Category: design

A Website A Week

AUG 17 2014
I've been restless lately, in need of a project. I've looked at a few hackathons and similar events, but what I want is something a little more extended than a weekend, and a little more compatible with my vital weekend afternoon nap schedule. But I've been feeling in particular that I ought to do more to improve my visual design skills...

Bite-Size UX for Nonprofits

JUN 24 2014
Filed under design
A few months ago I gave a presentation as part of 501 Commons' Brown Bag Training series on UX for nonprofits. The emphasis was on quick, low-cost activities that people at nonprofits could start doing without a lot of training, but would still provide useful feedback for their websites...


JAN 26 2014
Filed under design
Well, after a long process of messing around with wireframes, colors, fonts, content drafts, fiddling, tweaking and general fear of committment, I've finally ~officially launched~ a redesign I've been intending for nearly two years.

How to Draw a World, for the visualization-impaired

APR 11 2011
Filed under design, musings
I think I've mentioned before that I believe I have a non-verbal learning disability. Self-diagnosed, but I don't need to be a trained child psychologist to know that I'm unusually clumsy, get easily disoriented and confused in unfamiliar surroundings (I have some great stories about getting lost! and by great I mean they range from kind of terrifying to super-embarrassing-but-we-laugh-about-it-now), have a very poor visual memory but a great auditory memory, and trouble with non-verbal social cues. I can't tell you about what my motor skills development was like when I was young, but I was definitely verbally precocious, and my social skills used to be lot worse than they are now. I also can remember having a lot of trouble understanding what the point of some stories were, even when I could easily read all the words...

Video games and art

MAR 27 2011
Filed under design, musings
A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine shared a link to this article about video games and art. It's long, but worth a read, if it's something you care about. Or even if it's not; I'm more comfortable talking about art from a sociological than a philosophical perspective, and I'm not much invested in the question of whether or not video games qualify. But I am interested in media theory and the aforementioned sociological implications of things like art and video games - and this is one of the most thought-provoking pieces I've read in some time...

Experiences cannot be designed

MAR 17 2011
Filed under design
Ever since Interactions 11 happened and I followed the hashtag religiously on twitter, I've been kicking around a post in the back of my head about how experiences belong to people, and people vary, and designers can't actually control end users, and so whenever I have a choice, I'd rather call what I do interaction design than "experience design."...

Intuition is experience, not magic

JUN 25 2010
Filed under design
You don't have to go very deep into interaction design to find a lot of people throwing around the word "intuitive." A lot of people talk about the importance of intuitiveness as a design goal, and praise particular products for being intuitive. Search Boxes and Arrows for the word "intuitive" and all kinds of examples come up. What hardly anyone talks about is what they mean by "intuitive." There's a kind of general understanding of that as "easy to use/figure out," someone can sit down and start to use the interface without any special training or guidance, and this is regarded as a good thing...

Capstone pt 2: electric lit review

APR 07 2010
Filed under design
The first part of my capstone research began with a lit review. I looked for literature in three main areas: the psychology of flow experiences, ergonomics and healthy computing, and task interruption/disruption. I don't really expect people to read this stuff, and I'm going to be a bad academic and not cite things properly (I will include my bibliography at the end though), mainly I'm writing this as practice for summarizing things for my presentation. Skip to the end of the post for the relevant conclusions I've drawn...

The story of my capstone, pt. 1: a topic is born

MAR 19 2010
Filed under design
I started this post two weeks ago, but like I said, I've not been so good at finishing things lately. But all that's changing now! So here's part 1 of a series of posts about my capstone work so far...

Mantras and Manifestos, oh my

MAR 18 2010
Filed under design
I've been thinking about my "design philosophy" ever since I was asked to sum it up in 140 characters or less for that networking event I went to at the beginning of the semester. I'm sort of long-winded, so it was difficult. What I came up with there was "Everything is connected, every detail matters," which is without question true, but maybe inadequate. It's also not just my design philosophy, but the way I approach my life...

In which I take cake metaphors too far

JAN 27 2010
Filed under design
I read the Keepon and Shadowplay articles first, and then I read the article about Robovie. And I found, while reading that third article, that I kept thinking about a quote from one of my classmates, talking about his experience interning at the interaction design consulting firm Adaptive Path. Many companies have big plans for all the kinds of things they want their software to do, but not the time or resources to successfully do them for the first version they release. The metaphor they use at Adaptive Path is that of making a cake: the company wants to make a whole cake, but they can't the first time around. So what most companies do is they make cake batter and give it to the users and say "we'll bake it for you later." But what they should be doing is trying to make cupcakes: identifying a smaller-scale version of that final goal that also offers a complete and useful experience. That metaphor really struck me as a great way to explain what a lot of companies get wrong in early versions of software, and I think it is applicable to these robots, too...

a list and

JAN 26 2010
Filed under design, today i made
I was just about to report that my computer seems to have reached a stable point OS-wise, when my screen blinked a few times and I got a notification that my display driver had momentarily stopped working...

Embodiment, Sociality, Stuff is Hard (HRI reading response)

JAN 21 2010
Filed under design
I was interested to see a concrete definition of embodiment as related to robots. I'm still thinking about what makes something a robot and not some other sort of computer. I have in my head, of course, an idea of a "typical" robot, but it's based on fictional portrayals of robots and not what actual machines have historically been called "robots." Embodiment seems to be an important part of it, but not the only part. And of course, embodiment means different things in different contexts. I'm familiar with talking about human embodiment from a psychological perspective, which is in many ways a very different idea than what people mean when they call robots "embodied." So I appreciate seeing a definition that is clear and that I can apply directly to specific devices, like the example of "smart houses" we talked about a little in the very first class. Maybe it's not so much that there are robots and non-robots, as there are devices with differing degrees of "robot-ness." And of course, as the rest of the article discusses in such detail, there isn't just one kind of robot, and maybe not even just one standard of "robot-ness." The social robots discussed in the article don't have very much in common with industrial robots....

You, Robot?

JAN 13 2010
Filed under design
This semester I'm taking a class called Human-Robot Interaction, for which I will be writing class blog posts, mostly responses to readings that sort of thing. I figure as long as I'm going to be writing these things, I might as well post them here, too. So here's my first class reading reflection...

What we don't know

JAN 08 2010
Filed under design
I confess I still haven't been making anything very interesting. In the past week and a half I flew to Seattle and back so I would have someone to kiss on New Year's Eve. We came up with many creative and delicious ways to use homemade cranberry sauce, that's something I guess. Work on my portfolio redesign continues very slowly. Trying to modify someone else's HTML templates and CSS is more frustrating than I had anticipated...

Interaction Design Activism

DEC 20 2009
Filed under design
This is the personal position paper I wrote for my design theory class. I had enough notes and examples for a paper at least twice as long as the recommended, and condensing wasn't easy, so I want to apologize for it not being the comprehensive tract I had in my mind, but screw that. This is my paper, read it.


DEC 02 2009
Filed under design
Today I wanted to add a former professor to my LinkedIn network, but LinkedIn does not offer any relationship options that cover professor/student relations. I could have chosen "other," but it wanted me to put in my professor's email address. We still correspond, but not through email. I would have just put in his Grinnell email address, but he has two, and I was feeling obstinate and didn't want to play guessing games in order to prove to LinkedIn I have a legitimate reason to add a former professor to my network. So then I got annoyed.


OCT 21 2009
Filed under design
As a general life practice, I try to cultivate reflection, and patience, and understanding. Especially when it comes to other people's works and actions...

Critics and Creators

SEP 13 2009
Filed under design
I'm reading The Design Way by Harold G. Nelson and Erik Stolterman for my Interaction Design Theory class, not-coincidentally being taught by Erik Stolterman himself. It is giving me a lot of food for thought, along with yet more reasons to resent the continuing influence of Greek philosophers on Western intellectual traditions...