Posts Tagged ‘Musings’

Beware the slash: Distinguishing between UI and UX

Graphic showing an angry cat growling defiance at a monstrous / punctuation.A colleague and I were discussing challenges in explaining what we do as user experience practitioners. He mentioned a shared pet peeve, the slashing together of UI/UX. I see this most often in job postings, but it appears in technology news, blogs, and even how some people describe their work. The concern that my colleague and I share is that UI and UX are not the same thing. Treating them as synonymous concepts risks diluting the contributions offered by each.

UI and UX are closely related terms, so I understand the temptation to simply consider them as a whole. A discussion on UX.stackexchange considers the distinction between UI and UX. Many good points are made about the roles UI and UX fill when considering design and development. The diversity of comments as well as the long duration in which comments were gathered, however, suggests even professionals in these fields struggle to draw a fixed and firm line between the two concepts.

One way to distinguish between UI and UX is to consider what each brings to their relationship. The UI is a deliverable of the UX and development processes, but it is also the foundation from which user experience, from a psychological perspective, emerges. That is, the user interface is the primary and tangible means by which the user experience of a product occurs. Read the rest of this post »

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Posted in Musings, UI implementation, UX

Not just a “pretty picture”: Ensuring equal contributions to create UX

When considering the challenges of designing over time and designing for context, emotion is essential to address these issues. Emotional reactions can reach deeper than intellectual experiences often do and those impressions may last longer. We may not remember the particulars details of certain experiences, but we often remember our reactions to them, how they made us feel. When considering emotion in terms of designing products and services, it often is expressed most through the visual design of the user experience.

Not that interaction design cannot cultivate emotional success, but it is not primarily measured on emotional appeal. I talked about how the emotional experience is often sacrificed when designing the user experience for many products in favor of functionality and effectiveness. The unfortunate corollary issue in visual design is what I call the “pretty picture.”

This phrase does not mean that I disregard aesthetics. Nor am I arguing against creating conceptual visual designs or the process of exploring visual identity and graphic design. The problem I see is that the pretty picture is the illusion of visual design. Read the rest of this post »

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Posted in Creative, design, Musings, UX

The need for a broader perspective in user experience design

UPA 2011 Designing for Social ChangeLast week, I attended UPA 2011. The theme this year was Designing for Social Change. The opening keynote speaker Paul Adams, Global Brand Experience Manager at Facebook, shared his research (an earlier version of his presentation available on Slideshare) into social networks. Among the many insights of the presentation, his research showed that the change agents today are not the thought leaders or the “influentials,” but regular people connected in clusters of individuals who themselves are linked to other clusters (see slides 93 and 9). A single, regular person had the potential to reach millions people at the Friends of Friends of Friends level.

But the real challenge is not to connect individuals to the world, but connect individuals more richly to their own networks and in turn connect those networks in a way that influences social change. The potential of social isn’t that I can read 1000 reviews by strangers, but that I can read reviews by people I trust already in my network, strengthening my trust in the product or service and prompting me to spread that trust to other members of my networks. It comes down to relationships.

This points to a growing need to rethink the way that we design. The term “user experience design” (UXD) has gained currency, but is still being defined. Work is still needed for UXD to reach its full potential to deliver richer experiences to increasingly sophisticated and demanding users. Read the rest of this post »

“Where were you when…?”: Innovation, community, and history converge

“Where were you when…” is a familiar start to discussing major recent historic events. In the wake of the news about Osama bin Laden’s death, “Where were you when you heard the news of his death?” is now being asked and discussed in many forum. I realized that for me the most apt answer is “on Twitter.”

Screen shot of Twitter tweets on bin Laden DNA

Tweets regarding DNA testing for bin Laden's identification

That’s where the news first broke. That’s where many of us first heard about the pending announcement from President Obama. Where a chief of staff of former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld seemed to confirm the rumors. Where a mixture of surprise, relief, concern, dark humor, celebration, and gratitude to the soldiers and the president started lasting discussions about the ramifications of such an event over an hour before the news was officially confirmed. Where the world learned about “the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it.” Where many of us marveled at how Twitter connected us while withstanding the barrage of 5,106 tweets per second at its peak.

How different from a decade ago. Read the rest of this post »

Are You a Digital Hoarder?

…exclaimed my coworker, as I had just finished explaining the sudden death of my 1.5TB external drive as well as the mind (and gut) wrenching experience I was having in deciding whether it would be worth it to recover all of my data.
$1,850 to get that baby resurrected. I mulled over paying that amount for awhile. Would it be worth it to re-purchase all of the media that existed on it? Would it be worth it to retrieve all of the documents and photos I had painstakingly scanned page by page, photo by photo?
Once media switched to digital, I felt so free to redesign spaces/rooms, get rid of media cases and shelves and just thrive in the new open space provided by moving everything to somewhere ‘invisible’. My external drive became my virtual multi-media library.
The ‘Old’ Days
It’s not like when we all transitioned from VHS to DVDs. You could wait and eventually buy a used dvd of all of your favorite VHS movies.
It’s not like when we all graduated from cassette to CD and had the option to eventually buy used CDs.
There is no concept of ‘used’ digital licenses to purchase movies and other media at reduced costs – so after purchasing your favorite classic movie in VHS, then purchasing it again as a DVD, then purchasing it AGAIN as digital media (and most likely you’ve paid again via your Netflix subscription to watch it again in the ‘Watch it Again’ category of your personalized faves!).
When the data of your LIFE becomes suddenly obsolete, it makes you stop to consider what the hell it is all for and is it worth it. The amount spent on one movie title, or your favorite music group over the period of your LIFE comes into question. Your life is not even over yet. Who knows how many other formats Breakfast at Tiffany’s will come out in before you die?
Forget about money for a minute. Let’s think about TIME.
I had scanned a ton of photographs to digital for the preservation of memories with the intention of getting rid of all of those big clunky photo albums and either ridding myself of the physical media or at least slimming it down into small ‘archival’ photo boxes….the amount of TIME that took was excruciating and I would consider myself nowhere NEAR done with that project. To have to do it all OVER again, would kill me.
Then there is Time Machine. I am a mac user and had my Time Machine backup set up on that 1.5 tb drive. Is it NECESSARY for me to go back in time? Had I ever actually DONE IT? Actually – no. It’s just nice to know that I CAN, right?
I had gathered a few opinions from people about what they thought about my predicament. Here are some of their responses:

  1. Do you need all of that stuff?
  2. 1.5 TB? WHAT THE Heck do you HAVE on there?
  3. Go to the cloud – duh!
  4. Next steps? Set up a backup server or SEVERAL!

In this era of letting go and freeing oneself of physical and mental clutter – is moving from the physical to digital realm really doing anything different?