June 04, 2005

Laptops are mobile devices, too

Something I've been wondering about is why laptops aren't really treated as mobile devices, in any interesting way. Laptop manufacturers tend to treat them as portable desktops, and people interested in "mobile device design" focus on PDAs, cell phones, and the like.

Now that laptops outsell desktops, it's worth treating them as interesting and distinct entities that warrant special consideration as a mobile device. What, say, are the tools for the working-at-coffeehouse types? For the airplane commuters, the road warriors, the college students, etc.? What makes sense for a laptop to have that would have never made sense in a desktop? Why don't we have location-awareness built into laptops?

Anyway, something to ponder. I would wager that the folks thinking about "mobile device design" would get a lot more traction if they considered the laptop as a platform, not the PDA or cell phone.

Posted by peterme at 01:03 PM | Comments (6)

May 31, 2005

Adaptive Path Update - Workshops in Minneapolis and D.C

Time for some company plugging. And stuff I'm really excited about.

We've recently announced two workshops.

July 19-20, Minneapolis - Beyond Usability: Designing the Complete User Experience

This is our classic two-day workshop, in which we'll walk you through a complete design process, from business requirements gathering through user research, information architecture, and prototyping. This workshop will have a lot of new material, reflecting what we've learned in four years of project work. New material includes:

  • making business cases for design
  • content strategy and presentation
  • designing for Ajax
  • and more! (of course... there's always "and more!")

Use promotional code FOPM (Friend of Peter Merholz) and get 15% off the registration price. And that registration price is only $995 until June 20th!

August 22-25, Washington, D.C. - User Experience Week

Hooboy, are we excited about this. This will easily be our best User Experience Week yet. It will feature 100% new material, and it's targeted at more advanced practitioners and managers. We're taking this opportunity to be forward-thinking yet practical.

Each day has a theme that we will explore in depth.

Day 1 - The Whole New Internet
Inspired by Janice's essay, we're devoting a day to the user experience of new Web technologies and approaches. From Ajax to folksonomies to mass amateurization, we'll talk about what implications The Whole New Internet has on design and business.

Day 2 - Content and Information Architecture
Here we roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty with that most overlooked aspect of interaction design -- content. This is a day that I put together, reflecting my interests in content strategy, content genre, and content effectiveness. I'm most excited about the joint case study we're doing with Wells Fargo. We'll talk about the work Adaptive Path did to establish a content strategy for WellsFargo.com, and the work they've done since to establish an understanding of content effectiveness.

Day 3 - New User Research Methods
Really, we've got to get beyond lab user testing. In this day, we'll talk about a variety of better ways to understand your users, methods and approaches that are truly germane to developing for interactive networked media. The heart of the day will be two case studies, one with the National Gallery of Art, and another with Princess Cruises, where we'll talk about how these research methods are leading to significant evolution within these organizations.

And also, we'll have Special Guest Star Jared Spool. I've been delighted at the profound, and common-sense challenging findings coming out of UIE -- they're easily doing the best web-related research out there.

Day 4 - Web 2010
So where do we go from here? Our last day will tie together all the discussions, and provide a vision for the web as it moves forward. We'll have Special Guest Star Marc Rettig talk to us about the amazing work he did with Carnegie Mellon's library, combining offline and online design to provide for a complete experience.

Again, as with the workshop above, use promotional code FOPM for a 15% discount.

I hope to see you in Minneapolis or D.C.!

Posted by peterme at 10:26 AM | Comments (2)

May 30, 2005

The Dark Side of Design Thinking

While there is much good in design thinking, I think we have to not get carried away about designers' power. In my experience, I've seen many negative qualities of design thinking, qualities that have proven a detriment on projects and to the profession as a whole.

Overbearing control

Dirk Knemeyer exposes the dark essence of design thinking when stating, in the comments section of an article he wrote, "we need to begin controlling the environments that our work is being experienced in."

Long ago, designers attempted to "control" the Web by determining, with pixel precision, presentation, leading to massive .GIFs and JPGs with excessive download times. The designer believed that HE knew how things should look, and did everything in his power to make it happen. And while that was going on, sites exhibiting what would be concerned poor design (Yahoo, Amazon, eBay) took over -- because such overbearing control is not only unwarranted, but is detrimental to quality experiences.

Designers often hate the idea that their designs most live on in the hands of the users. They obsess over every detail as they plot a world of what should be. Stewart Brand wrote a whole book with this as its theme -- How Buildings Learn deals a lot with overbearing signature architects and their determination of what the experience should be, and the struggle of the people in those buildings to adapt the experience to their actual needs.

This leads me to another negative aspect of design thinking...

Arrogance/condescension towards users

While designers have been attempting to corner the market on empathy, the truth is that that shift is a remarkably recent one. When I began working with design firms (with Studio Archetype, in 1996), designers never attempted to appreciate the user perspective and provide the appropriate service. They instead designed what THEY liked, and assumed that users would appreciate their brilliance.

Oftentimes, the user, with their idiosyncratic needs and wants, is seen as an obstacle by the designer seeking truth and beauty. Or that the user isn't clever enough to understand what they want, so they should shut up and appreciate what the designer, the expert, is giving them.

Sadly, user-centered designers are perhaps only marginally better about this. While at least they are attempting to understand and assist the user in their goals, they often do so from a similarly arrogant, and expert perch. I wrote about this in my post "Pity the Poor User," which reviews a book that calls into question the view of users as victims of their own circumstances, in need of saving by the brilliant user-centered designer.

Weakness for styling

Designers like the shiny-shiny. That's often why they got into design.

Look at any interactive design annual, anything judged by a panel of designers, and you will see a stupefying weakness for styling. It doesn't matter that after using any of the winners for 2 minutes, you're pretty much done (if you could figure out how to use it in the first place).

Until designers fully, truly, and deeply realize that style, while necessary, is perhaps the least important aspect of successful interactive design, "design thinking" will be as much of a curse as it is a blessing.

This is hardly complete (I hope others will add more in the comments). And, to be upfront, I suffer from every one of these in one way or another. The point is to have that self-awareness in order to appreciate when the bad habits are kicking in, and deal with them head on.

Posted by peterme at 09:19 PM | Comments (11)

May 29, 2005

Go Spurs Go!

(Though I tend to agree with my dad on his assessment of team fans. But, then, I don't root for the Spurs year in and year out. I root for teams whose play I like to watch. This year, that's been the Spurs and the Pistons. The Suns, and Mavs might be flashy, the Heat have The Flash, but for me, I love b-ball fundamentals. Passing, picking, gliding. I love it when a team moves around with out the ball, like tumblers in a lock, and then, when the players are set appropriately, the catch opens, and the ball makes its way into the basket.

Also, I, like many others, adore Ginobili.)

Posted by peterme at 09:23 AM | Comments (3)


See Me Travel
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
Archives from June 13, 2001 to January 2003
Archives from before June 13, 2001
Recent Entries
Laptops are mobile devices, too
Adaptive Path Update - Workshops in Minneapolis and D.C
The Dark Side of Design Thinking
Go Spurs Go!
Subscribe to my feed:
Powered by
Movable Type 3.2