Monthly Archives: February 2006

UI Design is more than a pretty face

Luke Wroblewski discusses the benefits and drawbacks of “mockups” (or we could assume “prototypes” as well) in his latest article on UX Matters, Live by the Mockup, Die by the Mockup. The article is a nice summary of ideas many of us have been discussing about the benefits and drawbacks of prototyping. But his conclusion is great, tying these ideas back to the real role of the UI designer:

When interface designers focus too much on mockups rather than product solutions, the design profession may suffer. This type of dilemma already exists for visual designers, who are routinely called upon just to “make things pretty.â€? As a result, every interface designer should focus on building a reputation as a problem solver and communicating that through the language of design and business. The presentation medium will change, the need to solve problems will not.

I often use this quote from Elizabeth Boling at Indiana University because it’s the most consice phrase I’ve found to dispell the too common misconception:

“Designer” does not mean “artist” — though lots of people want to think it does. The job of a designer is not self-expression, it’s problem solving. 

A powerful portfolio then for a UI designer/architect would include business problems with the designer’s solutions. I hope to have such a portfolio posted sometime soon.

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Posted by on February 17, 2006 in prototyping


Champagne Prototyping

Glenn passed along this link to a paper on a new technique for researching end-user functions for complex applications. Their focus seems to be on adding functionality to an existing complex application, but many of their findings support the need for the likes of protokit to develop rich prototypes quickly.

Unlike classic Wizard of Oz, Champagne Prototyping gives the user access to a rich interactive environment that genuinely can be executed on the computer—but the core feature of interest is not actually executable by the computer or even by the researcher. The rich executable context allows the user to interact with the system in order to understand the circumstances in which the new feature would be applied and the effects it will have, but finesses the fact that the feature itself has not been implemented.

Read the Champagne Prototyping: A Research Technique for Early Evaluation of Complex End-User Programming Systems by Alan Blackwell, Margaret Burnett, Simon Peyton Jones for more details.

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Posted by on February 7, 2006 in prototyping


Navigator Acquired by Hitachi Consulting

So, the conversation I have had with several friends lately regarding Navigator’s aquisition goes like this:

Me: Navigator was bought last week. Now I work for Hitachi Consulting.

Firend: Hitachi? Don’t they make harddrives and TVs? Can you get me an HDTV? 

Yes, they are the same company, but it’s a very big company (think the GE of Japan, they are both very diversified). Hitachi Consulting is a global consultancy that’s the services division of the Hitachi parent company. They now have offices worldwide with bases of operation in Japan, the US, and Europe

I’m excited that Navigator is now part of Hitachi Consulting. We’re contributing our depth of experience in Business Intelligence and Content Management to Hitachi’s larger national presence and broader consulting services. I know it sounds cliche, but it really is a win-win-win for Navigator, Hitachi Consulting, and our collective clients. Read the full press release at the Navigator website.

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Posted by on February 6, 2006 in business