Work, writing

Problem solving

There’s some discussion around the office, mostly among Interaction Designers, about the “Invisible User Interface.” Here’s an excerpt from The Best Interface is No Interface by Golden Krishna on The Verge. I readily agreed with almost everything he says …until reading the article that I share below.

As a criticism to our obsession with apps and interfaces (I’m certainly guilty), I think his point of view is refreshing. It strikes at something that should be discussed. Golden Krishna identifies a symptom of lazy design, and dare I say, kowtowing to less-than-savvy clients that are prepared to give you $1M to design an app.

An honest scenario

Some institution or company comes to a design agency with a problem.
Usually it boils down to a basic problem: We need more people to sign up for our service, or we want people to use our service more, and the classic we want people to buy our things instead of our competitors’.

The design agency has been designing apps and websites for years. The fact that a business even approaches a design agency implies that the business owner or otherwise important stakeholder has a solution in mind: an app, a web site, an interface.

The design agency will “take a step back”, carefully rephrase the business problem to their client. They’ll brainstorm and consider many solutions. At the end of the day, the unspoken understanding is that the design agency knows how to make apps and websites, and the business person came to the agency because that’s what they want.

Long story short, both parties end up jumping to the conclusion that an interface is the solution to the problem.

Slow down.

Designers are problem solvers.
You might have a title like visual designer, graphic designer, experience designer, interface designer, interaction designer… and that first word in your title pushes you to keep making the sort of things you always make. My greatest personal and professional challenge is to acknowledge the second word of these (often silly) titles. Living up to being a Designer means considering everything, and not jumping to the familiar toolbox to fix or improve something.

Side-note: This is why I was so enamored by Service Design that Fjord champions. Unfortunately, it’s less tangible and must be difficult to sell, because this type of thinking is still in the minority of their portfolio.

The point.

I meant to just drop a link in here and sprinkle in a pull-quote from an article that I liked. I’m eager to explore where I really stand between the ideas of Invisible Interface and seamfull experiences, but I’m still quite fresh on the topic. For now, here’s the link I came here to share:

No to NoUI – Timo Arnall


Most interesting (recent) read

I haven’t posted here much, and that’s basically because I’m lazy. I’m still here, though!

Quickly now, I’d like to share an article that – in my opinion – has a lot of meat, and all of it is interesting, if you’re a designer.

Chinese Mobile App UI Trends

By Dan Grover

Some highlights include:
Chinese culture doesn’t make a big deal of meeting strangers nearby through social apps.
CAPTCHA utilized on login screens (not just signup flows).
People really do use QR codes!
Moments – Just scroll to this part. I really dig the philosophy.


Firefox UI update

Mozilla recently updated Firefox, this time with a big revision to their user interface. I’ve been giving Safari a fair shot at integrating with my workflow ever since Mavericks launched, but the Firefox update offers some tempting features.

In short: holy contextual menus, Batman! Did you see that back/forward button?


Reblog: FastCo.Design

5 Lessons In UI Design, From A Breakthrough Museum

Local Projects designed new interactive galleries for the Cleveland Museum of Art. They look pretty cool, but more importantly, the article points out 5 aspects of the UI that were a success. My favorite (#3) is something I’ve been waiting for is the indoor map – I think google promised this at one point, I haven’t seen it – but they take it even further by letting you pick out your favorite pieces and an iPad generates a personal tour.

In the end, the exhibits that Local Projects have created for the Cleveland Museum of Art work because they’re a kind of Trojan Horse. They’re designed to elicit a certain amount of gee-whiz amazement. But they contain nuggets of real curatorial insight that go down easy simply because they’re fun. As Barton told me, “Nothing ages worse than the newest latest gizmo. The tech experiences that last always tell a deep story or let people tell a story.”
Cliff Kuang, FastCo

+ Read the article


Link Drop!

I’ve seen some sites do this, and find at least 70% of them to be really helpful or just plain cool. Maybe I can remember to do this weekly (or monthly) and keep track of the best articles and images I’ve seen. For now, here’s a list of my many sources:

Eye Candy +
Abduzeedo – You’ll never remember the URL, so just bookmark it.
Booooooom – Same ^
Behance • Most Discussed, This Week • Interaction Design
The Next Web • giant list of design inspiration links – whoa, meta!

News/Articles +
The Next Web
A List Apart
UX Booth
Smashing Magazine • UX Design
Rosenfeld Media • Books – Warning: pro stuff here
Jesse James Garret • Information Architecture
My diagram bible: Jesse James Garret – Visual Vocabulary
52 Weeks of UX

Design Patterns + 
UX Archive
Pattern TAP
iOS Inspirations
Mobile Patterns
Inspired UI

Resources –
Design Deck (free icons, PSDs, and fonts) – not updated often, but I check once in a while in case there’s a new goodie to download.
One Div

Random +
Good Fucking Design Advice
The Fucking Weather
Solve For X