How do we incorporate mistakes into the design process?

Come to Amsterdam and help me define a Mistake Manifesto.


Wednesday 09:30 HKU Hilversum Morning workshop by Jason Nunes

If good design requires failure, how can designers f*ck up when failure isn’t considered an option?

Edison famously said, "I failed my way to success." In the interactive world, we've all heard the buzz phrases about failing fast, and how failure--particularly in the form of prototyping--can be a powerful design tool. But what about real failure? We've all experienced projects that never got off the ground, or crashed and burned stunningly. We don't put them in our portfolios. We only talk about them when we've had one drink too many. What can we learn from our embarrassments? And are there really things we can learn by failing, especially in the agency and consulting worlds, where we are hired for our expertise, and infallibility?

Questions to think about:

Can there be actual power, and knowledge in failure? What is your biggest failure, and what did you learn from it?

What are the different ways you can fail? Have you ever had a "successful" project that was a personal failure? Why? What can you learn from it?

Why are we so afraid of failing? What are the negative consequences of failure? And how can we encourage a positive viewpoint on failure?

How can we pull victory from the flames of defeat? How do you not panic when you sense yourself failing? How can you use your failure to inform future successes?

How can we build an acceptance of failure into a design or consulting practice? How can we get away from always having to be right, and move towards creative adaptability?

Vote for F*CK UP Innovation on the SXSW panel picker

I just submitted another interactive panel for 2014 SXSW called F*CK UP Innovation.

Edison famously said, "I failed my way to success." In the interactive world, we've all heard the buzz phrases about failing fast, and how failure--particularly in the form of prototyping--can be a powerful design tool. But what about real failure? We've all experienced projects that never got off the ground, or crashed and burned stunningly. We don't put them in our portfolios. We only talk about them when we've had one drink too many. What can we learn from our embarrassments? And are there really things we can learn by failing, especially in the agency and consulting worlds, where we are hired for our expertise, and infallibility? - See more at:

If you like the idea, please vote for it. Thanks!

In Austin? Come see me.

Come see my book reading @ SXSW

#sxsw #Intro2ID

Saturday, March 9 10:30AM -10:50AM

Austin Convention Center Ballroom G 500 E Cesar Chavez St


And then check me out @ TECHmunch


Sunday, March 10 10:15AM -10:30AM

Whole Foods Market 525 N Lamar Blvd. 2nd Floor, Main Conference Center

After that? Standing in lines--for movies, for panels, for barbecue... you get the idea.

" of the best new interface books on the market."

Wow! Great review on Embody 3D for our book:

Simply put, Interactive Design is one of the best new interface books on the market. It is comprehensive, easy to understand and extremely relevant using case studies and modern mediums to help connect with the reader. The book is designed for both students and professionals as the concepts are timeless in nature and although some of the topics can be fairly technical the way the book presents information using nice full-page quotes, beautiful diagrams and feature works makes it easy for even a novice to take on board. Although most of the examples cover graphic design interfaces like portable computers and website interfaces, it is absolutely relevant to product designers. The principles are very much universal, things like competitor analysis, user-path diagrams, research, testing are all great ways to improve your product designs. Unusually I don’t have any major faults of this title, so that is definitely saying something! Although it is heavily branded as being a theoretical book the information takes on its own lessons and breaks up the information well. The title is not text heavy or extremely weighty at 224 pages, so for true theologians this might not contain the analysis and literature references you may desire. However for the 99% this book hits all the right spots!

Thanks, guys!

Too many passwords!

Isn't it about time we found some other way to protect and personalize the accounts with the various sites and services that have become such an integral part of our digital lives? Facebook, Twitter, email, instant messaging, our bank accounts, shopping sites, our phones, and soon our TVs and appliances all require us to sign in to use them. There's got to be a better way than an easily crackable, forgettable, and frustrating string of numbers, letters, and ascii characters. We're already seeing new ways to do this--unlocking your Android device with a gesture, or facial recognition, for example--but it's not enough. It's time our devices, and accounts recognized us, and only us. Biometrics seems like a good solution for getting rid of passwords.

ECG biometrics identifies people by their cardiac rhythm. Not just their heart rate, but the actual shape of their heartbeat.

Or how about a palm scan:

There's got to be a better way. What do you think?

New Cartoon Network app launches!

The coolest project I worked on last year just showed up in the app store.

Now you can watch your favorite Cartoon Network shows and play Cartoon Network games, all in the same easy-to-use app! Simply turn your device to flip instantly between watching video and playing games. And on the iPad, you can even use the split screen mode to watch and play at the same time!

Last year I worked with the fine folks at Funny Garbage, and the awesome team at Cartoon Network, to help design a ground breaking new iOS app.  What's cool about it other than the fact that you can watch full episodes of Cartoon Network shows, and play some awesome games, and other than the fact that you can do both of those things at the same time?

What could be cooler than that?

How about this--the CN app is the first one that recognizes the orientation of the rotation of your iPad, so that when you turn it one way:

you can watch full episodes and live TV from Cartoon Network.

BUT when you turn it the other way:

you can play games. Pretty nifty, huh?

Of course that's not all. We are talking about Cartoon Network after all. There's also a nifty meta-game that you play by watching videos, playing games, and combining the items you get from watching and playing to win cool collectables:

This was definitely my favorite project of 2011. I'm really proud of the work we did. I'm so excited it's in the app store. Download it! It's fun.

More on the evolution of multi-touch

As I wrote earlier, I think the success of the iPhone had a lot to do with the ease and speed with which users could understand and use the mutli-touch screen. They didn't have to learn any special new ways to interact like was necessary with other technologies. Think about how much effort was required to learn how to use a remote to program the VCR, or a keypad to set a microwave, or even the scroll wheel to navigate content on an iPod. Touch screen didn't require users to learn how to use the iPhone's input device. We already possesses the only device we need to interact with it--our fingers. There was no need to push around a device that moved an icon on the screen that represented our touch--an abstraction 3 levels deep of our intentions. With multi-touch, users are no longer required to create an abstract mental link between their hand and the screen. They can just touch it, and make things happen. Additionally, users can now interact with the content itself, rather than interacting with an abstraction the content--like the file/folder structure of the computers. The multi-touch screen allowed us to touch, and move the content itself. To tap a movie, and just play it.

As evidence of how natural this new kind of interaction is, check out these amazing toys for toddlers from Totoya that use the iPhone and iPod:

And I still wonder, what's next for multi-touch? How can we make it easier to use? How can we make it more natural? More real? As I noted in my earlier post, haptic feedback is one way, another could be the system sensing more than just the fingertip on the screen, but also the shape of the hand.

And here's another... what happens when you can interact directly with the screen itself by bending it, twisting it, and applying pressure?

What kinds of new interactions does this evolution of multi-touch enable? What will we interaction designers be able to do next? I can't wait to find out.

Multi-touch is just the beginning...

All it takes is the one killer app to transition a new technology from the cutting edge to the public consciousness mainstream. A large part of the iPhone's success was because of the fact that it offered an elegant, intuitive new way for users to interact with their devices--the multi-touch screen. It felt almost revolutionary at the time. The ability to launch an app with a finger, or to navigate a map by pinching, and dragging. But touch interfaces had been around for a long time. ATM machines and kiosks introduced touch interaction to a mainstream audience years before the iPhone was launched. But they were always seen as novelties, or worse, shoddy, and frustrating.

Apple's innovation--aside from a deep understanding of user expectations from everything to how fast a list would scroll based on how quickly a user flicked their finger, to how quickly an app needed to launch after it was tapped--was the user's ability to utilize more than one finger to perform actions--a multi-touch screen. Sensing how many fingers were touching the screen, and changing the type of action a user performed based on this information, opened up whole new ways for users to navigate, and interact. They could scale, rotate, and move photos, rather than just opening them, tap and swipe their way through maps, and lists, and interact directly with content such as music or movie, by simply touching it.

It's amazing to me how quickly these new ways of interacting have become old hat. This is partially due to the fact that Apple designed the interface so well, but I think, mostly due to the fact that multi-touch is inherently intuitive, like finger painting, and removes an artificial barrier in the form of a button or control that stands between a user and the content they interact with. Who needs a button when you can just touch something? The speed with which babies and toddlers learn how to use an iPad is testament to this.

So, what's next for touch interfaces? What other real world behaviors can we interface designers leverage to continue to make our interfaces disappear, and let users continue to finger paint their way through the applications we design?

These new technologies give hints as to what may be next:

developed by disney research in collaboration with carnegie mellon university, 'touché' is an innovative system of touch recognition that can sense not only whether a user is touching an object but also in what way and with what body parts (s)he is doing so, using only a single wire and sensor. - Designboom

Senseg turns touch screens into Feel Screens. With Senseg touch screens come alive with textures, contours and edges that users can feel. Using Senseg technology, makers of tablet computers, smart phones, and any touch interface device can deliver revolutionary user experiences with high fidelity tactile sensations.

What new kinds of interactions can we design when we have access to a user's body and movements? How does an interface change when it has texture, or can touch you back?

Prototype Prototype Prototype

I just put up a page of some of the many prototypes I've designed over the years. Prototypes have been an essential part of my design process for years. I started as a broadcast designer utilizing storyboards as a way to test out, and pitch design ideas to clients. In broadcast design, and filmmaking, storyboards and animatics are the prototypes.

In interactive design prototypes are a great way to test out ideas without having to spend the time and money to built a fully functional site or applications. Prototypes can tell the story of an application, explore different interactions models--the different ways users could navigate an application, and allow designers to test out their ideas with users.

There are many different types of prototypes. They can tell stories:

Show an example of an application being used:

Or let a user interact and play with an interaction design:

 How do you use prototypes in your design process?

Routehappy public beta launches

Routehappy will change how you book air travel. Like Yelp for airlines, airports, routes, and flights, Routehappy's goal is to make air travel better by giving flyers a voice through reviews, and ratings.

Last year around this time I spent several weeks of intense consulting time with Routehappy's CEO refining and clarifying their UX vision, and brand identity. I'm more than proud of the work. I'm a huge fan of the site. As someone who has always considered the black box of booking flights completely mysterious--there's got to be something more to consider than just price when you book your flight--Routehappy is a breath of fresh air.

Congratulations SVA

The School of Visual Arts just launched the beta version of their new website. I worked with a Funny Garbage dream team of hotshot UXers and designers to help define the experience strategy for SVA's first redesign since the early 2000s. SVA's programs and offerings had drastically expanded since FG's last, award winning design, and it was clearly time for more than just a refresh. Working closely with a dedicated team at SVA, the design team defined a flexible experience that could expand to support SVA as they continued to grow. Oh, and it looks freakin' hot too. I'm really proud of all of our hard work.

What happens to user experience design...

when humans become integrated with machines? What new considerations will we designers have to take into account when our users interact with devices that are plugged directly into their nervous systems, or installed in their bodies?

The good folks at Superflux have been thinking about this in the context of curing blindness. Here's what they have to say:

What if we could change our view of the world with the flick of a switch? The emerging field of optogenetics combines genetic engineering and electronics to manipulate individual nerve cells with light. With this technology, scientists are developing a new form of retinal prostheses. Using a virus to infect the degenerate eye with a light-sensitive protein, wearable optoelectronics can establish a direct optical link with the brain. Song of the Machine explores the possibilites of this new, modified – even enhanced – vision, where wearers adjust for a reduced resolution by tuning into streams of information and electromagnetic vistas, all inaccessible to the 'normally' sighted.

I've been fascinated with this concept--the idea of enhancing human experience through designed objects that integrate with our bodies--ever since I watched this TED talk by Aimee Mullins, who sees her prosthetic legs as a desirable enhancement rather than simply a replacement for her legs:

Aimee doesn't want her old legs back. She considers herself better off being able to change her body to suit her mood, and her desires.

It got me thinking, how does the job of a UX designer change when we can help users meet their needs not just through designing easy to understand, learn, and use digital interfaces on their computers, and handheld devices, but by changing a user's body? What new needs can we help people meet? What are the ethics that we should follow? What should we do for example when a perfectly sighted person wants to blind himself to take advantage of an enhanced visual system?

What do you think?

A taste of “going viral”…

On Pinterest?

I’ve been a member of the design inspiration sharing social network for about a year now. I use it as a giant inspiration board. A place to save all the things I see throughout the day, on blogs, or that are shared by friends on twitter, that make me happy, and that I like.

Up until about a week ago, that is.

Before then Pinterest was simply a place for me to save the things I liked. Oh, sure, I’d get a few people liking my pins, repinning them to their own boards, or even following me. I thought that was kind of fun. I had notifications set to send me an email as soon as there was site activity, and I’d get about 10 a week. Maximum. And then, in the space of a day, all that changed. My inbox filled up with individual email notifications. Hundreds of them.

The first thing I did was to turn off individual email notifications. And then I noticed something interesting. All these new likes and repins were only for a handful of my pins, and there was no uptick in the number of folks who followed me. It made me wonder what was going on?

I know that Pinterest has been exploding of late. There are blog posts about how it drives more referral traffic than Google+ (and almost as much as Twitter), and that Pinterest is incredibly successful with women (80% of Pinterest users are women. I guess I’m just in touch with my feminine side.).

Could all these new users account for my pin’s 15 milliseconds of fame? Or did Pinterest release some new feature that suddenly boosted my pins’ popularities?

What do you think?

Small Media Extra Large

I spent the weekend redesigning the Small Media Extra Large website, and I'm quite pleased with the result. SMXL is a hybrid agency I co-founded that has interactive, social marketing, and video production capabilities. SMXL leverages the power of storytelling to create captivating websites, mobile apps, interactive TV, games, web & TV series, movies, and advertising.

Check us out. And if you need help with any projects, give us a shout. We'd love to help.

SonoSite's new website just launched

SonoSite was one of my favorite projects of last year, and not just because their product is so super cool in a "didn't I see that on Star Trek" kind of way... (an ultrasound device you can hold in your hand? WANT!). The team I worked with at TBWA was fantastic, and you couldn't ask for a better client than the folks at SonoSite. Smart, collaborative, and great problem solvers.

The trips to SonoSite's headquarters in the beautiful Northwest weren't so bad either.

Revisiting - The Ocean Portal

My favorite project from 2009 is the Smithsonian Natural History Museum's Ocean Portal. The team at the Smithsonian was fantastic, the goals of the project--promoting ocean literary and awareness--near and dear to my heart, and the final design is really fun. They've been steadily adding great, new content to the site like this new photo essay about what goes on under the arctic ice:

and informative blog posts about all things ocean--new discoveries, interesting critters, and exploration:

But my favorite content on the site is still the awesome timeline that shows ocean predators over the past 542 million years that we launched with in '09. Here are 2 of my favorites:

I'm co-writing a book...

...titled "Designing Interactions for People" with Andy Pratt creative director at Funny Garbage, fantastic designer and illustrator, and all around awesome dude. Here's the result of our first meeting where we brainstormed the table of contents:

Stickies are my friends. If there is something they can't do I don't want to know about it.

We're writing the book for Rockport Publishers. It will be part of their intro to design series.  Our goal is to introduce the basic concepts and process of user-centered design in an engaging, fun and visually interesting way. We are using case studies of wicked cool projects that utilize some aspect of UCD in their process to highlight the different ways to design for real people.

What about UCD do you think we should talk about?

Do you have any cool projects that highlight UCD?

Wanna share 'em?