Sketch-Noting & The Art of Interaction

I saw these wonderful slides about Sketchnotes and The Art of Interaction Design in Slideshare and thought I can share the wealth. :).

Just go through them, they are really wonderful.




Breaking Rules by Knowing Them

     There is this one professor who always impresses me in every class.  Once, when a student asked him “Why do we need to know all the ‘Rules’ when all these just limit our creativity when Art is just creating by breaking the rules”.  He simply answered, “When you don’t know what rule to break, then what can you really be breaking ? The ‘Art’ itself ?”.  I think his reply is applicable to every creative field.  I simply see ‘User Interface and Experience Design’ as a creative field.

   The design rules and principles that we have studied in class are definitely meant to be followed but also to be broken when you are doing something useful for the people and innovative.  As this wonderful class is coming near to a closure for this semester, I have compiled a list of rules that we have studied in this class and mentioned where it is meant to be used.  It is upto you to use them or break them.  I hope this post would serve everyone as a reference in the future and a guiding light for using the rules.  The following are the few Principles that we use in User Interaction & Experience Design :

a. Jakob Nielsen’s 10 Web Usability Principles :

– They can be used in Web Interaction Design & Mobile Application Design.

– Some of the rules can be extended to Offline Application & Game Interface Design.

– More than everything, Nielsen’s principles are focused on Usability which should be followed while developing prototypes for any application.

b. Gestalt Principle for Screen Design :

– The principles are applicable to any Screen Design.

– Since, Gestalt Theory suggests the visual arrangements of the components on the scrren, though all the principles cannot be followed, the Gestalt Theory provides a visual grid / template and an idea for placing the components in any screen design.

c. Visual Information Principles by Edward Tuefte :

– The principles should definitely be followed when you about to convey your user some information or any form of data not just limited to numbers.

– Most importantly, when using mathematical charts and statistical data.

d. Principles of Alan Cooper :

– In Web, Mobile and Offline Application Design.

– Though, Alan Cooper tends to explain the usability principle mostly oriented towards Web Interaction Design.  From my perspective, all those principle are general usability principles except a few strictly.

e. Information Foraging Theory :

– Though, not necessarily a rule.  Information foraging theory should guide in designing an application where the user in search for some information and querying for some results.

– Remember – ‘Like every other being in this world, our User is also ‘Lazy’.

f. Universal Principles of Design by Lidwell, Holden and Butter :

– The Universal Principle of Design are general rules which are applicable to any kind or variety of design.  They should give a good framework before beginning the design.

– Most importantly, these rules can be used for analyzing a mock-up design.

g. KISS (Keep it simple stupid) :

– As it says, just keep it simple.

and more than everything,

h. Common Sense :

– Use this in every context and part of the product design.  You know what your product is going to do more than anyone.  Don’t just follow your instincts, but also use your common sense.

     The post is entirely about my views on using the principles and the way I am using them.  I am just suggesting the ways in which the principles can be used.  Let me know your views and what do you think about the posts in the comment section.

Thanks :).

Image Courtesy :

Scott Forstall and The Skeuomorphic Design

Scott Forstall

     Three weeks ago, Scott Forstall, the Senior Vice President of Apple Software was fired from the company.  And, Sir Jonathan Ive, who was taking care of Apple’s Hardware Design will take over his position.  In his new position at Apple, Jonny Ive will be the head of ‘Human Interface’ in which he will be taking care of both Hardware and Software Design which was formerly headed by the legendary Steve Jobs.  That’s Good News.  But the Bad News is that Scott Forstall had been fired.  Rumours say that Forstall had been fired from the company because he refused to sign the apology letter for the failure of Apple Maps.

   As far as I have seen in the news articles that I have read, many have been talking in the sense Scott Forstall leaving Apple as a ‘Good Thing’.  But, I would say ‘No’.  They wrote that they did not like ‘Skeuomorphic Designs’ that Mr. Forstall had been creating in the iOS.  I will come what Skeuomorphic Design later.  They all have been writing like that they never ever liked or loved the Softwares that Apple had been creating under Scott Forstall’s Lead. He created the world’s best mobile operating system, iOS.  It’s not just iOS, it’s ‘The iOS’.

   Did not they like it and praising Apple for the same ?  Did not they use Calendar feature of iOS which was using ‘Skeuomorphic Design’ ?  Apple’s iPhone has been the best because of its Software and not just the hardware.  I am not getting any philosophical here but it is a good thing to see the best side in everybody.  If one product fails, does your reviews have to be so stinging  ?  It is a question that I am posing for the entire Interface Enthusiasts and Technology Appreciators.

   So coming to ‘Skeuomorphic Design’, what is ‘Skeuomorph’ ? According to Wikipedia, A skeuomorph or skeuomorphism is a design element of a product that imitates design elements that were functionally necessary in the original product design, but which have become ornamental in the new design.  We  have read earlier in one of our class readings of CGT 512 (Once upon a time, remember ???), by Donald A. Norman about using age-old  traditional representation for the new products.  In Skeuomorph, it is simply the part of the design itself.

For example, Artificial Leather Grain on the Calendar Icon of iOS and in many other applications.  I tried to research more on the question that whether a Skeuomorphic Design a Good thing or Bad.  After hours of Google search, I can just say that it just depends on the context that we are using the design and the current mind set of the people.  It’s not a question of ‘Why ?’ but ‘Who ?’.  Being in this industry of creating software for people, we can never ignore the question – Who we are dealing with ?  Like most of the answers, the answer is ‘It Depends …’. :).

Thanks. :).

The Beauty of Windows 8 UI

     The first thing that I noticed and that I can surely say after seeing many demos of  Microsoft’s latest Windows 8 is – ‘Microsoft has finally started responding to Apple with its news OS’.

   When I first posted a status in my Facebook page that ‘We can pre-order Windows 8 from today’.  Many people commented that – ‘They were not really interested in trying the new Windows’, ‘It is for Touch-Based Systems’ and ‘Its an Operating System for Surface tablet, just revamped and released as Windows 8’.  Now, after Windows 8 is finally released, I can really say that Windows 8 is a great OS in terms of performance and Beauty.  From the design philosophy that I have learned in the classes and Information Foraging theory.  People are lazy and kind of hesitant in accepting new technology just because of the learning curve that we have in the process.  I accept that Windows 7 was cool.  And, that does not mean that we have to use the same Windows forever.  And for you Windows 8 Infidels, here is my blog post.

   I am writing this blog post just to serve as a ‘Rumor Demystifier’ and to explain the good design aspects of the next trick from Microsoft’s Sleeve – Windows 8.  The Operating System follows a tile based communication with the User.  The design language of Windows 8 is called ‘Modern UI’ or ‘Windows Style 8 UI’ like the previous ‘Aero’ of Windows 7.  The video demonstrates from the New York City conference shows how the OS can be used with both Touch and Mouse Input.

1. Rumor : Windows 8 is for tablets / touch-based monitor and not for Mouse input.

Fact : No, not at all.  Windows 8 is for both Mice Input and Touch based Monitors.  Also, Windows 8 is not a tweaked up version of Windows Phone OS.  It just follows the same design language.  There is a separate OS for tablet systems called Windows RT.

2. Rumor : Windows 8 has performance issues.

Fact : Really ? See the following benchmark reports from

Windows 7 vs. Windows 8 :

Windows 7 startup: 1 min 19 secs
Windows 8 startup: 38 secs
Windows 7 shutdown: 41 secs
Windows 8 shutdown: 19 secs
Windows 7 resume: 26 secs
Windows 8 resume: 26 secs
Windows 7 hibernate: 33 secs
Windows 8 hibernate: 13 secs

Browser speeds :
Windows 7 V8: 1594
Windows 8 V8: 2581
Windows 7 canvas speed: 22fps
Windows 8 canvas speed: 52fps
Windows 7 Webvizbench: 3030
Windows 8 Webvizbench: 4230
Windows 7 Webvizbench fps: 5.89fps
Windows 8 Webvizbench fps: 13.64fps

3. Rumor : Windows 8 doesn’t have a start menu and my precious desktop.  

Fact : Partially.  The ‘Start’ menu may have been gone.  But not the ‘Desktop’.  We can even bring back the ‘Start’ Menu by free third party applications.

4. Rumor : Windows 8 is not meant for Gaming. 

Fact :  Did Microsoft say or specify that anywhere,  Dear User.  They surely know of their strengths and they definitely did not do that to Windows 8.  Because of the optimized kernel, Windows 8 performs well with Games.  I have even read in a blog that the Games perform well in Windows 8.

5. Rumor : Windows 8 won’t run in my current machine.

Fact :  This OS is not resource hungry.  Just, see the recommended requirements for Windows 8 here – System Requirements.  I am sure that it would run in any PC’s that have decent configurations.

Image Courtesy :

Design Aspects – From what I have noticed so far in Windows 8 :

a. The design approach followed here is a huge change and it is Significantly Better. (Phenomenal Change – Phenomenally Better).  In both aspects – Performance and Design.

b. Best of both the worlds – Optimized for both Touch and Mouse Clicks.

c. The Modern UI is both Butter’y and Like’able.   It is definitely innovative and better.  Also, it is fun to work with it.

d.  Most used Applications in the tiles and those tiles are customizable.

e.  The current generation of Windows Installments for PC’s, Tablets and Mobiles Phones speaks the same design language.  (Windows 8 , RT & Phone 8).  This makes a unified design and less learning curve for the Users.

   I know people hated Windows XP when it was first released.  But, now it is considered as one of the best installments of Windows till date along side Windows 7.  I am sure that Windows 8 will get there soon.  Personally, I feel that Windows is getting better and Windows 8 is a Good Design.

Thanks. :).

Movies on ‘Typography’ & ‘Visualization’

     Friends,  I thought I definitely should share this.  There is a series of documentaries by independent film maker – Gary Hustwit, called as the ‘Design Trilogy‘.  All the three movies are must watch for Designers.  Of the three movies, Helvetica is a movie which is completely based on typography.  After last week’s presentation on ‘Typography’, I got reminded of Helvetica.  Mike Parker, the typographer of ‘Helvetica’ would have talked in the documentary.  I never knew that so much details goes into while designing a typeface.  It is visual treat to watch the details that goes into the alphabets while crafting them.  I have embedded the trailer below to get a sneak peek on the documentary.

Helvetica In Motion from Positive Pictures on Vimeo.

     Also, Edward Tuefte has posted the movie ‘Teaching To See’ in his Vimeo channel.  ‘Teaching To See’ is a movie on Inge Druckerey,  a teacher on Visualization.  This movie is all about the how she taught her students to Visualize.  :).  This is documentary movie is must watch for getting a different perspective on looking at designs.  I have the embedded the movie from ET’s channel below.

Inge Druckrey: Teaching to See from Edward Tufte on Vimeo.

Thanks. :).

How ‘Social Media’ can change the World !

     Clay Shirky, a multi-faceted American writer is both a consultant and teacher on socio-economic effects of the Internet.  He has given a presentation in TED Conference (June 2009) on how social media can make history.  Dr. V would have certainly known about him.  Take a look at this video to know more on how it can make it happen.  You can read more about him if you are interested here.

Thanks. :).

Talk by Doug Field (VP – Product Design for Apple Inc.,) at Purdue

Yesterday (September 11, 2012) I went to talk by Doug Field (VP – Product Design for Apple Inc.,) from Apple at CL50.  The talk had many things for a wide variety of audiences – Innovation at Apple, Product Design and even questions from the audience about iPhone 5’s release date (which is today).

I particularly had three things to take away from his talk.  The first thing is Bio-Mimicry – taking inspiration from Nature for designing products.  A product which takes its inspiration form Nature is much more easier to use than telling them to read the user manuals.  There are many products which we still use that draws inspiration from nature that are used widely everywhere.  Eg., The most natural way of interacting with things – Touch.  There you go, now we have touch input based things every where.  Every product which is widely used in this world has its inspiration from Nature.

Secondly, Doug Field suggested using Darwin’s Principle for using things – Nature Selection, Survival of the Fittest and Evolution.  Cool, Right ??? He quoted that with examples from his product designs and how he was connecting the dots form one thing to the another.

Finally, I don’t know if everyone noticed the Slides.  There was Apple’s design inspiration in each of its Slide.  The Slide started with Apple Logo (Exactly, like the start-up logo in each of Apple’s Products).  The Fade-Out transition that the slide followed was similar to the iPod’s Menu Navigation.  Every slide had Apple’s font Lucida Grande used in it.  That’s Marketing and That’s Apple.  :).