Sunday, December 28, 2008

Winding down 2008

It's always been funny to me that we feel a sense of something ending as the calendar changes from one year to another. Out of all the things we do customarily that are time-limited, such as projects or pay periods or monthly services, the year-end/new year markings always seems the most artificial to me and yet we treat it with the most emotion. Oh well, holiday-weariness musings aside, I hope this time of year does have plenty of good things to remember and to anticipate.

I will be posting new thoughts soon on trends I see in user interface and interaction, why IVR might have peaked and be in decline, and why bad design is immoral.

For now, for all you designers, I leave you with the strongest possible recommendation to put this book on your Q1 2009 reading list: Sketching User Experiences. It is a great treatise on the need for the design process as well as enlightening concerning what sketching is and why it is so important, which helps me understand why some of us push so hard on doing sample dialogs early in the design process.

Design well!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Let's try to catch up sometime

One of my favorite things to pick on about the little speech reco world we play in is how often we seem to let it slip our mind that there is a much larger world of interaction design for software and its users out there. It's not that some haven't tried to show us over the past decade, but somehow our entire focus keeps turning back inward to our industry and our practice. I believe this is unhealthy for multiple reasons and said so most publicly in my talk at SpeechTek 2007.

Though it is understandable, to a certain degree, one of my little missions is to change that as I can. So, occasionally, I will link to older content on the web that I think provides valuable input to our efforts from outside our normal ping-pong ball sphere of operation.

These will be in no order other than when I think of them and/or run across them. The first is from a respected and multi-facted web designer, Cameron Moll, and is a presentation he gave in the fall of 2006, Nine skills that separate good and great designers.

While some of this is about visual interfaces specifically, most addresses thinking about and creating great design in general. Enjoy. Please.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Rules and instructions - People behave like water

In a nice Speech Technology mag article from Dr. Susan, she highlights that people, in this case callers to automated systems, frequently behave like water (my interpretation, not hers). That is, they try to find the easiest way to get what they want most of the time. Other times, they barrel over any seemingly arbitrary obstacles when they perceive that there is a way to accomplish what they want.

She rightly points out the fine details of how to deal with these issues in a couple of specific situations. The larger lessons are: a) if you make rules (right or wrong) for customers, make sure they know them and make sure they are consistent across the board; b) to maximize success all the way around, facilitate the fastest, easiest way (according to the customer!) to get where the person wants to go.

Too often, our designs provide interaction that is more like dams and channel locks and less like soothing mountain streams.