Posts about “Lecture”

  1. Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

    Data driven design

    What are the implications of heavy use of data in the design process? We can easily get into hairy situations where we are spying very much on our users, gathering data that will never be used but risks exposing our users if the company is hacked or an the company goes rogue.

    On the other hand it can give us valuable information for understanding the use of our product that could never be acquired in other ways. The unobtrusive nature of these kinds of data gathering makes them good in production code as the product will still be fully usable as we gather the data.

    There is a larger question of where all this data goes. Google is keen on slurping up our data and gives us analytics for "free", we just pay with our customers data. Amazon does similar things with track 3rd party vendors performance so they can see what products are performing well and then launch a cheaper competitor.

    In the end I see the value, but an over use can kill the soul of a design. If there is no opinion and we are just going the way of least resistance, we will never change anything and just preserve the status quo. Another problem with all this testing is that we are often breaking it down into atoms, when we put it all together it might not work so well. An A/B test changing a button text in one end of an app might have implications that we didn't forsee. We might have introduced new wordings or colours that work here but not in other parts.

  2. Photo by Rechanfle on Flickr

    Critical Speculative Fiction

    This was an interesting lecture where we got to see some speculative / critical design. Many projects can look silly at first glance but if you dig a little deeper they quite intriguing and could lead to interesting discussions. Dunne & Raby with their A/B Manifesto, might be drinking their own Kool-aid a bit too much, but the manifesto is interesting and thought provoking. We have to question the status quo and try to reframe our line of thinking to not get stuck in the capitalist money making machine. On the other hand it has a lot of the same problems and can easily feel a little like upper middle class privilege. That said, I still think it can contribute to a societal debate just as art can, even though it seems hard these days.

    Of the two concepts I like critical design the most. I do love science fiction but I like the critical and social aspects of it, not the technological. Star Trek or Star Wars can be fun but they are not as interesting as 1984 or some of Philip K. Dick's short stories. It's interesting to see how this kind of design is edging closer to art and future studies.


    The Facezam example was a bit interesting, I'm pretty sure that The Astonishing Tribe in Malmö were working on something similar before being bought by Blackberry. I remember a video about it speculating on how the phone could find different social media accounts for the person in the viewfinder. I can't remember if it was a real product they were working on or if it was a specualtive design project. It wasn't as critical as Facezam is though, and didn't spark any controversy. I guess it was simpler times. These kind of projects can form a basis for discussions on privacy and who own our data. In an article in Mashable Facebook defends themselves and says that such a thing couldn't happen as they are very responsible. A year later the Cambridge Analytica story broke.

    The Camera Restricta is a more playful and fun critique of how we document our lives and what we think is a unique and interesting picture. It reminds me of pictures I have seen of Kodak Picture Spots, those are sadly not critical design.

    Since the course I have found something that relates a bit to this. We were shown a child's smog alarm "toy" that wanted to raise the question of what we do about the air quality in cities today. On a trip to Stockholm I found an ad for a air filter pacifier, I don't know if it was a critical design project but I doubt it, I think it was just a sad way of making money on peoples fears.

    A baby pacifier with air filter
  3. Photo by Jannis Blume on Unsplash

    User Testing

    We had a lecture on user testing and how to do it, and also a bit on how not to do.

    We went through four different types of tests: observation, when you want a realistic use of your prototype; video analysis, where you can get very rich data on the interaction on a screen and reactions; think aloud, when you want to know the users reasoning; use & interview, when you want rich qualitative data from your tests.

    All types of tests have pros and cons and no one fits all situations.

    We also have to be conscious of when we test. We need to have something significant to test but we shouldn't wait to long as we could find fundamental flaws that have to be addressed.

    I have found that testing can reveal things you wouldn't ever dream of finding because you are so invested in your product and get blind to what other people could see in it.

    Guest Lecture

    We also had a guest lecture with Patrik from a company called Arvato Financial Solutions, it's some kind of Klarna competitor that mainly focuses on Germany right now.

    He talked about what you want to learn from your tests. What does prototypes prototype :). He also talked about the problem of building too big prototypes and the problems they have with prototypes that don't use real time data.

    It is important to know the limitations of your prototype so you can cater for that in the tests.

    Why do we user test?

    My main take away here is why we should do it, because for me it can at times feel like something I don't prioritize over doing "real" work.

    • We do it to get distance and experience the prototype for the first time through the tester.
    • We might also need a reality check on why we designed it like this, wa have an agenda and it won't always align with our users.
    • We often already know what is possible, both technically and politically, and this can close our mind.
    • Kill your darlings. User tests can reveal things that need to be cut.
  4. Photo by Alice Butenko on Unsplash

    UI Design Patterns

    We got an introduction into UI design patterns, anti-pattern and dark patterns. UI design patterns are patterns we see in software we use. Anything from simple input fields and thumbnails to more complex composite patterns like carousels and wizards. These patterns have formed when they are used in many places and almost become standard.


    What constitutes an anti-pattern could be contested but in my years as a web developer I have seen patterns come and go. Many consider things that take agency away from the user like auto playing carousels or scroll-jacking to be anti-patterns as they often work against the will of the user. Nowadays many consider carousels altogether to be an anti-pattern, as they hide content that is important enough to have in a prominent position and make the user click to see more.

    Dark Patterns

    Dark patterns ar more insidious, they are not just bad patterns, they are patterns that try to trick the user into doing something. This could be anything from displaying every time someone else books a hotel to make you anxious about finding the best price hotel and just book something fast. Gamification could also be seen as a dark pattern, it certainly is when casinos use it to make you gamble more, but it could also be a useful pattern in education.

    Can we break away?

    It is useful to know about these patterns as it gives us a better understanding of what makes the UI and we can use the knowledge to analyze software design. It is also important to know the rules, even informal rules like patterns, to know where we can break away from the rules and when it is smarter to just stick to the patterns we got.

    The hamburger menu is an example of this. I remember when it was new and there was a lot of discussion about it. Would it just confuse users or was it something that we needed. I think the hamburger menu won in the end but I don't know if we just got used to it or if it was innovative. I don't remember what we used to do before it.

    Finding patterns

    There are a lot of sites that gather examples of UI design patterns, I like designvault, as it has a rather large list of apps and patterns that make sense to me.

    Now I have to use this deepened knowledge to find patterns in Malmö by Bike.