Happy New Interaction Design!

I know, it’s been very quiet on this blog lately. Last time I wrote I had just missed a fine cocktail hour with the local IA’s in Amsterdam (and special guest Jesse James Garrett). In the meantime, I’ve had some intensive months with lots of designing, usability testing and writing. Unfortunately that meant less time (actually none) for blogging and reading Peter Morvilles latest book. I did however manage to fit in the 34’th IA cocktail hour last December (thanks Peter Boersma and Info.nl for organizing).

Judith and me at the 34'rd IA cocktail hourThe first workday in 2006 provides an excellent opportunity to look back at the past year. We have welcomed two new interaction designers and a trainee, and together we have had a fruitful year. Here is a brief retrospective of 2005.

Knowledge Group IA/IxD

I formed a corporate Knowledge Group for Information Architecture and Interaction Design, in which our IA’s (including web strategy consultants), interaction designers and visual designers share knowledge, trends and inspirations. One of the most important results of 2005 was the establishment of some new standards in design tools and templates.

Prototyping

We have been exploring ways to communicating our designs to its stakeholders (client, end users, developers and testers). Traditional functional designs have turned out to be too ineffective. Let’s face it: people don’t read (much). So we visualize as much as possible and write less. That means designing not only wireframes, but also storyboards to describe the interactive elements on a page (following the example of … of Adaptive Path). And sometimes a high-stake project requires the use of detailed process models to verify that you absolutely don’t forget to design any feature.

Prototyping means iteration, and iteration means testing. We used to communicate our functional design documents to our clients, but more and more we are using paper and clickable (html) prototypes to test (or at least demonstrate) our designs. Prototyping has become an essential step in our design process. Personally, I was thrilled to see our clients also convinced of its value.

Usability testing

In 2005, we brought usability testing to a new level. We have worked with a very enthusiastic new agency for the recruitment of test participants. And thanks to new software (Morae), we are able to communicate the test outcomes richer and more insightful. Our clients love it and so do we.

User education

We have put much effort in various forms of user education. There was a strong demand among clients for user manuals on Microsoft CMS and SharePoint, so we have written user manuals for both products. We have delivered product trainings for content managers and functional administrators (mainly SharePoint), supported by the new user manuals. And, to wind up with, in one project we have created quick reference cards for end users to help them perform the most essential tasks on their new intranet portal.

For us interaction designers of Tam Tam, 2005 has been a successful year. This month, we will be making our plans for 2006.