Interaction Design considerations for creating conversations

Interaction design 

talking headsThe art of interaction design is about understanding human behaviour and how that relates to how we humans engage with technology.  It is about creating interfaces and experiences that are based on a sound understanding of technology and human behaviour and applying that knowledge to create intuitive, easy to use designs.

And interaction design principles; that is design standards and rules of thumb based on human psychology, are useful guides for us UX’ers when we are creating new experiences.  For example, knowing more about cognitive processes such as visual perception e.g. how we experience and see the world around us in patterns (Gestalt principles), helps us design interface elements such as menus, that speak to that human trait.   Interaction design principles and design standards are useful in supporting us to building interfaces that are easier for people to recognise and engage with.    However, what happens to our standards and guidelines when our ‘interactions’ turn into conversations?  Continue reading


Designing conversational UIs using Storytelling

storeybook I’ve been to a couple of great workshops on designing conversational UIs lately, more recently with Ben Sauer of Clearleft and Steph Hay of Capital One who took us through their thoughts on how to design for conversations.   Whether it be a voice app or a bot that we are designing for, this new medium of communication with our customers is an exciting area for us UX’ers to venture into.

As we know, in this new medium, the experience is stripped back to the bare bones of the experience: the conversation between and your user.  Which is liberating but also a bit daunting at the same time.  So how do we approach designing for this brave new world?   It seems to me, that thinking about these new experiences in terms of a story may help us create something that our users can relate to and easily engage with.   Continue reading

How to measure emotion in design

heart window(longish read – 15 mins)

Emotion in design matters.  A positive emotional experience with a product can be what sets that product apart from its competition.  Attachment to a product or brand is often the reason we chose one product over another, as the army of IPhone fans will attest to.

And whether we are trying to make emotions a big part of the experience we are creating,  like in Gaming for example or whether we just want our customers to feel safe and confident when doing mundane tasks like emailing, we still want our customers to feel something when they engage with that product.   Is it possible to measure that feeling? And what techniques in UX are available to do so?  Continue reading

Voice: one of the oldest and newest forms of communication.

VoiceUsing our voices to communicate with each other is one of the oldest and most most powerful forms of connection.  While using voice to communicate with machines is not something new, it’s only in recent years that  it has become common place to control a machine by talking to it.  We now regularly use voice to undertake tasks such as perform searches via OK Google, control apps via Alexa or send texts via Siri.

While voice control will not be able to take over every interaction we have with machines,  it does seem its popularity is set to continue as we see companies scramble to capitalise on this new (ish) medium.   And as voice user interfaces (VUIs) replace some of our more typical screen based interfaces,  it raises some interesting considerations for us UX’ers when thinking about designing these new experiences.

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7 (updated) principles for interaction design

picture of ideaAlthough first published almost 20 years ago  Jakob Nielsen’s 10 general principles for interaction design are still incredibly useful and relevant in the field of interaction design.  For example, in his principles, he talks about “Consistency and Standards” which is of course, still a core principle of good design and comes up regularly when we are discussing the creation of design guidelines or pattern libraries.

Coming up to almost 10 years working in usability and user experience myself has made me reflect on what I have learned during that time.  And specifically, when thinking about good practice in design, what principles I keep coming back to. Building on Nielsen’s (and others) principles my seven key (updated) principles for interaction are.  Continue reading

Designing for Emotion in User Experience

smiley faceTo be human is to be emotional.  Emotions are an important part of our genetic makeup. They allow us to form social bonds and help us engage with and navigate the world around us.  Engaging with technology is a big part of that world.

As UX’ers we look to remove friction and make products and services easy to use.  But usability alone will not make our customers value or continue to use our products. In order to engage with our users at a deeper level, we need to look to design experiences that connect with them on a more emotional level.   We need to design emotional experiences.  Continue reading

Focus and Healthy Mindsets

Teaching old dogs new tricks 

from Liz Henry Flickr

How did we evolve to be in charge of this planet? By having the largest brain relative to body size of all mammals, that’s how.

The brain is an important organ. Though it takes up only 2% of our body mass, all that thinking, learning and interpreting consumes 20% of our energy.   How we experience the world depends on what is going on inside of our brain.

And what is really interesting is,  no matter what age we are,  we can change the make-up of our brains depending on what we are engaged in –  a process known as neuroplasticity.  This is good news if we are striving to continually learn and improve.  We do, however, need to exercise our brains in order to build this muscle.  Continue reading

Hey, i’m over here! Designing for user focus

image of a target
Image: Flickr and AJC1

In today’s  media-rich society we are constantly exposed to 100’s of things clamouring for attention and demanding our focus.  A study showed that people are bombarded by the equivalent of 174 newspapers of data a day.   These days, we are constantly on the alert, waiting for the next social network update, message or notification.    And it can be mentally exhausting.

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Why I like Meetup

Making it easier for people to connect

meetup-logo-biggerLast year, someone asked me what my favourite app was and I said Meetup.
I wasn’t talking about the aesthetics or features of this product, though I found the App easy enough to use, but more about the concept and philosophy of Meetup and what it does.  The clue is in the name; Meetup makes it easier for people to meet each other and in doing so; supports one of the most basic but important human needs we have; that is the need to form social relationships with other people.

As many of good ideas are, Meetup is a simple enough concept and is based on location and user interests.   Continue reading