2006: A Year of Words and Travel
You'd think in a year when I wrote and published a book, that would be the thing I think about the most when reflecting about the year. But, oddly enough, it isn't. Instead, I think back on the travel I've done this year, easily logging more air miles than probably the last five years combined. Every month, to my family's chagrin, I was somewhere:
And that doesn't even count the short trips to Mammoth, Seattle, and San Dimas! Next year will probably be just as travel-full, with trips already scheduled for Helsinki, Chicago, London, Austin, Las Vegas, Sweden, and Washington D.C.
But yes, this was a year I wrote a lot. Not only did the book come out (to mostly good reviews), I also wrote a few other things: So You Want to Be an Interaction Designer 2006 and Everything You Wanted to Know About Designers (But Were Afraid To Ask). I've been interviewed a few times: by Liz Danzico for AIGA and BusinessWeek, Brian Oberkirch for an Edgework Podcast, Dan Brown for some Hot Dan-on-Dan Action, and Jim Leftwich for The WELL's Inkwell Series.
I spoke at five conferences in three countries. I taught four workshops in four different cities. I started a new blog/project and have contributed quite a bit to Adaptive Path's blog (most of my best blogging this year has been done there, I'd say). And, oh yeah, I worked on seven projects, one of which launched (here's a case study I helped write about it).
It's been a busy year, and I wouldn't have missed any of it. If next year is half as interesting and fun, I'll be doing well. I hope you and yours have a happy holiday season and a great new year. See you in 2007.
New Interaction Design Techniques to Try in 2007
I'm always trying to increase the toolbox. Here's some stuff I want to try on projects next year.
Any more I should try?| Link | Comments (3) | Trackback (0)
Crossing Over to the Dark Side: Thinking the Unthinkable about Design Research
I've spent a good part of the last five years learning, teaching, and practicing design research. I've slipped it into every project I can. I've preached its virtues, sometimes publicly. I wrote a whole chapter about it in my book. So why, after all this, do I find myself lately wondering whether or not design research has any value, and if so, how much? I find myself asking, How useful is design research really?
Many of my colleagues won't do a project unless it includes some research, but more and more I'm finding myself tilting away from research, or at least to a less dogmatic view of it. On projects, I've found myself not doing design research or very little of it, and the projects seem to have turned out fine. Luck? I dunno. But I know I'm not alone; Apple doesn't do any research that I know of.
I also keep thinking back to Jesse James Garrett's seminal essay ia/recon (which is probably long overdue for a re-reading) and Jesse's admitting that, in the end, he has hunches: "[G]uesswork is an inescapable part of our work. More importantly, the quality of guesswork is what differentiates a good architect from a bad one." Michael Bierut reveals the same in a recent essay as well: "Somewhere along the way an idea for the design pops into my head from out of the blue. I can’t really explain that part; it’s like magic."
One of the reasons designers are hired is for their expertise--those good guesses--part of which is knowing what works and what doesn't in most situations (more on this in a minute). One could argue that that expertise (intuition, experience, understanding, taste) is more important than an understanding of users. I'm not sure I want to go that far, but I have decided a more reasonable approach to design research is required than the dogma that it has to be included on every project. I'm convinced that for many projects, the 80/20 rule applies: without research, I can get 80% of the way there, and sometimes that 80% is enough. Research can be an effective tool, but it can also be a time waster and ineffective. You can follow users (and time and money) down some serious rabbit holes, never to return. Here's some guidelines I'm putting around research for myself.
Use design research when
Of course, it could be argued that I just outlined every design project. Which is true, to a degree. (Who doesn't need inspiration?) But I want to think about research differently, namely that research should be a tool, not a methodology. As Jesse pointed out, "Research can help us improve our hunches. But research should inform our professional judgment, not substitute for it." Like other tools in the designer's toolbox, it should be used when and as necessary, not applied to every project unthinkingly.
Best Interaction Design Blogs 2006
Another year, another new (or at least new to me) crop of great blogs about or related to interaction design. Here again, in no particular order, the best interaction design blogs of the year:
So there you have it, folks. Happy reading!