Sketching and Experience Design

   Scott Jenson   Bill Buxton, Microsoft Research

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design

Among others, Hummels, Djajadiningrat and Overbeeke (Knowing, Doing and Feeling:  Communication with your Digital Products.  Interdisziplinäres Kolleg Kognitions und Neurowissenschaften, Günne am Möhnesee, March 2-9 2001, 289-308.), have expressed the notion that the real product of design is the resultant “context for experience” rather than the object or software that provokes that experience.  This closely corresponds to what I refer to as a transition in focus from a materialistic to an experiential view of design.  Paraphrasing what I have already said, is not the physical entity or what is in the box (the “material” product) that is the true outcome of the design process.  Rather, it is the behavioural, experiential and emotional responses that come about as a result of its existence and use in the “wild”. 

Designing for experience comes with a whole new level of complexity.  This is especially true in this emerging world of information appliances, reactive environments and ubiquitous computing, where, along with those of their users, we have to factor in the convoluted behaviours of the products themselves. Doing this effectively requires both a different mind-set, as well as different techniques. 

This talk is motivated by a concern that, in general, our current training and work practices are not adequate to meet the demands of this level of design.  This is true for those coming from a computer science background, since they do not have sufficient grounding in design, at least in the sense that would be recognized by an architect or industrial designer.  Conversely, those from the design arts, while they have the design skills, do not generally have the technical skills to adequately address the design issues relating to the complex embedded behaviours of such devices and systems.

Hence, in this talk, we discuss the design process itself, from the perspective of methods, organization, and composition.  Fundamental to our approach is the notion that sketching is a fundamental component of design, and is especially critical at the early ideation phase.  Yet, due to the temporal nature of what we are designing, conventional sketching is not – on its own – adequate. Hence, if we are to design experience or interaction, we need to adopt something that is to our process that is analogous to what traditional sketching is to the process of conventional industrial design.

It is the motivation and exploration of such a sketching process that is the foundation of this presentation.

Bill Buxton is a designer and a researcher concerned with human aspects of technology.  His work reflects a particular interest in the use of technology to support creative activities such as design, film making and music.  Buxton's research specialties include technologies, techniques and theories of input to computers,  technology mediated human-human collaboration, and ubiquitous computing.

In December 2005, he was appointed Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research. Prior to that, he was Principal of his own Toronto-based boutique design and consulting firm, Buxton Design, where his time was split between working  for clients, lecturing, and trying to finish a long-delayed book on sketching and interaction design. As well, he is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto, where he still works with graduate students. 

Buxton began his career in music, having done a Bachelor of Music degree at Queen's University. He then studied and taught at the Institute of Sonology, Utrecht, Holland, for two years. After completing an M.Sc. in Computer Science on Computer Music at the University of Toronto, he joined the faculty as a lecturer. Designing and using computer-based tools for music composition and performance is what led him into the area of human-computer interaction. From 1994 until December 2002, he was Chief Scientist of Alias|Wavefront, (now part of Autodesk) and from 1995, its parent company SGI Inc.  In the fall of 2004,  he was a part-time instructor in the Department of Industrial Design at the Ontario College of Art and Design.  In 2004/05 he was also Visiting Professor  at the Knowledge Media Design Institute (KMDI) at the University of Toronto. And from January through April 2005 and 2006, was a Visiting Researcher with the Computer-Mediated Living Group at Microsoft Research, Cambridge England. He currently splits his time between Redmond and Toronto.

View this talk on line at CS547 on Stanford OnLine

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