Designing Technology

Bill Moggridge, Ideo

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University October 3, 2003

Bill Moggridge is working on a book titled “Designing Interactions”, to be published by MIT Press in the fall of 2005. In preparation he has been interviewing some of the Interaction Designers who are pioneers in the field, and help us to form the way we understand and practice Interaction Design. He has recorded the interviews on video, and will show samples from his tapes, with some comments.

Desktop and Mouse: Stu Card
The combination of desktop and mouse define the graphical user interface that we use for so much of our time, and has a pervasive influence on the way we expect to interact with our personal computers. Stu Card is modest about his personal contribution to the invention of the "Personal Graphical Computer", and insists on giving full credit to the long list of key people who make the story complete, at Xerox PARC and elsewhere. However, since he joined PARC in the seventies, he has been a key member of the community that developed these Interaction Design concepts, from the Alto and Star onwards.

Designing: Bill Verplank
Interaction Design is still emerging as a discipline, and the design processes that are needed for it are only partially defined. Bill Verplank has evolved a sophisticated process for the design of graphical user interfaces over many years of practice at Xerox, IDEO and Interval Research. Bill has an amazing ability to draw upside down at the same time as he talks. If you meet him and ask him a question about Interaction Design, you can sit at the nearest table or desk, and be mesmerized by the fluency of his answer. His words are easy to understand, and as he talks he builds a beautiful diagram that reinforces what he is saying. You can take the drawing with you as a reminder and summary of his ideas.

Playing: Will Wright and Brenda Laurel
A game will only succeed if it is engaging to play. This has pushed computer and video game designers to learn how to create enjoyable and playful interactions. Will Wright founded Maxis to create games that also become hobbies with his Sim series, including Sim City and the Sims, now the most successful game around. The play is part strategy, part simulation and part role playing, with a wide appeal across age and gender. Brenda Laurel brings enactment to play, and has developed the use of theatrical role playing as a design tool. She was with Atari in the early days, experimented with virtual reality, and kept Interval Research playful, and then started Purple Moon to create games for girls.

Simply Palm: Rob Haitani
The Palm operating system offers a set of functions that are simple enough to use to make a "palm top" computer compelling, particularly when combined with the ability to "hot sync" to your personal computer. Rob Haitani worked with Jeff Hawkins as the designer responsible for defining the interactions, originally at Palm and now at Handspring. He tells the story of how the crucial decisions about the operating system were made.

Searching: Larry Page and Sergey Brin
Google is so far ahead of the competition as a search engine that to "Google" may become a verb in normal use, just as Hoover did. Larry Page and Sergei Brin met at Stanford and developed a "nice search engine" together. They went on to found Google and to develop a company that is acknowledged as the industry leader. They talk about how they did it, and where the future of the company lies.

Bill Moggridge is a founder of IDEO, a consulting firm dedicated to the user-centered design of products, services and environments. Bill helps the people of IDEO to develop new ways of working, studying examples of projects around the company that involve innovative processes, and communicating the most interesting and instructive results both within IDEO and outside. He is most interested in the 'people' part of the design; who are the users, what do they want from the experience, what will give them satisfaction and enjoyment.

Bill founded his design firm in London in 1969, expanding throughout the seventies with clients world wide. In 1979 he added a second office in San Francisco to help Silicon Valley companies, as the electronics industry moved from chips to products. In 1980 he designed the first laptop computer, the GRiD Compass. During the next few years he pioneered user interface design as a discipline to be an integrated part of product development, and coined the name Interaction Design. He merged his company with David Kelley and Mike Nuttall to form IDEO in 1991. The company now has around 350 employees in eight locations around the world..


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