What I learned at SXSW, Part II

After this Sunday, Austin returns to normal! Thank goodness – traffic has been crazy! I attended two really great sessions that I wanted to share.

Interface Transitions: Designing the Space Between

This panel was led by Jorge Furuya Mariche (HTC, Lead UX designer) and Corey Chandler (Deep Dive Design, Principal IXD), and it focused on just how much transitions can add value to a product, and their capability to set the tone for the quality and character of a design. The example the panelists gave that stuck in my mind was the interior car handle:

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Think of this feature in your own car. When you pull on it, does it make a sound? Does it slowly go back into it’s socket (if there is even one), or does it snap back into place? What do these things say to you? Most likely, if the handle has no sort of “memory” feature and snaps back very quickly into its flat position, it creates a more unpleasant experience than if the handle more slowly moved back towards its original position, giving the user some time to move their hand and having minimal feedback noise. This latter experience speaks to a more thoughtful type of design, and translates as better quality. We can think of this in terms of interaction design, too – how do you transition from one state to another?

There are 3 main types of transitions that can occur, as defined by Jorge and Corey.

1. Discreet – a subtle effect that enhances the overall experience on a subconscious level (e.g. the visual feedback you give a user as your page is loading)

2. Educational – instructs user in how something works (e.g. which corners of the screen are ‘hotspots’ by having a traveling or magnified transition to a particular corner)

3. Processing – masks processing time (this can also be a place to show-off just how much information a tool is sifting through)

These can be combined, and don’t necessarily live in isolation. However, one thing to keep in mind is that the more often a particular transition occurs, the more discreet it should be. For instance, unlocking your smartphone occurs pretty frequently, so the design shouldn’t incorporate a really flashy and long transition since it would interfere with the overall experience.

Let Conscience Be Your Guide: Moral Design

The common theme that weaves throughout RJ Owen’s perspective on moral design is to recognize that things co-exist – so, your perceptions affect your actions effect your habits effect your desires which effect your perceptions and on and on. With that framework in mind, then, how can designers explicitly create moral deliverables? The most important issue RJ stresses here is that moral design solves problems and does not create new ones. It does this by being simple and organic – design adds value to the experience and it enhances the audience’s interactions with a tool/product. Good design tells people they are worth treating honestly and with integrity. 

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