Category Archives: interaction design

Open for Open Questions – UX London 2014

How do you design the user research so that you can be more flexible for unexpected questions? These unexpected questions may come after you have done your research work, but while you are still on the journey to make your product.  This talk, given in UX London 2014 conference is based on my own reflections from various projects, rather than any academic framework.

The increasingly blurring line between user and creator means that understanding and gathering people’s feedback on what you are making also needs to evolve – regardless of the size of the organisation you are in, or the nature of the work you are doing. Products are becoming more interactive in nature, therefore passive feedback from unengaged, remotely plausible ‘users’ recruited temporarily in a one-way mirror room may not give you any meaningful insight.

Having said that, I also argue that the need for the user research requires a more critical assessment. And the very ability to assess the need should be one of the qualities of experienced designers and researchers. More often than not, big corporations rely too much on consumer research results to make decisions. While it makes sense for some issues, it tends to create the faulty dependency that merely acts as delaying or delegating the power to make the decision. If you have expert designers and researchers in their domain, they should have the ability to tell you a lot about the user behaviours without having to do an extensive consumer research every time you launch a new product or change the design.

If you have the opposite issue of not having any time or budget to spend on user research, I would like to add that the user research does not need to be expensive and time-consuming – especially if your target users are not super rare species of human beings. When I was hands-on interaction designer developing mobile applications & services, my regular source of quicky user research was my colleagues and their family and friends. And there was no need to rely on any external agency to run your paper prototype or scenarios of use through with them to evaluate your own design ideas.

Connecting : Film series on interaction and experience design

It’s at least 2 years late to post this, but now this seems to have become a series of films on interaction and experience design. I had the honour of being featured in the first film in the series on the topic of ‘future of interaction design’, together with other jury members of the first IxDA interaction awards in 2012.

What you see me saying in this film is:

– The term ‘interaction design’ implies that what we design as man-made objects or service frameworks are only complete when there are people who use them.

– The biggest challenge of interaction design is that you cannot necessarily foresee the consequences of your design when people adopt what you have designed to do or see something completely different than what you have created.

In my personal conversations with friends, I have always said that design thinking is somehow a trendy way to describe empathy. But the points I state in the film elaborate the reason why interaction designers exist as a profession. We, as human beings, do not want unpredictability and uncertainty. We as interaction designers try to direct the final ‘product’ of how users would make out of the thing that you design, in a way that fits the intent of the business owner as well as the norm of the society.

In 1997, when I was choosing the graduate school as Fulbright scholar – the term ‘Interaction Design’ was understood well at all: My parents thought it was something to do with computers (vaguely). Most designer and techy friends thought it had something to do with ‘interactive media’, designing animations and websites. 17 years onwards, it has come a long way. While this is not included in the film – this was my third point: I believe that the ideal future will see this profession disappearing, as it will become a required skill for everyone living the world made of mixed media, with multiple identities.

Connecting the Film site