Category Archives: Digital Information and Interaction Design

Two programmers and two user support peeps enter a room…

A date has finally been set for when four peers will enter a room and brainstorm ideas for a project. The team comprises of two programmers and two user support peeps. With their experience combined, they are forming what at the moment is being called a brain trust [note to self…first action item: discuss name with team].

The brain trust will first brainstorm ideas about apps and sites they would like to produce. Initial discussions have alluded to the idea that team members aspire to produce a site or app that has a level of commercial appeal and be a stepping stone for bigger and better sites or apps.

Our team name is yet to be decided on.

Our goals are yet to be defined.

Our project is yet to be brainstormed.

We haven’t yet put pen to paper.


A date has been set for when two programmers and two user support peeps will enter a room…and that makes me excited!

My blog (i.e. this one) is about to transform from a student blog to an omg I am entering the big wide world of site/app development. I am looking forward to sharing the journey, the pitfalls, the exciting and happy times and most of all hints and tips for other students transitioning from University to the wide world of app and site development!

To be continued…


Wikispaces now require $1 for verification? Um…

Wikispaces is advertised as a free service, primarily available for teachers and learners to create wikis where content can be shared and collaborated on in an online environment. Wikispaces was a great service and I have used it for two semesters now, however, they now require “verification” for wikis to be public.

The new verification is said to be due to spam – see their blogpost Taking a Stand Against Spam and costs $1 to be “verified”. In the world wide space, verification is usually in the form of confirming ones email address, so I was interested to know why the $1 fee was being charged. I was happy to pay it, until, the only payment option provided is Google Wallet. There is no Paypal option, nor BPay option or send a cheque (OK so that would be a little outrageous for $1 cheque, but not everyone wants to provide their credit card details online). What’s more, the Google Wallet payment page has no information about who I would be paying, their contact details or what the payment is for. I even had to check that I was logged in to Google as I was concerned I was redirected to a pretend log in page due to the lack of information on the page! In addition, I don’t want to have another online payment service having my credit card details as I already have a PayPal account.

Anyhow, having used Wikispaces for over two semesters now and not having completed any ‘spam’ activities, I would have thought I would be on the verification list that is spoken of in their blog post. A sweep was done of members and some were automatically verified. I was not one of them.

Image: My Wiki for eLearning Technologies in Wikispaces

So here I am. Assessment due in 2 days and I am not able to provide a link to my Wikispace for my lecturer to mark………………you are allowed up to 5 people to view the wiki, but the purpose of mine is to create a toolkit for academic staff members – I think there are more than 4 of them in the world!

Where to now? One of the comments in the Wikispace blogpost Taking a Stand Against Spam was about creating a free Google Site – so here goes…I have two days to move my site and two days to add those last minute things to get a great mark!

Watch this space for Amy’s adventures in creating a Google Site – the following video states I can get started in ‘just a few clicks’ so here goes!

Lu and Properties of Digital Environments

Lu (2005) proposes there are four properties of digital environments, plus an additional two when you combine some…I have mapped some examples of what I believe would fit within these properties…feel free to let me know your thoughts and if you have any to add reply to this post 🙂

Property Summary/Description (Lu, 2005) iTV Examples
  • “…patterns of rule based behaviour”
  • “…rule generated behaviour. We can induce the behaviour.”
Procedural + Participatory
  • Murray (as cited Lu, 2005) states “interactivity is best achieved by maximising the procedural and participatory properties” (p. 116)
  • “…patterns of navigation and boundary definition”
  • “navigating in 3D”
  • “…patterns of segmentation, categorisation and agglomeration”
  • “information storage and retrieval”
Spatial + Encyclopedic
  • Lu (2005) advises the effect of this combination is ‘immersion’.
  • CSI App Lu discusses


  • Lu, K. (May 2005) ‘Chapter 5: Principles of interaction design for iTV: synthesizing the investigation’ in Interaction design principles for interactive television, A thesis presented to the academic faculty, Master of Science in Information Design and Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology.

Task Oriented Design

The question of the week embedded in each of the readings seems to be what is interaction design. Calde & Cooper (n.d.), Rheingold (1992) and Hurst (2002) focus on knowing not just who the user is, but also about knowing the goal the user wants to achieve, and designing for that goal to be achieved. Rheingold (1992) states that “We ought to be asking what tasks people need to accomplish, what tools are most appropriate for those tasks” (p. 7). This could be labelled as goal directed design or task oriented design.

Calde & Cooper (n.d.) propose the following steps to achieve goal directed design:

  1. Interview and observe customers
  2. Discover their goals
  3. Create an archetypal user
  4. Design something that satisfies the archetypal user

It is important to note that Calde & Cooper (n.d.) were talking of their clients in the above process. The steps in isolation, would be able to be used for clients walking into a shop, using a vending machine, using a website to make a purchase among other commerce transactions. There is no specific context, nor is there any information about how to make the product interactive. It is more about the designer knowing who the user is and what the goals they would like to achieve are, then designing for the user to complete the set goal/s.

Similarly, Hurst (2002) provides goal oriented design steps. Hurst (2002) states that “users either click toward the goal, or they click the Back button” (p.1). In order to make sure the user completes their required task, rather than clicking the Back button, Hurst (2002) proposes the designer to:

  1. Identify user’s goals on each page
  2. De-emphasize or remove any page elements (or areas of a site) that don’t help to accomplish this goal
  3. Emphasize (or insert) those links, forms, or other elements that either take users closer to their goal, or finally accomplish it

While the above steps are more suited the context of the online world than Calde & Cooper (n.d.), I believe Hurst’s (2002) model is also suited to the e-business world where there is a targeted group of people and there could be clear goals on each page or site and the user is driven to those goals. Only have on the page what you require on the page. Remove what is unnecessary. Assist your user to complete the task they need to complete!

I am interested to know your thoughts – I selected two iPhone pages (the first two that came to mind) – what is the goal of each page? Is it obvious? Which one meets the model of knowing the user and their goals, then designing for that user and their goals?


Choose your own adventure…pre-defined telephone menus

Telephone numbers you call with pre-defined menu’s……………they can create a positive user experience if the menu’s are intuitive and well set up (so that there is a maximum of three steps) and there are others that can create a negative user experience. The negative user experiences are those where the user enters a client number, that is not provided to the person that picks up the call, if there are more than three menus and if there is no option to skip through to an operator (as you may not want to select any of the numbers as they may not relate to you).

With ‘menu’ options within interactive television, based on my experiences, it should be easy to navigate to and I should be able to action tasks, for example recording a television show in multiple ways – depending on the screen I am on. Recording should be able to be completed from the interactive television guide, from the show I am watching (eg/ record now), and from a search screen. These are my expectations and there are most likely viewer expectations depending on the device they are using and their past experiences. It is therefore a requirement to understand engagement expectations of the user. This can be achieved by understanding the user/viewer in order to create a user-centred design.

Chorianopoulous (2005) and Garrett (2000) focus on user centred design and in the case of interactive tv, it would be called viewer centred design. They each suggest different ways to find out what the expectations of the user/viewer may be, some examples include:

  • user studies
  • user analysis and modelling
  • user research
  • ethno/techno/psychographics

There are also persona’s and scenarios that can be developed once the above is defined. Does anyone have other ways of gathering viewer information in order to understand the viewer and design with them in mind?


Measuring Interactivity

We were asked to look at questions relating to what is iTV and for me – the interactive part is key…primarily because of a statement that I am so often told (not asked) when working in web content: “I want the site to be interactive – put a video on the page”. I looked outside our reading list at an article by Levy to answer ‘what is interactivity’ and have looked at how Levy might measure interactivity (see page 228).
I have created an interactivity check list based on Levy (1997):
  • Does the user have the ability to personalise the message? (eg/ aggregator of RSS)
  • Is reciprocity practiced – that is sender and receiver roles interchangeable? (eg/ WebChat)
  • Does the user participate in virtuality – processing of message in real-time? (eg/ live)
  • Is telepresence experienced by the user – that is, their image is in the message? (eg/ Video Skype)

By completing the checklist, a ‘video’ in itself does not meet the first three items of interactivity – there needs to be more than just a video on the web for interactivity to occur. There may be some element of the fourth item ‘telepresence’, for example the viewer seeing themselves present in the message. In Levy’s definition of interactivity, iTV would need to meet all four items to be regarded as interactive.

It would be true to say that there would be differing levels of interactivity between video/episodes on demand as compared to two-screen iTV such as Fango on your iPad while you watch a television show. Given the expectation of interactivity with Fango and my interactions this week with Fango, it would meet Levy’s definition.
The user is able to personalise the message through linking in with their social networking accounts, asking questions of others that are ‘checked in’ and even the ability to ‘check in’ is part personalisation. Recirocity is practiced through social networking and asking/answering questions through chat. The whole process is happening in real-time, while the user is watching the television they are talking about. And telepresence is experienced through their avatar, chat, communicating with like-minded people and checking in to shows they relate to. Insert clause here – while it seems as though I am a fan of Fango, I think I want to look at Fango for the final project as there is so much potential in what it is trying to do, but for some reason it is not hitting the mark based on viewership of a program and actual number of persons checking in to Fango…
I am interested to find out if there are other definitions of interactivity and/or what other iTV products/services are available that could be mapped to Levy’s checklist. What ones do you know of? Feel free to reply with definitions you are aware of, and/or mapping of your own.
  • Levy, Pierre. 2007. Interactivity

iTV – not so new…

Something that has come up in past interactive multimedia units is the notion of ‘not so new’ and I enjoyed the background and overview of iTV that Lu (2005) provided, showing that iTV really is not so new! I had to find out what was Lu (2005) records as being the first case of interactive TV in America being Winky Dink and You. I jumped on to my favourite video aggregator (YouTube) and found quite a few different Winky Dink and You videos, but I was captivated by the following one so I had to share it (see below).

The things that jump out at me for this iTV program is the technologies (such as photography, clear/tinted plastic) they utilise are made out to be ‘magical’ and the necessity to provide instructions to the viewer (may have been due to the number of children drawing on television screens). In comparison to today, the so called ‘magical’ and state-of-the-art technologies are expected and usability is required to make that experience a friendly one for the user that require no, or minimal instructions. And from a contemporary perspective, it relates to the quote you made by Curran (2003) on maximising the digital medium and ensuring usability.

In the case of Winky Dink and You – the interaction is also in the title! You are a part of the experience and therefore the engagement. And the tasks that the interactive viewer has to complete add to the narrative of the show – for example in the case of the video below, family members in the photo album are missing key parts of who they are and it is up to the viewer to make sure the family members are ‘happy’ by drawing in the elements that are missing.

The whole notion of keeping up with the Jones’ and what we talked about in class of pester power would have ensured the four year run of the original series and the number of interactive packs to be sold.

Please note: while viewing, do not draw on your computer/tablet/phone screen unless you have the Winky Dink and I magic pack 😉