Entries in UX (3)


Establishing Design Principles

There has been a lot of talk lately about design principles: why teams need them, how to establish them, how to know if the ones you've come up with are useful or just a self-indulgent exercise. In a recent episode of the Big Web Show, Aarron Walter, principal user experience designer at MailChimp, discussed the principles he established for the his team that serve as a guiding light during the design process. Aarron mentioned one of TiVo's design principles titled "It's a TV stupid!" which was a comical reminder to their design team that people are sitting on their couches in their living rooms or their bedrooms.

"It's a TV, stupid!" ~ TiVo Design Principle

Jared Spool also recently posted a piece about what makes a successful set of design principles, using those established by the Windows 7 desktop and mobile UI design team as an ideal example. Based on his experience working with teams to create principles, he recommends that design principles be based on actual research. He continues to list six points with which to evaluate a set of design principles.

So while the topic is fresh on everyone's mind, I'll take this opportunity to share the design principles we have established here at House Party, Inc. to guide our team through a massive redesign. The core team is small, but since we also work with a few remote contractors it becomes critical to ensure everyone is on the same page as they press their noses to their screens designing interactions. Every company will have a different set of high level goals a design will aim to address, and design principles should map directly to them.

Design principles for the HouseParty.com redesign:

  • It's about parties! These people are having parties...make it fun, but not goofy or childish
  • Face it, House Party is not Facebook. People come here for specific things and then go back to their lives. Make sure they are successful at what they need to do while here
  • Make it social! Create opportunities for sharing! How can people let their friends and family know about what they just did? bake in social when it makes sense and feels natural. Don't be afraid to push the envelope a little bit without being too pushy.
  • The desktop is not the only show in town. Always think about how it would work on a device with a smaller screen. Are you sure you've boiled the task into it's simplest steps?
  • Don't complexify it. Would your mother or aunt Millie know how to use it? is it intuitive? make it so!
  • Create reusable components: Think about how it would work in a column half the width? Twice the width? Embedded on someone's blog?

These principles (or values) are fairly new, and they have been working well for our design team so far, and score fairly well after running them through the six tests Jared Spool offered in his article.

I'd love to get your feedback on our design principles. Post a comment below.


#SXSWi Gaming the Crowd: Turning Work Into Play

Gaming the Crowd: Turning Work Into Play
 sun 11am

Andy Baio, CEO of Kickstarter

showing ex. of Quest for the Crown (funny old game)

Marathon Game example, two finger tapping, showing example of the reward not worth the effort

Upgrade Complete (Game) - not sure if this is totally a joke!

Achievement Unlocked - example of gratiuitous achievement for any useless action taken (again, think he created these to make a point?)


Amazon Mechanical Turk (crowdsourcing platform to get tasks done, transcription, data visualization)
Why people Turk? making money (really interesting)

SOCIAL WEB = MMO (Massive multiplayer Online game)

WORK - making a game out of cashier's activity. simply showing cashier's stats to them changes their bahavioir (Dennis Crowley)

Obama campaign used game mechanics in the Neighbor to Neighbor program

Honda/Toyota - dashboard visualization - leaves grow on interface the more energy you save by driving

marathons, competitions

crowd sourced review of documentation of MP's expenses. public reviewed for suspicious charges etc.
used leaderboard to give feedback on who uncovered what

fundraising site... all or nothing

how to make app feel more game-like
- feedback
- recognition
- goals
- community

***Ribbon Hero (microsoft office game) Metagame that runs on top of office suite, pretty sick!
- work/excel/powerpoint that are bloated interfaces
- dashboard showing score/stats/progress
- surprised how cool the activity feedback graphics/animations (balloons floating up from bottom when doing something correctly)

** MUST be very careful about the reputation you make visible. community will assign meaning to whatever you make visible!!!
GAME THE SYSTEM by focusing on one data point like # of followers, # of fans
Can be very hard to remove

Leaderboards are VERY tricky. DO NOT DO A LEADERBOARD
creates competitive atmosph for active and makes the rest feel left out

beware of alienating people

sweeeeet dashboard data viz
removed their tumblocity stats because they saw it was devaluing the experience, focused too much on the negative
beware of making people feel like if they're not in the top 100 you're worthless

Metafilter - removed a data point and got major backlash from users (#of favorited comments was removed)

- gaming the system by checking in to locations as phony users
- incentives invite use

is cheating a big problem? no, they've aligned the desired behavior so tightly with the rewards for those activities

For mundane tasks, having a metagame is NOT ENOUGH.

Flat learning curve, easy to learn + master.

Grinding = time investment to learn something

- #3 ranked xbox gamer in the world. Plays terrible games, anything to get her score high. useless behavior

VVVVV - impossibly hard game
died over 300 times just to get a token, but never got it!!

Jesse Schell - Dr. Pepper slide
future with everything trackable w/ assigned points

Why are we using game mechanics, and what is our responsibility? Do we let people know we're trying to hack their brains?? (great question)

BOOKs: Web Reputation Systems  http://www.amazon.com/Building-Reputation-Systems-Randy-Farmer/dp/059615979X/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1268584987&sr=1-1-fkmr1

Amy Jo Kim

The Art of Game Design - Jesse Schell


Panic.com/blog !!!!!!
Company performance Dashboard... changed behavior of employees

he's tearing Swoopo.com apart!!! bad experience...


Should it be pretty or useful?

The answer is both of course. Welcome to Pretty/Useful folks. A place where I'll be talking about the design of things—mainly web sites, web applications and iPhone apps—but often I'll go off on a tangent about other topics like architecture, industrial design, and songwriting. There are many parallels that can be drawn and by gum, I plan to draw them (or at least quote people much smarter than me who can draw those parallels).

Here is the first parallel I will draw for you:  | |

I hope you enjoyed that.