All It’s Cracked Up To Be

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When the Web first emerged, there was a hole in the user experience world. Many people practiced interaction design, but their community was shoe-horned into those of other disciplines like IA, HCI, and Usability. At the time, most of the UX community felt like that was sufficient.

Then the Web started to change, and the conversation with it. That hole seemed all the more gaping. The “IxDA”: was formed in 2003 and fit nicely into a space amongst those other communities of practice. The IxDA discussion list was (and still is) an interesting place to be; it nurtured conversations different than were happening elsewhere. They were all about interaction design, and that purity lent a focus that took the ideas of Web 2.0 and ratcheted up the thinking several notches.

As they reached a certain concentration point, it was obvious to the IxDA faithful that a conference was a logical next step. All those other major practices in the UX community of practice had their own events. The lack of an interaction design gathering during the conference gauntlet was quite obvious, but who had time to put on the show?

So they set out to design a conference that was completely about interaction design, for interaction designers, and designed by interaction designers.

I attended that first conference, “Interaction 08”:, last year in Savannah. The event was fantastic. The partnership with the “Savannah College of Art & Design” (SCAD) raised the bar, giving the conference unusually deep connections into the community. That’s interaction design.

The speakers were experienced and incredibly varied, covering the hallowed ground (Alan Cooper, Bill Buxton) and the vanguard (Bill DeRouchey, Matt Jones, David Armano), all the while adding with some key folks from other disciplines (Jared Spool, Malcolm McCollough, Chris Conley). See “last year’s recordings”: Even though they are one year old, you will find something inspiring.

Your inspiration might be:
* Bill Buxton’s admonishment to throw away five designs before keeping one
* Matt Jones telling the world how they created Dopplr, making great design sound like no big deal
* Sigi Moeslinger’s images of the NYC subway car that she designed so that kids are not able to climb the hand rails

All of the sessions were filmed and placed online within days of the conference ending. (Though, as an IA, I have to protest that the slides were often not given sufficient treatment.)

Interaction08 IRL: Wayfinding arrows from Savannah
(c) L. Halley as posted on “flickr”:

We constantly came across little touches that you would never expect from a conference. A great example of this was the arrows chalked on the sidewalk between the three buildings that housed the conference sessions. Color-coded by track (as shown on your badge), they were incredibly useful and, like Savannah, quite charming.

No, not everything was perfect, but that should never be the expectation. I challenge you to find a better-run example of a conference’s initial event, especially one that was planned for 250 people, but 400 showed up. And placing the conference in the small, but interesting and cozy hamlet of Savannah, GA, was a stroke of genius. Interaction 08 had an intimate air. Plenty of distractions allowed us to escape from the geek talk, but the city didn’t pull you away as do most.

Vancouver is a great town, but I hope that the IxDA will consider doing something similar to Savannah next year.

Why am I talking about this now? Well, to be honest, I feel like I haven’t done enough to let people know how great the conference was. Here we are, two weeks from to “Interaction 09”: in Vancouver, and I feel nostalgic about last year and realize that I will miss not being able to go this year.

Even if you can’t don your superhero costume and get to Interaction 09 this year (which you should do if you can), think about it next year. Interaction is fresh, vibrant, and takes a usefully different perspective on the issues we encounter every day. I know I’ve designed differently because of that experience.

Keep an eye out on Boxes and Arrows as we cover the conference in Vancouver. Whitney Hess (“twitter”: “website”: )will be there to keep an eye out for the nuggets of wisdom. After the conference, she’ll provide a full report.

Viva la Interaction 09, and Happy Conference Season to all!

IDEA 2008

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The “IDEA Conference”: took place in Chicago on October 7-9 at the Harold Washington Library Center.

The speakers pushed the boundaries of what it means to design complex information spaces of all kinds. We can all expand our practice by absorbing their experiences and ideas. In cooperation with the “IA Institute”:, we’re happy to bring you recordings of most conference talks. We hope you enjoy listening to nearly the entire conference via these recordings.

This conference addressed issues of design for an always-on, always-connected world. Where “cyberspace” is a meaningless term because the online and offline worlds cannot be made distinct. Where physical spaces are so complex that detailed wayfinding is necessary to navigate them. Where work processes have become so involved, and so digitized, that we need new processes to manage those processes. — from the “IDEA Vision Statement”:

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iTunes     IDEA Conference theme music generously provided by Sonic Blue

Micro-Interactions in a 2.0 WorldDavid Armano
We live in a world where the little things really do matter. Each encounter no matter how brief is a micro-interaction that makes a deposit or withdrawal from our rational and emotional subconscious. The sum of these interactions and encounters adds up to how we feel about a particular product, brand, or service. Little things. Feelings. They influence our everyday behaviors more than we realize.

Vice-President of Interaction Design at Critical Mass, David Armano shares what organizations are doing this and how we’ll all need to re-think how brands are built and sustained in an ever-changing 2.0 world.


Micro-Interactions in a 2.0 World (v2)

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: web 2.0)

CmapTools: From Meaningful Learning to a Network of Knowledge BuildersAlberto Cañas
Based on theories of meaningful learning and education, Co-Founder and Associate Director at the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC), Alberto Canas presents a software tool that allows users to collaborate in the construction of shared knowledge models based on concept maps, which are used worldwide by users of all disciplines and ages, from elementary school students to NASA scientists.


Linguistic User InterfacesChris Crawford
Wouldn’t it be nice if, instead of digging through nested menus buried inside subpanes of dialogs, we could just talk to our computers in plain language? Sure it would, but computer scientists have long since proven that such “natural language processing” can’t be done.

Storyton Author and Inventor Chris Crawford describes a Linguistic User Interface, outlining how it’s impossible to create a LUI seperately from the digtial reality it reflects: the language and reality must be built up in a parallel process.

Chris illustrates this with Deikto, the LUI system he created for his interactive storytelling technology.


The Language of InteractionBill DeRouchey
We are interacting with technology in an exploding number of forms. “Traditional” computers, cell phones, pocket PDAs, game systems, gesture-based input, store kiosks and checkouts, and much more. How do people learn new technology? By subconsciously learning the language of interaction and applying that language when learning something new.

Bill DeRouchey, Sr. Interaction Designer at Ziba Design surveys everyday objects out there now to spot patterns and trends in what people are learning from devices and products.


The Language of Interaction

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: ixd ixda)

Getting RealJason Fried
Jason Fried is the co-founder and President of 37signals, a privately-held Chicago-based company committed to building the best web-based tools possible with the least number of features necessary. 37signals’ products include Basecamp, Highrise, Backpack, Campfire, Ta-da List, and Writeboard.

37signals also developed and open-sourced the Ruby on Rails programming framework. 37signals’ products do less than the competition — intentionally. Jason believes there’s real value and beauty in the basics. Elegance, respect for people’s desire to simply get stuff done, and honest ease of use are the hallmarks of 37signals products.


Aurora: Envisioning the Future of the WebJesse James Garrett
Co-founder and President of Adaptive Path Jesse James Garrett provides an inside look at the process of creating Aurora, a concept video depicting one possible future user experience for the Web.

Jesse talks about the technology trends that will shape the future Web, outlines the challenges of designing a future product, and takes the audience for a behind the scenes look at the creation of the Aurora concept video.


Aurora (Part 1) from Adaptive Path on Vimeo

Aurora (Part 2) from Adaptive Path on Vimeo.

Aurora (Part 3) from Adaptive Path on Vimeo.

Aurora (Part 4) from Adaptive Path on Vimeo.

Emerging trends | Design thinking | Service innovationAradhana Goel
When we look through the lenses of society (how we connect), mobility (how to move) and sustainability (how we consume), we realize that the world has changed dramatically in the last couple of years. Aradhana Goel, the Service Design Strategist at IDEO, discusses connections between these emerging trends, design thinking, and service innovation.
Download Aradhana’s presentation


Books and BrowsersDave Gray
The book as a form factor has been around for about 2,000 years, since Julius Caesar first decided to fold up a scroll, accordion-style, and mark the pages for later reference. In 1455, Aldus Manutius was the first to publish the portable paperback, and it has remained relatively unchanged since.

In an interactive format, XPLANE Founder and Chairman Dave Gray explores several questions about the future of the book and the web browser.


You are (Mostly) Here: Digital Space and the Context ProblemAndrew Hinton
Context. It’s everywhere. No, really, you can’t move without bumping into the stuff. But it used to be that we at least had a grasp of what context we were in at any given time. We were either here, or there. But technology has radically changed what it means to be “here” or “there,” and has brought some challenging design problems along with it.

Andrew Hinton, Lead Information Architect at Vanguard, discusses What does architecture even mean, when the walls are made of vapor? How do we map places that don’t behave like places anymore? And if you don’t know whether you’re here or there, then how do you know which version of yourself to be?
Download Andrew’s presentation


Digital Context CluesJason Kunesh
Experience design is evolving in both discipline and practice as more people communicate and engage with media. In this presentation Independent Design Professional Jason Kunesh examines working with patterns, diagramming and prototyping tools, code frameworks like Rails and Drupal and usability testing 8 year olds.

Jason also looks at the lessons learned and where he draws the boundaries between a firm’s design principles and the tenets of a particular.


Jdkunesh Idea2008

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: idea2008 ia)

Information in SpaceElliott Malkin
Artists and Information Architect Elliott Malkin discusses his new media projects installed in public space.

He covers several projects in this presentation including Eruv, a symbolic boundary erected around Jewish neighborhoods as part of the observation of the Sabbath completed in Lower Manhattan and New York city.

Elliott also talks about the research into the life of his great-grandfather, which led to his concept for Cemetery 2.0, an electronic device that connects gravestones to online genealogical databases.

Elliot also shares his most recent work, Graffiti for Butterflies, a technique for using ultraviolet light and street art to direct Monarch butterflies to food sources in urban areas.

Many thanks to Elliott for adding the audio from his presentation to the videos below. You can find the original source of these videos along with greater detail about each of these projects, on his web site.


The Eruv Projects, IDEA Talk, Part I from Elliott on Vimeo.

Cemetery 2.0, IDEA Talk, Part II from Elliott on Vimeo.

Graffiti for Butterflies, IDEA Talk, Part III from Elliott on Vimeo.

Mixing MessagesEdwina von Gal
The design of a park around a museum of biodiversity in Panama (designed by Frank Gehry) has inspired a number of collaborations and connections throughout Panama and, now the United States. The Park will be a living extension of the museum’s exhibits and the first step in an educational trail that will encourage visitors to explore Panama’s rich natural resources.

In this presentation, author and landscape designer, Edwina von Gal, discusses how this project has inspired her to become involved in other educational and applied projects in Panama, working with scientists, students, and local populations to explore sustainable alternatives in agriculture, architecture, and tourism.


IDEA 2008: An Interview with Elliott Malkin

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Even if you’re trying to find one, the connections among Elliott Malkin‘s body of work are hard to see. Part family history, part science project, part home-movie, his projects span genres that, initially, seem incidental. Yet many of his web-based projects—whether they investigate “butterfly vision” or install digital graffiti throughout lower Manhattan—are connected in one simple way: they all explore unofficial signals in public space. Taking on the invisible and the imagined, his projects invite viewers to imagine things that operate beyond their perception.

His latest project, Graffiti for Butterflies, is even further afield from his typical subjects as it deals with natural science. By directing Monarch butterflies to urban food sources it “is the equivalent of a fast-food sign on a highway, advertising rest stops (waystations) to monarchs traveling through the area.”

At the upcoming IDEA conference, Malkin will discuss some of his more renowned projects, as well as some material not yet seen online. I recently got some of his time to find out more about it.

Liz Danzico: As an artist, your work investigates the overlap between memory, information, and physical space. How did you begin investigating memory as a key part of your subject matter?

Elliott Malkin: I’m actually not that interested in memory in the abstract. I’m more interested in what’s stored there, namely, the memories. For a time I was obsessed with reconstructing the life of someone I had never met, my great-grandfather Hyman Victor. I enjoyed the process—excavating memories from those who knew him. But I was probably more interested in the traces of him that remained in the physical record, first at his gravestone, then on microfilm inside government archives.

Ultimately, I found much of the information about Hyman on genealogical websites. While the memories continued to disintegrate everywhere else, on the Internet they seemed fairly well preserved (though even these will fade.) I compiled the results of this investigation at Everything I Know About Hyman Victor. I also created a device called Cemetery 2.0 that attempts to address the limitations I saw in the way that information about people is preserved.

LD: What kinds of limitations were you seeing, and how did Cemetery 2.0 intend to remedy them?

EM: Mainly that gravestones tend to provide little information about the life of a person beyond their name, date of birth, and date of death. Almost all other information about the person’s life is decaying in public archives, dispersed in fragments across the Internet, and, sadly, fading away in survivors’ minds. My idea for Cemetery 2.0 was to bundle all surviving information with their actual grave. I did this by establishing a wireless connection to the world’s most comprehensive online genealogical database, where amateur genealogists are constantly uploading and revising records about their forebears.

LD: How has an investigation of your family helped you explore information and memory? Do they mind being the public subject of your art?

EM: I suspect Hyman Victor would have appreciated his great-grandson taking an interest in him. But I take it you’re asking me about my video projects, such as Family Movie, in which I have my parents reconstruct scenes from our trove of Super 8 home movies from the 1970s. They’ve seen themselves on the big screen and on my website, and seem to get a kick out of it. As for my interest in my family, it’s probably an expression of self-absorption. That said, I tend to widen my definition of self to encompass broader categories, such as American Jew. But not all of my work deals so directly with myself or my family. I have a feeling that when I finish Mother’s History of Birds, my autobiographical streak will be satisfied.

LD: Your latest project, Graffiti for Butterflies, seems to deviate from your previous work in that it deals with natural science. How does this project fit within the larger evolution of your work, if at all?

EM: Well, it uses graffiti, which are unofficial signals in public space, something I’ve dealt with numerous times in my previous work. In eRuv I put semacode stickers on various street corners to reconstruct a sacred space that once existed on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. In Modern Orthodox I took it a step further, using graffiti to demarcate conceptual boundaries directly onto the surface of the city. In both of these cases, my audience was human. In Graffiti for Butterflies, my audience included butterflies. And there is a further connection to my other work dealing with the invisible or the imagined, in that the ultraviolet aspect of the graffiti operates beyond our perception.

LD: What are the differences between designing for humans versus designing for, well, non-humans? How can you understand your audience when there’s no empathy, or possibility for empathy, between you and them?

EM: It can be argued that I don’t have much empathy with my human audience, but that’s a separate question. When designing for butterflies, I make assumptions about butterfly behavior based on my 7th grade-level understanding of Monarch butterflies. I know that they can see ultraviolet light and that they migrate through massive swathes of North America on their way down to Mexico each winter. So I created Graffiti for Butterflies to instigate some thinking about forms of interspecies communication that are, so to speak, symbiotic: aesthetically stimulating to humans, nutritionally beneficial to butterflies.

LD: What will you be talking about at IDEA?

I’m going to discuss my projects that deal with information and public space. I’ll start with some of the work I alluded to above pertaining to the eruv, a symbolic boundary erected around Jewish neighborhoods as part of the observation of the Sabbath, including eRuv and Modern Orthodox. I’ll also discuss Cemetery 2.0 and Graffiti for Butterflies, with plenty of material not seen on my website.

LD: By day, you work as an information architect for How does your work as an artist influence your work as an information architect?

EM: It’s not clear how they might influence one another in any explicit sense. At The Times I work within a set of organizational requirements. In my personal work, I define my own requirements. At The Times I iterate on established design patterns to help produce a consistent, quality user experience (and help invent entirely new patterns when necessary).

In my own work I think I see patterns, though I am able to control or distort these patterns in ways that would be absurd and unproductive in a professional context. And to me this draws an essential distinction between design and art. Design has a functional purpose. Designers have clients and external requirements. Art has any or none of the above. It has distortion for the sake of distortion, if I want it to. Or it can solve real-world problems. It’s up to me.


About Elliott Malkin

Elliott Malkin is an artist and information architect whose work explores the intersection of memory, information, and physical space. His work has focused on the eruv, a symbolic boundary erected around Jewish neighborhoods as part of the observation of the Sabbath. This includes eRuv, a virtual reconstruction of an eruv that once existed in lower Manhattan, and Modern Orthodox, a next-generation eruv constructed with lasers and surveillance cameras. Many of Elliott’s other projects concern the use of new media as a proxy for memory. His short film Family Movie is a reconstruction of scenes from his family’s collection of home movies from the 1970’s. He is also the creator of Cemetery 2.0, a device that connects gravestones to the genealogical database of the Mormon Church. His most recent work is Graffiti for Butterflies, a project designed to facilitate interspecies communication between humans and monarch butterflies in urban areas. Elliott is originally from Chicago and currently lives in New York City, where he works as an Information Architect for The New York Times. His work has been featured at Eyebeam, the International Documentary Festival, and The Contemporary Artists’ Center.


About IDEA (Information Design Experience Access)

This conference addresses issues of design for an always-on, always-connected world. Where “cyberspace” is a meaningless term because the online and offline worlds cannot be made distinct. Where physical spaces are so complex that detailed wayfinding is necessary to navigate them. Where work processes have become so involved, and so digitized, that we need new processes to manage those processes.

This conference brings together people who are addressing these challenges head on. Speakers from a variety of backgrounds will discuss designing complex information spaces in the physical and virtual worlds.

IDEA 2008: An Interview with David Armano

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As IDEA 2008 draws closer, the IA Institute is conducting a series of interviews with the speakers for the conference. As Event Coordinator for IDEA, I fill a variety of roles, including the Interviewer of IDEA Presenters (which I proudly share with Liz Danzico).

This is the third interview in the series, and I got to spend time with David Armano, VP Experience Design at Critical Mass. David has been seen at many conferences this year, and has quite possibly been seen cruising through Chicagoland on his motorcycle in his down time. He also blogs about experience design at Logic + Emotion.

RU: How did you get your start in the design industry?

DA: At birth. I was born with two eyes and a brain and I’ve been a “visual person” since I can remember. I was always the person in class doodling, or drawing something. Or just daydreaming. I would say that the formal training I received didn’t really happen until I enrolled into design school (Pratt), and that’s where I learned the basics of design as well as how it intersected with technology. Like many, my first job out of school was in graphic design—I then moved into broadcast and in 1997 I made the jump to Web and I haven’t looked back. While I appreciated all sorts of design and the strategies that drive it, I’m really jazzed about the things I see happening in the digital space. The funny thing is that while I whiteboard quite a bit, I hardly ever draw anymore yet I’m known as a “visual thinker”. I still consider what I do (design strategy) to be part if the discipline. At one point in my career, I aspired to be an illustrator. Now I illustrate concepts which help people take action.

RU: How did you get your start as a presenter?

DA: In my previous life as a creative director which is one of the hardest presenting gigs anyone can ever have. No audience ever fired you for a bad presentation—but a client might. So that’s how I started (sort of). But I really started talking about industry perspectives around 3 years ago and things rapidly picked up in the past year or two and I’m sure the blog and writing has had a lot to do with it. I don’t consider myself an experienced speaker. Mostly, I use whatever skills I have to make the most of a presentation. My visuals help, and it REALLY helps that I believe in what I talk about. I’ve never taken a class in public speaking and the rules I give myself are simple. 1. Be myself 2. Do my best 3. Tell a story. The highlight of my speaking career was getting invited to speak at Google. I would have love to have participated in, but it conflicted with a family trip I had scheduled. Though it seems like I speak a lot, I’m actually a poor self-promoter and have been lucky to get invited to some great venues recently. People like Jared Spool have given me some big breaks, and I’ve been fortunate for it. I enjoy speaking and consider it a privilege. Anytime someone is willing to give you their time to hear you out, you have to take it seriously.

RU: What should the audience take away from your talk?

DA: I can’t answer this question really. People will take away what they want and that’s a good thing. I can tell you what I hope they will. I hope they will be excited about the future which I believe presents huge opportunities for people who understand how to create great experiences one interaction at a time. This could be through interface, through content or even through personal interactions such as responding to comments, etc. I can’t help but see a strong link developing between social networking and experience design. We are living in an age where we can design prototypes and get real time feedback. People can tell us what they want and we’ll have to be confident in ourselves to read between the lines. But at the end of the day, I believe that it’s more important than ever to deliver a great experience vs. building a myth around one.

RU: Who do you look to for inspiration?

DA: People. I’m a people watcher. When I have any free time, I’ll often try to watch people wherever they are. I watch how they speak to each other, what cars they drive, if they have a difficult or easy time opening up a door. I do this a lot online as well—through networks, and the digital destinations that people frequent. I’m also inspired by public places and how people interact with them. Millennium Park for example is a great example of a space that’s changed the face of Chicago. I love watching people play in the fountain and delight in it’s design. I’m also inspired my many of the new Web applications out there. Slideshare came out of nowhere and it’s treasure trove if inspiration. Both the platform and the content are inspirational and I love to see that somethng like this can seemingly appear out of nowhere and evolve into an incredibly useful resource.

RU: You really try to balance your work and presentation life with family time—in fact, you recently backed-out of a trip to Google in order to spend time with one of your boys at a summer camp. This is the type of move that many of us applauded you for, and it really sends a good message to people about maintaining that balance.
What advice would you give to people about maintaining work/personal balance as they’re trying to establish themselves?

DA: Funny, I just mentioned that earlier. For me it wasn’t even a choice. Fact is I already work hard enough and don’t have time for “regular hobbies” like sports or TV, so the least I can do is recognize when I’m given a gift. I’d say the best thing to do is realize when we have a few hours or a few days to re-connect with the people who are important to us, we need to take a step back and do so. My little guy would never remember that I spoke at Google, but he’ll always remember fishing in that canoe.

RU: In my opinion, no matter what any of us achieve, our kids will always think of us as “mommy” or “daddy” and our parents will pretty much always know us as the kid they raised more so than the adults we become.
Do your parents know you’re “David Armano” like the rest of us do? And, of course, how do they feel about it all?

DA: True story. I’m in NY visiting family and my mom says “David, we’re so proud of you. Want some chick peas?”. I think that about sums it up.

RU: This is a set-up question: What’s your favorite way to communicate with people who aren’t in the same room with you?

DA: Of course you know the answer to this—it’s writing and visual thinking. 🙂 I don’t do a lot of video or audio because it takes more time and I like to get ideas out quickly in a medium I feel comfortable in. Words and pictures are as basic as you get, they are universal and can be shared easily. While the power of other mediums cannot be underestimated, for me words and pictures can communicate a lot with a certain purity as there is not a lot of production associated.

RU: Last question and it’s a 2-parter. Let’s be honest, you’re “internet famous” and people get some online cred just by getting public messages from you or mentions in anything you write and/or say. How has being a presenter and conference-attendee helped you improve upon your career?

DA: Oh, it’s re-defined what I do—absolutely. People are only now realizing how HARD it is to build a brand (whether personal or real) online and so, I am sought after for my experience in this area. Only two years ago I was plugging away as a billable employee with strange internet hobby and now I work a lot more on the strategy and evangelist side of things. Through it all, I still believe that positive interactions build brands and so in whatever I do, I try to either demonstrate this or get people inspired about it. I’m not in the weeds as much as I used to be—but since I talk about “being in beta”—I have to be open to where this is all taking me. I don’t know the end story. I don’t think any of us does.

RU: Part 2. Besides finding a hat, boots and motorcycle that best fit your own personal mojo, what would you recommend to people who are just getting started in the field and who are interested in becoming more active in the industry—or who just want to follow in your footsteps?

DA: This is easy in instruction and difficult to pull off. I started online with zero awareness and few connections. What I did was simply to provide value through my thinking and artifacts. Because I was willing to share this freely and do my best to be myself, it resonated with some (not all) people and that’s OK. You have to do something that sets you apart. Seth Godin says it best in his “Purple Cow” theory. You need to do something “remarkable”. This could mean being an uber-connector, a great communicator, or simply having a really unique perspective on something. The most amazing thing to me is that the Web is fundamentally a level playing field in which the niches can thrive on. People can simply come out of nowhere and build something with reach. It’s a huge opportunity for not just people but businesses. I can’t stress this enough. But the bottom line is that you need to be doing something that someone sees VALUE in.


About David Armano

David has over 14 years of experience in the communications industry, having spent the majority of his time in digital marketing and experience design. An active thought leader in the industry, David authors the popular Logic + Emotion blog currently ranked in the top 25 of the “Power 150,” as listed by Advertising Age. David’s writing and visual thinking has been cited by respected sources, such as Forrester and Crain’s, and has landed him in BusinessWeek on several occasions including their “Best of 2006”. David leads an interdisciplinary group of designers, writers and content strategists for the Chicago office of Critical Mass. Aside from his presence on the Web, David is known as an evangelist for customer-centric strategies and acts as an advocate for the creation of meaningful interactions, which influence behavior. In his spare time he contributes articles to various professional publications and spends as much quality time with his family as possible.

David still has not shaved his bear and enjoys calling me up in the middle of the afternoon to see if I’d like to hang out with him while he eats lunch.


About IDEA (Information Design Experience Access)

This conference addresses issues of design for an always-on, always-connected world. Where “cyberspace” is a meaningless term because the online and offline worlds cannot be made distinct. Where physical spaces are so complex that detailed wayfinding is necessary to navigate them. Where work processes have become so involved, and so digitized, that we need new processes to manage those processes.

This conference brings together people who are addressing these challenges head on. Speakers from a variety of backgrounds will discuss designing complex information spaces in the physical and virtual worlds.

User Experience Week

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User Experience (UX) Week was held in San Francisco, CA from August 12 – 15. Boxes and Arrows, in co-operation with Adaptive Path, interviewed speakers in UX, IA, IxD, and Human Factors. Many thanks to the entire team at Adaptive Path for the opportunity to share these conversations with the communities of practice.

Sketches from UX Week

T. Scott Stromberg from 404 User Experience Design and Ty Hatch of Ty Hatch Design captured the UX Week presentations with some quick and brilliant sketches. They were kind enough to share their observations with Boxes and Arrows.

T. Scott Stromberg Sketch Notes
Ty Hatch Sketch Notes

Session Slides from UX Week

Adaptive Path is adding session slides gradually to their website from presenters and workshop leaders. If available, Boxes and Arrows has linked directly to these presentations below.

On with the Show!

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iTunes     UX Week theme music generously provided by Sonic Blue

UX Week Keynote DiscussionPeter Merholz and Don Norman
UX Week 2008 kicked off with an on-stage conversation between the President and founder of Adaptive Path, Peter Merholz, and industry legend Don Norman. Don wrote the founding text on user-centered design, entitied, “The Design of Everyday Things“, and also coined the term “user-experience” while at Apple in the early 1990s.

They talk about the importance of the semantic differences around common issues in business like ROI from a design perspective, the necessity to look beyond the “all mighty dollar,” the importance of being passionate about your ideas, and knowing ultimately all team members want to create great products and services for other people.

Don shares his insights about the UX Week presentation given by Microsoft’s Jensen Harris around the usability of the Ribbon in the latest version of MS Office as well as the exciting future that lies ahead for all in the UX field.


Being a UX Team of OneLeah Buley
In this conversation, Experience Designer Leah Buley from Adaptive Path shares some of the lightweight techniques that she and her team use to explore a variety of solutions quickly and how to enlist the support of non-team members in the UX process.

We talk about the video biographies of other team members at Adaptive Path and how all started out from humble beginnings – some in fields that had little to do with what we think about today as traditional UX projects – and how those experiences have helped in building great products and services.

Leah outlines the advice she gives in her conference talk Being a UX Team of One.

Videos from On-Stage Presentation
Leah was kind enough to share the videos she used in her presentation. Thanks again, Leah!

  • Watch members of Adaptive Path describe their first job in User Experience
  • Watch as Pam Daughlin answers the question When did you first discover UX?
  • Watch various members at Adaptive Path share their thoughts on what’s hot in User Experience at the moment.

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    Story Telling for User Experience DesignKevin Brooks and Kim Lenox
    Senior Interaction Deisgner at Adaptive Path, Kim Lenox chats with Kevin Brooks, the Principle Staff Researcher for Motorola Labs about his workshop entitled “Storytelling for User Experience Design“.

    They discuss various aspects of Kevin’s presentation including the importance of structure and patterns to guide creative endeavors. One critical aspect is listening when striving to be a remarkable storyteller within your own organization.

    Kim shares her art school experience where the criticism of her art helped her gain the confidence necessary to be a successful Interaction Designer.

    Kevin also discusses his upcoming publication about storytelling with Whitney Quesenberry. Learn more about his book at Rosenfeld Media.

    Download Kevin’s presentation from UX Week.


    Unpacking Stories to Serve People BetterIndi Young
    Indi Young talks about the importance of continuing to ask “why” enough times to get to the core reasons for any individuals’ behavior or actions and how to convert stories into mental models. Her workshop “Unpacking Stories to Server People Better” includes these themes and more.

    We discuss the elegant way in which mental models can provide a visual representation of these behaviors and support elements that foster the likely repetition of any action.

    Indi also talks briefly about how her book from Rosenfeld media, “Mental Models – Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior,” can help others create these visual tools.


    We’ll Always Have Paris: What Makes a Memorable Service Experience?Jennifer Bove and Ben Fullerton
    Jennifer Bove from Huge and Ben Fullerton from IDEO sat down with me shortly after their presentation to discuss ideas from “We’ll Always Have Paris – What Makes a Memorable Service Experience.”

    We explore the six key elements about what it takes to design services that keep people coming back for more.

    We probe into the dynamics of service design from real-world examples of business that provide unique experiences. One shoe company will actually order a pizza for their clients as well as order products from competitor sites to keep their customers satisfied.

    Jennifer and Ben outline why people get excited about intangible services in the same way they lust after the latest shiny toy that just came out on the market.


    ben: A Prototype for Democracy in the 21st CenturyDave Wolf
    Dave Wolf, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Cynergy Systems was kind enough to join me for this conversation about his presentation “ben: A Prototype for Democracy in the 21st Century.”

    We talk about Cynergy’s awarding winning application “ben” at the PhizzPop competition – a National Design and Development Challenge sponsored by Microsoft.

    “ben” is a series of interconnected, cross-platform applications that leverage the power of Microsoft Silverlight, Windows Presentation Foundation, Live Services, Twitter, VoIP technologies.


    TV With an API! – Current at the Collision of TV and the InternetRod Naber and Dan Levine
    TVs in trouble! It might be terminal, but Rod Naber and Dan Levine from Current TV urge everyone not lose hope just yet. Discussing their presentation “TV with an API! Current at the Collusion of TV and the Internet” Rod and Dan describe how using their cable and satellite TV network along with their social news website, Current is experimenting across both media, looking for a cure.

    In this conversation we talk about how Current got started, the power of the community in generating content for Current News, and how the Internet is allowing users to create ads for companies. All this could change the way marketing approaches innovative solutions for their customers.


    A User’s Guide to Managing Experience TeamsMargaret Gould Stewart and Graham Jenkin
    Google’s Margaret Gould Stewart and Graham Jenkin discuss their experience and ideas from their UX Week workshop about managing UX teams. Topics covered in this conversation include:

  • Prioritization and project tracking
  • How to gain insight into career development paths within a user experience team
  • Finding out about performance management
  • Discovering how to tailor your own management style
  • Margaret and Graham also tackled other tough issues during their session, such as:

  • Building a culture of constructive feedback
  • Developing leadership within a team
  • Effectively managing team dynamics
  • Evangelizing user experience practices
  • Managing stakeholders
  • Margaret and Graham also had participants of their workshop develop haiku’s about the importance of working with and managing UX Teams. They were kind enough to compile this collection of Haiku’s from the workshop for you. They also provided an example of the leadership cards. These cards can be printed off and shared with members of your team about which characteristics of a leader they deem to be most essential. Not every leader will be strong in all categories, however. Such information can help leaders understand the expectations of those they are working with on a daily basis.


    New Paradigms for Interaction in Physical SpaceJake Barton
    Jake Barton gave an emotionally powerful presentation at UX Week entitled “New Paradigms for Interaction in Physical Space“.

    As the interaction designers for NPR’s StoryCorps and the co-leaad designer for the National September 11th Memorial Museum at the World Trade Center, Local Projects is creating new paradigms for interaction by tackling physical space.

    Jake talks with me about how the interaction design process bends, accelerates and sometimes completely falls apart, when applied to the global community.

    You can download Jake’s Presentation from UX Week.


    Conversation with Adaptive Path’s New CEOMichael W. Meyer
    On the last day of UX Week I had the pleasure of chatting with Adaptive Path’s new CEO Michael Meyer about his impressions of UX Week and the opportunities that come with this new position.

    We discuss his past experiences as a nuclear engineer, time spent in the US Navy, as well as working at some of the leading design firms in the world such as frog and IDEO before arriving at Adaptive Path.

    My heart-felt thanks to Michael and the entire team at Adaptive Path for allowing Boxes and Arrows to share these conversations with the community.