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New Page: Interactions

The Interactions page is up, providing two examples from the the DePaul 2013 Autumn Quarter. Both projects focused on documentation of interaction designs.

Office Hour Scheduler

This project detailed the core interactions for an office hours scheduling utility. The documentation had a strong focus on outlining system conditions.

Built in Axure 6.5

Expense Reimbursement Interface

This project detailed the several interactions for a tablet based expense reimbursement app. The main focus of the documentation was to outline several interactions needed to manage expense reports.

Built in Axure 6.5

A lesson Learned… damage done wasn’t so bad

I had a class in which we (the class) were assigned into groups to develop a low fidelity prototype for a shared travel app. On my team I had two software developers. My team experience was pretty limited at that time and previous teams I had worked with as an undergrad had little to do with development. I was stoked TWO DEVELOPERS!!! WE GOT THIS!!!

There was nothing we couldn’t build as a team. We brainstormed; this feature, that interactions. It was going to be great. We built the wireframe up to a prototype and finally got our first user to test it. This was going to be awesome…. Or so I thought

(Some Background) One of my majors in undergraduate was sociology. I learned to conduct interviews and observations. Interviews with a prototype are a little different than what I learned in sociology. One problem was that every time I asked the user to perform a task I was spelling it out for them; add a description, now save it. I wasn’t letting the user explore or figure it out themselves. But that actually didn’t help the user none, and I learned first hand the biggest difference between detached research and testing something you build… Owww, my bruised ego!

“Oh god, that is awful!” said the user of our cherished feature. “Ewww” she said when one of the three of us looking over her shoulder explained that your destination information was prepopulated from your previous trip.

The design was fifty shades of bad.

We had been so excited before the test. As the smart graduate students we were, we had all the greatest ideas known to man. But once those ideas where out of our heads and into the world we were faced with the fact that what looked great in our meeting, after we’ve explained it to each other and bought our own rationalizations, didn’t fly with the user. Especially since you don’t get to sell them on it before they start using it.

I see this happening more and more. What sounded like a great idea turns out to be disconnected and lofty in terms of where it stands for the user. Testing doesn’t just find the flaws in our product, it breaks down what we think we know. We think we know what the users want, and testing shows us that the user will do anything and everything that we never wanted them to do. More importantly, we think we know what we’re doing. Testing shows us the things that we looked over, the things we weren’t prepared to see, and it shows us the things we have yet to learn.

Sorry if this came off a bit motivational speaker :)

Screen Free Week

Just found out that this week is Screen Free Week. Surprise to me!

While I’m all on board for unplugging and getting out for a while, I can’t say that I agree with the Screen Free’s overall premise.

Take the hypothetical situation of ditching your shoes. There’s nothing wrong with going barefoot while your at the park. The feel of grass between your toes, running around like a little kid. Sure, go for it. But let’s say you decide to go shoeless for a week. Some of your acquaintances are going to stop talking to, you’ll have become that creepy guy who stopped wearing shoes. Also you won’t have groceries for a week, since the market isn’t letting in without shoes. You might get used to watching the ground everywhere you go just to make sure you aren’t about to step on a jagged rock, piece of glass, or stray Lego.

Shoe’s are such a part of our daily lives, and to stop using them for a week is going to cause some problems.

Same thing with our screens. I bike ride occasionally. On the ride out, I rock audiobooks and podcasts, on the ride in, I unplug and listen to the sounds along the trail. There is value in it. but if I unplugged for a week, cold turkey, dear god…

One it would mean I wouldn’t have any contact with my fiance who right now lives down state (She would be pretty upset with me I’m guessing). My project team would probably beat me with sticks since i wouldn’t be able to get any work done. No phone calls (screen on my phone). No work done. No bills paid. Friends and acquaintances offended that I’m not responding to emails… I can go on.

I think what groups like Screen Free forget is that for all the problems; Mass Marketing, decreased concentration and activity in school children, poor academic performance… Our screens have permeated our worlds and help us as much as, if not more then, they hurt us.

Here is what I propose instead of unplugging for a week:

Screen Free is encouraging users to reevaluate their relationships with technology. I agree this is something each person should do. But don’t do it by unplugging for a week. Start looking into how you can reverse the negative effects of screen time on your life. Take your kids Geo Caching and let the screen enhance your outdoor experience. Ride a bike, stop to take pictures on your ride, then map your route online. Boot Linux, and start learning with your kids. The question I am asking myself this week is not am I spending too much time in front of a screen. The questions I’m asking myself this week is Is my screen helping me live the life I want, and how can my screen help me live the way I want.

iOS

After a bad experience last quarter (having to salvage a prototype) I finally said he’ll with it and bought and IPad mini. Interested to see what I learn from it. So far i have focused on enhancing my regular tasks. Though I find writing blog posts easier on my lap top, this is good for a quick note…
I’ll get more in depth tomorrow.

Digital Design – Hanz & Ze Molemen

Project for HCI 402 Foundations of Digital Design Winter 2012

Tap your cane and adjust your vestments

This was a concert flyer design for my HCI 402 Foundations of Digital Design class in the winter of 2012.

I drew the Moleman on a post-it note over a year ago. It was a small character drawing inspired by the stories of Peter Cotton Tail and Joseph Conrad’s 1907 novel The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale. I intended to create an Edwardian Era atmosphere for the composition that would fit with the subject (Moleman) and the period the subject was based on. I researched Art Nouveau poster compositions. I originally copy/pasted a border from Alfons Mucha’s “Fruit” (1897) but it did not work with my intended layout and so I designed a new border, based on Mucha’s compositions; creating an arch and the window in the upper right corner. The Title fonts were taken from Fontspace.com, as were the characters used for the wallpaper inlay.

The band is fictitious. Hanz & Ze Molemen are conceptually intended to be similar in style to indie folk rock groups (i.e. the Decemberists), though with a strong lean toward Robert and Richard Sherman’s “Portobello Road.” Brown was the conceptual color – I wanted the flyer to have the look and feel of old printing press paper, something found in the bottom of a dusty trunk found in a grandparent’s attic. The wallpaper was based on Victorian and Edwardian wallpapers and textiles that used two to three colors with detailed designs.

The Moleman fur was pulled from an online illustration and set in the wrong directions in order to create a more disheveled feel for the band’s icon.

The intended audience of this is made up mostly of hipsters with ironic pocket watches and tobacco smoking pipes bought off Etsy. The audience prides itself on not following the flashy colors and lights of mainstream media, but instead is drawn to something quietly ironic and exclusive. The composition is based on the idea that a reader will see a statement like “adjust your vestment” and will in interest adjust her Buddy Holly glasses, believing that she alone understands the subtle musical sophistication that the flyer suggests for the band.

Local Network – Normal, IL

This Brass Tacks Article came up in my Google feeds today. It was convenient since I’ve been pricing quotes on garage door installation and tree removal.

I really am amazed that there are so few online reviews for any services in the central Illinois area.

The article touches on the concept of using reviews to improve business practices – and this may be a chance to tackle some great marketing potential. Instead of looking for good reviews to grade employees, encourage reviews by consumers that help you improve your company and practices – And here’s the best part, you can confront critical reviews in a positive way that improves your public image, ask these guys.

I mean, your other option is to keep a low profile and hope that people either post only positive public reviews or nothing at all, but that chancy and doesn’t leave much power in your hands.

The Most Important Thing You’ll Write

In a recent article Chris Brogan Mentions the most important part of Twitter is to reply as often as you can. I’d like to expand o this, a bit.

If you have a blog I’m sure you’ve spent a sizable percentage of time (that you should be using to develop content) looking at you analytics page – how many views did the site get, where did they come from. But consider an interesting social behavior. Most people, as they bump past each other and make first and subsequent impressions, are thinking one thing. They are focussed on what others are thinking of them. Imagine an entire room filled with people caught in the ironic conundrum that as each one worries about what others are think of him/her – those others are just concerned with how they’re coming off to someone else. No one actually focusing on that scuff on your shoe, or whether that tie makes you look serious or or out of fashion, they are only focused on their own shoes and their own ties. In these situations the individuals that see the irony and stop focusing on themselves are able to focus on more important goals.

The Same goes for online communities. Staring at your statistics page will get you nowhere. The only way to really get your page out there in front of people is to give them a reason to notice you. start looking at other blogs, reply to what others have posted on their page. Make other people your focus, and have something interesting to say in reply to their posts, eventually they’ll start reciprocating, and more so, many of their readers may start to take notice of you as well.

By avoiding the neurotic self counting and just getting out there, you’ll be in a better place to have people wondering what you think about them.

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