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thoughts and observations about design, information architecture and design history
Tuesday 07|31|01
Amazon is at it again

I was browsing around Amazon the other day and I noticed a new tab in their navigation. I have followed their navigation since they started with one row of tabs, tried the awful two rows and then settled on the popular sections. After all I am an IA and navigation competitive analysis is something I do a lot. So when I noticed this new tab

I was very surprised it had MY name on it. I think it is important to note that the tab didn't say "My Store" but said "Erin's Store". That personalized difference, made all the difference to my noticing it and wondering about it. They seem to be experimenting with all aspects of customizing and personalizing. As you view items they often show in the left column a panel called "Page you made" - but this was a whole tab. Clicking into the section revealed that this was the aggregate of my stuff - Wish list, Recommendations, Favorite people - buying circles, Expert lists etc. This really was representative of my stuff. I was very impressed that they had come up with the technology to create the tab on the fly from my cookie but at the same time - similar to the last time I felt oddly spied upon. Like they knew too much about me. After all I didn't ask for this.

I would like to think that they are really learning about how to use the things they collect and turn it around to valuable offerings for the customer. Not intrusive but relevant. In the recommendations area, in order to stop being shown items I already own, I have had to go into the site and explicitly say I own it. On the one hand they are showing me things I am interested in, after all I bought the stuff - just not at Amazon. On the other hand, they don't reflect early purchase made on Amazon so requires a fair amount of work on my part to make the feature really useful to me and not intrusive. If the homepage only shows me stuff I already own or am not interested in, then they are wasting extremely valuable real estate. Just throwing it away.

The idea of a tab on the site, with my name on it, is very intriguing. It implies I have a vested interest in the company and in the content. The ideas that come to mind about sharing my tab with others or further customizing to delete whole sections of the site are intriguing and open to a wide array of cool as well as disturbing ideas. I wonder who else is doing stuff like this in the ecommerce space? Who else is this bold and willing to experiment on their "live" site?

I noticed on my next visit to Amazon, that the tab was gone. I look forward to my tab coming back.

Posted by erin at 09:58 PM | in Amazon :: | Link | Comments (2)

Monday 07|23|01
Eat these words

My story is up at the site Eat these words. It's a pretty interesting site - sort of a written documentary. The site owner is collecting stories of people working in technology from 1995 to 2000. You can submit your own or be interviewed. Whatever the method, makes for interesting reading.

The site author/editor says this: "My main goal, by gathering these stories, was to capture this time. I was also interested in how people explained what led them to this field; what drove them to work the way they did, often sacrificing all else; what they wanted from their job and what they got; and whether or how the experience has marked or changed them."

Posted by erin at 08:32 PM | in Sites of Note :: | Link

Advance for Design Summit #4 Summary (long)

As promised, a blow by blow of the Advance Summit #4 along with some of my thoughts and conclusions. I will not repeat, in detail, the formal presentations since they will be posted on the Advance web site within a week or so. When they are posted, I will link each section with them. Between each formal presentation was a brief 10 minute show and tell of an example or artifact. Most were related to the presentation before but not all were. They are very interesting and a good chance to see other people work. Conclusions follow brief thoughts and descriptions of the two and half days of work.

Posted by erin at 01:05 AM | in Conference Review :: | Link | Comments (3)

Monday 07|16|01
How Many Interaction Designers Does it Take to Open a Room Door at the Hyatt?

Just returned from the AIGA Advance for Design summit meeting and have tons of notes and impressions to post about that experience later this week (maybe later today).

Some noted impressions:
Interaction designers are sometimes no better at figuring out how stuff works than "real" people in the world. Several of us got lost in the hotel due to lack of signage and meandering hallways, and the doors with the cryptic green and red lights and card keys actioned by time in the slot were difficult to work consistently.

Lou Rosenfeld was one of the most mentioned, non-attending participants of the conference. Word was he was white water rafting.

Members of the late firm HannaHodge were in attendance and still full of enthusiasm for the field.

The discussion of Brand was contentious, visual design is not a dirty word and 90 degrees at 7am is cool compared to 110 in the afternoon. Yikes!

Also of note: A visit to Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West is a must see example of rich Experience Design and was not far from the summit hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona. Pics going up in the photolog.

Posted by erin at 05:31 PM | in Conference Review :: | Link | Comments (1)

Wednesday 07|11|01
Getting Ready for the Summit

I will be leaving tomorrow morning for Phoenix to attend the 4th Advance for Design Summit. It looks to be interesting and some of the things we will be discussing are: (from the aiga site)

* how do we use the term 'experience design'? to what does it refer?

* who are experience design practitioners and what do they do?

* the value experience design practitioners bring to process and solutions and ultimately, for whom is the experience design community of the AIGA intended?

"The summit's proposition:
1 The summit focuses on digital experience
, but we are mindful that design for human experience is not confined to a computer screen. Digital experience supports human beings in the course of their lives and grows out of the full environment of human experience, action, and behavior.

2 We've selected an initial number of titles/roles grouping all the terms that might be used to describe that role (so it doesn't become a nomenclature discussion):

* Design planner, a.k.a. design strategist, etc.

* Brand strategist, a.k.a. brand integrator, etc.

* User researcher...

* Usability specialist...

* Information architect, a.k.a. information designer, etc.

* Interaction designer, a.k.a. software designer, etc.

* Visual systems designer, a.k.a. creative director, etc.

3 For each roles we document
* themes of what we actually do

* themes of what we know or need to know--themes of knowledge

This information will be documented in such a way as to inform
* the standardization of practice knowledge and skills

* the development of undergraduate and graduate curriculum

An experience designer is an integrator
The proposition above suggests that someone who chooses to call themselves an 'experience designer' means that they have expertise in more than one role, and have the ability to integrate a broad range of knowledge with other members of a team.

Summit goals
Capturing this knowledge should provide, near-term, the foundation for the four Experience Design workgroups to deliver on their objectives. Long-term, consistency in messaging and information dissemination to deliver on the objective we've always had for the Advance: 'to establish a new community of design practitioners who are challenged to design for a world that is increasingly digital and connected."

These themes are familiar to the SIGIA group, which has been grappling with some of these same questions. The differences here are that as these themes are discussed and agreed upon, they are put forth to the larger membership at large via the online and printed journals and they become integrated into the collective literature and philosphy of the AIGA. I think this is important to do as we define this branch of design and we see how we, as designers, overlap and learn from the other related and similar disciplines. These articulations help us with clients, with defining what we do to our moms and help us gain credibility as a branch of a real profession. The agenda is an extension - or next step - from what we discussed last year. George Olsen has some thoughts about this as well at his site - Interaction by Design.

Should prove to be interesting and my hope is that the conversations don't degrade into the same circular conversations that we have been having all year at the different conferences, gatherings and on the lists.

I am also excited about the trip, because if things go well, I will be helping with the redesign of the Advance/Experience.AIGA website. Will update as the weekend progresses.

Posted by erin at 07:46 PM | in AIGA :: | Link

Wednesday 07| 4|01
Artifacts update

Updated the artifacts page so that the IA definition documents have a permanent home. As these log entries scroll away it is hard to remember where they were referenced. Fear not - they live on in Artifacts.

Posted by erin at 11:50 AM | in Information Architecture :: | Link

Sunday 07| 1|01

This evening I stumbled across Lines & Splines a terrific weblog solely concentrating on type, type design, type history and designers. The author, Andy Crewdson, is a student at UC Berkely. This is a terrific collection of commentary, historical anecdotes and great links to everything you could imagine type and font related.

Posted by erin at 09:39 PM | in Sites of Note :: | Link

EM Design is home to the resume and portfolio of Erin Malone.
site updated every now and then :: copyright 1995-2007 Erin K. Malone
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DUX—Five Lessons Learned

Coloring Outside the Lines

Modeling the Creative Organization

Coming of Age

Talking With Jesse James Garrett

The Tool Makes the (Wo)man

AIGA Experience Design Summit #5 - Recap

AIGA Experience Design - past, present and future: An interview with Terry Swack and Clement Mok

Summit Beginnings: Saturday

Chicken Run: Summit Closing: Sunday

design history articles
Foreseeing the future: The legacy of Vannevar Bush

Learning from the Powers of Ten

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