- User Interface Aesthetics
- Information Visualisation
- Process and Service Design
- Sound Design
„Ergonomics is made by design - or it is undone“
Prof. Dr. Frieder Nake
This sentence contains neither more nor less than the wise observation that an interface can only develop its complete potential via the interplay of usability and aesthetics. In other words, an excellent interface must be convincing at two stages:
The "First Moment of Truth (FMOT)", in which it with aesthetic means triggers people's excitement and creates the willingness to engage with the product or system. Then, when the design has initiated this motivation, in the "Second Moment of Truth (SMOT)" the user's experience should surely not be disappointed by unsatisfactory usability.
We want to develop interfaces where the ergonomics unfold through the design, interfaces that are exciting to their users. This is why we are designers with our heart and soul! We think and create as designers.
User Interface Aesthetics
To us the term user interface aesthetics refers to a whole range of design references. Generally these are of a graphical nature and vector- or pixel-based, such as for example the design of icons, graphical interactive components (default and custom controls), pictographic contents, typography and layout. Nevertheless, the graphical design of an interface is never a static result, but rather a mapping of processes. Therefore we design icon families and controls depending on their functional status and view them as interactive building blocks of a larger whole.
This requires an intuitive understanding of visualisation that supports the represented logic, corporate design requests made by the contractor and expected, aesthetic identification factors for the users. However, a good flair for form, colour, contrast and graphical balance is not enough to be a good interface designer. Dynamics and timed movement through surface and space are also involved in high-quality interaction design. This is because so-called "Motion GraphicsÂ“, or moving graphics/animations enable a particularly high level of user orientation, in which the change between system states can easily be followed and therefore becomes clearly understandable to the users. This is what we call "Usable Motion".
"Graphical excellence is that which gives to the viewer the greatest number of ideas in the shortest time with the least ink in the smallest space."
Edward R. Tufte
We are surrounded by complex relationships. Many of these manifest themselves in massive quantities of data, which we must be able to access and connect to, so that we can understand and utilise it. This has lead to the development of a speciality within Interface Design, known as data and/or information visualisation.
This is an important field for us and our clients. When we speak about having to deal with complexity, this does not mean doing without complexity. Latter would be misleading. It is rather a matter of taking the complications out of complexity. To do this we create visual and clear access to inexplicably complicated information, e.g. by letting the design concentrate on what is most important, and taking out what could cause cognitive strain.
We therefore reduce the mental workload of the user to the minimum, providing a more focused view of what is essential - e.g. for interfaces responding to danger or when designing control room interfaces. This is also a sensible goal for when we want to understand relationships, so that we can act more sustainably for example, or simply when we want to enjoy our ability to understand something difficult.
Process and Service Design
Interaction design is essentially process design, meaning the conscious design of process-based procedures based on the idea of creating a sense of achievement. Many of the processes that have to be designed in our environment can manifest themselves in the product and system interfaces and thus cleverly guide the users. But designers and many manufacturers also face the challenge that removing certain products or transforming products to services may be a valuable solution in our society. These services also have to be planned, created and designed. This is where we speak of service design.
As interaction designers, that is people who are deeply involved in process design, we have naturally dismissed the idea that every product design must be of a material nature - a software interface for example is not. We create information from light and sound. The same expertise and competence we bring to process design, has predestined us for the design of replacement products such as services. Within the scope of total user experience design, the design of a product is interconnected with its entire environment, such as maintenance service or a rental system for things that people want to use, but not own.
"Sound is the soul of an inanimate object"
The sound of something - its acoustics - is another responsibility of design. Within the range of design parameters that bring an interface to life, what can be heard, the audible interface, plays an important role besides interaction design and its graphical visualisation. Designing sound is an extremely interesting, but also challenging task. The topic must be approached with respect. We, as specialists for two and three dimensional forms and process design should not handle it as if it were an afterthought. Quite the opposite: when working on sound design, we place great value on our collaboration with the sound designer, musician and film composer Nils Kaczirek from Hamburg.
Together we can provide our clients with an interplay of sound, graphics and movement that creates a total interactive experience. It is easy to see how important sound is when you consider that you can instantly lose track of the visuals just by closing your eyes. However, you cannot escape from sounds, whether good or bad, suitable or not - and neither can your users.