Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Pattern Languages for Interaction Design

An Interview with Erin Malone, Christian Crumlish, and Lucas Pettinati
by Will Evans ...

"How did you get your start in Interaction/Information Design?

Christian Crumlish (Xian): I came from book publishing where I wore many hats over the years (editor, author, agent). I ended up in technical publishing (“computer books”), an aftermarket made possible by shoddy user interfaces. This piqued my interest and the Web democratized information architecture, interaction and interface design.

Erin Malone: I actually started out as a print designer and Art Director. I went to grad school at RIT around the peak of CD ROMs. I did a project in Hypercard (in 1993). I thought I was going to do interactive education CDroms when I graduated but then the web happened. I taught myself HTML and came out to California to build Adobe’s first website, and I’ve been doing web applications and interactive work ever since.

Lucas Pettinati: I studied Architecture in college after realizing that one doesn’t learn how to design GUIs in a Computer Science program. My first job out of college was at an internet startup where I did general design work but it wasn’t until I created a user flow diagram that I fell in love with the principles of IA and Interaction Design.

Who do you look to for inspiration?

Lucas: I’m a huge Edward Tufte fan and am always trying to think of ways of displaying information. One of my oddest inspirations came from a Piet Mondrian painting; it helped me visualize a way to display a cluster of available flights relative to their price and departure time.

Xian: I steal from everyone. I think we should be careful not to throw out too much of what we knew from print design and layout, typography and rhythm.

Erin: I think having a grounding behind the decisions you make is important. Ethics play a big part in many people’s decisions – in the type of work they do as well as the way to design a certain interaction. Being ethical and non-destructive is important as a designer. I think Alexander wanted to enhance and support the human condition and propagate positive interactions between people. That was the ideological perspective for his approach to developing a pattern language. I don’t see anything wrong with having that same attitude as an interaction designer.

Xian: I’d say if anything I see ethical dimensions to design problems more often now than ever before, perhaps because of the way our always-on digital interfaces are permeating everyday life more and more thoroughly. In fact, Erin and I agree that there are ethical factors in at least some of the patterns in our forthcoming book, Designing Social Interfaces."    (Continued via Boxes and Arrows)    [Usability Resources]

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