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I am a designer.

Design Principles for Clock of the Long Now (Hillis)

design is not merely an indicator of esthetic taste, but a social phenomenon that both mirrors and shapes how we think. Whereas objects of art reflect the personal vision of their makers, manufactured goods - which are designed to be salable and profitable - tend to embody more generalized beliefs about society, and so ''can cast ideas about who we are and how we should behave into permanent and tangible forms.'' Modern office equipment in ''bright colours and slightly humorous shapes,'' for instance, can help perpetuate the myth that office work is fun; just as modern, streamlined kitchen appliances can underline the contemporary faith in progress and technological salvation. SOURCE

design tradeoffs

Balance...............................................Instability Symmetry..........................................Asymmetry Regularity...........................................Irregularity Simplicity...........................................Complexity Unity..................................................Fragmentation Economy...........................................Intricacy Understatement..................................Exaggeration Predictability.......................................Spontaneity Activeness..........................................Stasis Subtlety..............................................Boldness Neutrality...........................................Accent Transparency......................................Opacity Consistency.......................................Variation Accuracy............................................Distortion Flatness..............................................Depth Singularity.........................................Juxtaposition Sequentiality......................................Randomness Sharpness..........................................Diffusion Repetition..........................................Epicodicity

IBM on Design

Tog's First Principles of Design

Anticipation Autonomy Color Blindness Consistency Defaults Efficiency of User Explorable Interfaces Fitts's Law Human-Interface Objects Latency Reduction Learnability Limit Tradeoffs Metaphors Protect the User's Work Readability Track State Visible Interfaces

Living with Your Users by Marc Rettig. This is the way all major projects should be planned. Absolutely wonderful.

The Ferrari 355 F1 has a clutch but no clutch pedal. A computer changes gears, using data downloaded from Michael Schumacher's Formula One races. Floor it and you experience Michael's greatest hits -- shocking, slamming shifts that expand one's sense of the possible.

Design History in a Box

The Design Dimension, Product Strategy & The Challenge of Global Marketing, Christoper Lorenz, 1986

The designer's personal attributes and skills are:
  • imagination -- the ability to visualize in 3D
  • creativity -- a natural unwillingness to accept obvious solutions
  • communication -- in words & sketches
  • synthesis -- bringing it together into a coherent whole

Design & marketing -- united in the search for meaningful distinction

Shaker Design Guidelines
  • Industry: Do all your work as if you had a thousand years to live and as if you were to die tomorrow.
  • Honesty: Be what we seem to be; and seem to be what we really are; don't carry two faces.
  • Functionalism: That which in itself has the highest use possesses the greatest beauty.

Less is more.

Form follows function.

The one-size-fits-all approach to training ignores that people learn in fundamentally different ways. Most current training is highly discriminatory. Howard Gardiner

"The most outstanding design is that which is perfectly appropriate to what is trying to be accomplished."

"Design is one of the few tools that for every (dollar) you spend, you actually say something about your business." -- Raymond Turner, exec, BAA

"The designer's purpose is to stimulate curiosity, amusement and affection."

Achilli Castilgioni Alessi, Art & Poetry

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.

Beautiful Things & Ugly Things

Design is in everything we make, but it's also between those things. It's a mix of craft, science, storytelling, propaganda, and philosophy." Erik Adigard

Good design is a renaissance attitude that combines technology, cognitive science, human need, and beautry to produce something that the world didn't know it was missing. Paola Antonelli

Bruce Sterling lecture on Shaping Things to Come

An intriguing vision of design in a virtual world...

Interactive chips can identify anything.Once we name things, we can track them throughout their lifetime. Bruce called them spimes. It has a history, a trajectory. The recorded history of objects will be more valuable than the objects themselves. Imagine bar codes on objects. 30 years they didn't exist and now they are everywhere. Barcodes enabled accurate inventory, better market analysis, better flow of goods, and fewer human errors. 5 billion were scanned today. However, paper barcodes are obsolete.

Traditional barcodes tell only two things: the maker and the sort of object it is. Braun_coffeemaker. It is vulnerable to fraud, abuse, and degredation. The electronic product code will be more vulnerable -- but it will be 1000s of times more efficient.

Barcodes identify only a class of things. There's no fine detail. Far better with electronics to identify individual objects. RFIDs (pronounced R-fids) are tiny, cheap combinations of computers and radios. This enables an "internet of objects." Some protest. RFIDs create dossiers. The object is inert, the system that tracks it is alive; the tracking system is more valuable.

Local & global positioning. Locative technology. RFIDs have radar. You can hear them while they move. An RFID inventory can be automated. Powerful Search Engines. Google local beta. In the internet of objects, a search engine will be able to tell you where anything is. Virtual design. We can work with the electronic plans of the objects. Before those objects physically exist. Often a virtual model (interactive, weightless, manipulable) serves me better. Gravity, friction, raw material...I don't need any of that. I can change, copy, restore, and save digital models as many times as I want.I have an object processor. I can email this. Computer fab. I'll use a 3D printer, a fabricator. My virtual model has become the crucial part of the object. The model is the command and control aspect of the object; it is the entity. Say it's 30 years from now. You call up a Spime. It's not created until you want it to me. After the purchase, manufacture, and delivery of your object, a link is made to a list of its ingredients, history of design, position history, recipes for customization, a public forum for discussion of your Spime, and the Blue Book value, should you care to sell it, and links to service centers. Cradle-to-cradle recycling. At the end of its useful life, it is deactivated. It is smart garbage. It's data lives on for analysis, but the object is put back into the manufacturing stream. The Spime is a set of relationships first and always, and an object only now and then.

Imagine my shoe is a Spime. No product lasts forever. Once my shoe is a Spime, fully trackable from beginning to end; the shoe is a momentary entity, a pause in time. It evanesced. History is our one inexhaustible resource.

Designer's Jumpola

The Psychology of Everyday Things by Don Norman

keys to good design:

1. provide a good conceptual model

2. make things visible

3. good mapping

4. feedback

A reminder is (1) a signal and (2) a message. (use different signals with different messages....)

why designers go astray:

1. aesthetics put first

2. they're not typical users

principles for design:

1. use both knowledge in the world and knowledge in the head.

design model <-> system image <-> user's mode

"In the best of worlds, the manuals would be written first, then the design would follow the manual."

2. simplify the structure of tasks
Short term memory can't hold more than 5 (some say 7) unrelated items at once; the mitations of long term memory mean that info is better and more easily acquired fi it makes sense, if it can be integrated into some conceptual framework. moreover, retrieval from long term memory is apt to be slow and contain errors. limitations on attention are also severe.
provide mental aids. use technology to make visible what would otherwise be invisible. automate but keep the task much the same. change the nature of the task
3. make things visible: bridge the gulfs of Execution and Evaluation
4. get the mappings right

Exploit natural mappings. make sure that the user can determine the relationships: between intentions and possible actions, between actions and their effects on the system, between actual system state and what is perceivable by sing/sound/feel, between the perceived system state and the needs, intentions and expectations of the users

5. exploit the power of constraints, both natural and artificial
6. design for error (Murphy's always there)
7. when all else fails, standardize

The nice thing about standardization is that no matter how arbitrary the standardized mechanism, it has to be learned only once. People can learn it and use it effectively.

Remember, standardization is essential only when all the necessary information cannot be placed in the world or when natural mappings cannot be exploited. The role of training and practice is to make the mappings and required actions more available to the user, overcoming any shortcomings in the design, minimizing the need for planning and problem solving.

Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context--a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan.--Eliel Saarinen

Instructional design

Internet Time Group Methods of delivering eLearning Time Capsule of Training and Learning from Big Dog Product Development Process from Payback Training (now Avaltus) Characteristics of a Complete eLearning System (Hambrecht) Instructional Design and Learning Theory Theory into Practice Database 50 theories relevant to learning and instruction

from the University of Denver School of Education: Theoretical Sources | Instructional Design Models Instructional Design in Distance Education (IDDE) database of instructional theories and tactics to support the design of effective distance education

Training magazine's April 2000 issue had a wonderful article debunking the effectiveness of traditional instructional systems design (ISD). Why is ISD obsolete?

  • It's too slow and clumsy to meet today's training challenges.
  • There's no “there” there.
  • Used as directed, it produces bad solutions.
  • It clings to the wrong world view.

here's more on the subject...

Roger Shank's delightful Top Ten Mistakes in Education

The implications of the research literature on learning styles for the design of instructional material, Australian Journal of Educational Technology, 1999

source: Cisco

International Society for Performance Improvement History of Instructional Design Big Dog and Glossary Yale Web Style Guide

Distributed Learning: Approaches, Technologies and Solutions Lotus Institute (1996)

Fred Nichols

(This is why HPT won't work. It's Taylorism in new clothing.)

(It's a joke. Don't get bent out of shape.)

Remember: knowledge work must be configured not prefigured.

It is the day-to-day stuff of leading people, not of managing them or their work, that really affects productivity; it's the hand-holding, the encouraging, the going to bat for people, and the sharing of the hardships, the risk, the recognition, and the rewards that tempts people to contribute and sustains them as they strive for excellence. These leadership behaviors must themselves be configured not prefigured. In other words, conformity at the executive level is as deadly as compliance at the working level.

To sum it up, the era of compliance has ended, and with it has ended the dream of engineering individual human performance. The era of individual contribution has just begun and we don't even have a vocabulary suited to discuss the issue let alone formulate decisions and then carry them out.

Roger Schank interview with Cappuccino, Deloitte

Learning Objects

"Object-orientation highly values the creation of components (called "objects") that can be reused in multiple contexts. This is the fundamental idea: instructional designers can build small (relative to the size of an entire course) instructional components that can be reused a number of times in different learning contexts. Learning objects are generally understood to be digital entities deliverable over the Internet, meaning that any number of people can access and use them simultaneously (as opposed to traditional instructional media, such as an overhead or video tape, which can only exist in one place at a time). Moreover, those who incorporate learning objects can collaborate on and benefit immediately from new versions. These are significant differences between learning objects and other instructional media that have existed previously."

So states the online version of The Instructional Use of Learning Objects, a complete book on learning objects by David Wiley, David Merrill, Wayne Hodgins, and a host of others. Wiley: "Atoms, not Legos."

Cisco's Reusable Learning Object Strategy.

Objects of Interest, a nice intro

Terms like classes or courses don't capture the essence of personalized learning. I'm starting to think in terms of learning experiences. Here, between the section on instructional Design and User Interface Design, is the ideal spot to point out a really practical site, Good Experience.

Instructional Systems Design

1. Assess 2. Design 3. Develop 4. Instruct 5. Evaluate

Instructional Design grew up building courses. Courses are being supplanted by eLearning experiences. A new discipline is called for, Instructional Infrastructure Design. For most enterprises, you buy this from someone else. You can build your own from components, but often that's about as practical as assembling your own Chevy from bags of gadgets you buy at the auto parts store.


The Webby Awards for Education

Impact of different learning media

User Interface design

Human Computer (HCI) Interface Bibliography Information Design Nathan's Interaction Design Bibliography Information Presentation for Rapid Knowledge Transfer Review of Alan Cooper's The Inmates are Running the Asylum Interface Design and Usability Engineering from Isys Information Architects provides great examples of what to do -- and what not to do -- in interface design. Hans de Graaff's HCI Index, Jakob Nielsen's Recommended UI Books Common Ground, a Pattern Language for HCI -- iffy, incomplete.

Personalization Consortium

Don Norman -- human-centered design

...major improvements in interface design are both profitable and moral — profitable because a good interface is cheaper to implement, is more productive, is easier to maintain, has lower training costs, and requires less customer support than a bad interface — moral because it brings smiles to the faces and erases furrows from the brows of users. One can do good and yet do well by rethinking interface design.

Jef Raskin, The Humane Interface

Future UI

"The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook" -- William James

Graphic Design

Edward Tufte Graphical excellence consists of complex ideas communicated with clarity, precision, and efficiency. Graphical excellence is that which gives the viewer the greatest number of ideas in the shortest time with the least ink in the smallest space. Avoid chartjunk! Burn USA Today. See also Tufte's reading list.

Patterns are a vocabulary for design. Christopher Alexander coined the term "Pattern Language" to emphasize his belief that people had an innate ability for design that paralleled their ability to speak. His book A Timeless Way Of Building defines a 'pattern' as a three part construct.

  • First comes the 'context'; under what conditions does this pattern hold.
  • Next are a 'system of forces'. In many ways it is natural to think of this as the 'problem' or 'goal'.
  • The third part is the 'solution'; a configuration that balances the system of forces or solves the problems presented.

    P.S. Christopher Alexander finally admits that he's not a designer. (His website demonstrates this well, as does the house directly across the street from mine.)

What is Contextual Design?

Explanation Graphics, Nigel Holmes

The Master

Charles Eames: the intersection that maintains the designer's enthusiasm.

Charles and Ray achieved their monumental success by approaching each project the same way: Does it interest and intrigue us? Can we make it better? Will we have "serious fun" doing it?

They loved their work, which was a combination of art and science, design and architecture, process and product, style and function.

"The details are not details," said Charles. "They make the product." A problem-solver who encouraged experimentation among his staff, Charles once said his dream was "to have people working on useless projects. These have the germ of new concepts." from Charles and Ray Eames

Powers of Ten

Posted by Jay Cross at November 9, 2003 04:03 PM | TrackBack

ID magazine online. Check out the contest winners. I.D. interview with Edward Tufte. The information design guru offers a few choice words about PowerPoint.

Posted by: jay cross at December 15, 2003 10:34 AM

from Lilia:

Quality that emerges in action .:new

I know that I'm not going to catch up with all interesting posts from Internet-cafe, but I'm still trying :)

John Moore (and long chain of others) point to a quote from Art & fear:

The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the quantity group: fifty pound of pots rated an A, forty pounds a B, and so on. Those being graded on quality, however, needed to produce only one pot -albeit a perfect one - to get an A. Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the quantity group was busily churning out piles of work - and learning from their mistakes - the quality group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

John adds a connection with the book Changing Conversations in Organisations by Patricia Shaw.

This is such a fantastic book I can't do it justice here, but essentially Shaw discusses (moving from a) thought-before-action, design-before-implementation, systematic, instrumental logic of organizing, towards a paradoxical kind of logic in which we see ourselves as participatingin the self-organizing emergence of meaningful activity from within our disorderly open-ended responsiveness to one another

Shaw is talking about how we talk to each other, the story is about making pots; they're both about recognising that it is misleading to think we can entirely separate thinking from doing - an insight that may trouble a great many management thinkers.


  • We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:

    Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
    Working software over comprehensive documentation
    Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
    Responding to change over following a plan

    By Blogger jay, at 2/04/2005 10:36:00 PM  

  • Great process charts of design.

    By Blogger jay, at 3/28/2005 10:05:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger jay, at 3/28/2005 10:05:00 PM  

  • Presentations on design by JSB

    By Blogger jay, at 5/10/2005 11:54:00 PM  

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