Designing the experience of Elite: Dangerous

In this interview, Louise McLennan – Senior UX Designer at Frontier Developments – discuss the design challenges of a video game such as Elite: Dangerous.

About the game – Frontier Developments released Elite: Dangerous in December 2014, after a successful Kickstarter campaign. For this game, they further developed the concepts of trading and combat that were part of the original version of Elite, which Acornsoft released in 1984. However, Elite: Dangerous offers both a massively multiplayer, persistent world of online play, as well as single-player gaming. The game’s user experience evolves many of the same designs and concepts that the original game introduced, and many of its current players are part of the older demographic who played the original game.

Read the interview on UXMatters.

Old telephone with rotary dial

Human Factors Engineering Studies of the Design and Use of Pushbutton Telephone Sets

In a recent post on Data Genetics blog, the author writes: “Have you ever thought “Why are the numbers on a telephone keypad arranged the way they are? Why are they arranged in a 3×3 grid with the zero below? How did this layout become a standard? Why is this layout subtly different to the way the numbers are arranged on a calculator or numeric keypad? What other layouts were considered? The answers to these questions can be found in a fascinating piece of research performed by AT&T in 1960.

[…]

The article was entitled: Human Factors Engineering Studies of the Design and Use of Pushbutton Telephone Sets […] This classical piece of research covers four aspects of the keypad design: Key arrangement, Force displacement characteristics, Button top design, and Central office factors. The outcome of this research project and testing is the keypad we know today. In my blog posting I’m going to summarize just the results the key arrangements. For details of the other criteria and decisions refer to the article.”

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Doug Engelbart: keyset, mice and men. Complexity in interaction design.

Doug Engelbart: keyset, mice and men. Complexity in interaction design.

In 1968, during what’s come to be called “the demo of all demos”, Doug Engelbart introduced – among others – a chorded keyboard – a five-button peripheral to be used as input device instead of keyboard.

In a recent episode of 99% invisible, Roman recalls the story of that invention conceived to shape the future of our experience with computers and than abandoned because the future was too complicated, not easy to be used and so not marketable.

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Design today (according to 9 practioners)

Design is evolving. Where its practitioners were once expected to produce goods, today their work and manipulate an invisible matter. Design is more about interactions and experiences — where not about software and complex systems.

Wired  asked nine top designers – namely Robert Brunner Cofounder, AmmunitionGentry Underwood Head of Design, DropboxJack Schulze Cofounder, BergKim Colin Cofounder, Industrial FacilityJonas Damon Executive Creative Director, FrogNatasha Jen Partner, PentagramBethany Koby CEO and Cofounder, Technology Will Save UsMia Blume Product Design Manager, PinterestAlexis Lloyd Creative Director, New York Times R+D Lab – to talk about the meaning their work has today.

Read the full article on Wired.

[Paper] Using Design Competitions in Crowdsourcing UI/UX Design: An Experimental Grounded Theory Study

[Paper] Using Design Competitions in Crowdsourcing UI/UX Design: An Experimental Grounded Theory Study

In this study, Micky Chen (University of Amsterdam) presents an experimental study in form of a contest to analyze how design competitions might be used in crowdsourcing user interface design. From the abstract:

Crowdsourcing has gained great popularity over the past decade. Using the power of the crowd might be a useful source for next-generation software designing. However, little is known about whether the quality of one’s design can improve by using parts of other designs. To address this gap, I conducted a grounded theory study to analyze the role of crowdsourcing in creating user interface designs. An experimental study was conducted in the form of a contest to analyze how design competitions might be used in crowdsourcing user interface design. In the two-round contest, participants created a UI, which was subsequently distributed to the other participants, so each has access to all first round designs. The second round required a revised UI design, with participants being encouraged to borrow each other’s ideas in creating a revised design when they saw a fit. The results show that on average, participants’ designs improved and everyone used at least one idea from another person. This indicates that recombination and crowdsourcing leads to high(er) quality user interfaces. However, due to the limitations of the experiment setup, more research is needed into how to set up UX design contests so as to maximize the benefits of crowdsourcing.

Read the full paper.

Ebay's Dave Lippman on desing with empathy

Ebay’s Dave Lippman on design with empathy

In a recent interview on PSFK to promote the new iPad app, Dave Lippman, Ebay’s VP of Design and Executive Creative Director – former  Creative Director Apple Online Store, talked about design, creativity, and empathy. Some excerpt:

One of the luxuries of growing up in the internet age is being exposed to lots of clients. Part of the agency design life is always meeting new customers with new problems, constraints, and opportunities. You develop methodologies for addressing customers, and see all shapes and sizes. Bringing this to Apple was strange, as [their not talking about who the customer is] seemed antithetical to me. Their perspective was, “everyone in the world is our customer,” and we’re the customer, so [Apple designers] relied on things they believed in, their intuition.

The eBay customer base is difficult; there are buyers and sellers, there are people there for specific items, there are some people looking to integrate. We’re a marketplace for the world’s stuff — for everything in the world — and not a vertical. We help people to see all of the wonderful things, and to inspire them. As we got to know the customers and their needs for the iPad app, we were influenced by inspiration and utility, and are always building new features to balance that. It’s about creating this browsable, shoppable experience. The goal is not just to focus on the buyer, but also to give the sellers a better platform to sell, an opportunity to show their products in a bold, beautiful way. Bringing personalization to the seller’s side, and always trying to enhance it, is really important for understanding what professional sellers are selling, and providing utilities for them to be more successful.

Read the full article.