Interaction ’13: The Big Picture

In the weeks since Interaction 13, the annual IxDA conference, the various keynotes, talks, and conversations have been soaking in, and now I’m highlighting the ones that resonated with me the most. Last week I reflected on Dan Saffer’s presentation on Microninteractions, one of my personal favorites. Next up, just a few of the other presentations that have stuck with me.

Badges are the Backup Quarterbacks of Game Design
Kunal Patel – @kunaldpatel

Kunal’s presentation sold me on the value of gamification in design (well, drove the point home perhaps) while using examples to clearly illustrate how game design principles can lead to better experiences. Check out his slides here. Check out slides 36 and 37 for, what to me, is the clearest explanation of how game design principles can truly be applied to UX problems. Keep going for a surprise vist from Clippy.

The short version: allow users to poke the system to learn quickly, make the tutorial as invisible as possible by making it part of the initial interaction, and know when to provide and stop providing help.

Bury the Wireframe: A Primer in Interaction Prototypes
Derek Vaz – @derkevaz

Derek’s presentation was a straightforward commentary on what I would call the current debate on whether wireframes or prototypes are the best way to go. Everyone has their own line drawn in the sand on this one, but one quote from Derek’s presentation made a great point: “A click is worth a thousand annotations.

That statement could not be more true. That being said, there is often an either-or mentality surronding protypes. One of Derek’s closing thoughts was a great one on the issue. Wireframes: great for information display. Protytpes: great for showing interactions.

The short version: When showing interactions is key, try to use a prototype where the click really can convey what a large amount of annotations try to. When information design is the critical piece, wireframes are a great tool.

Learning Visual Design To Become A Better Unicorn
Jason Alderman – @justsomeguy

Jason gave an extremely thorough and quick (100 slides in 10 minutes, without being overwhelming) presentation on the value of understanding visual design to become a better overall designer. Even though it was under the guise of becoming the ever elusive “unicorn”, Jason’s talk was a great primer on all things visual design.

The short version: Becoming a unicorn may be a difficult task, but taking the time to learn the vocabulary and basics of visual design in order to better talk about it is not. Check out Jason’s annotated slides for great resources and a high-level primer.

Stop Designing Apps And Start Designing Habits
Nir Eyal – @nireyal

Nir’s presenation got at the core of what we do as designers. Understanding why something is or isn’t working, and then figuring out how to make it better. Similar to BJ Fogg’s Behavior Model, “The Hook” is a four part method for understanding how to create habit-forming experiences. Check out one of Nir’s presentations on The Hook here.

The short version: While most of the examples were surrounding social sites such as Facebook, Pinterest, etc. I think “The Hook” has more implications for creating stronger, more engaging, truly satisfing designs. The more we can empathazie with users and design for them the better experience we can create.

Overall Interaction ’13 was a fantastic experience for a first-time UX/IXD conference attendee. Thanks to everyone who helped organize it, attended, and presented. Looking forward to Interaction ’14 in Amsterdam, and to continuing the conversations started in Toronto.

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