…a thesis project of a design master’s student at Carnegie Mellon.
…the inevitable outcome of someone with an English rhetoric background and a compulsion for analysis.
…by a designer interested in creating more multi-sensory and inclusive designs that better represent time well spent.
…a resource for students and professional alike to expand their perceptions of what design can do
…a place to participate in the design profession in a collaborative and easy way.
In the summer of 2014, I was asked to learn about how to make our product more accessible to people with different abilities. Part of the training materials included a day-in-the-life walk through of a blind person as she completed various tasks. Towards the end of the video she demonstrated how she used her iPhone to create a new calendar event. I was struck by the clumsiness of interaction. Yes, it was capable of helping her complete the task. Yes, it was great that voice-over was an automatic function. But considering how dedicated I have been in practice and school to creating meaningful user experiences, this halting process feel short. How could we create vivid interactions for blind users as well? How can we better implement multi-sensory experiences? What if those experiences weren’t done second, but first?
On the other side of things, when school started up and I was ready to dive back into my previous thesis work, I sought for a way to combine both my previous work and my new interest in designing multi-sensory experience. Having come from the the world of English before design, my thesis project was interested in the the rhetorical analysis of interaction design. More than studying the syntax of [interaction] design, I was fascinated by what effect that has on people. So, instead of studying how the arrangement of words creates different genres, I was interested in the how the arrangement of works evokes emotional responses from people. The connotations, symbols, contextual influences, and on and on. My approach was to explore linguistic theory to see how the responses from audiences are evaluated and transfer them to interaction design. I thought there was an important connection between how speakers and writer’s works are evaluated to the similar subjectivity (but influence) of design. As a lecturer at Interaction2015 said: “Writers are the fastest designers.”
In combing my ideas I tried to began separating and analyzing the different effects of interaction design qualities. In applying the same rhetorical analysis techniques to each, I found myself expanding the way I thought an element could be used. I thought the same exercise would be beneficial for other designers. Hopefully reflecting on their practice could help break the cycle of designing for the same patterns and users. Instead, thinking about interactions differently and blending them with other users may help designers see new opportunities for using elements. Like, how could sound help direct you in filling out a form the same way that visual cues do now?
The wiki is born in order to test this idea. My hope that it is a place to play, learn, and explore.