Interaction by Design has a new site with current information about us. Thumbnails, a blog by Interaction by Design's principal, George Olsen, will making the transition—and re-activating—as well. Of course client work comes first, so we're not sure when we'll be done, since it requires switching blog software. But feel free to look through the old blog entries, essays and recommended books.

Here's summaries of what's new:

in thumbnails…
Pandering to your audience vs. persauding for it
A few weeks ago I wrote a column for Boxes and Arrows about the pressures and temptations to provide simple answers to complex issues are ones we all face in our professional practices.

Now Infoworld columnist Bob Lewis, who's thinking I've long admired, provides some sage advice on the same subject:


Given a choice between a complex, difficult-to-understand, disconcerting explanation and a simplistic, comforting one, many prefer simplistic comfort if it's remotely plausible, especially if it involves blaming someone else for their problems.

Making good decisions requires that you recognize and eschew simplistic, comforting explanations. Even the best decision-makers constantly guard against this very natural tendency. That's one obvious lesson to learn. The other?

Persuasion is difficult, especially when you have to present a hard, painful choice. The easiest way is to pander to your audience with a simplistic, comforting explanation that blames someone else ("clueless managers who just don't get it" would be a common example among IT professionals). Don't write this off too quickly: It has the advantage of working nearly every time.

It is, however, manipulative and dishonest. That doesn't mean the right approach is to present your logic in cool, painstaking detail.

To persuade, keep your arguments simple if not simplistic and phrase them in terms relevant to your audience if you can't make them comforting.

There is, after all, a difference between pandering to your audience and caring about it.

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in perspectives…
Coming to Terms
One of the reoccurring debates at conferences and mailing lists devoted to what we do is over what exactly to call just what it is we do—particularly what is "information architecture," which seems to be the most common term that covers a variety of user-focused design approaches.

It's time to come to terms-literally-for two reasons. First there's a growing weariness among those who've seen these arguments over and over again and a concern that we're splitting hairs. But more importantly, there's some very real consequences: we can't sell what we can't explain-whether to clients or co-workers. So it's time to drop "information architecture" as the "big" name for our field and substitute "user experience"-of which "little IA" is one of the sub-fields.

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on the bookshelf…
The Inmates Are Running the Asylum
By Alan Cooper

Buy this book in Association with Amazon.com [link]
get  it
A extremely good overview about why most high-tech products are so frustrating to use and the value of paying attention to user experience. It's perhaps best at dissecting the issues of corporate politics that user experience architects have to contend with. Cooper gives an overview of his extremely useful personas and scenaros technique but it's not covered in as much depth as it could be.

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