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“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”

I was looking for this story for a while. Finally I found it, so would like to share it with you. It’s about understanding what people want to get done with products—the job-to-be-done. Often we get lost in the features and functions of the product that we forget about the job that the product is designed to get done. The same principle can be used for designing websites and intranets.

“With few exceptions, every job people need or want to do has a social, a functional, and an emotional dimension. If marketers understand each of these dimensions, then they can design a product that’s precisely targeted to the job. In other words, the job, not the customer, is the fundamental unit of analysis for a marketer who hopes to develop products that customers will buy.”

You Can Get There From Here: Websites for Learners

Amber Simmons writes about making websites 'learner-friendly'.
"Most websites are not learner-friendly. Web creators might aim for beautiful, accessible, usable interfaces to house their smart, web-native content, but they don’t often have learners’ goals or needs in mind—if they even know what those needs are... As an industry, we haven’t done our best to make our content-rich websites suitable for learning and exploration. Learners require more from us than keywords and killer headlines. They need an environment that is narrative, interactive, and discoverable."
You may also want to skim an article I wrote back in 2001 titled Serendipitous learning.

Designing for Interaction: Design Research

Here is a sample chapter from Dan Saffer's Designing for Interaction. In this chapter Dan offers a good commentary on Design Research -- what it is, why do it and how it can be done.
"Imagine a zoo where the zookeepers don't know anything about animals, and they don't bother to find out about the animals' natural habitat, dietary needs, or natural predators. The zookeepers keep the animals in metal cages, group the animals randomly together, and feed them whatever they have around. Now imagine the chaos that ensues and the unhappy (or worse: sick or dead) animals that would be the result. Not the type of place you'd want to take your kids to. Our fictional zoo is the state of a lot of the products and services today, albeit not so extreme. While most businesses do have strong interest in their customers and put considerable amount of money into their products and services, a lot of that money is poorly spent. If only a small bit of the typical time, money, and resources used to make and market a product or service were put towards design research—observing, talking to, and maybe even making artifacts with customers and users—the products and services we use would be greatly improved."
[Via Infodesign]

Jonas Lowgren: Two perspectives of Interaction Design

Jonas Lowgren, Professor of interaction design at Malmö University, Sweden has written an article that describes 2 historical perspectives of interaction design. One views interaction design as a "design discipline, distinguished by its focus on the digital design materials: software, electronics and telecommunications". The other views interaction design as an extension of HCI -- "usability and usefulness of digital products and services."

Interactions Magazine now online

The Interactions Magazine is now online. Loads of in-depth articles from Primal interactions to an article on idioms and metaphors.

Engaging e-learning interactions

B.J. Schone has published an e-book on Engaging Interactions for E-learning (PDF). In his blog, he describes the 25 interactions described in the book. Nice stuff.

By any medium necessary: How interaction designers can save the world

David Fore of Cooper Design tells us to how interaction design can serve organizational needs and how interaction designers should always keep that in mind:

An interaction designer's approach must bear this in mind, providing level-headed insight to executives and precise direction to developers, so that the interests of the business and users are kept foremost in everyone's mind.

Designing interactions

Bill Moggridge's of IDEO has a new 766 page book titled Designing Interactions. Going by what Rob Sutton has to say about it and by the contents on the website, it looks like something I want for Christmas!

The Web, Information Architecture, and Interaction Design

Jonathan Korman of Cooper Designs writes about the differences in interaction design (IxD) and information architecture (IA):
"IA calls for exercises like card sorts, usability testing for category labels, hierarchical structure diagramming, and so forth. IxD calls for exercises like workflow analysis, usage scenarios, wireframed walkthroughs, and so on. The work done, and the skills needed to do it, differ considerably between the two. Just as few people can fully master the skills of both graphic design and IA, few people will master the skills of both IA and IxD. It serves both organizations and practitioners for people to specialize."

The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design

Dan Saffer, who is doing his Masters in Interaction Design at Carnegie Mellon, has just finished his thesis paper and made it available on the web -- The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design (PDF, 340kb). It looks like a good read. I've been following Dan's blog on his experience at D School and it has helped me get a good understanding of interaction design. All the best Dan. Also, here's my interview with him on why he blogs his course.

Five Lenses: Towards a Toolkit for Interaction Design

Tom Erickson of the IBM Watson Research Centre explores the foundations of interaction design:

In this essay I explore these issues. I begin with a definition, and illustrate my approach to partitioning the terrain of interaction design using five conceptual "lenses." In so doing, I cover most of what I see as the theoretical roots of interaction design. I then turn to the role of theory in interaction design, and suggest that a good way to begin is to assemble a toolkit of concepts for interaction design that consists of appropriately sized theoretical constructs.

[thanks mathemagenic]

A Definition of Interaction Design

Dan Saffer defines interaction design as, "the art of facilitating or instigating interactions between humans (or their agents), mediated by products. By interactions, I mostly mean communication, either one-on-one (a telephone call), one-to-many (blogs), or many-to-many (the stock market). The products an interaction designer creates can be digital or analog, physical or incorporeal or some combination thereof."

Thinking About Interaction Design

This is a very absorbing paper on interaction design. The author introduces the concept of 'productive interaction', where users have the ability to "create custom, personally significant meaning spaces of their own... Instead of laying out a linear narrative in an enveloping experience, the productive interaction designer frames an exploration of a meaning space, making sure the audience has the affordances to create their own "take". [thanks infodesign]

Peterme: R&D in Interaction Design

Peterme: R&D in Interaction Design

Peter Merholz on Vaporware: "It seems that product teams are responsible for their own innovation, and, what do you know, it's working (Rendezvous, iTunes, Expose, etc. etc.)! Contrast this with Remail, from IBM's research labs, which garnered some buzz when the site launched, but which I doubt we'll ever see in any piece of shipping software. I mean, I love Babble as much as the next geek, but where is it getting us? And where is it getting IBM?"
Also, check out Wired News' Vapourware Awards

GUUUI: Balancing visual and structural complexity in interaction design

GUUUI: Balancing visual and structural complexity in interaction design

"People will complain about a visually complex page at the sight of it. But they will also complain if the information they need isn't immediately available to them when they start using the site."
[thanks infodesign]

Inf@Vis!: Visualising Social Interaction

Inf@Vis!: Visualising Social Interaction
"But in cyberspace the social interaction is becoming more and more important and we don

HOT Labs: Interdisciplinary Interactions in an Online Videoconference Course

HOT Labs: Interdisciplinary Interactions in an Online Videoconference Course
"In our feature article, this team describes their pioneering work

elearnspace: Interaction

elearnspace: Interaction
Summary of an informal course on "interaction."
- What is Interaction?
- What does Interaction Accomplish?
- Interaction Cycle
- Instructor Concerns
- Connectivity
- Additional Thoughts on Interactivity

Macromedia:  Using Macromedia Flash MX learning interactions

Macromedia: Using Macromedia Flash MX learning interactions
Macromedia Flash MX learning interactions help you create interactive online instructional courses that run in Flash. Each individual Flash learning interaction can send tracking information to a server-side learning management system (LMS) that complies with the Aviation Industry CBT Committee (AICC) protocol. Additionally, the quiz templates track cumulative results from a sequence of interactions and can pass them along to the LMS using an enhanced data tracking functionality that conforms to either AICC or Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) standards.

Microsoft: Fundamentals of Designing User Interaction

Microsoft: Fundamentals of Designing User Interaction
Official Guidelines for User Interface Developers and Designers.

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