Notebook

Project Rimino is an interaction design project proposing a hypothetical e-paper mobile device. The project was created by Amid Moradganjeh, an interaction design student from Umea Institute of Design in Sweden, for his masters degree project on mobile experience design. The design is based on both observational and experimental design research methods. Watch the video below for the concept.

Some of the ideas are pretty exciting. I particularly like the emphasis on everyday tasks, utilizing the materials of the device to create minimal, task-focussed interfaces. I love the reference to hand-crafted materials, and the poster-inspired UI, which reminds me of the cleaner the Zune after it was redesigned, is quite nice. Dig deeper into the site to learn more about the process and research.

Huge has announced HUGE UX School, a graduate program for design talent interested in pursuing careers in User Experience.

Ten students, selected from hundreds of international applicants, will join HUGE’s UX team in New York, where they will receive three months of hands-on training and learn the fundamentals of UX design.

HUGE started the school to help prepare design professionals for successful careers in interaction design and to find and cultivate industry talent. Students in this year’s class come from the United States, Korea, Italy, Dominican Republic and Germany and have backgrounds in industrial, graphic, and interactive design as well as architecture and human-computer interaction.

UX trainees will be integrated into the existing HUGE UX team and each will be assigned a mentor. Students will learn the basics of interaction design, from developing user scenarios and wireframes to conducting competitive analyses and user testing, and learn how IDs at HUGE solve problems. Additionally, students will be responsible for executing a full project from brief through to design. Select students will be offered full time positions with HUGE following the completion of the program.

To learn more about HUGE’s UX School program or to apply for next year’s program contact [email protected]

Miratech observed the difference between reading an article in a newspaper and on an iPad in an eye tracking study. They concluded that readers are more likely to skim over articles on an iPad than in a newspaper.


  • The type of medium doesn't influence reading time when the text is short (like an article).

  • It is easier to assimilate and retain information read in a newspaper than on an iPad.

They plan to write up another white paper presenting their results looking at ad visibility.

Read more in their white paper.

I'm off to work in Italy for a week with the Balsamiq team, so no posting on Konigi while I'm gone.

For the travelers who care about packing on the light side, here's how I'm going to roll on a single carryon bag.

- Goruck GR2 backpack (first trip with this bag)
- Gear
-- Mac short power cord
-- Euro travel adapter plug
-- Mini USB cords (I have a different set, but Griffin's looks cool)
-- Platypus 1L collapsible water bottle
-- Glasses
-- Sunglasses
-- Rite in the Rain notebook
-- Pen (Pilot G2)
-- Lumix camera and charger (bringing an older compact Panasonic Luimix DMCTZ5)
-- MacBook Air
-- Bose Headphones
- Toiletries
-- Adventure Medical Kit .9
-- Bug repellent wipes and wristband (I'm a mosquito magnet)
-- Sunscreen
-- Medication
-- Razor
-- Travel toothbrush
-- Travel toothpaste and mini floss
- Eagle Creek packing folder
-- 4 pair Capilene underwear
-- 3 bathing shorts
-- 4 Nike dry fit tshirts
-- 3 Nike dry fit polo shirts
-- 3 pair socks
-- 1 travel pants
-- 1 Patagonia Sun Hoody
- Sandals

Since it's a trip to Italy, I also temporarily upgraded my phone to an international data plan.

All packed in a single carryon bag that weighs in around 21 pounds. If I could leave the computer and other electronic gear behind, I think it would come in around 18-19 pounds, but this is a work trip. I'm also wearing a pair of Patagonia Guide pants, a Swobo wicking polo, and sneakers.

Jared Spool talks about why designers who code are popular in Silicon Valley right now, and for the most part, it boils down to this. Small software and web startups value and are able to use a broader range of skillsets, because one of the highest priorities, especially for bootstrapped startups, is to ship while lean on resources.

Jared notes that those who don't think designers should know how to code say this dilutes the designer's value. I think we're talking both interaction designers and visual designers here.

The main point for me is that particular organizations favor someone more M-shaped than T-shaped, which is to say, they need to be deeper in more than one set of skills. This is true of more types of organizations than just small startups, but the main idea is that multi-role people are valued in organizations that are open to having a person who can execute on a diverse set of responsibilities, even if they're viewed as "diluted" in terms of being less deep in one area.

I'll say this. I started out doing interface design and development work on databases in-house in a corporation. Early on in my career, I envied the people who got to work on the sexy, high-profile projects and made the switch to doing front end-development at an agency. Unsatisfied with that, I went back in-house doing both design and development, and then envied the design side, and went to a company to do interaction design only. I've never been satisfied in a silo, and have been happiest being involved across a project. I've found that working on both ends as a designer and developer to be ideal for me, even if the development is only front-end development and prototyping.

That said, I don't think it is particularly easy to find a home when you're more M than T-shaped. Certain types of organizations won't even let you interview for more than one type of role.

I've spoken to quite a few people looking to make a shift from one side to another over the years. It's kind of easy to recognize an M-shaped person. They may have worked in small organizations that gave them more room to flex their muscles outside of their role, or they may be freelancers that get to and maybe have to do design and development. For whatever reason, that varied experience can make it hard for them to find the right home and to convince hiring people to consider a cross-disciplinary role to fit them into.

This is why I think what Jared is talking about could be very helpful to both the budding UX designers out there, and those considering making a change in role.

It seems obvious to say, but if you can already do some development and you want to use it, you might look for an organization that values it. Small startups or in-house positions with small development organizations where multi-role people are valued is a good start.

If you can't do some kind of code, at least learn HTML5, CSS and a little Javascript, and maybe some other server-side scripting languages. If you can't convince your organization to use you in that capacity, then demonstrate your skill doing prototypes in code when the opportunity presents itself, and keep your skills sharp. When there seems like no way to flex your development muscles in your current job, work on personal projects continually to stay sharp and relevant!

Read more at UIE. Interested in learning to code for the web? There are some resources for that here.

From Aaron Koblin's TED presentation:

"Artist Aaron Koblin takes vast amounts of data -- and at times vast numbers of people -- and weaves them into stunning visualizations. From elegant lines tracing airline flights to landscapes of cell phone data, from a Johnny Cash video assembled from crowd-sourced drawings to the "Wilderness Downtown" video that customizes for the user, his works brilliantly explore how modern technology can make us more human."

Beautiful, incredibly creative use of user contributed hands for data-driven art.

Click the full screen icon, it's much better that way. Headphones warning: rowdy party music ahead.

I rarely do click-through prototypes, but if I have to, then I use Symbols and links in Mockups to make it painless. This is a speed-wireframing video I whipped up to demonstrate to customers in a few minutes what the experience of wireframing with Symbols is like.

Jason Toth of Viget discusses the danger of blind devotion to simplification in design, and writes about the role of UX designers as curators of content. He offers useful suggestions for how to play that role so we don't come off as content hackers.

I think the argument for facilitating curation is as apt for feature selection and design as it is for content. I view the role of someone doing content strategy as being able to take in the glut of information for analysis and providing direction for how to deliver the message with greater efficiency and maybe at times, poetry.

Curation and editing go hand in hand in my mind. It's as much the role of the curator to question the body of content to find the core of the message to deliver, as it is of the editor to guide a writer to find the lede. That could mean eliminating parts that detract from the message or it's delivery, rather than simply combining and compressing a lot into a small space.

Application interfaces provide problems similar to content. When taking in the number of possible use cases and stories that the application can support, a designer provides direction in terms of the delivery of an interface users interact with. On the interface side, it could mean questioning the necessity of the thing you're hiding for progressive disclosure, rather than finding clever ways to hide it in the first place.

Read more on VigetAdvance.

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying ‘no’ to 1,000 things.”

—Steve Jobs on product development, from "Steve Jobs: Get Rid of the Crappy Stuff" in Forbes.

Gallo exaggerates a little, but I like the point he tries to argue later in the article about focus and reduction. It takes courage to reduce and say no, and that is a big differentiator when it comes to Apple hardware and software.

Apple is the easy example, but for good reason. Many argue that hindsight analysis of Jobs' strategy might be easy, but the company's success in product development continues to provide lessons to learn.

The idea of knowing when to say no seems obvious and is something you might say is always top of mind. But, if you're working on a product, you're likely to be challenged every day with decisions to say yes or no to the possible products you might design, and the features you might build into your products. Every one of these challenges requires courage to say no if the outcome compromises your vision, because in the moment it will seem like the world is begging for you to do it.

I know as a user of different products, I've been vocal about the pet features I've wanted as a "power user" of said products, and bitched when that voice didn't get heard. But I believe that the tech products that I continue to use and that are of value are those that hold onto a clearly defined vision and purpose, and whose features reflect that with selectivity and refusal to deviate from it. More often than not, to me, these products have provided a more focussed experience.

Via Core77

Jumping in and immediately starting to build the product, even if it does get completed and ship, is almost guaranteed to produce a mediocre product in which there is little innovation or market differentiation. When you have only one kick at the can, the behaviour of the entire team and process is as predictable as it will be pedestrian.

—Bill Buxton in Sketching the User Experience
Buxton writes in this passage on the impact of iterative sketching on risk, exploration and innovation.

“The more you know, the less you need. The experienced fly fisherman with only one rod, one type of fly, and one type of line will always outfish the duffer with an entire quiver of gear and flies. I never forget Thoreau's advice: 'I say beware of all enterprises that require new clothes...'"

—Yvon Chouinard in Let My People Go Surfing.
Chouinard is a mountain climber, environmentalist, and founder of Patagonia. He was writing about product design in the quote above.

I love these two posts by Mark McGuiness on the 99% on why eccentricity and how daily routine helps trigger creativity.

He points out three characteristics of a hypnotic trigger:

  1. Uniqueness - it should be something (or a combination of things) you don't associate with other activities, otherwise the effect will be diluted.

  2. Emotional intensity - the kind you experience when you're really immersed in creative work.

  3. Repetition - the more times you experience the unique trigger in association with the emotions, the stronger the association becomes.

I live by daily routines, but I also associate that with my need to feel balanced and in control of my time and the living and working space around me. I also have a tendency to be impulsive or to dive very deeply into activities, so routine acts both as clock and trigger.

There are some excellent anecdotes about the routines of famous creatives. I find myself really intrigued by the more eccentric ones, like those of Victor Hugo and especially that of Orhan Pamuk. Pamuk's act of re-creating his "walk to work" trigger is pretty ingenious. Read more...