Interaction Design and affordances in virtual reality

This article is very interesting, if you like the concept and creation of VR. I found the concept of interaction design to be too similar to UX design for me to fully understand how it was a different concept this week. I also didn’t realize that affordances could exist beyond those explained in the reading. This article sheds some light on utilizing interaction design and new affordances in the developing world of VR. By reading the application of IaD in VR, I realized how important the actual physical processes of interacting with an object are. It shapes our experience just as much as the digital design elements do. Also, it was cool to see that these people invented a new affordance to solve their interaction design dilemma.

Connecting the ….Dots

Last week I hosted a strategic workshop to kick-off a RFP proposal response.  A few days into the workshop, I was speaking to one of the high-level architects about what I was doing in this class.  We talked, he nodded, smiled, and said “UX, that really good”, nothing more.  The next day, he presented an overview of how a solution should be designed to the architects I will be guiding through the RFP process.  During his presentation, he told my architects that their job is not just answering the client’s requirements, it was putting themselves in the seats of the users/employees that they are designing their solution for.  He then looked at me and smiled again.  He explained to them the importance of creating a user persona to help them drive innovation within their design; he explained how vital it is for them to do their jobs seamlessly around the world.  If I had not been in the class, that entire concept would have gone completely over my head.

For this project, the client is not asking us to control their information architecture; they only want us to manage it.  They gave us the layout, endpoints and demarcations; it is up to us to determine how to integrate with them to help them manage that infrastructure and work to improve it over time.  It was at this point, I began seeing this class as more than something that only pertains to web design (which I thought I would never use again).  I could clearing see how what I was learning here was a big toe (not quite a footstep) into the world of my system integration architect’s life.  The connection between anything we design for another person—be it a website, internal system, or interior design—will tie into some concept or element of UX.  I hope my eye opening experience helps someone else make a connection in your day-to-day life.

Teacher Response to Module #2: You’re Getting It

Business Keeping

Grades on Blackboard. Check there for individual feedback as well.

Key learning from this module

Persona = User as character in a story called “design process”

UX is iterative

I say I have been doing UX for about 8 years, but I’ve been a researcher far longer than that. UX simply gave me a name for the collection of interests I had: usability, communication, content strategy, etc. I had always been a researcher interested in messy, complex problems with no simple solution.

When I found UX, I simply found a community of people who were interested in similar problems. At its core, UX people are people who realize that shortcuts and simple solutions rarely provide maximum benefits to clients and users.

There is no right way to do UX, but there are many wrong ways

At the same time, there are a lot of UX hucksters out there selling pretty, but unusable designs to unsuspecting folks. As I mentioned in my other rant about these types of people, they usually come from graphic design or web design. They are used to there being a simple solution to problems, in other words: make something that looks a certain way.

This is not to bash graphic designers and web designers. We all need them. They are the people who make all the things we use on the Internet. They are also sometimes dead wrong about what the best thing for users is.

Because UX is tied to those pesky, non-sensical beings called “users” it will always partially be at odds with other professions. That’s your job as a UXer: to explain to other kinds of designers why the simplest solution is not always the best one. To explain to clients why throwing up a Wix site that has no classification scheme for information is not going to get them more business.

We are the muddiers of the design waters. And I can guarantee: every usable, brilliant design that users love and find useful has someone who gets UX behind it. Every. Single. One.

Info and Content Is Still Made By Humans (For Now): Teacher Response to Homework #3

Business Keeping

Grades on Blackboard.

Content strategy and info architecture are misunderstood… and very profitable

Think about it: the Web is still primarily textual information. It needs to be organized, edited, channelled, delivered. This is very hard work that few people are suited for. How much bad, poorly organized content do you experience online on a daily basis? How much of it is useful to you? How much of it is what you were looking for when you searched for it or clicked on its headline?

This is a golden age for writers, in other words: people who understand written content and its importance for users of all kinds. There’s a reason that an entire institute was recently formed on this subject: Even marketers now have to be good writers.

This is also good news for us, the humanities majors! We were all born and raised on the written word. Designers are a dime a dozen nowadays, largely because of the prevalence of open source Content Management Systems like WordPress (which currently accounts for a whopping 22% of all registered web domains). These technologies are making it increasingly hard to sell your ability simply to make one website. Why pay someone to do that, when you can buy an entire CMS that allows you to make unlimited websites… for nothing?

Being a “web designer” now means being a developer which is something else entirely. Gone are the days when you could get by knowing HTML and CSS. Now you need to be a programmer. You have to master boolean logic, which, let me tell you: is tough.

But no one has yet created a content engine capable of replacing human writers. They’ve tried, but failed. Which is probably why fields like technical communication, UX, and content strategy are set to grow by leaps and bounds over the next decade or so. The needs for humanities-style thinking isn’t going away, despite what every pundit who has access to a microphone is saying. We just don’t understand where to send our graduates for jobs or what to call our majors (though TPC is a pretty good name ;-).

Clueless But Not All The Way Hopeless

If you are like me and are new to this program and have no idea what you are doing or what you can do with your degree, this event is for you. Career Services and Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences will be hosting an event that can help you with your career path and trying to figure out exactly you want to do.


You can sign up here.  If anyone is thinking about going or would like to meet up to discuss classes, please let me know. I’m in the Greenville area.