Designing E.T.’s Experience: Interview with UX Week Speaker Doug Vakoch of SETI Institute

Better experiences come about from building empathy for our users, but what happens when that user is an extraterrestrial? At UX Week this September we’ll talk to the person who can answer this question and help us consider how solving this far-out problem can help us design and communicate better with our users here on earth. Dr. Doug Vakoch is the Director of Interstellar Message Composition at the SETI Institute, and he researches ways that different civilizations might create messages that could be transmitted across interstellar space, allowing communication between humans and extraterrestrials even without face-to-face contact. In our conversation, Doug lays out the design principles for communication with E.T., invalidates Hollywood plots, and tells us what he really hopes to communicate to extraterrestrials. — Brandon: Let’s jump right in—if an extraterrestrial civilization contacts us, do we communicate back? Doug: There are a lot of things that happen with the first time we detect a signal that looks like it might be from another civilization. The signals that we look for are very similar to the TV and radio signals that we create here on earth, so there’s a long process that could take weeks, even months, before we’re really sure that this is from another civilization. Then, if we do, it could be very hard to unpack any message that they might send to us. But all the while that we’re trying to figure out what they’re saying and whether this is, in fact, really a signal from ET, I think there will be a cacophony of replies from earth. While it’s debated in the United Nations and...

UX Week 2014 Workshops Preview

There’s nothing like a good workshop for amping up a skill or gaining a new one. Workshops are also great opportunities to meet and exchange ideas with people who do the same kind of work or face similar challenges. That’s why UX Week workshops in particular really stand out. We carefully select topics and workshop leaders in direct response to what we see in the discipline and the problems our clients ask us to solve. In short, we look for topics and activities that will arm experience designers with what they need to be better at what they do. NEW FOR UX WEEK 2014 A big challenge at any conference is selecting the workshops to attend. Too often, two (or more!) sessions you want to sign up for are scheduled at exactly the same time! Well, for 2014 we’re doing something about that very issue. Through the magic of logistics, we’re offering each workshop twice, on different days, so there’s a lot of selection flexibility. We’re also offering a mix of half-day and full-day workshops, so you can pack in a broader range of learning opportunities. AN AWESOME LINEUP It’s a good thing the new schedule is more flexible, because this year we have an especially great lineup of workshop leaders and topics, covering everything from mobile and responsive design, prototyping, sketching, storytelling, and service design to building great teams. Here’s a sampling of what’s in the lineup: Designer, developer, author –– and now UX Week 2014 keynote speaker — Josh Clark will cover everything you need to know for effective touchscreen design in his full-day Designing for Touch...

UX Week Keynote Speaker Ken Jennings on Maps and Design

When Ken Jennings stepped onto the stage of the game show Jeopardy! back in 2004, he was a humble software engineer from Salt Lake City. 74 wins later, he stepped off that stage as the winningest contestant in game show history. Since then, Jennings has continued to indulge his interest in esoteric knowledge of all kinds as an author and columnist. One of his books, Maphead, digs into the world of maps and map enthusiasts, looking at the past, present, and future of maps as a fundamental part of human experience. In this interview, I talk with Ken about the connections between the ideas in his book and the concerns of designers, and get a preview of what he’ll be talking about in his keynote at UX Week 2014 in San Francisco this September. Jesse James Garrett: To start things off, let’s briefly introduce people to your book Maphead and what it’s all about. Ken Jennings: So when I was a kid I was obsessed with maps and geography. I was very aware that this was super weird, that I lived in a culture where America famously didn’t know where anything was and people thought maps were confusing and bad and you only looked at them when you were lost. So I felt very odd that I could read a road atlas for pleasure the way a normal kid would read a Hardy Boys book. I found myself thinking many years later, “What’s up with that? Why was I such a weird kid? Were there other people like me out there?” So I wrote this book called Maphead about...

UIEtips: Scenarios and Journey Maps Help Designers Become Storytellers

In today’s UIEtips, Jared Spool explains how storytelling is the core of design communication. Here’s an excerpt from the article: Knowing how to change the users’ behaviors is one thing. Knowing which behaviors to change is another. There are often many approaches to improving a design. Everyone can think they are working towards a better overall experience, but if each team member chooses a different approach, the design becomes confusing and complex. When we’re working on a team, getting the entire team to work together from the same approach becomes job one. Smaller teams (such as those with six or less folks) have always had an easier time of this than larger ones. This is because it’s more likely the smaller teams are checking in and talking to each other. Fortunately, there’s help for larger teams. It comes in a technique that is as old as humanity – storytelling. Read the article Scenarios and Journey Maps Help Designers Become Storytellers. How do you encourage creating stories in your design team? Tell us about it...

Improve Communication With Your Remote Team

OK. Your meeting is going perfectly. Then a remote team member says, “I don’t understand. Can you show me what you mean?” PANIC! MEETING IS DERAILING! But you’re about to save the day. You plug in your trusty IPEVO document camera and focus in on the pen and paper. As you make your sketch you begin to hear folks saying, “I get it,” and the whole team is back on track. How do you get this nifty tool? You register for the UX Immersion Mobile Conference by January 30. Why You Need the IPEVO Document Camera: Share your design ideas and sketches with remote teams to ensure everyone is on the same page Document individual sketches during design studios to a digital file for easy access in the future Project sketches to large audiences to convey your designs Get everyone participating and working together saving time and increasing productivity Conduct usability tests remotely while letting the team back in the office watch Register by January 30 to Get Your Free IPEVO We’re always looking to bring you new resources, processes, and techniques to help you become a better designer. Now we have a great tool that we’re excited to include with your UXIM registration, the IPEVO document camera. But it’s only available until January 30 so be sure to register now. Explore the conference and IPEVO camera at...