The Sound of Design

Our lives have a soundtrack.

Throughout the workday, we are immersed in a chorus of snaps, taps, squeaks, dribbles, drops and pops. These ambient sounds (and not so ambient from the guy who blasts death metal all day) play an important role in our design practice. Sound can be a muse or a distraction, but it’s always an influencer—of your mood, your process, and your outcomes.

Have you ever thought about the sounds that surround you at work? Ever wondered what story your workplace tells about you and your culture? Share the story of your design studio by recording the little (and not so little) sounds that make up your design practice, and help us create an artifact that tells the larger story of design. Each recording we receive will be uploaded onto the Sounds of Design audio stream adding to the first soundscape of design.

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What is User Experience Design?

This is the first post in a series of interviews exploring some of the fundamental questions in our field, like what user experience design (UX) is and why it matters to you. In this article, I’ve interviewed Alan Cooper, founder and President of Cooper and Chris Noessel Managing Director at Cooper and co-author of “Make It So: Interaction Design Lessons from Science Fiction”.

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How do you design a digital interaction?

Digital technology must respond in a meaningful way when a user expresses their intent. The job of a user experience designer is making this interaction feel natural and nearly invisible. As people around the world increasingly engage with digital technology on a daily basis, the need for smart UX becomes ever more apparent.

Alan says, “When a complex digital device is easy to understand and use, a UX designer has done their job.” A skilled UX designer understands the goals and mental models of users, along with the nuances of technology. He or she uses this knowledge to shape the behavior of the technology so that it all seems natural to the user, in just the way a talented author makes you forget the narrator.

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Everybody wins the design arms race

Just as the Internet powerhouses of the early 2000’s were all but forgotten, they rise with new panache. MySpace, Digg, and now AOL have undergone massive redesigns in an attempt to lure in former users, and it just might work.

Remember the race to get your favorite @gmail.com address? OMG – a GB of free storage!? Forget that hotmail email address you’ve been using since your days backpacking around Europe after college, time to switch domains. What a hassle.

Those days are over. Today, cloud storage is effectively free. The key players (Google, Amazon, Microsoft) have taken data center construction to an art form, along the way making that same infrastructure a commodity. The result: the back-end is no longer a differentiator and companies are increasingly turning to front-end innovation to make a splash.

(Source: engadget)

AOL’s new web-based email client, Alto, is an interesting new tool for managing the inbox fire hose. Among other nifty features, it analyzes your inbox and automatically categorizes your email into piles like daily deals, attachments, and social notifications – the new breed of “pseudo-spam.” Unlike the days of yore, you don’t have to go through the hassle of migrating from Gmail or Yahoo to take advantage of these new superpowers. Alto is just a new layer of svelteness on top of the old email infrastructure.

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