Interaction 13: Photo: Richard Cerezo
Wednesday started with a number of presentations, including How to Design Social Experiences. A timely presentation, given our current age of social media, it highlighted how designing interactions between people is different from designing user experiences. When designing the former, there is often no clear task to design for, no set user goal, and no clear outcome. Paul Adams discussed the challenges and processes that have enabled people to design for this growing form of interaction.
Later that morning, Trip Odell of Audible, took us on a presentation journey If UX Can Kill it Probably Will: Designing for the 70 MPH Interface. What happens when our “on-the-go” lifestyle literally collides with the ways we do all of that “on-the going”? Distracted driving is a very real danger, but at Audible, user experience designers are trying to design for safety.
Another funny presentation title followed: Social Networks Suck. Social Computing Frees You. In this presentation, Julia Barrett outlined how applications are designed to suck you in and away from the people that are right near you. We’re often too busy updating our statuses instead of talking to the people we’re ‘statusing’ about. Sad but true. This presentation underscored the growing issue of how social networks have lessened physical human contact and how design can help mitigate this.
Other noteworthy presentations that day included the provocative Hack You: The Human Body is the Next Interface, presented by Andy Goodman and Marco Righetto. This presentation deliberated on how a host of incredible innovations will transform our bodies, communication, and society – even the human psyche. A whole new range of body-embedded products could be in our near future, but how much is too much?
By the end of Wednesday the chills and rain outside had the 1100 bodies cooped up inside yearning for the imminent wrap up to the week, however exciting the event was. But even then, Interaction was set to end with a bang.
Thursday, the official last day of the IxDA 2013 opened with yet another agenda sure to please, starting with the OCAD University Showcase: Inclusive Education, with Pina D'Intino, Sandra Earl and Michael Furdyk. The trio examined the question of what happens when education becomes liberalized. Students in OCADU’s Inclusive Design program believe this is just the type of question today’s innovators should be addressing. The thread on education continued with a Panel Interaction Design Education Workshop Report Back. A follow up to a workshop held previously, this panel addressed such topics as curriculum, research, portfolios, apprenticing, continuing education, and the industry-academia relationship. The outcome of this workshop was captured in design artifacts and was a great panel discussion for those with interest in education and design.
Other noteworthy presentations included one of prototyping, Bury the Wireframe: A Primer in Interaction Prototypes by Derek Vaz and Designing a Compassionate Healthcare Experience by James Senior.
In Bury the Wireframe: A Primer in Interaction, Vaz postulated that it is time we stopped using static representations to design interactive products. This talk outlined why interaction designers should abandon printouts for interaction prototypes, how to introduce those prototypes into your process, and then showcased real world examples and success stories. The presentation by Senior was a call to designers to be compassionate at the heart of our UX practice especially designing in the context of healthcare.
With a few more presentations taking us to closing, the conference proved to be a success with attendees.
John Bielenberg was a fun choice for the closing keynote. In his presentation, Rubber Ducks and Hockey Gloves (Or, how to jump the ingenuity gap), he talked passionately about his Project M initiative that is “designed to inspire and educate young designers, writers, photographers and filmmakers by proving that their work, “especially their wrongest thinking”, can have a positive and significant impact on the world”. He talked about how most people suffer from heuristic bias that leads people to always seek the most direct solution from A to B. As a result, he advocates for what he calls the “Rapid Ingenuity Cycle”, which is stated as the following steps: Be Bold, Get Out (of your workplace, community, comfort zone…), Think Wrong, Make Stuff, Bet Small (i.e. solve small problems – it takes out some of the risk of failure), and Fast Forward (i.e. iterate quickly).