Subject: What are your principles for making digital products/services

21 Sep 2009 - 9:29am
4 years ago
12 replies
863 reads
Thomas Petersen
2008

"Don Norman is dead wrong about this: "that something emotionally
appealing can basically make up for its lack of usability"

I don't think he is wrong, but rather we need to expand the scope of
our thinking about interfaces.

Take for teddybear robot or the Aibo.

They might not be usable, you might not control them 100% and they
might do stuff you didn't ask them to. But any kid will get an
affinity with this robot.

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Comments

21 Sep 2009 - 4:15pm
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

Thomas Petersen wrote:
"...Take for teddybear robot or the Aibo. They might not be usable, you
might not control them 100% and they
might do stuff you didn't ask them to. But any kid will get an affinity with
this robot."

I think you conflate usability and low-level utility. Those are not the
same.
Here is description of well-known wire-monkey experiment by Harlow, which
illustrates that usability (of surrogate mother) extends beyond (her
feeding) utility: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Harlow .

--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is design of time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

22 Sep 2009 - 3:01am
Don Norman
2009

Sigh. Eric, you are wrong about Don Norman. Sure, I am wrong lots of
times, but in this particular case it is clear you have never read
what I said. You seem to have taken one sentence completely out of
context.

Try reading 'Emotional Design," Eric (read the free chapters at
jnd.org). You might be surprised that we don't really disagree.

So before criticizing, read the original source. Not just for me: for
everyone.

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22 Sep 2009 - 3:30am
Yohan Creemers
2008

I think there is enough proof that something emotionally appealing CAN
make up for its lack of usability. Philip Starck's lemon squeezer
shouldn't be judged on it's functional usability. I guess it was
never meant for squeezing lemons. It's purpose is to appeal.

Personally we don't disagree - and neither will Don Norman I
presume. I prefer usability over aesthetic appeal. But my personal
taste doesn't dictate a universally right design.

The user experience of a product is a mix of usability, usefulness
and desirability. Which aspect takes the biggest part of the pie
should be based on the intended purpose of the product.

- Yohan

20 OCT 2009: Design by Fire Conference
Spoorwegmuseum, Utrecht, NL
http://www.designbyfire.nl/2009

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22 Sep 2009 - 8:07am
Dave Malouf
2005

Yohan,
I think this line about limiting design to "intended purpose" is
where I disagree and might help clarify my position a bit.

While I agree that "intended purpose" or "context of use" is a
HUGELY important driver, I still truly believe that the ego of the
designer is the true differentiator of design. why? b/c if we can all
sum up everything else in terms of methods and practice, the soul can
never be summed up like that.

This is why I have concentrated recently on talking about
connectedness to the designer and the "soul of design". (articles &
videos at johnnyholland.org and businesstobuttons.com)

So if we can agree that aesthetics and usability at some level equal
out to the best design for intention, and everyone is moving towards
that goal (at least in this community) then what's left? YOU! ME!
And what we can add that no one else can ever consider to add. This
is Ive, this is Starck, this is Behar, this is Antenna Design, this
is Pixar, so on and so forth.

But let's also be clear here. That there is design and then there is
design and not everything needs or requires such "embellishments".
For SAP or EMC the reality is that even reaching a balance of
aesthetics and usability towards a holistic design is a miracle, so
let's just be happy there. Also the purpose of the product is not to
connect to brand or designer, or to the whole of humanity, but just to
get shit done without wanting to throw your computer through the
window. Yes, I'm sure niceties like a shaking log in box on error
would be nice and helpful towards bringing delight to the experience,
but hell, just being able to log in would be nice.

(going to bring this over to the Apple thread.)

-- dave

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22 Sep 2009 - 7:18pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Sep 22, 2009, at 6:07 AM, dave malouf wrote:

> So if we can agree that aesthetics and usability at some level equal
> out to the best design for intention, and everyone is moving towards
> that goal (at least in this community) then what's left? YOU! ME!

Ok, so maybe I'm getting this now.

Are you saying that the designer's style is part of the aesthetic
element?

Your original principal was Beauty over Usability. Are you saying that
beauty has a stylistic component where usability does not?

At some level, I think I get this. (However, I wonder, as we approach
higher levels of delight, if there isn't a stylistic quality to
usability too.)

If I've gotten this right, I think what you're saying is Style over
<something> where something might be usability, but I'm thinking is
probably something more than Uniformity.

Or maybe I've gotten it completely wrong.

Jared

24 Sep 2009 - 2:33am
Gilberto Medrano
2008

I would still argue that "style" applies to your personal (and/or
philosophical) approach to solve functional problems as well as how
you perceive and communicate beauty (in fact, your personal style is
an expression of your entire self, even unconsciously).

Frank Lloyd Wright and Gaudi had unique styles as designers, even
though they were both architects, had experience on residential
projects and were inspired by Nature. Their design was "organic", but
the way they implemented that concept was radically different both in
form AND function. Their style was impregnated in all their work from
texture, shapes and colors to the relationship between spaces and its
function.

So I would say that "designer's style" does not necessarily applies
exclusively to aesthetics. The same interaction problem can be solved
logically in different acceptable ways, hence the subjective nature of
design (and one of the reasons I like usability testing).

It's hard for me to think of the outcome of usability as an
standardized set of "pret-a-porter" design recipes to be reused as-it-
is by everyone, without much of a personal touch (IxD uses ergonomics
as input, but it's on top of it). Even Modern Architecture designers
like Mies Van Der Rohe and Le Corbusier had their own (functional/
aesthetic) styles despite the function principles they shared.

Gilberto

On Sep 22, 2009, at 5:18 PM, Jared Spool wrote:

>
> On Sep 22, 2009, at 6:07 AM, dave malouf wrote:
>
>> So if we can agree that aesthetics and usability at some level equal
>> out to the best design for intention, and everyone is moving towards
>> that goal (at least in this community) then what's left? YOU! ME!
>
> Ok, so maybe I'm getting this now.
>
> Are you saying that the designer's style is part of the aesthetic
> element?
>
> Your original principal was Beauty over Usability. Are you saying
> that beauty has a stylistic component where usability does not?
>
> At some level, I think I get this. (However, I wonder, as we
> approach higher levels of delight, if there isn't a stylistic
> quality to usability too.)
>
> If I've gotten this right, I think what you're saying is Style over
> <something> where something might be usability, but I'm thinking is
> probably something more than Uniformity.
>
> Or maybe I've gotten it completely wrong.
>
> Jared
>
> ________________________________________________________________
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24 Sep 2009 - 4:47am
Yohan Creemers
2008

Dear Dave,
I don't agree that making design decisions BASED on the INTENDED
purpose of a product is a limitation. The INTENDED purpose is just
the starting or reference point. Isn't that the core of User Focused
Design?

That the ego of the designer is the differentiator of design is true
for Designers (capital D) like Starck. I don't believe in the
connectedness between the consumer and the designer, and therefore
find the ego of the designer an unreliable factor. I'm not a
Designer, and yet dare to say that I make a difference as designer
(lowercase d).

In a holistic view of the design process there's an analysis phase
and a synthesis phase. In theory every designer practicing UCD should
come to the same conclusions after the analysis. In the transition
from analysis to synthesis something magical seems to happen. It's
the same magic that bridges the gap in Jesse James Garrett's model
between the strategy and scope plane on one side and the structure,
skeleton and surface plane on the other side. As designer I can't
rely on magic. And I don't need to. Based on the design
opportunities and threats uncovered in the analysis phase my team and
I use storytelling or other creativity techniques to formulate a
design philosophy for the product. At interaction09 Luke Wroblewski
introduced the term 'parti' to address what I call the product's
design philosophy (http://www.lukew.com/ff/entry.asp?838). Being able
to formulate the parti is my added value as designer. This doesn't
require ego, just a bit of inspiration and a lot of hard work.

I believe that both great design and great art require amazing craft.
I.m.o. That's the only connection between design and art. For me, the
phrase 'soul of design' sounds too much as magic.

- Yohan

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24 Sep 2009 - 6:22am
Dave Malouf
2005

But what Designers do IS magic! That act of synthesis towards craft
towards implementation is a wondrous magical thing once turned into a
Palm Pre or HP NetBook Mini that brings new areas of delight that were
never there before.

What's wrong with magic? What's wrong with the unexplained? Or the
secretly explained (LIKE MAGIC!). Yes, I know there are issues in the
business case of "the blackbox", but that issue can be handled in
other ways.

But that magical blackbox that can create a BMW 750i or a VW Beetle.
The car itself is a great example. There are few if any "functional
usability" issues any longer in the automobile, but in design it is
the marriage of market speak with that unique piece of magic that is
all the difference.

Now to your other point about "intention" ... we agree. Yes
STARTING w/ the intention or at least passing through intention as a
core driver (sometimes the start of the process is the discover of
intention) is definitely required. You can't do good design w/o it.

I think the Starck example is bleh. It is an art piece. But I think
Don in the book took an example of mine that I offered during
research about my Toyota Celica (2001). It was an awesome machine. I
loved it. It had no horsepower (I'm cheap and broke) and offered no
real luxuries, but I LOVED IT! I felt like I was in a SciFi space
ship. The designer and I both looked at THAT shape and said it means
ZOOM! Someone else (many) looked at that shape and said, "WTF!?!"
But for me, "ZOOM!"

This is another important characteristic, is that the focus on a
"single product winner" is almost an impossibiity. Even though the
iPhone is acclaimed there are many who will NEVER buy it. It's
closed system, w/ no keyboard is just preventative. I know others who
even hate the way it looks. This is why most companies have multiple
devices. Even Apple has 4 versions of the iPod each with
disctintiveness of their own. Heck Toyota (in all their brands) has
over 30 different models.

Anyway, again, it is about balance just up to that last point of
choosing your checks. Thanx for offering that Jared!

-- dave

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24 Sep 2009 - 1:37pm
Gilberto Medrano
2008

*"Being able
to formulate the parti is my added value as designer. This doesn't
require ego, just a bit of inspiration and a lot of hard work."*

I disagree here. The analysis outcome can be similar across different
teams, yes, that's the "objective" part of the process where we are trying
to understand the problem to be solved. But when we start sketching and
figuring out a solution that's is more a subjective process (our own
perspective of how that problem can be solved). And even the way we
approach analysis is biased (some tend to focus on the users, some on the
activities to be performed, etc). As creators, we leave our signature on
anything we do (for good or bad).

And as in any creative endeavor, intuition plays an important part and can
lead you to a tangible and accurate solution faster than the analytical
process. Both are part of the design process, but definitely those moments
of "enlightenment" feel like magic.

Gilberto

p.s.: Yohan, not trying to be disrespectful (I know this comes from another
discussion), but this whole deal about "capital D" and "lowercase d" is just
silly. There are design efforts being focused to different things, that's
it. We UX practitioners seem to be so eager to embrace silos that now we
even separate designers into a new - useless - classification (D or d).

On Wed, Sep 23, 2009 at 9:22 PM, Dave Malouf <dave.ixd at gmail.com> wrote:

> But what Designers do IS magic! That act of synthesis towards craft
> towards implementation is a wondrous magical thing once turned into a
> Palm Pre or HP NetBook Mini that brings new areas of delight that were
> never there before.
>
> What's wrong with magic? What's wrong with the unexplained? Or the
> secretly explained (LIKE MAGIC!). Yes, I know there are issues in the
> business case of "the blackbox", but that issue can be handled in
> other ways.
>
> But that magical blackbox that can create a BMW 750i or a VW Beetle.
> The car itself is a great example. There are few if any "functional
> usability" issues any longer in the automobile, but in design it is
> the marriage of market speak with that unique piece of magic that is
> all the difference.
>
> Now to your other point about "intention" ... we agree. Yes
> STARTING w/ the intention or at least passing through intention as a
> core driver (sometimes the start of the process is the discover of
> intention) is definitely required. You can't do good design w/o it.
>
> I think the Starck example is bleh. It is an art piece. But I think
> Don in the book took an example of mine that I offered during
> research about my Toyota Celica (2001). It was an awesome machine. I
> loved it. It had no horsepower (I'm cheap and broke) and offered no
> real luxuries, but I LOVED IT! I felt like I was in a SciFi space
> ship. The designer and I both looked at THAT shape and said it means
> ZOOM! Someone else (many) looked at that shape and said, "WTF!?!"
> But for me, "ZOOM!"
>
> This is another important characteristic, is that the focus on a
> "single product winner" is almost an impossibiity. Even though the
> iPhone is acclaimed there are many who will NEVER buy it. It's
> closed system, w/ no keyboard is just preventative. I know others who
> even hate the way it looks. This is why most companies have multiple
> devices. Even Apple has 4 versions of the iPod each with
> disctintiveness of their own. Heck Toyota (in all their brands) has
> over 30 different models.
>
> Anyway, again, it is about balance just up to that last point of
> choosing your checks. Thanx for offering that Jared!
>
> -- dave
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=45853
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
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> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
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25 Sep 2009 - 3:41am
Yohan Creemers
2008

Gilberto, I've got the feeling that we don't disagree at all :-)

To be clear: formulating the design philosophy IS a creative and
subjective process where the designers leave their signature. I even
agree that this FEELS like magic. But I object to the statement that
what designers do IS magic.

Designers have learnt to digest information, to put intuition to use,
to open up for inspiration, to sketch ideas and concepts, to
creatively solve problems, to prototype and evaluate solutions. The
more we practice the better our designs get. If that's magic, then
all our colleges are Schools of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

- (muggle) Yohan

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25 Sep 2009 - 6:52am
Dave Malouf
2005

Yes, there is a ton of "violent agreement" in this conversation
about many things.

I think that "magic" has a few metaphors in it.
* being able to do that which can't be done by others.
* doing something that can't be explained
* invoking a feeling of being under a spell

I think for me it is a pinch of the 2nd and a whole lot of the 3rd.

Once you say its "subjective" or worse, has an element of
"intuition" then you are talking about the unexplained. It means I
can't tell you why I turned left vs. right, or left and 3/4s. This
is what I mean.

While design education hones intuition against a backdrop of
critique. That system of critique has little meaning to the other
stakeholders. An opportunity maybe? If I looked at 2 bottles of
shampoo and told you 1 was feminine and the other masculine, tell me
which is which. You might be able to get it right, but maybe not. At
some levels the distinction are arbitrary and subjective. In fact,
you might even get 2 different answers from 2 different designers
depending on how they were exposed to critique.

So I think we disagree is that I embrace my mudblood ancestry
(muggles are the scientists and wizards are the artists).

(mudblood) Dave

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26 Sep 2009 - 2:38am
Gilberto Medrano
2008

" I even
agree that this FEELS like magic. But I object to the statement that
what designers do IS magic."

Fair enough. Long time ago, when I asked somebody why/how his design
solution would bring value to users and business, this person replied: "I
don't know, I just think it is a good idea, I don't know how to explain
it". Definitely not my idea of "inexplicable magic".

Our designs should solve real problems in an appealing and effective way and
we should be able to communicate how it brings value, to whom and in which
context (or in the best case, the solution should speak by itself); even
when the intuitive thread that led us to that design seems "esoteric".

Gilberto

On Thu, Sep 24, 2009 at 6:41 PM, Yohan Creemers <yohan at ylab.nl> wrote:

> Gilberto, I've got the feeling that we don't disagree at all :-)
>
> To be clear: formulating the design philosophy IS a creative and
> subjective process where the designers leave their signature. I even
> agree that this FEELS like magic. But I object to the statement that
> what designers do IS magic.
>
> Designers have learnt to digest information, to put intuition to use,
> to open up for inspiration, to sketch ideas and concepts, to
> creatively solve problems, to prototype and evaluate solutions. The
> more we practice the better our designs get. If that's magic, then
> all our colleges are Schools of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
>
> - (muggle) Yohan
>
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=45853
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

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