Back of the napkin – BayCHI July

On July 14 Dan Roam gave a talk at Baychi as part of the monthly program. I had heard he was a great speaker and well worth seeing in person. I had flipped through the book but had not read it. But y coworkers were spot on. Dan was very engaging right from the begining and kept me interested enough to take copious notes.

The premise is that if you can articulate an problem or idea at all, you can do it better with pictures.

But why share them in a ppt or in a way that is no unnatural we all struggle. People should try using pen and paper, white board or other tool which focuses on the idea rather than the tool itself. I have started using a new tool to create wireframes. The tool called Balsamiq makes it easy to create an idea and share it with others.

In addition to a summary of his book Dan provided a could of other visual thinking rules that I would like to share back with everyone.

#1 The person who best describes the problem…is the most likely to solve it.

This makes sense right?! If you don’t know what problem you are solving and cannot explain it to you coworkers then how the heck are you going to solve it.

#4  The more human you make your picture, the more human the response.

Instead of having diagrams or objects try including a human element. It allows for people to more easily project themselves into the picture as well as something they can better relate to. Additionally, we like to look at things that match the way our mind sees it.

Not sure if these visual thinking rules will appear in his next edition of the book or website but I am definately interested in seeing the rest of the list. If you have not see the book you should definitely check it out.


patterns shmatterns

Design patterns are quite the buzz work these days in both the engineering world and designer world. Righly so, why design something that there are already best practices for.

Design patterns were first described in the 1960s by Christopher Alexander, an architect who noticed that many things in our lives happen according to patterns. He adapted his observations to his work and published many findings on the topic. Since then, design patterns have found their place in many areas of our lives, and can be found in the design and development of user interfaces as well.

My favorite pattern in the article on smashmagazine is “10 UI Design Patterns You Should Be Paying Attention To” is progressive disclosure. Where would be without this one. It helps clean up ui’s while providing information that is secondary but nice to have the data so close by. It walks the fine line of giving users the functionality and power that they want but not making everyone see that bit of functionality.

There are some official definitions out there. If you don’t know what progressive disclosure is here are some definitions:

Progressive disclosure is an interaction design technique that sequences information and actions across several screens in order to reduce feelings of overwhelm for the user (Spillers 2004).

Nielsen (2006) defines progressive disclosure as a technique that “defers advanced or rarely used features to a secondary screen, making applications easier to learn and less error-prone”.

Some common examples are:

  • Learn more link
  • Related topics link
  • Overview of account information on the first screen
  • View more details link
  • Advanced search link

What is the best example of progressive disclosure you have see?

wiki specs

Using Wikis to Document UI Specifications

How your design team can benefit from wiki collaboration while avoiding its pitfalls

The role of the interaction designer is to specify the interface’s behaviors and elements, so that engineers know what to build and how the product should operate. This documentation is commonly known as a UI specification or UI spec. There are several applications for authoring a UI spec, with wikis being a relatively new tool. However, designers should be aware of a wiki’s benefits and drawbacks for documentation, since UI specs uniquely reflect a project and its context. The documentation needs are often based on the size of the project, launch date, team dynamics, audience, technology, and the product development process. The development process usually plays a major role in how teams interact and how work is completed or delivered, thus, there is a direct relationship between the UI spec and the process the team is using.

Read the full article on Boxes and Arrows.

Stargazing popups

stargazerI love the concept of using recycled materials for different purposes, especailly ones that help people appreciate the world around us. These portable and reversible cube-shaped structures crafted with recyclable wood. Included in each parquet-floored cabin are a double cabin bed, a sofa bed for two, a kitchenette with refrigerator and hot plates, shower, toilet, wardrobe, electric heating, a bio-ethanol fireplace and cast-iron garden furniture for outside. In addition to modern conveniences like flat-screen TV and connections for MP3, phone and internet, Carré d’étoiles cabins also come equipped with bedding and towels. Black-out blinds, meanwhile, facilitate use of the telescope and stargazing kit.

Just launched this year, Carré d’étoiles have now been installed in several holiday spots in France. Pricing is EUR 25,000 per unit, structures are delivered fully equipped and ready to use.