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What You Hear is What You See
Sound is an aspect too often forgotten in the UI design process. Most devices we use are capable of producing sound, and we see no reason not to put these senses to good use. When designing for the eye, we usually need to think of data placement and the amount of information the user is seeing. This is primarily due to the fact that our eyes can only focus on one place at a time. More than half of our surrounding is out of our field of view. With the help of small eye movements, we gather information about the subject at hand.
However, the basics of design for the ear are fundamentally different. Our ears gather information all the time, and this cannot be stopped unless we physically block our ears. Even when we selectively focus on a single source of sound, we never cease hearing other things as well. Due to these differences, human beings use their eyes and ears simultaneously to benefit from the best qualities of both senses. Traditionally, the ear tells where the eye should focus on. An unexpected sound grasps our attention and leads it to whatever is causing the sound. The division of work between our senses has constructed human hearing to support emotion, while the more factual data is often gathered by vision. This multimodal approach is essential when dealing with design for audiovisual media.
In UI design, sound must be used carefully and with respect. Sensing events all around us without a need for focused attention makes sound an excellent tool to process observation and alerting. However, typical users of today’s digital media are used to suppressing excessive visual stimuli and can get irritated by sonic announcements that cannot be skipped or browsed the same way visual material can. Therefore, sound should carry information on the occasion when the user’s eyes are busy or unable to see the screen.
Classic examples of intuitive multimodal interfaces can be found in hand held geiger counters and metal detectors. These devices provide a perfect opportunity for users to get readings through a sonic feedback instead of keeping an eye constantly on a screen. The best results for multimodal UI design are obtained by designing for not only the eye but also for the ear. This is the reason UX designers would benefit greatly from understanding the basics of human perception for both vision and hearing.
–Antti Mäki, UX and Sound Designer, Idean
Idean’s UX for Startup Series is here!
Idean loves startups! The startups we work with range from very early stage startups to well-funded entities like Adaptive Planning. As we all know, working with startups is very different from working with large multinational corporations.
Idean collaborates very closely with startups through carefully selected incubators and accelerators, including: MuckerLab (www.muckerlab.com), BlackBox(www.blackbox.vc), as well as venture capitalists such as Onset Ventures.
Typically, we focus on early stage startups with our UX Ninja offering, with which we conceptualize, wireframe and create visuals for about 5 core screens of the service that serve as a basis for the startup to raise funding.
Over the next few months, our series will offer designer tips, debunk and demystify UX myths, offer benchmarking ideas, consider product development and user testing, and dig deeper into startup personas.
We promise to be smart, practical and conservative – but we’ll be controversial too! So join the conversation!
Idean UX Summit 4: February 14, 2014
Idean UX Summit 4- February 14, 8:30am-2:30 pm in Menlo Park, CA
Powerful user experience design goes far beyond ink and paper and into real life experiences that change the way people do everyday things. To create a product or service that is functional, useful and enjoyable, companies must empathize with the emotions, motivations, priorities and circumstances of users during their daily lives.
Join us as thought leaders share the art of real-life design thinking to deliver the best possible user experiences.
Our exciting lineup includes speakers from IBM Design, Barclays, Samsung UX Innovations Lab, and many more.
We guarantee that you will leave inspired and with updated mind!
See a snapshot of our last UX Summit 3: www.vimeo.com/idean/uxsummit3
It’s going to be an inspirational and yet practical day worth joining us for.
More information and to register here: http://www.ideanuxsummit.com
Mobile content market in Finland 2012-2016
Designing vs. Modelling
While working on a design project for a client, our human experience scientist Roope Karki, got into a discussion around the difference between modelling and designing. It was an intriguing question that we took to the rest of our team. Our question was quite simple and open minded, “What comes to mind when you think of modelling or designing?”
Not surprisingly, there were as many different answers as there were team members who pitched in with an opinion. But one in particular summed up the general consensus among the team: “Designing = you have pen and paper, modelling = you have a heap of play-dough.”
Our work with this and other clients will focus on how to move seamlessly between the worlds of design, (= pen and paper or other digital tools) and modelling (= play-dough or 3-D software).
The aim is to close the gap between paper (design) and screen (modeling). This is really important in cases that require an iterative process, where an object may be redesigned many times.
This internal brainstorming really helped us clarify our thinking on the subject and allowed us to add more value to the discussion with the client and to our work.
Roope will provide more insights into the subject in a research paper to be published in the near future, so stay tuned!
Sandbox: Where designers play and ideate
What happens if you take a bunch of young kids, give them a few buckets, shovels and moulds and sit them down in a big sandbox?
Chances are there may be a few squabbles, hurt feelings and even tears as the kids tussle over the brightest and best-looking toys.
But pretty soon they settle down to playing, and that free-form, open-ended play might give birth to some pretty amazing creations as they let their little imaginations run wild.
At Idean we also draw inspiration from unlikely sources. And like a group of young kids, we love getting into the sandbox to exercise our creativity.
Sometimes the sandbox is a physical space where we gather in an informal setting. And sometimes it’s a virtual space where we can all contribute to a group stream of consciousness.
Often we invite friends, collaborators and other specialists to join us. The result is always entertaining, and sometimes, just like the little kids getting sand under their fingernails, we too come up with some truly amazing design insights.
UX as a driver for unleashing the power of technology
User experience reflects the world I live in. Working with a massive technology company like Cisco I spend a lot of my time explaining to companies how technology will benefit them and their users.
We’re in an age where the Internet is becoming the internet of all things. By that I mean there will be lots of data connected to other bits of data to provide information and experiences that should somehow be useful to people.
So we are entering a new frontier and how brands use that to their advantage and how people want it to be used will be essential.
At the same time, user experience has evolved to be more than just graphics. In this new internet-driven territory, user experience will increasingly be about be how people and the internet will interact and what kinds of experiences they will have.
Hello Tampere! Any future UX stars out there?
If you are a Digital Activist with a passion for the future of digital services and with a fresh diploma in your hands, you are invited to apply for Idean’s UX trainee program!
Idean is a global design agency dedicated to delivering the best possible User Experience. We create world-leading applications and platforms for web, mobile and integrated industry systems.
We are now to hiring 2-3 junior designers to form a trainee team and become a part of our community of 80+ designers. The trainees will work under the guidance of Idean’s designers and team leaders, in a group as well as individually. This trainee program takes place at our Tampere office, and runs from January until June 2014. We hope that in addition to fluent English, you are able to speak, write and understand the Finnish language fluently.
How UX is stealing the spotlight on management agendas
UX has been quite a niche area in many companies, with small teams working closely together. We’ve seen many projects where our work commands say 5 percent of a product budget, but accounts for 95 percent of its impact.
Companies are wising up to this through really terrible products and services that don’t make people feel their lives are any better for using them. But now, thanks to iPhone and many other great devices out there, even the big players can see that consumers or users want something better, whether they’re using enterprise software or consumer products.
As for management understanding the linkage between UX and strategy, that all depends on where we are. As I see it, all of Asia is still focusing on creating products. Europe is oriented towards R&D and innovation, but the US is really all about the strategy.