'usable' to those who we would hope would use it to define us.
My recent experience is that no one understands "Interaction Design" as it
'sounds' exclusive. If we constantly refer to what we do as being exclusive
to computer science, then we will not be 'accepted' by those who fear
'computer science' - these folks are our users.

Regards

KN

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29 Jan 2004 - 10:22am
Todd Warfel
2003

On Jan 29, 2004, at 2:09 AM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> [...] I have yet to see a project succeed on all levels without that
> person. If you know of a project that has, please let me know.

AT&T Wireless eCommerce site. It was done with team of:

(2) Information Architects
(1) Usability Specialist
(4) Visual Designers
(1) Art Director
(1) Creative Director
(10) Developers

A very successful model, which as increased conversion rates, decreased
support costs, decreased acquisition costs, reduced bail-out rates. The
list goes on. And there are more:

the automobile, Nokia's cell phone interface, the original Apple GUI,
etc.

> [...] Too many teams are heavily weighted towards one side of the
> equation, or front loaded with visual people only. Or interaction
> people only. Or information people only. And when this happens, if the
> manager is only experienced in one area, they will implicitly or
> unconciously weight their decisions in favor of what they know.

Agreed.

> Mac OS X is a classic example today where this imbalance is playing
> out. It's a gorgeous looking OS, but it severely lacks in the
> behaviors department. All the interaction people were let go. Jobs is
> pushing eye-candy over function, and what you have now is a bunch of
> pretty looking interface widgets that behave very badly. The dock
> anyone? The new Finder in Panther? The Open dialog? All of them are
> train wrecks.

The dock and finder work. And work well. They're very functional. Both
are great for increasing productivity (allow users to quickly access
regularly used items), keeping users aware of system status (ability
too show how many new mail messages you have), etc. They each have
their pitfalls, as every system and solution does, but they are by no
means a train wreck.

"Train wreck" wreck is a personal opinion. I would be interested in
seeing some evidence that they are "severely lacking in behaviors" or
that they don't function.

I agree they could be improved, as all systems could be. But they're
very functional, productive, and usable.

And if it's the "trash can" isn't in a stable location argument -
please! It's always at the right side of the Dock. We've tested this
"theory" in some work I'm doing here at Cornell and people don't seem
to have a problem with it. They find the trash can just fine.

> But can you honestly tell me when you use Amazon that they have their
> act together across the board? That the visual appearance is as up to
> snuff as their ability to deliver product in more personalized forms?
> That the navigation scheme they use makes any bit of sense, and so
> little that everyone pretty ignores it and falls back on the search
> function? That the manner with which you browse items really makes you
> feel as good as browsing items in the store?

Different medium than a store, but Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes. We've tested
eCommerce sites as well here at Cornell, as well as large index like
Yahoo! And users are able to satisfy your questions above. Again
without a great deal of problems (usability or interaction).

> Most of my factual evidence would come from getting into specifics
> about the companies I have worked for, and that would do nothing but
> get me in trouble. Further evidence would come from knowing what I
> know about how many companies operate, and that would not make me many
> friends.

I can respect confidentiality, but that really doesn't help us here.
Are there other non-confidential supporting elements you can provide?

> So instead, I ask you this: How many technology products out there are
> well designed? (I can count the number on one hand.) I mean really
> well designed, that hit all cylinders, cover all bases, and hum
> perfectly?

Perfectly, I can't really think of many. That "work" well, I can think
of dozens. Just a couple: the automobile, my Asco washer and dryer, the
wrist watch, Google, Apple's Mail application, iTunes, iPhoto, iDVD,
iMovie, etc.

But there are far more that fall short: Flash - very powerful, but
could be easier to use. It's gotten much better over the years.
Illustrator - seriously, why don't we have underlined text and
multi-page support with master pages (real multi-page support). Word -
where do I begin?

> The definition of the interface is stated in my article. Given that an
> interface comprises of visual, information and interaction design
> solutions, how does that defy my argument?

American Heritage Dictionary:
in·ter·face   n.
3. Computer Science. a. The point of interaction or communication
between a computer and any other entity, such as a printer or human
operator.
b. The layout of an application's graphic or textual controls in
conjunction with the way the application responds to user activity:
an interface whose icons were hard to remember.

WordNet 1997 © Princeton University
2: (computer science) a program that controls a display for the user
(usually on a computer monitor) and that allows the user to interact
with the system [syn: user interface]

Both these definitions focus on the visual display element - the point
at which a user interacts with a system. They do not infer anything in
relation to information architecture. WordNet doesn't include
interaction, but rather states that it "allows the user to interact"
with the system. American Heritage infers a relationship between visual
display and the way an application responds to user activity
(interaction design). So, by definition, visual display is included,
interaction has a relationship with, but isn't necessarily included,
and information architecture is not included. That's why I said that
the very definition of interface defies your argument.

It is possible that we need to update the definition, if you are
correct that interface design includes visual display, interaction, and
information architecture. I don't think it does, but if it's determined
that it does, we should update the definitions.

> A very good friend of mine went to Cornell as well in the architecture
> school. His opinion on the matter of multi-disciplinary seems to be in
> line with mine on this subject, and a large part of it was due to his
> experience at school. I'll have to ask him for more specifics on his
> opinion.

I guess this is the part that needs clarification. Are you proposing
that:

a) each unique, yet interdependent discipline have knowledge and
appreciation for the others
b) they are not unique, interdependent disciplines, they are all one
discipline and here's why...
c) something else

I'm in agreement with A, but not B for reasons previously stated. If
it's C, I'd be interested to see...

> I am not suggesting they are one discipline. I said an interface
> designer needs to master all three. I said, "Interface design is the
> larger role, comprised of three smaller categories, areas of specialty
> that we are already familiar with: graphic design, information design
> and interaction design."

It's the master all three that concerns me. Jack of all trades, master
of none. Visual design is much more subjective than interaction and IA.
Interaction and IA can be tested, proved, etc. Visual design is much
more difficult to (dis)prove, since it is so subjective.

In the decade or so that I've been doing this, I've come across only a
handful of people who are truly exceptional visual designers,
information architects, and interaction designers all in one package.
I've come across a dozen or so who are truly exceptional at information
architecture and interaction design in one package. I've come across
hundreds of individuals that are truly exceptional visual designers,
truly exceptional information architects, or truly exceptional
interaction designers as individual disciplines.

Possible? Yes. Probable? Not really. I think Cooper explains the
reasoning why rather well - we each have different, yet interdependent
goals. So, our focus is different. Our goals are different (same high
level goal of great product, but different granular goals).

Thoughts?

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.
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29 Jan 2004 - 12:44pm
Nick Ragouzis
2004

Bob,

This is a great comment on the whole topic. Pragmatics and practice as weighed and balanced against vision and idealized
realization, or something like that. Sounds a bit like the (big-A) architecture conundrum. Which brings me to ...

Coryndon,

I think your comment is great too. But there is something going on here that is fundamentally different than (big-A) architecture.
For starters:
* the client *can* build it a piece at a time
* their competitive stance depends on -- is defined by, perhaps --
their ability to alter and transform not only the realization
but also the <namespace:architecture>program</> itself.

Put another way, if big-Architecture clients *could* define and realize the program piecemeal, they would. If realization of the
project could be done piece-wise, it too would be. So we don't want to carry the derived/related attributes to interaction design.

. . .

Interaction design does share at least one other problem with <big-A> architecture: we both, differently, define the interface in
the wrong location.

In November 2003 I sat for Peter Eisenman's "state of Architecture" talk. From my notes: "architecture at a cross-roads; buildings
make no sense" ... and, wonderfully: "Some of these projects are so long, that by the time they are done, you either wish you hadn't
or forgot why." Wish you hadn't, forgot why: you'd fought for the project, or fought with the client or with some co- or sub or
(jr./sr.) partner for this or that aspect/feature. Overall, including a discourse concerning Guy Debord's spectacle, it was a
capitulation to my observation that Experience Design will overtake Architecture as the omnibus design discipline, an unexpectedly
early capitulation.

The interface definition mis-location error is this:

* Eisenman's Architecture wants to be about the interface
between the social and the need for structure. This puts
Architecture's program at odds with it's unfolding, and
is the root of outcomes and the need for transform of that
practice such as Eisenman reports in his longer comments.
(It's also what drives the individual architect, in an
attempt to animate the project, into hilarious levels of
prayer and incantation in the search for abstractions
suitable for inspiration and realization of program
into form and function.)

* Interaction designers, it seems, want the interface to be
between the people and the artifact ... but that is a
one-off error brought on by the materials they are working
with. Here the interface (truly) is WITHIN AN INDIVIDUAL:
finding it's peak between the marshalling of a need or
desire, and their ability to realize it.

Interaction designers design things that do their work at
-that- interface (even though the "work" is carried out at
another interface). This is more like a composer's (music)
problem than anything that Architecture -really- is.

But actually, I'm not directing this post at Architecture, but rather at the nature of interaction design on it's largest pitch:
enterprises.

There I think we are avoiding the obvious, which Bob restates for us. We may want our interaction designers to *be* polymaths, but
to get their benefits we don't want them to need to perform as such. This is not unique for interaction design: substitute most
other discipline: E.g., Corporate lawyers also believe that problems stem from errors in fundamental concepts and in
concept-to-realization errors throughout their realization and performance.

Enterprises are busy doing many things. And underneath it all they are busy untangling these global dependencies. Right now it seems
as though interaction design wants to be the glue at *every* stage. That won't work at larger scales in ordinary everyday projects.
So if we want to play there we have to change our approach. Or, the approach we define can't be laid there, our practice can't be a
centralized-global-scope-or-nothing proposition.

Ask it another way: What if the interaction designer of the future (also, mostly) will be measured by their ability to work at late
stages, or only on separate components, and still realize the measurable benefits at the actual interface they target? What if they
will be expected to use enterprise data and business structures (operational and product-offering level) that have common reuse and
multiple value streams throughout the enterprise, some of which they will create; but most not? (Much of which the enterprise's
competition will create. :-) )

I think, then, interaction designers will have to be able to define the necessary attributes of a component (those that are
necessary for that component to make an effective contribution to the real user-internal interface ... whenever and wherever that
component later appears) separate from driving, or even understanding, or even having a clue about, the "big picture." On that last
point, especially because (but not only because) single-source whole interactions are on their way to extinction, where they will be
limited to unique occasions.

Well, the result is certain to be varied, but I'd guess bi-modal: interaction designers working with Experience Designers as
Architects (working with some Information Architects) in envisioning the big abstractions, most never actually built as envisioned;
and working as Interaction Engineers helping to specify pathways and new kinds of component-level interface presentations for other
components and other designers to use (working with component developers, Usability specialists, and some Information Architects).

Everywhere else in that distribution interaction designers will play small roles along side "ordinary" mission-dedicated designers
of every stripe working within enterprise. These mission designers will take inspiration and advice and some skills from
interaction/etc designers, but mostly what's most crucial to interaction design will be already in the components these mission
designers work with, for their using and tweaking ... or not.

Thus the team orientation takes on an characteristic depending on it's time: a mission-based approach at integration and realization
time; an R&D-based approach at component design time. Either may be led by interaction design, or any discipline based on
enterprise-driven advantage.

But note what's missing (at this point): an actionable specification of underlying, component-level, characteristics for effective
interactions.

If you think that's impossible, or counter to the integrative-parsimonious nature of interaction design ... well fine, you might be
right. I'm troubled by that too.

But I also see that in the design of interactions you can be way way wrong-ish, but still be enterprise-level-and-timeframes
effective for the targeted user -- this LOWERS (not raises) the barriers, allowing enterprises much more flexibility, giving them
more choices. In this Information Architecture (limited to little-a, its real locus) has to be more *right* than Interaction Design.

Perhaps.

Best,
--Nick

29 Jan 2004 - 1:34pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 29, 2004, at 7:22 AM, Todd R.Warfel wrote:

> AT&T Wireless eCommerce site. It was done with team of:

A specific URL would be in order. From the looks of AT&T general site,
I would have to disagree with you so far.

>> Mac OS X is a classic example today where this imbalance is playing
>> out. It's a gorgeous looking OS, but it severely lacks in the
>> behaviors department. All the interaction people were let go. Jobs is
>> pushing eye-candy over function, and what you have now is a bunch of
>> pretty looking interface widgets that behave very badly. The dock
>> anyone? The new Finder in Panther? The Open dialog? All of them are
>> train wrecks.
>
> The dock and finder work. And work well. They're very functional. Both
> are great for increasing productivity (allow users to quickly access
> regularly used items), keeping users aware of system status (ability
> too show how many new mail messages you have), etc. They each have
> their pitfalls, as every system and solution does, but they are by no
> means a train wreck.
>
> "Train wreck" wreck is a personal opinion. I would be interested in
> seeing some evidence that they are "severely lacking in behaviors" or
> that they don't function.

By this statement, I can already see we have much ground to traverse. I
will be more than happy to put together a dissertation on every single
issue known to be poorly designed about the Dock, the new Finder and
the Open dialogs. It will take me some time however as there are many,
and I have more pressing things to do.

For starters, I'll point you to some of the more obvious problems with
the Dock, as pointed out by Tog.

http://www.asktog.com/columns/044top10docksucks.html

>> But can you honestly tell me when you use Amazon that they have their
>> act together across the board? That the visual appearance is as up to
>> snuff as their ability to deliver product in more personalized forms?
>> That the navigation scheme they use makes any bit of sense, and so
>> little that everyone pretty ignores it and falls back on the search
>> function? That the manner with which you browse items really makes
>> you feel as good as browsing items in the store?
>
> Different medium than a store, but Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes. We've
> tested eCommerce sites as well here at Cornell, as well as large index
> like Yahoo! And users are able to satisfy your questions above. Again
> without a great deal of problems (usability or interaction).

Just because someone can execute a task with a design does not mean it
is well designed. If you feel Amazon is well designed, then again, we
have much ground to traverse. So much so that I'm beginning to wonder
if it would even be a valuable exercise to get into specifics.

Do *YOU* think the visual appearance of amazon is up to snuff? Do *YOU*
think Yahoo!'s design is up to snuff? Do you think Amazon's navigation
scheme works? Look at my original questions.

Here's a great analogy. Target. Recently they've been getting better
designed products from the likes of Graves Deign. They also worked on
their branding. They upped the ante with better design and marketing
and it seems to be working. But before, what they had was fine, wasn't
it? It "worked." But now they are pulling ahead of K-Mart and Sears in
many respects.

The same sort of thing will happen in high-tech. things "work" today,
but they are not well designed. The ones that start to get it together
with well-designed will pull ahead. Why? Because people react
positively to well designed products. In the case of high-tech, well
designed means it has to work on multiple levels, visual, information
and interaction.

>> So instead, I ask you this: How many technology products out there
>> are well designed? (I can count the number on one hand.) I mean
>> really well designed, that hit all cylinders, cover all bases, and
>> hum perfectly?
>
> Perfectly, I can't really think of many. That "work" well, I can think
> of dozens. Just a couple: the automobile, my Asco washer and dryer,
> the wrist watch, Google, Apple's Mail application, iTunes, iPhoto,
> iDVD, iMovie, etc.

Apple's Mail application drives me nuts. I'd be more than happy to
write a dissertation on it as well if you like. So does iPhoto and iDVD
for different reasons. And you can see my opinions on Google in my
redesign project on my site.

http://www.designbyfire.com/000039.html

As for the other products you mention, many of them are well designed,
but few of them have true high-tech components on board yet. When I say
high-tech, I mean software components. They are coming, but most of
them lack the kind of interface component that I'm talking about today.
When washing machines start to have display interfaces, watch how bad
they will be if we use the standards we have today.

> But there are far more that fall short: Flash - very powerful, but
> could be easier to use. It's gotten much better over the years.
> Illustrator - seriously, why don't we have underlined text and
> multi-page support with master pages (real multi-page support). Word -
> where do I begin?

For Illustrator, if you know anything about typography, you know that
underlining is a bastard deformation on type created because typing
machines lacked true typographic functionality. That it exists to today
even though we have overcome technical limitations is another topic.
Illustrator was built by purists, (me being part of that club), to put
underlining in as a a feature would be like bring back the Los Angeles
font from the original Mac in 1984. It's just bad design and encourages
bad design.

As for multiple pages, that is what InDesign is for. Illustrator was
never designed to be a page layout program. It was made to draw vector
illustrations. To add multiple page support to it would put the same
burden on it that we have in developing in InDesign. Since we already
make InDesign, why on earth should we duplicate the effort with
Illustrator when we need to focus on other more important features and
usability issues? (NOTE: I am but one voice inside Adobe. DO NOT take
my words as policy. I have no idea what the Illustrator team is doing
next time round as I focus on a new project.)

> Both these definitions focus on the visual display element - the point
> at which a user interacts with a system. They do not infer anything in
> relation to information architecture. WordNet doesn't include
> interaction, but rather states that it "allows the user to interact"
> with the system. American Heritage infers a relationship between
> visual display and the way an application responds to user activity
> (interaction design). So, by definition, visual display is included,
> interaction has a relationship with, but isn't necessarily included,
> and information architecture is not included. That's why I said that
> the very definition of interface defies your argument.

So, are you saying that once an information architect comes up with
model to navigate a system, a database or taxonomy, they just sort of
publish it somehow and people can read it offline and just sort of
ponder it all? That they would never INTERFACE with that work? Are you
debating for the sake of debating or do you have a point?

> It is possible that we need to update the definition, if you are
> correct that interface design includes visual display, interaction,
> and information architecture. I don't think it does, but if it's
> determined that it does, we should update the definitions.

Then why don't you tell us what you think. It's becoming hard to
understand what you stand for. You already know know my position.

>> I am not suggesting they are one discipline. I said an interface
>> designer needs to master all three. I said, "Interface design is the
>> larger role, comprised of three smaller categories, areas of
>> specialty that we are already familiar with: graphic design,
>> information design and interaction design."
>
> It's the master all three that concerns me. Jack of all trades, master
> of none. Visual design is much more subjective than interaction and
> IA. Interaction and IA can be tested, proved, etc. Visual design is
> much more difficult to (dis)prove, since it is so subjective.

I didn't say Jack of all trade master of none, you are seeming to infer
that. I said expert in an all three. I meant an EXPERT in all three.

And visuals can be tested FWIW. Its not as subjective as one would
think. Graphic design is about communication, not about art.
Communication can be tested as it relates to how effective the
communication is. what becomes subjective is that certain people,
usually marketing type, don't like the manner of the communication,
even though it works, and make changes purely on emotion instead of
practical factors.

> In the decade or so that I've been doing this, I've come across only a
> handful of people who are truly exceptional visual designers,
> information architects, and interaction designers all in one package.
> I've come across a dozen or so who are truly exceptional at
> information architecture and interaction design in one package. I've
> come across hundreds of individuals that are truly exceptional visual
> designers, truly exceptional information architects, or truly
> exceptional interaction designers as individual disciplines.
>
> Possible? Yes. Probable? Not really. I think Cooper explains the
> reasoning why rather well - we each have different, yet interdependent
> goals. So, our focus is different. Our goals are different (same high
> level goal of great product, but different granular goals).

I would claim the reason there aren't more people heading down the
"polymath" road is that schools don't teach this way and that people
are not encouraged to go down this path. As Coryndon said, "Those who
argue that it is impossible to master both the aesthetic and the
functional are copping out. It is possible, there are many wonderful
product designers who prove it every day."

I completely agree with this assessment.

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

29 Jan 2004 - 1:34pm
Bob Baxley
2004

Todd,

A few retorts to one of your recent messages.

You said...

--- snip --
Perfectly, I can't really think of many. That "work" well, I can think
of dozens. Just a couple: the automobile, my Asco washer and dryer, the
wrist watch, Google, Apple's Mail application, iTunes, iPhoto, iDVD,
iMovie, etc.
-- end snip --

Although I could take issue with the automobile and the wrist watch
examples, I'll leave those for another day. As for Google, it's hardly
a UI masterpiece so much as it's simply a more effective search engine.
I'd put it more on par with Walmart, McDonalds, and Dell. Successful to
be sure, but more in spite of design than because of it.

Which brings us to your last 5 examples, all of which are from Apple.
The notable thing about the work coming out of Apple right now is that
every last pixel, click, screw, and cable is reviewed, examined, and
decided on by a single individual: Steve Jobs. Not unlike the Lord of
Rings trilogy, what you are seeing from Apple is the large-scale
expression of one man's tyrannical, dictatorial, exceptional taste. To
my knowledge, Apple has closed their usability labs and does not
perform focus groups for product concepts. Steve and the designers that
work for him are following their own vision and bringing that to
fruition in the same way as a novelist and songwriter.

Clearly not a reproducible method for most organizations but definitely
a data point that multi-disciplined committees (er, I mean teams) do
not necessarily trump the efforts of talented individuals.

Later you said...

-- snip --
Visual design is much more subjective than interaction and IA.
Interaction and IA can be tested, proved, etc. Visual design is much
more difficult to (dis)prove, since it is so subjective.
-- end snip --

I definitely take exception to this statement on two fronts. First,
visual design is NOT subjective -- unless it's decoration, in which
case it's not design. Design as a discipline and a grand tradition, is
unimpeachably a practice of analytical problem solving. Visual design,
if it is to be called design, has to solve a stated and understood
communication problem. For example, Paul Rand's original UPS logo
successfully communicated meaning about the company and their purpose.
Compare that to their new logo which is little more than a meaningless
shape, a fashion statement, a multi-million dollar junk of eye candy
that's likely to be replaced as soon as the executives grow tired of
it.

Any time you hear someone evaluate a design by using the phrase, "I
don't like..." you can be assured that you have left the realm of
design and entered the transient, commoditized, and soon to be
off-shored, world of style and fashion.

Similarly, I would argue that the belief that IA and interaction design
solutions can be "proven" is one of the greatest lies and liabilities
ever foisted upon the design profession. While I'm a great advocate of
validating solutions with actual users, I also know that there is a lot
of nuance and subtlety to those designs that can never be effectively
tested or evaluated. The vast majority of usability tests are performed
on users who are seeing the product or a particular piece of
functionality for the first time. As a result, those tests are really
about the discoverability and learnability of the design. For some
products, perhaps even most products, those two dimensions of the
design are indeed the most important. However, for a host of other
products, Photoshop for example, the more important dimension is
efficiency of use, a dimension that I've never seen tested.

At the end of the day I'd put it like this: design is a discipline
devoted to analytical problem solving. The degree to which a design is
successful is the degree to which it solves a stated and understood
problem. Similarly, the value of an individual designer is determined
by their ability to successfully solve such problems in a repeatable,
predictable, and observable manner.

Not to preach too loud but... Design is not guesswork. Design is not
magic. And design is not subjective.

Finally, thanks for sending out the summary. A nice job of thinning the
underbrush and improving our view of the trees.

...Bob

........................................................................
..
Bob Baxley :: Design for Interaction

design :: www.baxleydesign.com
blog :: www.drowninginthecurrent.com

On Jan 29, 2004, at 7:22 AM, Todd R.Warfel wrote:

>
> On Jan 29, 2004, at 2:09 AM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:
>
>> [...] I have yet to see a project succeed on all levels without that
>> person. If you know of a project that has, please let me know.
>
> AT&T Wireless eCommerce site. It was done with team of:
>
> (2) Information Architects
> (1) Usability Specialist
> (4) Visual Designers
> (1) Art Director
> (1) Creative Director
> (10) Developers
>
> A very successful model, which as increased conversion rates,
> decreased support costs, decreased acquisition costs, reduced bail-out
> rates. The list goes on. And there are more:
>
> the automobile, Nokia's cell phone interface, the original Apple GUI,
> etc.
>
>> [...] Too many teams are heavily weighted towards one side of the
>> equation, or front loaded with visual people only. Or interaction
>> people only. Or information people only. And when this happens, if
>> the manager is only experienced in one area, they will implicitly or
>> unconciously weight their decisions in favor of what they know.
>
> Agreed.
>
>> Mac OS X is a classic example today where this imbalance is playing
>> out. It's a gorgeous looking OS, but it severely lacks in the
>> behaviors department. All the interaction people were let go. Jobs is
>> pushing eye-candy over function, and what you have now is a bunch of
>> pretty looking interface widgets that behave very badly. The dock
>> anyone? The new Finder in Panther? The Open dialog? All of them are
>> train wrecks.
>
> The dock and finder work. And work well. They're very functional. Both
> are great for increasing productivity (allow users to quickly access
> regularly used items), keeping users aware of system status (ability
> too show how many new mail messages you have), etc. They each have
> their pitfalls, as every system and solution does, but they are by no
> means a train wreck.
>
> "Train wreck" wreck is a personal opinion. I would be interested in
> seeing some evidence that they are "severely lacking in behaviors" or
> that they don't function.
>
> I agree they could be improved, as all systems could be. But they're
> very functional, productive, and usable.
>
> And if it's the "trash can" isn't in a stable location argument -
> please! It's always at the right side of the Dock. We've tested this
> "theory" in some work I'm doing here at Cornell and people don't seem
> to have a problem with it. They find the trash can just fine.
>
>> But can you honestly tell me when you use Amazon that they have their
>> act together across the board? That the visual appearance is as up to
>> snuff as their ability to deliver product in more personalized forms?
>> That the navigation scheme they use makes any bit of sense, and so
>> little that everyone pretty ignores it and falls back on the search
>> function? That the manner with which you browse items really makes
>> you feel as good as browsing items in the store?
>
> Different medium than a store, but Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes. We've
> tested eCommerce sites as well here at Cornell, as well as large index
> like Yahoo! And users are able to satisfy your questions above. Again
> without a great deal of problems (usability or interaction).
>
>> Most of my factual evidence would come from getting into specifics
>> about the companies I have worked for, and that would do nothing but
>> get me in trouble. Further evidence would come from knowing what I
>> know about how many companies operate, and that would not make me
>> many friends.
>
> I can respect confidentiality, but that really doesn't help us here.
> Are there other non-confidential supporting elements you can provide?
>
>> So instead, I ask you this: How many technology products out there
>> are well designed? (I can count the number on one hand.) I mean
>> really well designed, that hit all cylinders, cover all bases, and
>> hum perfectly?
>
> Perfectly, I can't really think of many. That "work" well, I can think
> of dozens. Just a couple: the automobile, my Asco washer and dryer,
> the wrist watch, Google, Apple's Mail application, iTunes, iPhoto,
> iDVD, iMovie, etc.
>
> But there are far more that fall short: Flash - very powerful, but
> could be easier to use. It's gotten much better over the years.
> Illustrator - seriously, why don't we have underlined text and
> multi-page support with master pages (real multi-page support). Word -
> where do I begin?
>
>> The definition of the interface is stated in my article. Given that
>> an interface comprises of visual, information and interaction design
>> solutions, how does that defy my argument?
>
> American Heritage Dictionary:
> in·ter·face   n.
> 3. Computer Science. a. The point of interaction or communication
> between a computer and any other entity, such as a printer or human
> operator.
> b. The layout of an application's graphic or textual controls in
> conjunction with the way the application responds to user activity:
> an interface whose icons were hard to remember.
>
> WordNet 1997 © Princeton University
> 2: (computer science) a program that controls a display for the user
> (usually on a computer monitor) and that allows the user to interact
> with the system [syn: user interface]
>
> Both these definitions focus on the visual display element - the point
> at which a user interacts with a system. They do not infer anything in
> relation to information architecture. WordNet doesn't include
> interaction, but rather states that it "allows the user to interact"
> with the system. American Heritage infers a relationship between
> visual display and the way an application responds to user activity
> (interaction design). So, by definition, visual display is included,
> interaction has a relationship with, but isn't necessarily included,
> and information architecture is not included. That's why I said that
> the very definition of interface defies your argument.
>
> It is possible that we need to update the definition, if you are
> correct that interface design includes visual display, interaction,
> and information architecture. I don't think it does, but if it's
> determined that it does, we should update the definitions.
>
>
>> A very good friend of mine went to Cornell as well in the
>> architecture school. His opinion on the matter of multi-disciplinary
>> seems to be in line with mine on this subject, and a large part of it
>> was due to his experience at school. I'll have to ask him for more
>> specifics on his opinion.
>
> I guess this is the part that needs clarification. Are you proposing
> that:
>
> a) each unique, yet interdependent discipline have knowledge and
> appreciation for the others
> b) they are not unique, interdependent disciplines, they are all one
> discipline and here's why...
> c) something else
>
> I'm in agreement with A, but not B for reasons previously stated. If
> it's C, I'd be interested to see...
>
>> I am not suggesting they are one discipline. I said an interface
>> designer needs to master all three. I said, "Interface design is the
>> larger role, comprised of three smaller categories, areas of
>> specialty that we are already familiar with: graphic design,
>> information design and interaction design."
>
> It's the master all three that concerns me. Jack of all trades, master
> of none. Visual design is much more subjective than interaction and
> IA. Interaction and IA can be tested, proved, etc. Visual design is
> much more difficult to (dis)prove, since it is so subjective.
>
> In the decade or so that I've been doing this, I've come across only a
> handful of people who are truly exceptional visual designers,
> information architects, and interaction designers all in one package.
> I've come across a dozen or so who are truly exceptional at
> information architecture and interaction design in one package. I've
> come across hundreds of individuals that are truly exceptional visual
> designers, truly exceptional information architects, or truly
> exceptional interaction designers as individual disciplines.
>
> Possible? Yes. Probable? Not really. I think Cooper explains the
> reasoning why rather well - we each have different, yet interdependent
> goals. So, our focus is different. Our goals are different (same high
> level goal of great product, but different granular goals).
>
> Thoughts?
>
> 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.
> _______________________________________________
> 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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29 Jan 2004 - 1:38pm
Todd Warfel
2003

AT&T Wireless can be found at http://attwireless.com

On Jan 29, 2004, at 1:34 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> A specific URL would be in order. From the looks of AT&T general site,
> I would have to disagree with you so far.

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.
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29 Jan 2004 - 1:52pm
Todd Warfel
2003

Bob,

Thanks for your insightful retort. I would agree that Google is hardly
a UI masterpiece from a visual design perspective, which is precisely
why I prefaced my statement with "'work' well." Google works. And from
an interface and interaction perspective, it's a success. Could it have
a better visual design that is more appealing? I don't think any of us
would argue against that.

On Apple - from what I have read, they dissolved their UE group.
However, they still perform focus groups and user testing on their
applications. I've had direct conversations with some of their leads on
several of the applications mentioned in my post. So, while it might
seem like a tyrannical run, it in fact is not. Yes, Jobs has heavy
influence, he is after all the captain of the ship. But I can assure
you that the designs are not all based on and validated by his personal
opinions. There is real user research and validation going on.

Whether we like it or not, visual design is typically equated to style.
Which is why it is typically considered subjective. There are elements,
which can be tested, like the size of icons. That you are correct in.
However, items like colour, which tends to be a significant driver in
visual design, are subjective. I won't debate that colour theory is
valid, I'm a firm believer in it. But at the end of the day, if the CEO
hates blue, then you find another colour. That is why I say it becomes
subjective.

That's not to say the IA and interaction design cannot be subjective,
as they can be, technically. However, this is less of an issue for
these disciplines, as we have reliable, accepted methods for testing
and measuring these.

On Jan 29, 2004, at 1:34 PM, Bob Baxley wrote:

> Todd,
>
> A few retorts to one of your recent messages.
>
> You said...
>
> --- snip --
> Perfectly, I can't really think of many. That "work" well, I can think
> of dozens. Just a couple: the automobile, my Asco washer and dryer,
> the wrist watch, Google, Apple's Mail application, iTunes, iPhoto,
> iDVD, iMovie, etc.
> -- end snip --
>
> Although I could take issue with the automobile and the wrist watch
> examples, I'll leave those for another day. As for Google, it's hardly
> a UI masterpiece so much as it's simply a more effective search
> engine. I'd put it more on par with Walmart, McDonalds, and Dell.
> Successful to be sure, but more in spite of design than because of it.
>
> Which brings us to your last 5 examples, all of which are from Apple.
> The notable thing about the work coming out of Apple right now is that
> every last pixel, click, screw, and cable is reviewed, examined, and
> decided on by a single individual: Steve Jobs. Not unlike the Lord of
> Rings trilogy, what you are seeing from Apple is the large-scale
> expression of one man's tyrannical, dictatorial, exceptional taste. To
> my knowledge, Apple has closed their usability labs and does not
> perform focus groups for product concepts. Steve and the designers
> that work for him are following their own vision and bringing that to
> fruition in the same way as a novelist and songwriter.
>
> Clearly not a reproducible method for most organizations but
> definitely a data point that multi-disciplined committees (er, I mean
> teams) do not necessarily trump the efforts of talented individuals.
>
> Later you said...
>
> -- snip --
> Visual design is much more subjective than interaction and IA.
> Interaction and IA can be tested, proved, etc. Visual design is much
> more difficult to (dis)prove, since it is so subjective.
> -- end snip --
>
> I definitely take exception to this statement on two fronts. First,
> visual design is NOT subjective -- unless it's decoration, in which
> case it's not design. Design as a discipline and a grand tradition, is
> unimpeachably a practice of analytical problem solving. Visual design,
> if it is to be called design, has to solve a stated and understood
> communication problem. For example, Paul Rand's original UPS logo
> successfully communicated meaning about the company and their purpose.
> Compare that to their new logo which is little more than a meaningless
> shape, a fashion statement, a multi-million dollar junk of eye candy
> that's likely to be replaced as soon as the executives grow tired of
> it.
>
> Any time you hear someone evaluate a design by using the phrase, "I
> don't like..." you can be assured that you have left the realm of
> design and entered the transient, commoditized, and soon to be
> off-shored, world of style and fashion.
>
> Similarly, I would argue that the belief that IA and interaction
> design solutions can be "proven" is one of the greatest lies and
> liabilities ever foisted upon the design profession. While I'm a great
> advocate of validating solutions with actual users, I also know that
> there is a lot of nuance and subtlety to those designs that can never
> be effectively tested or evaluated. The vast majority of usability
> tests are performed on users who are seeing the product or a
> particular piece of functionality for the first time. As a result,
> those tests are really about the discoverability and learnability of
> the design. For some products, perhaps even most products, those two
> dimensions of the design are indeed the most important. However, for a
> host of other products, Photoshop for example, the more important
> dimension is efficiency of use, a dimension that I've never seen
> tested.
>
> At the end of the day I'd put it like this: design is a discipline
> devoted to analytical problem solving. The degree to which a design is
> successful is the degree to which it solves a stated and understood
> problem. Similarly, the value of an individual designer is determined
> by their ability to successfully solve such problems in a repeatable,
> predictable, and observable manner.
>
> Not to preach too loud but... Design is not guesswork. Design is not
> magic. And design is not subjective.
>
> Finally, thanks for sending out the summary. A nice job of thinning
> the underbrush and improving our view of the trees.
>
> ...Bob
>
> .......................................................................
> ...
> Bob Baxley :: Design for Interaction
>
> design :: www.baxleydesign.com
> blog :: www.drowninginthecurrent.com
>
>
> On Jan 29, 2004, at 7:22 AM, Todd R.Warfel wrote:
>
>>
>> On Jan 29, 2004, at 2:09 AM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:
>>
>>> [...] I have yet to see a project succeed on all levels without that
>>> person. If you know of a project that has, please let me know.
>>
>> AT&T Wireless eCommerce site. It was done with team of:
>>
>> (2) Information Architects
>> (1) Usability Specialist
>> (4) Visual Designers
>> (1) Art Director
>> (1) Creative Director
>> (10) Developers
>>
>> A very successful model, which as increased conversion rates,
>> decreased support costs, decreased acquisition costs, reduced
>> bail-out rates. The list goes on. And there are more:
>>
>> the automobile, Nokia's cell phone interface, the original Apple GUI,
>> etc.
>>
>>> [...] Too many teams are heavily weighted towards one side of the
>>> equation, or front loaded with visual people only. Or interaction
>>> people only. Or information people only. And when this happens, if
>>> the manager is only experienced in one area, they will implicitly or
>>> unconciously weight their decisions in favor of what they know.
>>
>> Agreed.
>>
>>> Mac OS X is a classic example today where this imbalance is playing
>>> out. It's a gorgeous looking OS, but it severely lacks in the
>>> behaviors department. All the interaction people were let go. Jobs
>>> is pushing eye-candy over function, and what you have now is a bunch
>>> of pretty looking interface widgets that behave very badly. The dock
>>> anyone? The new Finder in Panther? The Open dialog? All of them are
>>> train wrecks.
>>
>> The dock and finder work. And work well. They're very functional.
>> Both are great for increasing productivity (allow users to quickly
>> access regularly used items), keeping users aware of system status
>> (ability too show how many new mail messages you have), etc. They
>> each have their pitfalls, as every system and solution does, but they
>> are by no means a train wreck.
>>
>> "Train wreck" wreck is a personal opinion. I would be interested in
>> seeing some evidence that they are "severely lacking in behaviors" or
>> that they don't function.
>>
>> I agree they could be improved, as all systems could be. But they're
>> very functional, productive, and usable.
>>
>> And if it's the "trash can" isn't in a stable location argument -
>> please! It's always at the right side of the Dock. We've tested this
>> "theory" in some work I'm doing here at Cornell and people don't seem
>> to have a problem with it. They find the trash can just fine.
>>
>>> But can you honestly tell me when you use Amazon that they have
>>> their act together across the board? That the visual appearance is
>>> as up to snuff as their ability to deliver product in more
>>> personalized forms? That the navigation scheme they use makes any
>>> bit of sense, and so little that everyone pretty ignores it and
>>> falls back on the search function? That the manner with which you
>>> browse items really makes you feel as good as browsing items in the
>>> store?
>>
>> Different medium than a store, but Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes. We've
>> tested eCommerce sites as well here at Cornell, as well as large
>> index like Yahoo! And users are able to satisfy your questions above.
>> Again without a great deal of problems (usability or interaction).
>>
>>> Most of my factual evidence would come from getting into specifics
>>> about the companies I have worked for, and that would do nothing but
>>> get me in trouble. Further evidence would come from knowing what I
>>> know about how many companies operate, and that would not make me
>>> many friends.
>>
>> I can respect confidentiality, but that really doesn't help us here.
>> Are there other non-confidential supporting elements you can provide?
>>
>>> So instead, I ask you this: How many technology products out there
>>> are well designed? (I can count the number on one hand.) I mean
>>> really well designed, that hit all cylinders, cover all bases, and
>>> hum perfectly?
>>
>> Perfectly, I can't really think of many. That "work" well, I can
>> think of dozens. Just a couple: the automobile, my Asco washer and
>> dryer, the wrist watch, Google, Apple's Mail application, iTunes,
>> iPhoto, iDVD, iMovie, etc.
>>
>> But there are far more that fall short: Flash - very powerful, but
>> could be easier to use. It's gotten much better over the years.
>> Illustrator - seriously, why don't we have underlined text and
>> multi-page support with master pages (real multi-page support). Word
>> - where do I begin?
>>
>>> The definition of the interface is stated in my article. Given that
>>> an interface comprises of visual, information and interaction design
>>> solutions, how does that defy my argument?
>>
>> American Heritage Dictionary:
>> in·ter·face   n.
>> 3. Computer Science. a. The point of interaction or
>> communication between a computer and any other entity, such as a
>> printer or human operator.
>> b. The layout of an application's graphic or textual controls in
>> conjunction with the way the application responds to user activity:
>> an interface whose icons were hard to remember.
>>
>> WordNet 1997 © Princeton University
>> 2: (computer science) a program that controls a display for the user
>> (usually on a computer monitor) and that allows the user to interact
>> with the system [syn: user interface]
>>
>> Both these definitions focus on the visual display element - the
>> point at which a user interacts with a system. They do not infer
>> anything in relation to information architecture. WordNet doesn't
>> include interaction, but rather states that it "allows the user to
>> interact" with the system. American Heritage infers a relationship
>> between visual display and the way an application responds to user
>> activity (interaction design). So, by definition, visual display is
>> included, interaction has a relationship with, but isn't necessarily
>> included, and information architecture is not included. That's why I
>> said that the very definition of interface defies your argument.
>>
>> It is possible that we need to update the definition, if you are
>> correct that interface design includes visual display, interaction,
>> and information architecture. I don't think it does, but if it's
>> determined that it does, we should update the definitions.
>>
>>
>>> A very good friend of mine went to Cornell as well in the
>>> architecture school. His opinion on the matter of multi-disciplinary
>>> seems to be in line with mine on this subject, and a large part of
>>> it was due to his experience at school. I'll have to ask him for
>>> more specifics on his opinion.
>>
>> I guess this is the part that needs clarification. Are you proposing
>> that:
>>
>> a) each unique, yet interdependent discipline have knowledge and
>> appreciation for the others
>> b) they are not unique, interdependent disciplines, they are all one
>> discipline and here's why...
>> c) something else
>>
>> I'm in agreement with A, but not B for reasons previously stated. If
>> it's C, I'd be interested to see...
>>
>>> I am not suggesting they are one discipline. I said an interface
>>> designer needs to master all three. I said, "Interface design is the
>>> larger role, comprised of three smaller categories, areas of
>>> specialty that we are already familiar with: graphic design,
>>> information design and interaction design."
>>
>> It's the master all three that concerns me. Jack of all trades,
>> master of none. Visual design is much more subjective than
>> interaction and IA. Interaction and IA can be tested, proved, etc.
>> Visual design is much more difficult to (dis)prove, since it is so
>> subjective.
>>
>> In the decade or so that I've been doing this, I've come across only
>> a handful of people who are truly exceptional visual designers,
>> information architects, and interaction designers all in one package.
>> I've come across a dozen or so who are truly exceptional at
>> information architecture and interaction design in one package. I've
>> come across hundreds of individuals that are truly exceptional visual
>> designers, truly exceptional information architects, or truly
>> exceptional interaction designers as individual disciplines.
>>
>> Possible? Yes. Probable? Not really. I think Cooper explains the
>> reasoning why rather well - we each have different, yet
>> interdependent goals. So, our focus is different. Our goals are
>> different (same high level goal of great product, but different
>> granular goals).
>>
>> Thoughts?
>>
>> 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.
>> _______________________________________________
>> 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
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>> --
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>
>

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.
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29 Jan 2004 - 2:25pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 29, 2004, at 10:52 AM, Todd R.Warfel wrote:

> I would agree that Google is hardly a UI masterpiece from a visual
> design perspective, which is precisely why I prefaced my statement
> with "'work' well." Google works. And from an interface and
> interaction perspective, it's a success. Could it have a better visual
> design that is more appealing? I don't think any of us would argue
> against that.

Interesting. That was the context of the point I made originally, but
yet you still included Google in your list of examples.

I asked: "So instead, I ask you this: How many technology products out
there are well designed? (I can count the number on one hand.) I mean
really well designed, that hit all cylinders, cover all bases, and hum
perfectly?"

And you included Google, but now you admit they don't have the visual
piece in place. When I said, "hit all cylinders, cover all bases," I
was doing so in the context of graphic, information and interaction
design. They have to excel in all three areas to be well designed.

> On Apple - from what I have read, they dissolved their UE group.
> However, they still perform focus groups and user testing on their
> applications. I've had direct conversations with some of their leads
> on several of the applications mentioned in my post. So, while it
> might seem like a tyrannical run, it in fact is not. Yes, Jobs has
> heavy influence, he is after all the captain of the ship. But I can
> assure you that the designs are not all based on and validated by his
> personal opinions. There is real user research and validation going
> on.

Apple largely ignores most of the critical user testing these days. If
Jobs doesn't think its a problem, it's largely ignored. Further, what
Jobs has always been good at is fad or fetish design. Design of the
moment. His aesthetics and direction hardly last past a few a years
however. Anyone still want those candy colored, oddly shaped iMacs that
were so "in" just four years ago?

The work being done right now on the Mac will not last the test of
time. It's looks faddish, it behaves poorly, and application decisions
are made more as to what's in fashion or ahead of the fashion than what
really works over the long haul. The arbitrariness of switching from
brushed metal windows to normal windows and now the new Wood Panelling
found in Garage Band only point to the larger problems in the design of
the Mac OS. The switch from tabs to glowing blue pills in Panther is
another. Then there's there the multitude of poorly designed utility
apps, like Print, Font Book, System Preferences, AirPort mixed with
Network Preferences, I could go on.

> Whether we like it or not, visual design is typically equated to
> style. Which is why it is typically considered subjective.

This point is largely a problem on our side. Whenever someone tells me
this, I can assure you I never let them get away with it. Just ask
around here at Adobe and you'll hear from everyone that I never let
people think all I was a stylist. Ever. If anyone ever tries to put me
into the corner, they are in a for a serious headache. The only to stop
this is to not allow it to occur.

> There are elements, which can be tested, like the size of icons. That
> you are correct in. However, items like colour, which tends to be a
> significant driver in visual design, are subjective. I won't debate
> that colour theory is valid, I'm a firm believer in it. But at the end
> of the day, if the CEO hates blue, then you find another colour. That
> is why I say it becomes subjective.

That has little to do with the overall communication aspect of graphic
design. If you are forced to use blue, then you make a color system
that works that is based on that color and get through it. You solve
the problem, and that means solving the problem with a known set of
circumstances in place. Being forced to use blue is no different than
understanding that a certain paper type soaks up ink a certain way so
you have to avoid small type point sizes.

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

29 Jan 2004 - 2:28pm
Christian Simon
2003

Andrei wrote:
>As I stated, the problems in designing high-tech products of the future
>will require people who can make the correct compromises between the
>disciplines, and ones that also know how to make them work in concert
>with each other. They may have teams of people who are specialists, but
>they themselves will need to expertise across the board.

This is an interesting argument. Undoubtedly all these skills are relevant
to IxD. I don¹t think there is any disagreement there. I believe that there
is a flaw in the conclusion that the future will require this in one
designer.

I wonder with so many years at Adobe if your professional perspective is
slanted to the Adobe culture? I agree, Adobe creates great products. Is this
is a marker of the roles and responsibilities of IxD, or a combination of
skills that are successful for the power politics in Adobe?

The GUI is commercially available for 20 years (thanks to Mac for the
anniversary). Anything before that, PARC, or east coast labs, is research.
To truly define IxD as a ³title² is to look at the professional / commercial
side. Within some company cultures certain combinations of skills are
relevant and invoke power as being effective to get products to market. Not
that this should drive the definition.

As Jenifer said, before she couldn¹t escape the engineer title, but now, I
would take a leap and say, few companies would not accept a distinction.
my2c.
xtian

29 Jan 2004 - 2:22pm
Jim Leftwich
2004

The following statement is so patently untrue that I don't even know
where to begin. Frank Lloyd Wright, (who though spoken of here in the
present tense, died decades ago), "didn't concern himself with
interior design"?!?!? Nor was involved with structural engineering?

As the saying goes - "That's not right. That's not even wrong."

All three of these architects were, and two still are, magnificent
generalists. If one has toured Wright homes and buildings, one would
know of the great deal of furniture, windows, and interior detail that
he created. His was a language that extended from site to building to
interior to objects. And as far as structural engineering goes, it's
one thing to say that there are large structural engineering staffs
NECESSARY to handle physical architectures on the scale these people
work at (seriously, the vast majority of software and devices are no
where near as large-scale in complexity as the Guggenheim Museum), and
the outrageously incorrect statement of "don't concern themselves."

I'm enjoying our threads here, but let's keep our facts straight.

Jim

James Leftwich, IDSA
Director, Human Interface + Industrial Design
PEMSTAR Pacific Consultants
San Jose, CA

On Jan 28, 2004, at 10:12 PM, Todd R.Warfel wrote:

> The three most respected architects in the industry Frank Gehry,
Frank L. Wright, and I. Pei don't
> concern themselves with structural engineering or interior design.
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29 Jan 2004 - 2:34pm
Todd Warfel
2003

Train wreck is a personal opinion. You'll have a tough time proving
that the Dock and Finder in Panther are train wrecks.

I've read Tog several times. He seems to be stuck in Classic Mac OS
land. He argues that things would be great if they just went back to
the way they were. We've observed hundreds of MacOS users migrating
from Classic Mac OS to X and noticed significant improvements in
usability and productivity. His claims don't appear to be be based on
observing people and how they actually use the interface. If they were,
then I'm sure he'd adjust some of these claim. To refute some of his
claims:

9. big and clumsy - he claims it's a problem. We've observed hundreds
of users on OS X. Roughly 20% hide it, or shrink it down to a very
small size. Most don't seem to a) think it's as much of a problem as
Tog states b) show that it is big and clumsy. Additionally, their
actual use doesn't seem to show this. It's not perfect, but it does
provide users with a (loosely) organized method to access frequent
applications and documents. It could be improved with additional
methods to organize these applications and documents (e.g. by task,
type, or usage).

7. objects have no label - For applications this is less of an issue as
they have unique icons. For documents, they have labels on rollovers.
This becomes a problem if the typical user minimizes every document, or
lots of documents they're working on. This simply isn't the case from
our findings. First, that's not normal behavior, which is something the
Dock won't address anyway. Second, this is addressed with Exposé. Which
could be improved with labels beyond just rollover.

5. Trash can belongs in the corner - it is in the corner. It's always
in the right corner. It stays in the right corner. Yes, it's the right
corner of the Dock, but that's a pretty predictable, consistent place.
It might move within a 70pxl radius, but again, that doesn't seem to be
a problem from our observations.

4. The Dock's locations are unpredictable - they don't move. However,
the satisficing model does dictate that if we won't remember where
exactly in the Dock items are placed if we hide the Dock. So, if one
hides the Dock, then scrubbing becomes an issue. However, they'll still
have quicker access than going out to the Finder to access these items.
So, he's partially right here.

1. Dock adds bad behavior - when an element disappears into a puff of
smoke, users could be scared that their item has disappeared
completely. Could be, but typically aren't. We're not all as dumb as
Tog would like to make you think. Although, we've tested some very
unsavvy participants over the years. We've observed that users think
this is a cool feature, not a scary one. Additionally, their behavior
doesn't indicate that it's a problem. Not really a usability data
point.

As for the interfaces for Amazon, Google, etc. we grade how well they
"work" based on task analysis, user goals, and business goals. Those
applications satisfy user goals and business goals, while having solid
branding, visual appeal, messaging, and allowing users to accomplish
common tasks. That makes them work. Personally, I think Yahoo! is a
mess and eBay, while functional, is just plain visually unappealing.

How do you define "up to snuff?"

On Illustrator, yeah, I've heard the argument "Illustrator wasn't meant
for multiple pages, InDesign was..." That's all well and good, but
there's a very large audience using Illustrator for IA work. InDesign
wasn't meant for drawing. What do you do when you have 80 drawings that
you need to send to a client in a PDF? Make 80 .ai files and import
them into InDesign - that's a workflow nightmare. Illustrator works
great for wireframes, but the lack of multiple pages and master pages
makes it very difficult. The argument "was originally created for"
simply doesn't hold. Take a look at how people are using the technology
and adapt it. Macromedia has done it very successfully with Flash -
from animation to an entire application creation environment. Why?
Because they saw how people were using it and adjusted accordingly. It
can be done. And besides, Adobe would be able to capture a larger
market share in an industry that desperately needs better tools.

Underlining and the purists argument - can't we get past this already?
You allow it in InDesign and PhotoShop. So, that doesn't seem to hold
up very well. Again, it comes back to how people are using it. If
someone wants to show underlined text links in a wireframe or visual
design done in Illustrator, they have to manually put lines under the
text. Try doing that in an 80 page (layer) wireframe. Then move one.
Nightmare. All because "a purist doesn't want to bastardize a font with
underlining." Come on, is that really a valid argument that makes
logical sense? Especially considering that InDesign and PhotoShop allow
it? It isn't about what we want, but rather how we use it. Adopt,
overcome, get beyond the "purist" attitude.

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.

On Jan 29, 2004, at 1:34 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> By this statement, I can already see we have much ground to traverse.
> I will be more than happy to put together a dissertation on every
> single issue known to be poorly designed about the Dock, the new
> Finder and the Open dialogs. It will take me some time however as
> there are many, and I have more pressing things to do.
>
> For starters, I'll point you to some of the more obvious problems with
> the Dock, as pointed out by Tog.
>
> http://www.asktog.com/columns/044top10docksucks.html

> Just because someone can execute a task with a design does not mean it
> is well designed. If you feel Amazon is well designed, then again, we
> have much ground to traverse. So much so that I'm beginning to wonder
> if it would even be a valuable exercise to get into specifics.
>
> Do *YOU* think the visual appearance of amazon is up to snuff? Do
> *YOU* think Yahoo!'s design is up to snuff? Do you think Amazon's
> navigation scheme works? Look at my original questions.
>
> Here's a great analogy. Target. Recently they've been getting better
> designed products from the likes of Graves Deign. They also worked on
> their branding. They upped the ante with better design and marketing
> and it seems to be working. But before, what they had was fine, wasn't
> it? It "worked." But now they are pulling ahead of K-Mart and Sears in
> many respects.
>
> The same sort of thing will happen in high-tech. things "work" today,
> but they are not well designed. The ones that start to get it together
> with well-designed will pull ahead. Why? Because people react
> positively to well designed products. In the case of high-tech, well
> designed means it has to work on multiple levels, visual, information
> and interaction.

> Apple's Mail application drives me nuts. I'd be more than happy to
> write a dissertation on it as well if you like. So does iPhoto and
> iDVD for different reasons. And you can see my opinions on Google in
> my redesign project on my site.
>
> http://www.designbyfire.com/000039.html
>
> As for the other products you mention, many of them are well designed,
> but few of them have true high-tech components on board yet. When I
> say high-tech, I mean software components. They are coming, but most
> of them lack the kind of interface component that I'm talking about
> today. When washing machines start to have display interfaces, watch
> how bad they will be if we use the standards we have today.
>

> For Illustrator, if you know anything about typography, you know that
> underlining is a bastard deformation on type created because typing
> machines lacked true typographic functionality. That it exists to
> today even though we have overcome technical limitations is another
> topic. Illustrator was built by purists, (me being part of that club),
> to put underlining in as a a feature would be like bring back the Los
> Angeles font from the original Mac in 1984. It's just bad design and
> encourages bad design.
>
> As for multiple pages, that is what InDesign is for. Illustrator was
> never designed to be a page layout program. It was made to draw vector
> illustrations. To add multiple page support to it would put the same
> burden on it that we have in developing in InDesign. Since we already
> make InDesign, why on earth should we duplicate the effort with
> Illustrator when we need to focus on other more important features and
> usability issues? (NOTE: I am but one voice inside Adobe. DO NOT take
> my words as policy. I have no idea what the Illustrator team is doing
> next time round as I focus on a new project.)

> So, are you saying that once an information architect comes up with
> model to navigate a system, a database or taxonomy, they just sort of
> publish it somehow and people can read it offline and just sort of
> ponder it all? That they would never INTERFACE with that work? Are you
> debating for the sake of debating or do you have a point?
>
> Then why don't you tell us what you think. It's becoming hard to
> understand what you stand for. You already know know my position.

>
> I didn't say Jack of all trade master of none, you are seeming to
> infer that. I said expert in an all three. I meant an EXPERT in all
> three.
>
> And visuals can be tested FWIW. Its not as subjective as one would
> think. Graphic design is about communication, not about art.
> Communication can be tested as it relates to how effective the
> communication is. what becomes subjective is that certain people,
> usually marketing type, don't like the manner of the communication,
> even though it works, and make changes purely on emotion instead of
> practical factors.
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29 Jan 2004 - 2:37pm
Todd Warfel
2003

My comment was:

Perfectly, I can't really think of many. That "work" well, I can think
of dozens. Just a couple: the automobile, my Asco washer and dryer, the
wrist watch, Google, Apple's Mail application, iTunes, iPhoto, iDVD,
iMovie, etc.

[...]

And by working well, I included a description of satisfying goals and
task analysis. By that description, Google still fits.

On Jan 29, 2004, at 2:25 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> I asked: "So instead, I ask you this: How many technology products out
> there are well designed? (I can count the number on one hand.) I mean
> really well designed, that hit all cylinders, cover all bases, and hum
> perfectly?"

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.
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29 Jan 2004 - 2:43pm
Narey, Kevin
2004

Bob wrote:

At the end of the day I'd put it like this: design is a discipline devoted
to analytical problem solving. The degree to which a design is successful is
the degree to which it solves a stated and understood problem. Similarly,
the value of an individual designer is determined by their ability to
successfully solve such problems in a repeatable, predictable, and
observable manner.

Not to preach too loud but... Design is not guesswork. Design is not magic.
And design is not subjective.

I cannot agree your categorical assertion that visual design is not
subjective.
The very definition of design - in any English dictionary will state in not
so many words, that there are very many faculties of design both in
communication, art and science that it will only ever be both objective and
subjective in the context of it's application. Sure we will follow patterns
to solve problems, but who first solved those problems - was that not an act
of pure and unadulterated subjectivity?

In the context of visual design, it is well documented and observed that to
attempt to solve an original design problem visually you subjectively make
conclusions based on your application of art science and communication - you
may not have any knowledge of any of those three - did Mozart at the age of
4? I cite Mullett and Sano's 'Designing Visual Interfaces', which I believe
eloquently describes some fundamental facets of visual design. On the basis
that we subjectively make choices to solve or plan out the solution to a
problem are you saying that all design has already been done and that we
only solve problems following in our designerly predecessors footsteps?

Regards

KN

-----Original Message-----
From: Todd R.Warfel [mailto:lists at mk27.com]
Sent: 29 January 2004 18:53
To: Bob Baxley
Cc: Interaction Designers
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] : How to Get Into ... Best Job Title

Bob,

Thanks for your insightful retort. I would agree that Google is hardly a UI
masterpiece from a visual design perspective, which is precisely why I
prefaced my statement with "'work' well." Google works. And from an
interface and interaction perspective, it's a success. Could it have a
better visual design that is more appealing? I don't think any of us would
argue against that.

On Apple - from what I have read, they dissolved their UE group. However,
they still perform focus groups and user testing on their applications. I've
had direct conversations with some of their leads on several of the
applications mentioned in my post. So, while it might seem like a tyrannical
run, it in fact is not. Yes, Jobs has heavy influence, he is after all the
captain of the ship. But I can assure you that the designs are not all based
on and validated by his personal opinions. There is real user research and
validation going on.

Whether we like it or not, visual design is typically equated to style.
Which is why it is typically considered subjective. There are elements,
which can be tested, like the size of icons. That you are correct in.
However, items like colour, which tends to be a significant driver in visual
design, are subjective. I won't debate that colour theory is valid, I'm a
firm believer in it. But at the end of the day, if the CEO hates blue, then
you find another colour. That is why I say it becomes subjective.

That's not to say the IA and interaction design cannot be subjective, as
they can be, technically. However, this is less of an issue for these
disciplines, as we have reliable, accepted methods for testing and measuring
these.

On Jan 29, 2004, at 1:34 PM, Bob Baxley wrote:

Todd,

A few retorts to one of your recent messages.

You said...

--- snip --

Perfectly, I can't really think of many. That "work" well, I can think of
dozens. Just a couple: the automobile, my Asco washer and dryer, the wrist
watch, Google, Apple's Mail application, iTunes, iPhoto, iDVD, iMovie, etc.
-
- end snip --

Although I could take issue with the automobile and the wrist watch
examples, I'll leave those for another day. As for Google, it's hardly a UI
masterpiece so much as it's simply a more effective search engine. I'd put
it more on par with Walmart, McDonalds, and Dell. Successful to be sure, but
more in spite of design than because of it.

Which brings us to your last 5 examples, all of which are from Apple. The
notable thing about the work coming out of Apple right now is that every
last pixel, click, screw, and cable is reviewed, examined, and decided on by
a single individual: Steve Jobs. Not unlike the Lord of Rings trilogy, what
you are seeing from Apple is the large-scale expression of one man's
tyrannical, dictatorial, exceptional taste. To my knowledge, Apple has
closed their usability labs and does not perform focus groups for product
concepts. Steve and the designers that work for him are following their own
vision and bringing that to fruition in the same way as a novelist and
songwriter.

Clearly not a reproducible method for most organizations but definitely a
data point that multi-disciplined committees (er, I mean teams) do not
necessarily trump the efforts of talented individuals.

Later you said...

-- snip --

Visual design is much more subjective than interaction and IA. Interaction
and IA can be tested, proved, etc. Visual design is much more difficult to
(dis)prove, since it is so subjective.

-- end snip --

I definitely take exception to this statement on two fronts. First, visual
design is NOT subjective -- unless it's decoration, in which case it's not
design. Design as a discipline and a grand tradition, is unimpeachably a
practice of analytical problem solving. Visual design, if it is to be called
design, has to solve a stated and understood communication problem. For
example, Paul Rand's original UPS logo successfully communicated meaning
about the company and their purpose. Compare that to their new logo which is
little more than a meaningless shape, a fashion statement, a multi-million
dollar junk of eye candy that's likely to be replaced as soon as the
executives grow tired of it.

Any time you hear someone evaluate a design by using the phrase, "I don't
like..." you can be assured that you have left the realm of design and
entered the transient, commoditized, and soon to be off-shored, world of
style and fashion.

Similarly, I would argue that the belief that IA and interaction design
solutions can be "proven" is one of the greatest lies and liabilities ever
foisted upon the design profession. While I'm a great advocate of validating
solutions with actual users, I also know that there is a lot of nuance and
subtlety to those designs that can never be effectively tested or evaluated.
The vast majority of usability tests are performed on users who are seeing
the product or a particular piece of functionality for the first time. As a
result, those tests are really about the discoverability and learnability of
the design. For some products, perhaps even most products, those two
dimensions of the design are indeed the most important. However, for a host
of other products, Photoshop for example, the more important dimension is
efficiency of use, a dimension that I've never seen tested.

At the end of the day I'd put it like this: design is a discipline devoted
to analytical problem solving. The degree to which a design is successful is
the degree to which it solves a stated and understood problem. Similarly,
the value of an individual designer is determined by their ability to
successfully solve such problems in a repeatable, predictable, and
observable manner.

Not to preach too loud but... Design is not guesswork. Design is not magic.
And design is not subjective.

Finally, thanks for sending out the summary. A nice job of thinning the
underbrush and improving our view of the trees.

...Bob

..........................................................................
B
ob Baxley :: Design for Interaction

design :: www.baxleydesign.com

blog :: www.drowninginthecurrent.com

On Jan 29, 2004, at 7:22 AM, Todd R.Warfel wrote:

On Jan 29, 2004, at 2:09 AM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

[...] I have yet to see a project succeed on all levels without that person.
If you know of a project that has, please let me know.

AT&T Wireless eCommerce site. It was done with team of:

(2) Information Architects

(1) Usability Specialist

(4) Visual Designers

(1) Art Director

(1) Creative Director

(10) Developers

A very successful model, which as increased conversion rates, decreased
support costs, decreased acquisition costs, reduced bail-out rates. The list
goes on. And there are more:

the automobile, Nokia's cell phone interface, the original Apple GUI, etc.

[
...] Too many teams are heavily weighted towards one side of the equation,
or front loaded with visual people only. Or interaction people only. Or
information people only. And when this happens, if the manager is only
experienced in one area, they will implicitly or unconciously weight their
decisions in favor of what they know.

Agreed.

Mac OS X is a classic example today where this imbalance is playing out.
It's a gorgeous looking OS, but it severely lacks in the behaviors
department. All the interaction people were let go. Jobs is pushing
eye-candy over function, and what you have now is a bunch of pretty looking
interface widgets that behave very badly. The dock anyone? The new Finder in
Panther? The Open dialog? All of them are train wrecks.

The dock and finder work. And work well. They're very functional. Both are
great for increasing productivity (allow users to quickly access regularly
used items), keeping users aware of system status (ability too show how many
new mail messages you have), etc. They each have their pitfalls, as every
system and solution does, but they are by no means a train wreck.

"Train wreck" wreck is a personal opinion. I would be interested in seeing
some evidence that they are "severely lacking in behaviors" or that they
don't function.

I agree they could be improved, as all systems could be. But they're very
functional, productive, and usable.

And if it's the "trash can" isn't in a stable location argument - please!
It's always at the right side of the Dock. We've tested this "theory" in
some work I'm doing here at Cornell and people don't seem to have a problem
with it. They find the trash can just fine.

But can you honestly tell me when you use Amazon that they have their act
together across the board? That the visual appearance is as up to snuff as
their ability to deliver product in more personalized forms? That the
navigation scheme they use makes any bit of sense, and so little that
everyone pretty ignores it and falls back on the search function? That the
manner with which you browse items really makes you feel as good as browsing
items in the store?

Different medium than a store, but Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes. We've tested
eCommerce sites as well here at Cornell, as well as large index like Yahoo!
And users are able to satisfy your questions above. Again without a great
deal of problems (usability or interaction).

Most of my factual evidence would come from getting into specifics about the
companies I have worked for, and that would do nothing but get me in
trouble. Further evidence would come from knowing what I know about how many
companies operate, and that would not make me many friends.

I can respect confidentiality, but that really doesn't help us here. Are
there other non-confidential supporting elements you can provide?

So instead, I ask you this: How many technology products out there are well
designed? (I can count the number on one hand.) I mean really well designed,
that hit all cylinders, cover all bases, and hum perfectly?

Perfectly, I can't really think of many. That "work" well, I can think of
dozens. Just a couple: the automobile, my Asco washer and dryer, the wrist
watch, Google, Apple's Mail application, iTunes, iPhoto, iDVD, iMovie, etc.

B
ut there are far more that fall short: Flash - very powerful, but could be
easier to use. It's gotten much better over the years. Illustrator -
seriously, why don't we have underlined text and multi-page support with
master pages (real multi-page support). Word - where do I begin?

The definition of the interface is stated in my article. Given that an
interface comprises of visual, information and interaction design solutions,
how does that defy my argument?

American Heritage Dictionary:

in·ter·face n.

3. Computer Science. a. The point of interaction or
communication between a computer and any other entity, such as a printer or
human operator.

b. The layout of an application's graphic or textual
controls in conjunction with the way the application responds
to user activity: an interface whose icons were hard to remember.

WordNet 1997 © Princeton University

2: (computer science) a program that controls a display for the user
(usually on a computer monitor) and that allows the user to interact with
the system [syn: user interface]

Both these definitions focus on the visual display element - the point at
which a user interacts with a system. They do not infer anything in relation
to information architecture. WordNet doesn't include interaction, but rather
states that it "allows the user to interact" with the system. American
Heritage infers a relationship between visual display and the way an
application responds to user activity (interaction design). So, by
definition, visual display is included, interaction has a relationship with,
but isn't necessarily included, and information architecture is not
included. That's why I said that the very definition of interface defies
your argument.

It is possible that we need to update the definition, if you are correct
that interface design includes visual display, interaction, and information
architecture. I don't think it does, but if it's determined that it does, we
should update the definitions.

A very good friend of mine went to Cornell as well in the architecture
school. His opinion on the matter of multi-disciplinary seems to be in line
with mine on this subject, and a large part of it was due to his experience
at school. I'll have to ask him for more specifics on his opinion.

I guess this is the part that needs clarification. Are you proposing that:

a
) each unique, yet interdependent discipline have knowledge and
appreciation for the others

b) they are not unique, interdependent disciplines, they are all one
discipline and here's why...

c) something else

I'm in agreement with A, but not B for reasons previously stated. If it's C,
I'd be interested to see...

I am not suggesting they are one discipline. I said an interface designer
needs to master all three. I said, "Interface design is the larger role,
comprised of three smaller categories, areas of specialty that we are
already familiar with: graphic design, information design and interaction
design."

It's the master all three that concerns me. Jack of all trades, master of
none. Visual design is much more subjective than interaction and IA.
Interaction and IA can be tested, proved, etc. Visual design is much more
difficult to (dis)prove, since it is so subjective.

In the decade or so that I've been doing this, I've come across only a
handful of people who are truly exceptional visual designers, information
architects, and interaction designers all in one package. I've come across a
dozen or so who are truly exceptional at information architecture and
interaction design in one package. I've come across hundreds of individuals
that are truly exceptional visual designers, truly exceptional information
architects, or truly exceptional interaction designers as individual
disciplines.

Possible? Yes. Probable? Not really. I think Cooper explains the reasoning
why rather well - we each have different, yet interdependent goals. So, our
focus is different. Our goals are different (same high level goal of great
product, but different granular goals).

Thoughts?

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.

_______________________________________________

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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.

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29 Jan 2004 - 3:01pm
Bob Baxley
2004

Kevin,

Perhaps I should have been more precise -- perspicuity however is such
an unwieldy exercise. Obviously the word "design" has a host of
dictionary definitions that aren't relevant to this particular context.

I think the point you're driving at -- and one I would agree with -- is
that there is subjectivity in determining the best balance of tradeoffs
required for a particular problem. I hold by my point that if a problem
is clearly articulated, it is possible to objectively state whether the
problem is adequately solved. However I will also concede that there is
some range of possible solutions each with their own compliment of
advantages, disadvantages, and tradeoffs. Determining which of those is
ultimately the "best" is often an act of faith. It should always be our
goal however, to minimize the amount of faith required.

I don't really follow your second point although I will whole heartedly
agree that Darrell and Kevin's book is wonderful and I believe, largely
supports my point.

Finally, the mere fact that a four-year old Mozart might not have been
working from a formal understanding of music theory does not mean that
he wasn't unconsciously operating within that framework. It's certainly
easier for us mere mortals to control our creations when we do have a
conscious understanding of them but it's quite likely true genius
possess and unconscious understanding of the same principles.

-- Dang! This is getting way abstract. Interesting...but abstract. --

...Bob

........................................................................
..
Bob Baxley :: Design for Interaction

design :: www.baxleydesign.com
blog :: www.drowninginthecurrent.com

On Jan 29, 2004, at 11:43 AM, Narey, Kevin wrote:

> Bob wrote:
>  
>
> At the end of the day I'd put it like this: design is a discipline
> devoted to analytical problem solving. The degree to which a design is
> successful is the degree to which it solves a stated and understood
> problem. Similarly, the value of an individual designer is determined
> by their ability to successfully solve such problems in a repeatable,
> predictable, and observable manner.
>
>
>
> Not to preach too loud but... Design is not guesswork. Design is not
> magic. And design is not subjective.
>  
> I cannot agree your categorical assertion that visual design is
> not subjective.
> The very definition of design - in any English dictionary will state
> in not so many words, that there are very many faculties of design
> both in communication, art and science that it will only ever be both
> objective and subjective in the context of it's application. Sure we
> will follow patterns to solve problems, but who first solved those
> problems - was that not an act of pure and unadulterated subjectivity?
>  
> In the context of visual design, it is well documented
> and observed that to attempt to solve an original design problem
> visually yous ubjectively make conclusions based on your application
> of art science andc ommunication - you may not have any knowledge of
> any of those three - did Mozart at the age of 4? I cite Mullett and
> Sano's 'Designing Visual Interfaces', which I believe eloquently
> describes some fundamental facets of visual design. On the basis
> that we subjectively make choices to solve or plan out the solution to
> a problem are you saying that all design has already been done and
> that we only solve problems following in our designerly predecessors
> footsteps?
>  
> Regards
>  
> KN
>  
>  
>  
>  -----Original Message-----
> From: Todd R.Warfel [mailto:lists at mk27.com]
> Sent: 29 January 2004 18:53
> To: Bob Baxley
> Cc: Interaction Designers
> Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] : How to Get Into ... Best Job Title
>
>
>
> Bob,
>
>
>
> Thanks for your insightful retort. I would agree that Google is hardly
> a UI masterpiece from a visual design perspective, which is precisely
> why I prefaced my statement with "'work' well." Google works. And from
> an interface and interaction perspective, it's a success. Could it
> have a better visual design that is more appealing? I don't think any
> of us would argue against that.
>
>
>
> On Apple - from what I have read, they dissolved their UE group.
> However, they still perform focus groups and user testing on their
> applications. I've had direct conversations with some of their leads
> on several of the applications mentioned in my post. So, while it
> might seem like a tyrannical run, it in fact is not. Yes, Jobs has
> heavy influence, he is after all the captain of the ship. But I can
> assure you that the designs are not all based on and validated by his
> personal opinions. There is real user research and validation going
> on.
>
>
>
> Whether we like it or not, visual design is typically equated to
> style. Which is why it is typically considered subjective. There are
> elements, which can be tested, like the size of icons. That you are
> correct in. However, items like colour, which tends to be a
> significant driver in visual design, are subjective. I won't debate
> that colour theory is valid, I'm a firm believer in it. But at the end
> of the day, if the CEO hates blue, then you find another colour. That
> is why I say it becomes subjective.
>
>
>
> That's not to say the IA and interaction design cannot be subjective,
> as they can be, technically. However, this is less of an issue for
> these disciplines, as we have reliable, accepted methods for testing
> and measuring these.
>
>
>
> On Jan 29, 2004, at 1:34 PM, Bob Baxley wrote:
>
>
>
> Todd,
>
>
>
> A few retorts to one of your recent messages.
>
>
>
> You said...
>
>
>
> --- snip --
>
> Perfectly, I can't really think of many. That "work" well, I can think
> of dozens. Just a couple: the automobile, my Asco washer and dryer,
> the wrist watch, Google, Apple's Mail application, iTunes, iPhoto,
> iDVD, iMovie, etc.
>
> -- end snip --
>
>
>
> Although I could take issue with the automobile and the wrist watch
> examples, I'll leave those for another day. As for Google, it's hardly
> a UI masterpiece so much as it's simply a more effective search
> engine. I'd put it more on par with Walmart, McDonalds, and Dell.
> Successful to be sure, but more in spite of design than because of it.
>
>
>
> Which brings us to your last 5 examples, all of which are from Apple.
> The notable thing about the work coming out of Apple right now is that
> every last pixel, click, screw, and cable is reviewed, examined, and
> decided on by a single individual: Steve Jobs. Not unlike the Lord of
> Rings trilogy, what you are seeing from Apple is the large-scale
> expression of one man's tyrannical, dictatorial, exceptional taste. To
> my knowledge, Apple has closed their usability labs and does not
> perform focus groups for product concepts. Steve and the designers
> that work for him are following their own vision and bringing that to
> fruition in the same way as a novelist and songwriter.
>
>
>
> Clearly not a reproducible method for most organizations but
> definitely a data point that multi-disciplined committees (er, I mean
> teams) do not necessarily trump the efforts of talented individuals.
>
>
>
> Later you said...
>
>
>
> -- snip --
>
> Visual design is much more subjective than interaction and IA.
> Interaction and IA can be tested, proved, etc. Visual design is much
> more difficult to (dis)prove, since it is so subjective.
>
> -- end snip --
>
>
>
> I definitely take exception to this statement on two fronts. First,
> visual design is NOT subjective -- unless it's decoration, in which
> case it's not design. Design as a discipline and a grand tradition, is
> unimpeachably a practice of analytical problem solving. Visual design,
> if it is to be called design, has to solve a stated and understood
> communication problem. For example, Paul Rand's original UPS logo
> successfully communicated meaning about the company and their purpose.
> Compare that to their new logo which is little more than a meaningless
> shape, a fashion statement, a multi-million dollar junk of eye candy
> that's likely to be replaced as soon as the executives grow tired of
> it.
>
>
>
> Any time you hear someone evaluate a design by using the phrase, "I
> don't like..." you can be assured that you have left the realm of
> design and entered the transient, commoditized, and soon to be
> off-shored, world of style and fashion.
>
>
>
> Similarly, I would argue that the belief that IA and interaction
> design solutions can be "proven" is one of the greatest lies and
> liabilities ever foisted upon the design profession. While I'm a great
> advocate of validating solutions with actual users, I also know that
> there is a lot of nuance and subtlety to those designs that can never
> be effectively tested or evaluated. The vast majority of usability
> tests are performed on users who are seeing the product or a
> particular piece of functionality for the first time. As a result,
> those tests are really about the discoverability and learnability of
> the design. For some products, perhaps even most products, those two
> dimensions of the design are indeed the most important. However, for a
> host of other products, Photoshop for example, the more important
> dimension is efficiency of use, a dimension that I've never seen
> tested.
>
>
>
> At the end of the day I'd put it like this: design is a discipline
> devoted to analytical problem solving. The degree to which a design is
> successful is the degree to which it solves a stated and understood
> problem. Similarly, the value of an individual designer is determined
> by their ability to successfully solve such problems in a repeatable,
> predictable, and observable manner.
>
>
>
> Not to preach too loud but... Design is not guesswork. Design is not
> magic. And design is not subjective.
>
>
>
> Finally, thanks for sending out the summary. A nice job of thinning
> the underbrush and improving our view of the trees.
>
>
>
> ...Bob
>
>
>
> .......................................................................
> ...
>
> Bob Baxley :: Design for Interaction
>
>
>
> design :: www.baxleydesign.com
>
> blog :: www.drowninginthecurrent.com
>
>
>
>
> On Jan 29, 2004, at 7:22 AM, Todd R.Warfel wrote:
>
>
>
>
> On Jan 29, 2004, at 2:09 AM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:
>
>
>
> [...] I have yet to see a project succeed on all levels without that
> person. If you know of a project that has, please let me know.
>
>
>
> AT&T Wireless eCommerce site. It was done with team of:
>
>
>
> (2) Information Architects
>
> (1) Usability Specialist
>
> (4) Visual Designers
>
> (1) Art Director
>
> (1) Creative Director
>
> (10) Developers
>
>
>
> A very successful model, which as increased conversion rates,
> decreased support costs, decreased acquisition costs, reduced bail-out
> rates. The list goes on. And there are more:
>
>
>
> the automobile, Nokia's cell phone interface, the original Apple GUI,
> etc.
>
>
>
> [...] Too many teams are heavily weighted towards one side of the
> equation, or front loaded with visual people only. Or interaction
> people only. Or information people only. And when this happens, if the
> manager is only experienced in one area, they will implicitly or
> unconciously weight their decisions in favor of what they know.
>
>
>
> Agreed.
>
>
>
> Mac OS X is a classic example today where this imbalance is playing
> out. It's a gorgeous looking OS, but it severely lacks in the
> behaviors department. All the interaction people were let go. Jobs is
> pushing eye-candy over function, and what you have now is a bunch of
> pretty looking interface widgets that behave very badly. The dock
> anyone? The new Finder in Panther? The Open dialog? All of them are
> train wrecks.
>
>
>
> The dock and finder work. And work well. They're very functional. Both
> are great for increasing productivity (allow users to quickly access
> regularly used items), keeping users aware of system status (ability
> too show how many new mail messages you have), etc. They each have
> their pitfalls, as every system and solution does, but they are by no
> means a train wreck.
>
>
>
> "Train wreck" wreck is a personal opinion. I would be interested in
> seeing some evidence that they are "severely lacking in behaviors" or
> that they don't function.
>
>
>
> I agree they could be improved, as all systems could be. But they're
> very functional, productive, and usable.
>
>
>
> And if it's the "trash can" isn't in a stable location argument -
> please! It's always at the right side of the Dock. We've tested this
> "theory" in some work I'm doing here at Cornell and people don't seem
> to have a problem with it. They find the trash can just fine.
>
>
>
> But can you honestly tell me when you use Amazon that they have their
> act together across the board? That the visual appearance is as up to
> snuff as their ability to deliver product in more personalized forms?
> That the navigation scheme they use makes any bit of sense, and so
> little that everyone pretty ignores it and falls back on the search
> function? That the manner with which you browse items really makes you
> feel as good as browsing items in the store?
>
>
>
> Different medium than a store, but Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes. We've
> tested eCommerce sites as well here at Cornell, as well as large index
> like Yahoo! And users are able to satisfy your questions above. Again
> without a great deal of problems (usability or interaction).
>
>
>
> Most of my factual evidence would come from getting into specifics
> about the companies I have worked for, and that would do nothing but
> get me in trouble. Further evidence would come from knowing what I
> know about how many companies operate, and that would not make me many
> friends.
>
>
>
> I can respect confidentiality, but that really doesn't help us here.
> Are there other non-confidential supporting elements you can provide?
>
>
>
> So instead, I ask you this: How many technology products out there are
> well designed? (I can count the number on one hand.) I mean really
> well designed, that hit all cylinders, cover all bases, and hum
> perfectly?
>
>
>
> Perfectly, I can't really think of many. That "work" well, I can think
> of dozens. Just a couple: the automobile, my Asco washer and dryer,
> the wrist watch, Google, Apple's Mail application, iTunes, iPhoto,
> iDVD, iMovie, etc.
>
>
>
> But there are far more that fall short: Flash - very powerful, but
> could be easier to use. It's gotten much better over the years.
> Illustrator - seriously, why don't we have underlined text and
> multi-page support with master pages (real multi-page support). Word -
> where do I begin?
>
>
>
> The definition of the interface is stated in my article. Given that an
> interface comprises of visual, information and interaction design
> solutions, how does that defy my argument?
>
>
>
> American Heritage Dictionary:
>
> in·ter·face  n.
>
>         3. Computer Science.           a. The point of interaction or
> communication between a computer and any other entity, such as a
> printer or             human operator.
>
>                 b. The layout of an application's graphic or textual
> controls in conjunction with the way the application             
> responds to user activity: an interface whose icons were hard to
> remember.
>
>
>
> WordNet 1997 © Princeton University
>
> 2: (computer science) a program that controls a display for the user
> (usually on a computer monitor) and that allows the user to interact
> with the system [syn:user interface]
>
>
>
> Both these definitions focus on the visual display element - the point
> at which a user interacts with a system. They do not infer anything in
> relation to information architecture. WordNet doesn't include
> interaction, but rather states that it "allows the user to interact"
> with the system. American Heritage infers a relationship between
> visual display and the way an application responds to user activity
> (interaction design). So, by definition, visual display is included,
> interaction has a relationship with, but isn't necessarily included,
> and information architecture is not included. That's why I said that
> the very definition of interface defies your argument.
>
>
>
> It is possible that we need to update the definition, if you are
> correct that interface design includes visual display, interaction,
> and information architecture. I don't think it does, but if it's
> determined that it does, we should update the definitions.
>
>
>
>
> A very good friend of mine went to Cornell as well in the architecture
> school. His opinion on the matter of multi-disciplinary seems to be in
> line with mine on this subject, and a large part of it was due to his
> experience at school. I'll have to ask him for more specifics on his
> opinion.
>
>
>
> I guess this is the part that needs clarification. Are you proposing
> that:
>
>
>
> a) each unique, yet interdependent discipline have knowledge and
> appreciation for the others
>
> b) they are not unique, interdependent disciplines, they are all one
> discipline and here's why...
>
> c) something else
>
>
>
> I'm in agreement with A, but not B for reasons previously stated. If
> it's C, I'd be interested to see...
>
>
>
> I am not suggesting they are one discipline. I said an interface
> designer needs to master all three. I said, "Interface design is the
> larger role, comprised of three smaller categories, areas of specialty
> that we are already familiar with: graphic design, information design
> and interaction design."
>
>
>
> It's the master all three that concerns me. Jack of all trades, master
> of none. Visual design is much more subjective than interaction and
> IA. Interaction and IA can be tested, proved, etc. Visual design is
> much more difficult to (dis)prove, since it is so subjective.
>
>
>
> In the decade or so that I've been doing this, I've come across only a
> handful of people who are truly exceptional visual designers,
> information architects, and interaction designers all in one package.
> I've come across a dozen or so who are truly exceptional at
> information architecture and interaction design in one package. I've
> come across hundreds of individuals that are truly exceptional visual
> designers, truly exceptional information architects, or truly
> exceptional interaction designers as individual disciplines.
>
>
>
> Possible? Yes. Probable? Not really. I think Cooper explains the
> reasoning why rather well - we each have different, yet interdependent
> goals. So, our focus is different. Our goals are different (same high
> level goal of great product, but different granular goals).
>
>
>
> Thoughts?
>
>
>
> 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.
>
> _______________________________________________
>
> 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/
>
>
>
>
>
> 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.
>
>
> **********************************************************************
> gedas united kingdom limited
> Registered in England no. 1371338
>
> This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential
> and it may be privileged.
>
> It is intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to
> whom it is addressed.
>
> If you have received this in error, please contact the sender
> and delete the material immediately.
> **********************************************************************
>

29 Jan 2004 - 3:13pm
Todd Warfel
2003

I should have been clearer in that "they don't focus on" or "aren't
experts in" instead of "don't concern themselves with." We have plenty
of FLW homes here in upstate NY. Several of which still maintain the
original furnishings. Generalist? Yes. But an expert at interior
design? Well, guess that just depends on who you ask.

And the structural engineering comment - to clarify, Pei, Wright, and
Gehry, are all knowledgeable of it, but don't actively do the
structural engineering piece - someone else does.

Point being, I agree that we can appreciate these three disciplines,
but I don't think that we should require a (adjective of your choice)
to be required to be an "expert" at all three. It's pretty clear that
this doesn't have to be the case for successful products to emerge.

On Jan 29, 2004, at 2:22 PM, Jim Leftwich wrote:

> The following statement is so patently untrue that I don't even know
> where to begin. Frank Lloyd Wright, (who though spoken of here in the
> present tense, died decades ago), "didn't concern himself with
> interior design"?!?!? Nor was involved with structural engineering?
>
> As the saying goes - "That's not right. That's not even wrong."
>
> All three of these architects were, and two still are, magnificent
> generalists. If one has toured Wright homes and buildings, one would
> know of the great deal of furniture, windows, and interior detail that
> he created. His was a language that extended from site to building to
> interior to objects. And as far as structural engineering goes, it's
> one thing to say that there are large structural engineering staffs
> NECESSARY to handle physical architectures on the scale these people
> work at (seriously, the vast majority of software and devices are no
> where near as large-scale in complexity as the Guggenheim Museum), and
> the outrageously incorrect statement of "don't concern themselves."
>
> I'm enjoying our threads here, but let's keep our facts straight.

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.
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29 Jan 2004 - 3:22pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 29, 2004, at 11:28 AM, Christian Simon wrote:

> I wonder with so many years at Adobe if your professional perspective
> is
> slanted to the Adobe culture? I agree, Adobe creates great products.
> Is this
> is a marker of the roles and responsibilities of IxD, or a combination
> of
> skills that are successful for the power politics in Adobe?

That may be the case. It's hard to see water when one is fish.

But my opinion comes from pondering about the future and what kinds of
products we'll need to design in that future given the technology
component. I'll elaborate with one key example.

When WebVan was going, I knew a few people who worked there. I remember
asking them why the execs spent their vast warchest on the things they
did, and not focus on one of the key problems inherent with shopping
for groceries with the web. Using a computer is out of context for
grocery shopping since once does it in their office typically, and the
web browser is a significantly clumsy interaction model to begin with
to do your shopping in the first place. What WebVan needed. IMHO, was a
product that was a flat panel display that hung from the refrigerator
that used WiFi and a stylus as an input model. I don't want to argue
how practical that was in 1999, but it will be practical in just two
short years from now.

With a flat panel display device that has uses no keyboard, you have a
number of problems to solve: What's the fastest way to interact with it
so you can do both spur of the moment shopping ("hmmm... we're out of
eggs, milk and bacon. I need to add that to purchase list, so I can do
so right in front of the frig) and longer more involved shopping, which
would allow the user to remove the device from the frig, sit down at
the kitchen table and go to it. Anyone using a Notebook OS these days
might know some of the other inherent problems using a stylus to do
things like scrolling, but a mouse would not be practical handing from
a frig, so a stylus is probably the best way to go.

You have the issue of how to present the display and the content such
that it looks inviting and makes sense *in the kitchen* as opposed to
being a display that one uses in their home office or at work.
Visually, it has to have a more homey, or comforting feel to it, not
overtly slick and packaged. Further, the display might be on more often
than off, doing side tasks like acting as a To-Do list or displaying
Jane's work from 2nd grade art projects. In that, the presentation
needs to feel more like a part of the kitchen and personal to succeed.

Then there's the product navigation and shopping experience. The device
won't use a browser. It'll probably have it's own version of Linux, and
as a designer, you can go to town with how to present thousands of
items from the database. you won't be forced to stick with page
metaphors and pagination widgets, but can do things like infinite
scrolling displays that quietly grab new information as you move past
it so it never feels like a database query is occurring. You can use
drag and drop to organize a shopping list, multiple viewports to set up
different shopping orders, sticky operations for the shopping cart, Coy
and Paste. UNDO!

This is the kind of product we will have very soon. In fact, the iPod
is the very early incarnation of this sort of high-tech gadget. More
and more products will operate on these levels. It is my firm belief
that if these products are built today using the same disconnected
design approach found in high tech currently, the products will be
mediocre at best.

Why? Because once you start working on such a product, you quickly
discover that the navigational model affects how the stylus must work,
and the manner in which the stylus works might affect how you want to
present the content, and anything that affects the size of the content
gets into layout issues, which begs questions at the graphic design
level in terms of icon sizing and style, which might reopen issues on
display of objects in the database and how many can be viewed at one
time which then affect the viewport for the shopping cart, causing it
to overlap another viewport which means you have to work through the
interaction and behavior of how the viewprots work with each other...
it keeps going.

And the above example is very similar to what I have experienced in
designed applications like Photoshop. Issues blend and merge and
conflict with each other, so much so that I cannot imagine how to
design the product as separate islands or silos. It just wouldn't work
effectively.

I think everything is coming full circle, or at least in cycles. The
web was largely a return to the computing model of the late 70s and
early 80s. Terminals and networks. The personal computer brought in
application design through the late 80s and early 90s, but as it
applied to an isolated machine. The net craze in the 90s brought back
the networking, but returned the "dumb terminal" model of interaction
that is the web browser. The next phase is going to be a return to
application design, but using unique hardware that will be networked.

So maybe I am way off base. It wouldn't be the first time. But there's
my opinion, laid bare for all to see.

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

29 Jan 2004 - 4:32pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 29, 2004, at 11:34 AM, Todd R. Warfel wrote:

> I've read Tog several times. He seems to be stuck in Classic Mac OS
> land. He argues that things would be great if they just went back to
> the way they were. We've observed hundreds of MacOS users migrating
> from Classic Mac OS to X and noticed significant improvements in
> usability and productivity.

We have? Where are those studies? I have yet to see any *significant*
improvements in usability and productivity with Mac OS X. In fact, I've
seen a larger problem of less productivity. Dealing with networking is
still difficult to say the least. The new printing functions are
convoluted and obscure. Basic things like finding the Calculator
requires going through the clunky Finder.

And let's not get into the UNIX enforced users and permissions model
that has created massive headaches for anyone who has ever had to
encounter them. Or attempt to fix them! I have no idea where you get
the idea that the Mac OS X represents significant improvements. At the
very least, it's one of those three steps forward, two steps back sorts
of solutions.

The iLife apps are fine, simple and moderately useful for consumers.
(As long as the fad thrives, but only time will tell.) Once you leave
the iLife apps and try to do fundamental operations at the OS level,
things break down very quickly.

> To refute some of his claims:
>
> 9. big and clumsy - he claims it's a problem. We've observed hundreds
> of users on OS X. Roughly 20% hide it, or shrink it down to a very
> small size.

That seems to validate the point that it's big and clumsy. That they
have to shrink it in the first place means something is obviously
wrong.

> Most don't seem to a) think it's as much of a problem as Tog states b)
> show that it is big and clumsy. Additionally, their actual use doesn't
> seem to show this. It's not perfect, but it does provide users with a
> (loosely) organized method to access frequent applications and
> documents. It could be improved with additional methods to organize
> these applications and documents (e.g. by task, type, or usage).

You speak as if you have done formal studies for Apple on this subject.
If you have, please share those results, and the testing conditions
surrounding it.

Further, to say things like "it's not perfect" and "it could be
improved" are pretty much the point. It means the design is lacking.

> 7. objects have no label - For applications this is less of an issue
> as they have unique icons. For documents, they have labels on
> rollovers. This becomes a problem if the typical user minimizes every
> document, or lots of documents they're working on. This simply isn't
> the case from our findings. First, that's not normal behavior, which
> is something the Dock won't address anyway. Second, this is addressed
> with Exposé. Which could be improved with labels beyond just rollover.

Expose wasn't around when Tog wrote the article. And Expose is a
band-aid on top of the original problem caused by the design's lack of
text labels. (Compounded to this day by the Mac's larger problem of too
many windows and accidentally clicking incorrect windows to switch
application focus.) Third, rollovers are a secondary interaction device
to help the user for things that are secondary. Knowing the names of
documents, especially if they all use the same icon, is a primary
issue, and requires a primary solution.

> 5. Trash can belongs in the corner - it is in the corner. It's always
> in the right corner. It stays in the right corner. Yes, it's the right
> corner of the Dock, but that's a pretty predictable, consistent place.
> It might move within a 70pxl radius, but again, that doesn't seem to
> be a problem from our observations.

Technically, it's not always in the right corner. It moves where the
Dock is moved, which can include the right and left sides of the
screen. The point here, from my point of view, is that an item as
prominent and *permanent* as the trash can should have a permanent
location that places it somehow in the line with Fitts Law.

> 1. Dock adds bad behavior - when an element disappears into a puff of
> smoke, users could be scared that their item has disappeared
> completely. Could be, but typically aren't. We're not all as dumb as
> Tog would like to make you think. Although, we've tested some very
> unsavvy participants over the years. We've observed that users think
> this is a cool feature, not a scary one. Additionally, their behavior
> doesn't indicate that it's a problem. Not really a usability data
> point.

It's still a bad precedent to set.

> As for the interfaces for Amazon, Google, etc. we grade how well they
> "work" based on task analysis, user goals, and business goals. Those
> applications satisfy user goals and business goals, while having solid
> branding, visual appeal, messaging, and allowing users to accomplish
> common tasks. That makes them work. Personally, I think Yahoo! is a
> mess and eBay, while functional, is just plain visually unappealing.

Any number of products can "satisfy" as long as the playing field or
product landscape of choice contains equally poor design. Once other
products get their act together, things change quickly however. Just
look at car design over the past three decades.

> How do you define "up to snuff?"

The product organized logically and effectively, behaves as expected,
with a workflow that reduces the amount of effort required to do
repetitive tasks, and it's pleasing on the eye.

Example would RedEnvelope. Sure, they don't offer very much product to
choose from, but that's a business decision. The design of RedEnvelope
is far superior to Amazon.

> On Illustrator, yeah, I've heard the argument "Illustrator wasn't
> meant for multiple pages, InDesign was..." That's all well and good,
> but there's a very large audience using Illustrator for IA work.
> InDesign wasn't meant for drawing. What do you do when you have 80
> drawings that you need to send to a client in a PDF? Make 80 .ai files
> and import them into InDesign - that's a workflow nightmare.
> Illustrator works great for wireframes, but the lack of multiple pages
> and master pages makes it very difficult. The argument "was originally
> created for" simply doesn't hold. Take a look at how people are using
> the technology and adapt it.

I would use Illustrator for the drawing, then lay them out in InDesign,
where I can control placement, page order, multiple master pages, etc,
far more effectively than in any way it would be implemented with
Illustrator. Further, if Illustrator did the multi-page thing, all it
would do is make Illustrator heavier and less focused on drawing, but
completely dupe the functionality found in InDesign. It would use the
same features and functionality that InDesign uses and in the same
model, so the only hurdle you have to cross is switching from
Illustrator to InDesign and back as you work on the project.

Finally, if you are accusing Adobe of not adapting or listening to how
people use products, then I invite you to try and design the products
yourself. We have openings in the UI department. We have millions of
people to account for, and all of our products constantly go through
rigorous update and review cycles. There's only so much that can be
done.

> Underlining and the purists argument - can't we get past this already?
> You allow it in InDesign and PhotoShop.

Photoshop is not spelled with an intercap.

Underlining was allowed in InDesign and Photoshop because they caved.
It causes minor workflow issues when selecting type and styles, by the
way. A number of issues that I have no desire to get into in this part
of the thread. Further, there are a few people of the opinion that
underlines should be nuked from all our products. I am one of those
people, but it is certainly not Adobe policy or even the majority
opinion.

> So, that doesn't seem to hold up very well. Again, it comes back to
> how people are using it. If someone wants to show underlined text
> links in a wireframe or visual design done in Illustrator, they have
> to manually put lines under the text.

Just because people want to do things doesn't mean we should design
products that do nothing but cater to fads and whims. Just because it
can be done doesn't mean it should be. Again, that is just my opinion.

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

29 Jan 2004 - 4:56pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 29, 2004, at 1:32 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:
>> 9. big and clumsy - he claims it's a problem. We've observed hundreds
>> of users on OS X. Roughly 20% hide it, or shrink it down to a very
>> small size.
>
> That seems to validate the point that it's big and clumsy. That they
> have to shrink it in the first place means something is obviously
> wrong.

I overlooked the percentage. I thought you meant 20% did not have to
shrink it. My mistake.

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

29 Jan 2004 - 5:31pm
Todd Warfel
2003

Okay, so before this gets into some kind of downward spiral, would you
agree that design is an evolutionary cycle?

In social science, there are two primary schools of though:
1) We make forward leaps, then a paradigm shift occurs, setting us back
several steps. Then we move forward again.
2) We make gradual steps forward.

Both, however, accommodate for adding to the great library of knowledge
- standing on the shoulders of giants.

The new Finder in Panther allows faster access to "important
directories" than before. That's not rocket science, but common sense.
That is just one example of an improvement in usability over previous
models. Users don't have to click the HD icon, then go to Users, then
their folder. It's easier to add items to the left pane. And you can
still have aliases on the desktop, just like the old Finder. Just an
example.

We haven't published these studies yet, but they will be before the end
of 2004. We have other paying work that takes priority. And the studies
weren't done for Apple, they were simply done to see what we found.
They weren't done to (dis)prove a point, as that would introduce bias.
They were simply done as a means of discovery. And the summary results
were already listed in the last post.

I get the idea that OS X represents significant improvements based on
research and observation. And I've provided examples. I'm not just
dreaming this up. And again, it's not perfect, but it is an
improvement.

On the Dock - users don't have to minimize or hide it. About 20% choose
to. That doesn't necessarily validate that it's big and clumsy. I do
think better models exist (e.g. DragThing if it were improved a little
more, refined, polished). But again, if design is an evolutionary
cycle, then I expect improvements to the Dock will come. Apple has
already shown it's willingness to listen and improve it.

On the Trash Can - you're correct, it's not always in the right corner.
It is always in a relative corner based on where the Dock is placed by
the user. But likewise, unless I'm mistaken, the user could also move
the trash can away from the bottom right corner in Classic Mac OS. But
it was still where they left it. And the Trash can is still within a
70pxl diameter (roughly) of the corner of the Dock. This puts it in the
same spacial perspective for the user. GUI operation is not an exact
science after all - see Nielsen, Spoole and others for studies on
problems using smaller icons and DHTML menus. Or you could just do a
quick observation around the office to figure this one out.

By your definition below, Amazon passes your test. It's organized
logically, effectively, and behaves as expected, reducing the amount of
effort to do repetitive tasks. And it's pleasing to the eye. There
might be a lot of product, but they've still made it pleasing to the
eye with a lot of product. But then again, pleasing to the eye is
subjective.

Business decision or not, RedEnvelope is much easier to make pleasing
when you have such a reduced inventory. The Apple Store is also
superior, in my opinion, but again, they're not dealing with as much
product. Looking at the big picture, I think it's accurate to say
Amazon does a pretty good job and works well. You might disagree, but
it still fits the definition you've supplied.

On Illustrator, apparently, you missed this:
"InDesign wasn't meant for drawing. What do you do when you have 80
drawings that you need to send to a client in a PDF? Make 80 .ai files
and import them into InDesign - that's a workflow nightmare."

I'm not looking to make my workflow more complicated because Adobe
seems to think that you shouldn't be able to have multiple pages in an
illustration application. That workflow works fine for print, but not
interactive. And Illustrator supports both. Again, should I have to
make 80 different .ai files and import each one into ID? And if I make
a change, open each one, make the change, the republish the ID file as
a PDF? That's not very efficient. But if I could do that from
Illustrator, ah, that's efficient.

I purchased CS, but can't use Illustrator CS, because the multi-page
plug-in from HotDoor doesn't work. So, I'm stuck using Illustrator X
for now.

Adobe caved on the underlining? Oh, come on. These two very useful
features have been requested for years. Don't take it personal - it's a
business decision.

On the product cycle -
Understood. But two useful features that have been requested for years?
Add three dozen new features, sure. Those two - yeah, that's against
our purist attitude;). Seriously, I'm sensitive to product release
cycles and the engineering efforts it takes. I've been involved in them
and continue to be involved in them. It's no small feat, I know, but
when you have time and take the effort to add a couple of dozen new
features, don't you think a couple, which are highly requested and
useful and reflect a common workflow should be in that list of "must
have to ship." Call it caving, call it giving up a purist attitude.
Whatever it is you call it, the fact is that underlining was a great
feature in both applications and has proven to be useful. Multi-page
with master pages and underlining in Illustrator would prove to be the
same.

And I know Adobe cares about workflow, as they have pieces in the
product to reflect that (Workgroup Server).

On the intercap spelling of Photoshop - My apologies. Hope I didn't
offend anyone. I'll make a note not to do it again.

On Jan 29, 2004, at 4:32 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> The product organized logically and effectively, behaves as expected,
> with a workflow that reduces the amount of effort required to do
> repetitive tasks, and it's pleasing on the eye.
>
> Example would RedEnvelope. Sure, they don't offer very much product to
> choose from, but that's a business decision. The design of RedEnvelope
> is far superior to Amazon.
>
> I would use Illustrator for the drawing, then lay them out in
> InDesign, where I can control placement, page order, multiple master
> pages, etc, far more effectively than in any way it would be
> implemented with Illustrator. Further, if Illustrator did the
> multi-page thing, all it would do is make Illustrator heavier and less
> focused on drawing, but completely dupe the functionality found in
> InDesign. It would use the same features and functionality that
> InDesign uses and in the same model, so the only hurdle you have to
> cross is switching from Illustrator to InDesign and back as you work
> on the project.
>
> Finally, if you are accusing Adobe of not adapting or listening to how
> people use products, then I invite you to try and design the products
> yourself. We have openings in the UI department. We have millions of
> people to account for, and all of our products constantly go through
> rigorous update and review cycles. There's only so much that can be
> done.

Understood. But two useful features that have been requested for years?
Add three dozen new features, sure. Those two - yeah, that's against
our purist attitude;). Seriously, I'm sensitive to product release
cycles and the engineering efforts it takes. I've been involved in them
and continue to be involved in them. It's no small feat, I know, but
when you have time and take the effort to add a couple of dozen new
features, don't you think these, which are highly requested and useful
and reflect a common workflow should be in that list of "must have to
ship."

And I know Adobe cares about workflow, as they have pieces in the
product to reflect that (Workgroup Server).

> Photoshop is not spelled with an intercap.

My apologies. Hope I didn't offend anyone. I'll make a note not to do
it again.

> Underlining was allowed in InDesign and Photoshop because they caved.
> It causes minor workflow issues when selecting type and styles, by the
> way. A number of issues that I have no desire to get into in this part
> of the thread. Further, there are a few people of the opinion that
> underlines should be nuked from all our products. I am one of those
> people, but it is certainly not Adobe policy or even the majority
> opinion.
>
> Just because people want to do things doesn't mean we should design
> products that do nothing but cater to fads and whims. Just because it
> can be done doesn't mean it should be. Again, that is just my opinion.

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.
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29 Jan 2004 - 8:23pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 29, 2004, at 2:31 PM, Todd R.Warfel wrote:

> Okay, so before this gets into some kind of downward spiral, would you
> agree that design is an evolutionary cycle?

Under most circumstances, sure. Some design is revolutionary. David
Carson comes to mind, as does much of the early work of Paul Rand and
Milton Glaser.

> The new Finder in Panther allows faster access to "important
> directories" than before. That's not rocket science, but common sense.
> That is just one example of an improvement in usability over previous
> models. Users don't have to click the HD icon, then go to Users, then
> their folder. It's easier to add items to the left pane. And you can
> still have aliases on the desktop, just like the old Finder. Just an
> example.

That pre-supposes you keep the Finder in "large" view. That side panel
is quite obtrusive, and I'm a minimalist. I would prefer not to see it
or use it. But I tolerate it because, like you say, it's better than
having to go the hard route of trying to find where Apple put
everything on my hard drive, something I didn't have to tolerate in
older OSes.

Beyond that, the point is that because it is better than it was before
doesn't make it good design.

> I get the idea that OS X represents significant improvements based on
> research and observation. And I've provided examples. I'm not just
> dreaming this up. And again, it's not perfect, but it is an
> improvement.

So far, the examples you have provided are comparing Mac OS X
improvements as opposed to older Mac OS X designs. Did you test against
the usage model in Mac OS X against Mac OS 9 or Windows 2000 / XP? The
examples you have provided so far do not get into the nature of Mac OS
X itself as compared to other methods for doing the same sorts of
things as offered in other OSes .

> On the Dock - users don't have to minimize or hide it. About 20%
> choose to. That doesn't necessarily validate that it's big and clumsy.
> I do think better models exist (e.g. DragThing if it were improved a
> little more, refined, polished). But again, if design is an
> evolutionary cycle, then I expect improvements to the Dock will come.
> Apple has already shown it's willingness to listen and improve it.

The Dock has had four years to adjust. Given the focus on other
products at Apple, I'm not going to hold my breath.

> By your definition below, Amazon passes your test. It's organized
> logically, effectively, and behaves as expected, reducing the amount
> of effort to do repetitive tasks. And it's pleasing to the eye.

Obviously, you and I disagree on that it's pleasing to the eye. I would
also disagree with you on that it behaves as expected. It behaves,
maybe even mostly as expected, but the portions that don't, like the
main navigational tabs (which are global to the entire product), are
largely ignored outright by users and bypassed. People use the search
function on Amazon because browsing by any other means is difficult at
best. Every time I try to browse to find anything, I am rarely
successful. I have heard many others say the same thing. People have to
know what they want in order to find on Amazon. that is not good
design.

> Business decision or not, RedEnvelope is much easier to make pleasing
> when you have such a reduced inventory. The Apple Store is also
> superior, in my opinion, but again, they're not dealing with as much
> product.

That is simply not true. Quantity has nothing to do with difficulty on
creating a pleasing experience. Take a look at Michael Graves Design's
product offering. Also check out how Target has evolved recently. Go
walk through a store. They carry thousands of products, and are
offering more and more better designs that are very pleasing every day.

> On Illustrator, apparently, you missed this:
> "InDesign wasn't meant for drawing. What do you do when you have 80
> drawings that you need to send to a client in a PDF? Make 80 .ai files
> and import them into InDesign - that's a workflow nightmare."

No, I didn't miss it.

> I'm not looking to make my workflow more complicated because Adobe
> seems to think that you shouldn't be able to have multiple pages in an
> illustration application.

What you are missing is that by adding in all the multi-page features
into Illustrator, you would make Illustrator as complicated as InDesign
and Illustrator ***combined.*** The workflow doesn't magically simplify
when you add all the features you mentioned around multiple pages and
especially master pages.

You have the perception that somehow making Illustrator complicated
with multiple pages is somehow a simpler workflow than simply using
Illustrator and InDesign together. All I'm suggesting is that it's not,
especially when you get into the details of the workflow and the many
variations on that workflow people use.

> That workflow works fine for print, but not interactive. And
> Illustrator supports both. Again, should I have to make 80 different
> .ai files and import each one into ID?

If you are making 80 drawings, you are making 80 drawings. There's no
getting around the number. What you seem to want is to put all those
drawings into one single file represented by one single icon rather
than creating a folder to put 80 icons into that folder. There are many
pros and cons to doing this, most of which revolve around how to manage
those 80 drawings inside one single document, how to reuse specific
individual drawings in other work, not having to barrel through a file
that contains 80 drawings, takes minutes to open and load, when all you
need to do is work on two of them, etc. etc.

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

29 Jan 2004 - 8:53pm
mYamamoto at jp...
2004

Watching discussion with Andrei and Todd, I would like to say something.
The discussion seems like convincing each other which UI design is better
among Apple and Adobe.
I would say convincing does not work in the world of design. How end user
feel is all about it.

And, I so far understand the context of use intended by Apple and Adobe is
different.
Different user behaves and feels differently to the same UI.
Andrei dose not like over-treated feature of MacOS. Of course, you already
establish your personal working style different from what apple assume that
of users.
I also stick on OS 9.2 because I do not feel like using Mac OS X, because
that is not what I expected on the PC desktop.
On the other hand, Todd likes new Apple desktop. That is fine. Apple people
can confirm we did right things.

We do not need discuss whether I like it or not, but we need to discuss
whether one is good solution for the intended context of use or the
intended users.

And also usability and design is not equal. Better usability makes uglier
face in the most case of the complex system like Apple OS and Abode system.
Fortunately, all IT system is incomplete design, because balancing
usability and look & feel is very complicated and nobody get the perfect
solution.
Even if some body find a perfect solution, users will get bored and desire
something fresh.

And it is good sign for use, because that why you still have a job to
improve or diverse the existing user interface.

Evidence? No, just I feel it.
------------------------------------
Masayasu Yamamoto

IT and Communications Systems Security
IT Services and Innovation
TUV Rheinland Japan Ltd.

30 Jan 2004 - 3:56am
Ilan Volow
2004

On Thursday, January 29, 2004, at 03:22 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> On Jan 29, 2004, at 11:28 AM, Christian Simon wrote:
>
>> I wonder with so many years at Adobe if your professional perspective
>> is
>> slanted to the Adobe culture? I agree, Adobe creates great products.
>> Is this
>> is a marker of the roles and responsibilities of IxD, or a
>> combination of
>> skills that are successful for the power politics in Adobe?
>
> That may be the case. It's hard to see water when one is fish.
>
> But my opinion comes from pondering about the future and what kinds of
> products we'll need to design in that future given the technology
> component. I'll elaborate with one key example.
>
> When WebVan was going, I knew a few people who worked there. I
> remember asking them why the execs spent their vast warchest on the
> things they did, and not focus on one of the key problems inherent
> with shopping for groceries with the web. Using a computer is out of
> context for grocery shopping since once does it in their office
> typically, and the web browser is a significantly clumsy interaction
> model to begin with to do your shopping in the first place. What
> WebVan needed. IMHO, was a product that was a flat panel display that
> hung from the refrigerator that used WiFi and a stylus as an input
> model. I don't want to argue how practical that was in 1999, but it
> will be practical in just two short years from now.
>
> With a flat panel display device that has uses no keyboard, you have a
> number of problems to solve: What's the fastest way to interact with
> it so you can do both spur of the moment shopping ("hmmm... we're out
> of eggs, milk and bacon. I need to add that to purchase list, so I can
> do so right in front of the frig) and longer more involved shopping,
> which would allow the user to remove the device from the frig, sit
> down at the kitchen table and go to it. Anyone using a Notebook OS
> these days might know some of the other inherent problems using a
> stylus to do things like scrolling, but a mouse would not be practical
> handing from a frig, so a stylus is probably the best way to go.
>

Given the current momentum behind RFID tags, by the time everyone has a
wi-fi fridge, input devices will probably be close to a non-issue. The
act of adding or removing stuff (triggering the RFID system) from the
fridge would in effect be the input device. You take the second-to-last
apple out of the fridge, the RFID tag on the apple gets triggered and
your fridge adds apples to your shopping list--no mice involved (unless
you have really exotic and disgusting tastes). Of course, there would
be a few interesting challenges, like how the fridge will sense that
items in containers (e.g. milk) are low in volume. A second problem,
which the whole smart-fridge RFID people seem to overlook, is that half
the stuff in a kitchen isn't kept in the fridge but in various
cupboards scattered around the kitchen. To have a complete "Smart
Kitchen" that can keep a running inventory of your food, the entire
darn room would have to be wired up for intelligence, not just the
fridge.

Such stuff is probably still few years away, though. Right now, IMHO,
the food industry should focus their technology efforts on two killing
two major annoyances of most shoppers:

1. Not being able to find something in the store.

Perhaps some stores have kiosks all around that show you exactly in
what aisle your mystery item is squirreled away in, but none in my area
seem to. I'd like another option besides having to wait around to find
a non-busy employee who knows where something is or having to spend
lots of time performing an exhaustive series of visual searches to find
the thing on my own.

2. Self-checkout stations with lousy user interaction

If I had a dime for every time I've seen someone spend several minutes
trying to get through ringing up less than 5 items (and looking like
they are about ready to take a sledgehammer to the machine), I'd have a
lot of dimes. On the checkout machines at one store in my area, you are
asked some question like "do you have any coupons?". Rather than have a
button like "no coupons" or "skip coupons" or something else that
implies bypassing the coupon process, they assign that function to a
big red button labeled "Cancel" which at first glance appears to cancel
the entire checkout process (you have to make that "leap of faith" to
figure out it skips the coupon area). It gets even better when you make
a mistake and want to undo that single box of cheese nips you
accidently rang up 15 times, and you can't find a way to go back (or at
least cancel the checkout process and start over) and the checkout
station keeps yelling "please wait for cashier assistance", as if to
loudly proclaim to the entire store that you're a complete idiot who
has no idea at all about how to use modern technology.

If only a fraction of the money spent on WebVan was spent towards
improving these situations...*sigh*

--
Ilan Volow
Ergonomica Auctorita Illico!

30 Jan 2004 - 12:26pm
Nick Ragouzis
2004

Todd, Andrei, Bob,

Thanks for a great thread (or two).

> Google redesign
Andrei: What value are you attempting to capture in your redesign?
... Either as proxy for Google or agent for the ultimate users?
Sure, any enterprise will gladly consider tweaks and fiddles ...
but I'm missing the return on solving a worthwhile problem or
reaching important new performance. Perhaps your (re)design could
consider the benefits to folks using the Google-local search box
only for refinement, extension, or respecification of searches
after starting with the browser-based or OS-based search fields?
Shifting the logo and search box as you've done helps there ...
but that's not a serious attack on that opportunity. Maybe improve
the integration with search results from other engines (since
searches are more often multi-engine)? Maybe take up the challenge
of scatter-gather for them? BTW ... with all the Google API users
do you know of one that's like Fabio Serra's MAB?

> Frank Lloyd Wright and interior design
Well, I think Wright *was* demonstrating a more pure interior design
than most interior designers. Look, I'm not saying I'm happy with
the results I experienced -- from my teens my family has lived next
to a FLW home and I've spent time in it -- but even at that age you'd
have to notice. Wright manipulated the space inside to have a different
pacing than was apparent from outside. He also set up the space to
create and anticipate your need and desire to move from large spaces
with wide views to more closed spaces. Not only that, to move through
a staccato of spaces, with different interior and exterior views. I'm
assuming we're talking about interior design as more than splaying
furniture, skins, cloth, plastic, plaster, stone and paint around ...
and what interior designers want to do Wright did in a very fundamental
and most effective way. If in fact by comparison to ID (Interior)
design standards it wasn't so pretty or the fixtures (flat benches,
plain cabinetry) weren't so comfortable ... so what: Google's pretty
spare too but the basic seating is serviceable. He was indeed designing
for the interior interface ... the human one I mentioned before. And
boy, you couldn't be in that house without feeling his manipulation!

> Steve Jobs
Bob, I love your characterization, indeed: [Steve Jobs is] "the determining
factor in Apple's success." Especially if you meant to include limiting
factors. By comparison, his is a small boutique design studio, (number of
units, revenue, models/skus). And his approach is probably appropriate for
that one solution to one marketplace need -- you could say he's done better
than you might expect. But just like the odd store down the street, a better
result (on almost all fronts) could come from removing some of those
limitations. From Lisa to now, Steve has managed to avoid fulfilling the
visions of ambitious Apple employees and those of his customers in place
for his. (The "switch" ads were nothing more than a lifeline to Mac users
that they would soon be joined by others ... that their isolation would end
soon, in the ultimate Mac victory, proving that despite its deeds Apple
had been caring for them all along.*)

. . . .

Teams take you places you (as an individual) wouldn't have gone in ways you
wouldn't have thought to go ... that's their vital essence, whether those
places are over "insurmountable" hurdles or around new corners. Steve Jobs
and Frank Lloyd Wright's (and even Andrei's) designs could all have been
improved by better use of team design. Mostly in obvious ways, at least at
first -- the toughest part might have rested within those two designers
themselves. I agree with those who say we might learn something from the
single-vision-driven design systems ... and that's how to improve team-based
design. For in this world any balanced view would have to notice that there
is little but team-based design.

Best,
--Nick

* Please don't get into me about whether I'm anti-Mac or anti-Apple. I'm not.
Well, maybe I am, but consider this first: Apple II explorer, Apple
developer from Lisa times, interviewed at Mariani for the (who knew) Mac
development team (incl all of 5 mins with Jobs) -- withdrew my (probably failed!)
candidacy, GM business software at Broderbund software - tightly aligned with
Apple in Apple II days and at (pre)Mac launch, consultant to Advanced Technology
Group (who hasn't?!) at Apple ... etc.

But what's not obvious about this marketplace? I've always been multiplatform,
but having 11 months ago brought up a Linux system to run my own services I
found that I am using that system (two now, one GNOME and one KDE) much more
than expected. Now, every upgrade removes one Windows (for sure) and one Mac
system (there still are three). We build the computer from components (fun,
cheap, easy -- so easy, so upgradeable) and install the distributions (Fedora,
SuSE) and run! Outweighs any "special" feeling of "owning" and running a
Macintosh. But regarding those two boxes of Mac software, from HASH animation
and (non-transgradable !!!!***) Macromedia to software development platforms?
Well, they're gathering dust ... just in case. But thank goodness I never threw
out my O'Reilly X Window System guides (X11R4 and 5, OSF/Motif 1.2) :-)
-- they're not needed, of course, or all that useful, but it's a tiny bit of
satisfaction for carrying them through 3-4-5 house moves!

30 Jan 2004 - 12:52pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 30, 2004, at 9:26 AM, Nick Ragouzis wrote:

> Andrei: What value are you attempting to capture in your redesign?
> ... Either as proxy for Google or agent for the ultimate users?

Mostly as a design exercise for nothing more than purely myself, I'm
just practicing out loud. What you are seeing is only the second
iteration. I'll probably get through five or more iterations before I'm
done with it as an exercise.

As an exercise, I'm doing the following:

1) Switching the code to XHTML + CSS transitional. Doing this goes a
long way towards making the search results work on other devices, and
begin to address some accessibility issues.

2) Clean up the presentation to make it more scannable.

3) Work the brand into the new result, to show that redesigns don't
have to lose aesthetic or branding.

4) Add more information to reduce page navigation, making each search
page information rich.

5) Add new features and behaviors that could make the search results
page more useful. I'm looking at adding things like Filters to trim or
add to results without performing explicit new searches, more explicit
Search functions like "site:", or other hidden features,
expand/collapse results, common sets, plus others. Many people are
giving me good ideas on the thing that could be added, and I'm
exploring them right now.

There's more to it than that, but those are the main goals I have
going. Like I said, I've only done two iterations. More are coming to
show the design evolve over time. I do have other work and I'm spending
too much time debating with Todd these days.

In the end, I do hope the last iteration is a good leap over the
current implementation, and across all factors of graphic, information
and interaction design.

> Maybe improve
> the integration with search results from other engines (since
> searches are more often multi-engine)? Maybe take up the challenge
> of scatter-gather for them? BTW ... with all the Google API users
> do you know of one that's like Fabio Serra's MAB?

Yup. I'm looking into those as well. We'll see where it takes me. I'll
research the Serra MAB. I'm not familiar with it.

Really though, it's more of an "out loud" design exercise. One anyone
can participate in.

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

30 Jan 2004 - 1:17pm
Bob Baxley
2004

Nick, some good stuff in here for sure. Without getting into the debate
about Apple I would like to suggest that market share is not
necessarily the only -- or even the most important -- measure of
success. Apple is selling millions of computers every year, has an
enormous installed base, has a following that can be characterized as
loyal tending towards fanatic, and has somehow managed to attract
mind-share completely out of proportion with market-share. By many
measures, Apple is extremely successful.

The mere fact there is even a debate comparing Apple to Microsoft
strikes me as a sign of Apple's success. It would be like political
pundits engaging in serious debate about the relative merits of the US
versus Costa Rica.

As for the odd store down the street, well you know, I sort of like
shopping there. And while I know that's never going to make me
mainstream, it doesn't necessarily make me wrong either. Maybe I don't
want to be a Wal-Mart shopper. I know it's inexpensive. I know they
have lots of stuff. But you know what? I really don't like shopping
there.

Finally, to use one last analogy, the argument that Apple has to have a
huge market-share in order to be successful is roughly equivalent to
the idea that the best restaurant is the one with the most tables.

All the best...Bob

------------------------------------------
Bob Baxley :: bob at bobbaxley.com
Professional :: www.baxleydesign.com
Personal :: www.drowninginthecurrent.com

On Jan 30, 2004, at 9:26 AM, Nick Ragouzis wrote:

> Todd, Andrei, Bob,
>
> Thanks for a great thread (or two).
>
>> Google redesign
> Andrei: What value are you attempting to capture in your redesign?
> ... Either as proxy for Google or agent for the ultimate users?
> Sure, any enterprise will gladly consider tweaks and fiddles ...
> but I'm missing the return on solving a worthwhile problem or
> reaching important new performance. Perhaps your (re)design could
> consider the benefits to folks using the Google-local search box
> only for refinement, extension, or respecification of searches
> after starting with the browser-based or OS-based search fields?
> Shifting the logo and search box as you've done helps there ...
> but that's not a serious attack on that opportunity. Maybe improve
> the integration with search results from other engines (since
> searches are more often multi-engine)? Maybe take up the challenge
> of scatter-gather for them? BTW ... with all the Google API users
> do you know of one that's like Fabio Serra's MAB?
>
>> Frank Lloyd Wright and interior design
> Well, I think Wright *was* demonstrating a more pure interior design
> than most interior designers. Look, I'm not saying I'm happy with
> the results I experienced -- from my teens my family has lived next
> to a FLW home and I've spent time in it -- but even at that age you'd
> have to notice. Wright manipulated the space inside to have a different
> pacing than was apparent from outside. He also set up the space to
> create and anticipate your need and desire to move from large spaces
> with wide views to more closed spaces. Not only that, to move through
> a staccato of spaces, with different interior and exterior views. I'm
> assuming we're talking about interior design as more than splaying
> furniture, skins, cloth, plastic, plaster, stone and paint around ...
> and what interior designers want to do Wright did in a very fundamental
> and most effective way. If in fact by comparison to ID (Interior)
> design standards it wasn't so pretty or the fixtures (flat benches,
> plain cabinetry) weren't so comfortable ... so what: Google's pretty
> spare too but the basic seating is serviceable. He was indeed designing
> for the interior interface ... the human one I mentioned before. And
> boy, you couldn't be in that house without feeling his manipulation!
>
>> Steve Jobs
> Bob, I love your characterization, indeed: [Steve Jobs is] "the
> determining
> factor in Apple's success." Especially if you meant to include limiting
> factors. By comparison, his is a small boutique design studio, (number
> of
> units, revenue, models/skus). And his approach is probably appropriate
> for
> that one solution to one marketplace need -- you could say he's done
> better
> than you might expect. But just like the odd store down the street, a
> better
> result (on almost all fronts) could come from removing some of those
> limitations. From Lisa to now, Steve has managed to avoid fulfilling
> the
> visions of ambitious Apple employees and those of his customers in
> place
> for his. (The "switch" ads were nothing more than a lifeline to Mac
> users
> that they would soon be joined by others ... that their isolation
> would end
> soon, in the ultimate Mac victory, proving that despite its deeds Apple
> had been caring for them all along.*)
>
> . . . .
>
> Teams take you places you (as an individual) wouldn't have gone in
> ways you
> wouldn't have thought to go ... that's their vital essence, whether
> those
> places are over "insurmountable" hurdles or around new corners. Steve
> Jobs
> and Frank Lloyd Wright's (and even Andrei's) designs could all have
> been
> improved by better use of team design. Mostly in obvious ways, at
> least at
> first -- the toughest part might have rested within those two designers
> themselves. I agree with those who say we might learn something from
> the
> single-vision-driven design systems ... and that's how to improve
> team-based
> design. For in this world any balanced view would have to notice that
> there
> is little but team-based design.
>
>
>
> Best,
> --Nick
>
>
>
>
> * Please don't get into me about whether I'm anti-Mac or anti-Apple.
> I'm not.
> Well, maybe I am, but consider this first: Apple II explorer, Apple
> developer from Lisa times, interviewed at Mariani for the (who knew)
> Mac
> development team (incl all of 5 mins with Jobs) -- withdrew my
> (probably failed!)
> candidacy, GM business software at Broderbund software - tightly
> aligned with
> Apple in Apple II days and at (pre)Mac launch, consultant to Advanced
> Technology
> Group (who hasn't?!) at Apple ... etc.
>
> But what's not obvious about this marketplace? I've always been
> multiplatform,
> but having 11 months ago brought up a Linux system to run my own
> services I
> found that I am using that system (two now, one GNOME and one KDE)
> much more
> than expected. Now, every upgrade removes one Windows (for sure) and
> one Mac
> system (there still are three). We build the computer from components
> (fun,
> cheap, easy -- so easy, so upgradeable) and install the distributions
> (Fedora,
> SuSE) and run! Outweighs any "special" feeling of "owning" and running
> a
> Macintosh. But regarding those two boxes of Mac software, from HASH
> animation
> and (non-transgradable !!!!***) Macromedia to software development
> platforms?
> Well, they're gathering dust ... just in case. But thank goodness I
> never threw
> out my O'Reilly X Window System guides (X11R4 and 5, OSF/Motif 1.2) :-)
> -- they're not needed, of course, or all that useful, but it's a tiny
> bit of
> satisfaction for carrying them through 3-4-5 house moves!
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> 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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> already)
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> --
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>

30 Jan 2004 - 1:36pm
Nick Ragouzis
2004

Bob,

Right on all points, I'd say.

Well, the Costa Rica comparison isn't quite ... any player that
gets in the teens% will always be a player (even if it never goes
there again). Costa Rica would be in the .x%s; Ross Perot might
have been a better comparison in U.S. politics. :-)

My comparisons were two:

1) By comparison to top signature boutique consumer design brands,
Apple is small. Not tiny, but very small. So what ... Apple's fun
to watch, fun to play with ... but it's important in understanding
# 2).

2) Single individual-led design systems are not prevalent, not
dominant ... and suffer at the edge of unnecessary risk more than
team-led design systems. Risk for the organization they drive, risk
for the consumers they serve. Apple is a pure case of this.

This risk isn't solely of the kind that moves into markets, and in
ways that, a team wouldn't -- it is a popular misconception (that no
one here's made) that teams for mostly very conservative. Teams are
as likely to be extreme risk-taking as extreme risk-avoiding; in the
middle it's a mixed picture. Teams change people, people change in
teams. Perhaps no better example than ... Steve Jobs ... Pixar is a
different place and managed and run in and by teams (as far as my
two animator friends there tell me).

(BTW: sure, at Apple Steve runs a team ... I had never been there
when there wasn't a team around Steve ... depending on who's "in.")

Best,
--Nick

-----Original Message-----
From: Bob Baxley [mailto:bob at bobbaxley.com]
Sent: Friday, January 30, 2004 10:17 AM
To: Nick Ragouzis
Cc: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] : How to Get Into ... Best Job Title

Nick, some good stuff in here for sure. Without getting into the debate
about Apple I would like to suggest that market share is not
necessarily the only -- or even the most important -- measure of
success. Apple is selling millions of computers every year, has an
enormous installed base, has a following that can be characterized as
loyal tending towards fanatic, and has somehow managed to attract
mind-share completely out of proportion with market-share. By many
measures, Apple is extremely successful.

The mere fact there is even a debate comparing Apple to Microsoft
strikes me as a sign of Apple's success. It would be like political
pundits engaging in serious debate about the relative merits of the US
versus Costa Rica.

As for the odd store down the street, well you know, I sort of like
shopping there. And while I know that's never going to make me
mainstream, it doesn't necessarily make me wrong either. Maybe I don't
want to be a Wal-Mart shopper. I know it's inexpensive. I know they
have lots of stuff. But you know what? I really don't like shopping
there.

Finally, to use one last analogy, the argument that Apple has to have a
huge market-share in order to be successful is roughly equivalent to
the idea that the best restaurant is the one with the most tables.

All the best...Bob

------------------------------------------
Bob Baxley :: bob at bobbaxley.com
Professional :: www.baxleydesign.com
Personal :: www.drowninginthecurrent.com

On Jan 30, 2004, at 9:26 AM, Nick Ragouzis wrote:

> Todd, Andrei, Bob,
>
> Thanks for a great thread (or two).
>
>> Google redesign
> Andrei: What value are you attempting to capture in your redesign? ...
> Either as proxy for Google or agent for the ultimate users? Sure, any
> enterprise will gladly consider tweaks and fiddles ... but I'm missing
> the return on solving a worthwhile problem or reaching important new
> performance. Perhaps your (re)design could consider the benefits to
> folks using the Google-local search box only for refinement,
> extension, or respecification of searches after starting with the
> browser-based or OS-based search fields? Shifting the logo and search
> box as you've done helps there ... but that's not a serious attack on
> that opportunity. Maybe improve the integration with search results
> from other engines (since searches are more often multi-engine)? Maybe
> take up the challenge of scatter-gather for them? BTW ... with all the
> Google API users do you know of one that's like Fabio Serra's MAB?
>
>> Frank Lloyd Wright and interior design
> Well, I think Wright *was* demonstrating a more pure interior design
> than most interior designers. Look, I'm not saying I'm happy with the
> results I experienced -- from my teens my family has lived next to a
> FLW home and I've spent time in it -- but even at that age you'd have
> to notice. Wright manipulated the space inside to have a different
> pacing than was apparent from outside. He also set up the space to
> create and anticipate your need and desire to move from large spaces
> with wide views to more closed spaces. Not only that, to move through
> a staccato of spaces, with different interior and exterior views. I'm
> assuming we're talking about interior design as more than splaying
> furniture, skins, cloth, plastic, plaster, stone and paint around ...
> and what interior designers want to do Wright did in a very
> fundamental and most effective way. If in fact by comparison to ID
> (Interior) design standards it wasn't so pretty or the fixtures (flat
> benches, plain cabinetry) weren't so comfortable ... so what: Google's
> pretty spare too but the basic seating is serviceable. He was indeed
> designing for the interior interface ... the human one I mentioned
> before. And boy, you couldn't be in that house without feeling his
> manipulation!
>
>> Steve Jobs
> Bob, I love your characterization, indeed: [Steve Jobs is] "the
> determining
> factor in Apple's success." Especially if you meant to include limiting
> factors. By comparison, his is a small boutique design studio, (number
> of
> units, revenue, models/skus). And his approach is probably appropriate
> for
> that one solution to one marketplace need -- you could say he's done
> better
> than you might expect. But just like the odd store down the street, a
> better
> result (on almost all fronts) could come from removing some of those
> limitations. From Lisa to now, Steve has managed to avoid fulfilling
> the
> visions of ambitious Apple employees and those of his customers in
> place
> for his. (The "switch" ads were nothing more than a lifeline to Mac
> users
> that they would soon be joined by others ... that their isolation
> would end
> soon, in the ultimate Mac victory, proving that despite its deeds Apple
> had been caring for them all along.*)
>
> . . . .
>
> Teams take you places you (as an individual) wouldn't have gone in
> ways you
> wouldn't have thought to go ... that's their vital essence, whether
> those
> places are over "insurmountable" hurdles or around new corners. Steve
> Jobs
> and Frank Lloyd Wright's (and even Andrei's) designs could all have
> been
> improved by better use of team design. Mostly in obvious ways, at
> least at
> first -- the toughest part might have rested within those two designers
> themselves. I agree with those who say we might learn something from
> the
> single-vision-driven design systems ... and that's how to improve
> team-based
> design. For in this world any balanced view would have to notice that
> there
> is little but team-based design.
>
>
>
> Best,
> --Nick
>
>
>
>
> * Please don't get into me about whether I'm anti-Mac or anti-Apple.
> I'm not.
> Well, maybe I am, but consider this first: Apple II explorer, Apple
> developer from Lisa times, interviewed at Mariani for the (who knew)
> Mac
> development team (incl all of 5 mins with Jobs) -- withdrew my
> (probably failed!)
> candidacy, GM business software at Broderbund software - tightly
> aligned with
> Apple in Apple II days and at (pre)Mac launch, consultant to Advanced
> Technology
> Group (who hasn't?!) at Apple ... etc.
>
> But what's not obvious about this marketplace? I've always been
> multiplatform,
> but having 11 months ago brought up a Linux system to run my own
> services I
> found that I am using that system (two now, one GNOME and one KDE)
> much more
> than expected. Now, every upgrade removes one Windows (for sure) and
> one Mac
> system (there still are three). We build the computer from components
> (fun,
> cheap, easy -- so easy, so upgradeable) and install the distributions
> (Fedora,
> SuSE) and run! Outweighs any "special" feeling of "owning" and running
> a
> Macintosh. But regarding those two boxes of Mac software, from HASH
> animation
> and (non-transgradable !!!!***) Macromedia to software development
> platforms?
> Well, they're gathering dust ... just in case. But thank goodness I
> never threw
> out my O'Reilly X Window System guides (X11R4 and 5, OSF/Motif 1.2) :-)
> -- they're not needed, of course, or all that useful, but it's a tiny
> bit of
> satisfaction for carrying them through 3-4-5 house moves!
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List discuss at interactiondesigners.com
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> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
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>

30 Jan 2004 - 1:37pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 30, 2004, at 10:19 AM, Nick Ragouzis wrote:

>> 5) ... features and behaviors that could make the
>> search results page more useful

> Great. Makes me wonder: Why did the iterations on the UI come
> separately first?

I'm not sure I understand you, but if I do, I'm actually showing people
my mental process in this exercise, but I'm not stating that explicitly
as part of the exercise. That's not to say mine is the right process,
or the only one, just that's it's mine. When I work on a design, I tend
to cycle through various stages. I usually start with the presentation
aspect. Why? Because it forces me to then consider informational and
interaction aspect more directly.

By doing the clean-up pass, I got the code into a place that made it
easy to move, adjust, switch and mold. This also affected the basic
presentation. The second phase then allowed me to explore adding a
default set of 100 results with relative ease. Focusing on howw much
data I could pack into the results. I also reworked the navigational
area, and while I don't like the treatment, it makes playing with
iteration on it easy to do over time. This second pass is now getting
me to see things like how I could filter 100 results, what sort of
commands would I want more prominently at my disposal, what should
happen when I click certain links or commands, etc. Which will lead me
back into presentation treatments after that I'm sure. It starts to
cycle.

Now, if I was doing this as a hired gun, I probably would privately
show these iterations to various team members before I got to a point
that I liked the end result enough to show to a wider audience. One
that shows a more significant leap from A to B. I'm not doing that on
my website, and I'm not doing it because I hope when it is all said and
done, then end iteration will show this design evolution and a process
in the hopes it helps others.

> I look forward to your progress, especially on your commentary
> regarding what substantial value was pursued, and how it is
> thought to deliver it.

I hope I can deliver. 8^)

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

30 Jan 2004 - 1:50pm
Bob Baxley
2004

Nick,

The Ross Perot example is definitely a better one. Very small
percentage of the votes but a significant influence on the debate, the
issues, and the mainstream candidates.

As for the team vs. individual thing, I'm not saying that having an
individuals should be doing the work in isolation. Actually, my most
rewarding projects have been working as a two-man team where I was
paired with a visual designer. Sort of like the copy writer / art
director model used in advertising.

My problem with teams is mostly that they've gotten so freaking big. I
know of projects that have 2 visual designers, 2 interaction designers,
an information architect, 2 prototype coders, and a small army of
researchers. And all for a relatively small application that could be
designed by a two-man unit in 6 weeks. Unfortunately, with so many
people involved it's close to impossible to express a single, coherent
vision.

In terms of Apple and risk, I'm not sure I agree with you. Apple's
continued success relies on their ability to continually innovate and
create appealing products. But that's not as risky as some would
suggest because they have a repeatable, predictable process for
creating such products. Apple's ideas and innovations aren't the result
of luck, they're the result of systematic, rigorous hard work.

Actually if you want to see a risky company, go look at Boeing. It
costs them so much to develop a new plane that they virtually put the
entire company on the line every time they introduce a new commercial
jet. Talk about pressure.

...Bob

On Jan 30, 2004, at 10:36 AM, Nick Ragouzis wrote:

> Bob,
>
> Right on all points, I'd say.
>
> Well, the Costa Rica comparison isn't quite ... any player that
> gets in the teens% will always be a player (even if it never goes
> there again). Costa Rica would be in the .x%s; Ross Perot might
> have been a better comparison in U.S. politics. :-)
>
> My comparisons were two:
>
> 1) By comparison to top signature boutique consumer design brands,
> Apple is small. Not tiny, but very small. So what ... Apple's fun
> to watch, fun to play with ... but it's important in understanding
> # 2).
>
> 2) Single individual-led design systems are not prevalent, not
> dominant ... and suffer at the edge of unnecessary risk more than
> team-led design systems. Risk for the organization they drive, risk
> for the consumers they serve. Apple is a pure case of this.
>
> This risk isn't solely of the kind that moves into markets, and in
> ways that, a team wouldn't -- it is a popular misconception (that no
> one here's made) that teams for mostly very conservative. Teams are
> as likely to be extreme risk-taking as extreme risk-avoiding; in the
> middle it's a mixed picture. Teams change people, people change in
> teams. Perhaps no better example than ... Steve Jobs ... Pixar is a
> different place and managed and run in and by teams (as far as my
> two animator friends there tell me).
>
> (BTW: sure, at Apple Steve runs a team ... I had never been there
> when there wasn't a team around Steve ... depending on who's "in.")
>
> Best,
> --Nick
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Bob Baxley [mailto:bob at bobbaxley.com]
> Sent: Friday, January 30, 2004 10:17 AM
> To: Nick Ragouzis
> Cc: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
> Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] : How to Get Into ... Best Job Title
>
>
> Nick, some good stuff in here for sure. Without getting into the debate
> about Apple I would like to suggest that market share is not
> necessarily the only -- or even the most important -- measure of
> success. Apple is selling millions of computers every year, has an
> enormous installed base, has a following that can be characterized as
> loyal tending towards fanatic, and has somehow managed to attract
> mind-share completely out of proportion with market-share. By many
> measures, Apple is extremely successful.
>
> The mere fact there is even a debate comparing Apple to Microsoft
> strikes me as a sign of Apple's success. It would be like political
> pundits engaging in serious debate about the relative merits of the US
> versus Costa Rica.
>
> As for the odd store down the street, well you know, I sort of like
> shopping there. And while I know that's never going to make me
> mainstream, it doesn't necessarily make me wrong either. Maybe I don't
> want to be a Wal-Mart shopper. I know it's inexpensive. I know they
> have lots of stuff. But you know what? I really don't like shopping
> there.
>
> Finally, to use one last analogy, the argument that Apple has to have a
> huge market-share in order to be successful is roughly equivalent to
> the idea that the best restaurant is the one with the most tables.
>
> All the best...Bob
>
> ------------------------------------------
> Bob Baxley :: bob at bobbaxley.com
> Professional :: www.baxleydesign.com
> Personal :: www.drowninginthecurrent.com
>
>
> On Jan 30, 2004, at 9:26 AM, Nick Ragouzis wrote:
>
>> Todd, Andrei, Bob,
>>
>> Thanks for a great thread (or two).
>>
>>> Google redesign
>> Andrei: What value are you attempting to capture in your redesign? ...
>> Either as proxy for Google or agent for the ultimate users? Sure, any
>> enterprise will gladly consider tweaks and fiddles ... but I'm missing
>> the return on solving a worthwhile problem or reaching important new
>> performance. Perhaps your (re)design could consider the benefits to
>> folks using the Google-local search box only for refinement,
>> extension, or respecification of searches after starting with the
>> browser-based or OS-based search fields? Shifting the logo and search
>> box as you've done helps there ... but that's not a serious attack on
>> that opportunity. Maybe improve the integration with search results
>> from other engines (since searches are more often multi-engine)? Maybe
>> take up the challenge of scatter-gather for them? BTW ... with all the
>> Google API users do you know of one that's like Fabio Serra's MAB?
>>
>>> Frank Lloyd Wright and interior design
>> Well, I think Wright *was* demonstrating a more pure interior design
>> than most interior designers. Look, I'm not saying I'm happy with the
>> results I experienced -- from my teens my family has lived next to a
>> FLW home and I've spent time in it -- but even at that age you'd have
>> to notice. Wright manipulated the space inside to have a different
>> pacing than was apparent from outside. He also set up the space to
>> create and anticipate your need and desire to move from large spaces
>> with wide views to more closed spaces. Not only that, to move through
>> a staccato of spaces, with different interior and exterior views. I'm
>> assuming we're talking about interior design as more than splaying
>> furniture, skins, cloth, plastic, plaster, stone and paint around ...
>> and what interior designers want to do Wright did in a very
>> fundamental and most effective way. If in fact by comparison to ID
>> (Interior) design standards it wasn't so pretty or the fixtures (flat
>> benches, plain cabinetry) weren't so comfortable ... so what: Google's
>> pretty spare too but the basic seating is serviceable. He was indeed
>> designing for the interior interface ... the human one I mentioned
>> before. And boy, you couldn't be in that house without feeling his
>> manipulation!
>>
>>> Steve Jobs
>> Bob, I love your characterization, indeed: [Steve Jobs is] "the
>> determining
>> factor in Apple's success." Especially if you meant to include
>> limiting
>> factors. By comparison, his is a small boutique design studio, (number
>> of
>> units, revenue, models/skus). And his approach is probably appropriate
>> for
>> that one solution to one marketplace need -- you could say he's done
>> better
>> than you might expect. But just like the odd store down the street, a
>> better
>> result (on almost all fronts) could come from removing some of those
>> limitations. From Lisa to now, Steve has managed to avoid fulfilling
>> the
>> visions of ambitious Apple employees and those of his customers in
>> place
>> for his. (The "switch" ads were nothing more than a lifeline to Mac
>> users
>> that they would soon be joined by others ... that their isolation
>> would end
>> soon, in the ultimate Mac victory, proving that despite its deeds
>> Apple
>> had been caring for them all along.*)
>>
>> . . . .
>>
>> Teams take you places you (as an individual) wouldn't have gone in
>> ways you
>> wouldn't have thought to go ... that's their vital essence, whether
>> those
>> places are over "insurmountable" hurdles or around new corners. Steve
>> Jobs
>> and Frank Lloyd Wright's (and even Andrei's) designs could all have
>> been
>> improved by better use of team design. Mostly in obvious ways, at
>> least at
>> first -- the toughest part might have rested within those two
>> designers
>> themselves. I agree with those who say we might learn something from
>> the
>> single-vision-driven design systems ... and that's how to improve
>> team-based
>> design. For in this world any balanced view would have to notice that
>> there
>> is little but team-based design.
>>
>>
>>
>> Best,
>> --Nick
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> * Please don't get into me about whether I'm anti-Mac or anti-Apple.
>> I'm not.
>> Well, maybe I am, but consider this first: Apple II explorer, Apple
>> developer from Lisa times, interviewed at Mariani for the (who knew)
>> Mac
>> development team (incl all of 5 mins with Jobs) -- withdrew my
>> (probably failed!)
>> candidacy, GM business software at Broderbund software - tightly
>> aligned with
>> Apple in Apple II days and at (pre)Mac launch, consultant to Advanced
>> Technology
>> Group (who hasn't?!) at Apple ... etc.
>>
>> But what's not obvious about this marketplace? I've always been
>> multiplatform,
>> but having 11 months ago brought up a Linux system to run my own
>> services I
>> found that I am using that system (two now, one GNOME and one KDE)
>> much more
>> than expected. Now, every upgrade removes one Windows (for sure) and
>> one Mac
>> system (there still are three). We build the computer from components
>> (fun,
>> cheap, easy -- so easy, so upgradeable) and install the distributions
>> (Fedora,
>> SuSE) and run! Outweighs any "special" feeling of "owning" and running
>> a
>> Macintosh. But regarding those two boxes of Mac software, from HASH
>> animation
>> and (non-transgradable !!!!***) Macromedia to software development
>> platforms?
>> Well, they're gathering dust ... just in case. But thank goodness I
>> never threw
>> out my O'Reilly X Window System guides (X11R4 and 5, OSF/Motif 1.2)
>> :-)
>> -- they're not needed, of course, or all that useful, but it's a tiny
>> bit of
>> satisfaction for carrying them through 3-4-5 house moves!
>>
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> 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/
>>
>
>
>
>
------------------------------------------
Bob Baxley :: bob at bobbaxley.com
Professional :: www.baxleydesign.com
Personal :: www.drowninginthecurrent.com

30 Jan 2004 - 3:29pm
cfmdesigns
2004

Andrei Herasimchuk <andrei at adobe.com> writes:

>On Jan 29, 2004, at 11:34 AM, Todd R. Warfel wrote:
>
>>I've read Tog several times. He seems to be stuck in Classic Mac OS
>>land. He argues that things would be great if they just went back
>>to the way they were. We've observed hundreds of MacOS users
>>migrating from Classic Mac OS to X and noticed significant
>>improvements in usability and productivity.
>>
>>To refute some of his claims:
>>
>>5. Trash can belongs in the corner - it is in the corner. It's
>>always in the right corner. It stays in the right corner. Yes, it's
>>the right corner of the Dock, but that's a pretty predictable,
>>consistent place. It might move within a 70pxl radius, but again,
>>that doesn't seem to be a problem from our observations.
>
>Technically, it's not always in the right corner. It moves where the
>Dock is moved, which can include the right and left sides of the
>screen. The point here, from my point of view, is that an item as
>prominent and *permanent* as the trash can should have a permanent
>location that places it somehow in the line with Fitts Law.

For those not wholly familiar with what Tog says on the matter:

5. The Trash Can belongs in the corner

This decision was so wrong that several replacement desktop trash
cans have appeared to address it. Dock diehards point out that they
always use Command-Delete anyway. Of course they do! That's because
having a hidden, constantly-shifting trash can sucks!

I've never understood the logic behind this.

* I always use Cmd-Delete, but that's because it's faster than
dragging the item to the trash can wherever the heck it sits. The
action is *always* the same when I do the key combo, but if I do a
drag, it's in a different direction for each item dragged. (Of
course, my early UI work as a QA Engineer was on FrameMaker, which
had key sequences for everything, including tab access to all
controls in Mac dialogs , until OS 9 stole the key combo for that
away. So I'm geared toward using key combos rather than having to
access mouse and object and button and trash can location each time.)

* As others noted, the Classic trash can sat near the corner, but not
*on* the corner, and it could be moved. The other reason I geared to
using the key combo was accuracy. Using drag actions, about 1 time
in 10 (as a guess), I would "miss" the trashcan, and drop the file a
pixel or two away from it (which would then also likely cover the
trashcan from view, making it even harder to drag to). Having had
many cases where I ended up blocked from an action by a file I
thought I had trashed but had not, the much more accurate key combo
improved my efficiency.

* For a more useful Dock, consider John Doneshcelli's DockFun! Best
shareware I ever used. If you want the trash can in the corner, it
can force the Dock to anchor to a corner of the screen, rather than
the middle. (Like the NeXT's dock could do.) It also allows you to
have multiple docks you can switch between. (I admit it: I used the
Launcher in Classic!) Thus, rather than having every app on the
system in my Dock, each one a hard to access 6 pixels high, I have a
32 pixel dock for browsers and other Internet apps, one for
utilities, one for games, one for misc. software, and so on.

Jim Drew
Seattle, WA
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30 Jan 2004 - 1:19pm
Nick Ragouzis
2004

Andrei,

Thanks for the overview.

> Design exercise
Cool. I like the team, iterative, exploratory aspects.
(Just in case it wasn't clear, I did consider your approach
to actually be team based.)

> 1) ... search results work on other devices
Hum, I'd thought that the SOAP API (and HTTP/1.1 content
negotiation for the few who clue) offered that potential
to those who program for those platforms. I'd love to see
a grand improvement for the desktop environment. XHTML
transitional + CSS2 is nice but ... well, it's a fiddle,
no?

...

> 5) ... features and behaviors that could make the
> search results page more useful
Great. Makes me wonder: Why did the iterations on the UI come
separately first? I've used many (several) Google and Amazon
browser UIs with different effect -- the value they delivered
(or not) was ultimately dependent on the these #5 factors.
MAB <http://mab.mozdev.org> is interesting on many levels ...
and for one, you really do enlarge your sense of the value that
Amazon brings ... even though you might say that the interface
is pretty spare :-O of Amazon branding. The combined functionality
of that little tool (it even has a rudimentary scatter-gather)
has increased my dependence on Amazon, actually.

. . .

I look forward to your progress, especially on your commentary
regarding what substantial value was pursued, and how it is
thought to deliver it.

--Nick

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Andrei Herasimchuk
Sent: Friday, January 30, 2004 09:53 AM
To: Interaction Designers
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] : How to Get Into ... Best Job Title

On Jan 30, 2004, at 9:26 AM, Nick Ragouzis wrote:

> Andrei: What value are you attempting to capture in your redesign? ...
> Either as proxy for Google or agent for the ultimate users?

Mostly as a design exercise for nothing more than purely myself, I'm
just practicing out loud. What you are seeing is only the second
iteration. I'll probably get through five or more iterations before I'm
done with it as an exercise.

As an exercise, I'm doing the following:

1) Switching the code to XHTML + CSS transitional. Doing this goes a
long way towards making the search results work on other devices, and
begin to address some accessibility issues.

2) Clean up the presentation to make it more scannable.

3) Work the brand into the new result, to show that redesigns don't
have to lose aesthetic or branding.

4) Add more information to reduce page navigation, making each search
page information rich.

5) Add new features and behaviors that could make the search results
page more useful. I'm looking at adding things like Filters to trim or
add to results without performing explicit new searches, more explicit
Search functions like "site:", or other hidden features,
expand/collapse results, common sets, plus others. Many people are
giving me good ideas on the thing that could be added, and I'm
exploring them right now.

There's more to it than that, but those are the main goals I have
going. Like I said, I've only done two iterations. More are coming to
show the design evolve over time. I do have other work and I'm spending
too much time debating with Todd these days.

In the end, I do hope the last iteration is a good leap over the
current implementation, and across all factors of graphic, information
and interaction design.

> Maybe improve
> the integration with search results from other engines (since searches
> are more often multi-engine)? Maybe take up the challenge of
> scatter-gather for them? BTW ... with all the Google API users do you
> know of one that's like Fabio Serra's MAB?

Yup. I'm looking into those as well. We'll see where it takes me. I'll
research the Serra MAB. I'm not familiar with it.

Really though, it's more of an "out loud" design exercise. One anyone
can participate in.

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

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