This blog post was on my mind these past few days and I'm glad to finally pull my thoughts together and write this down. So I have a plan. I'm getting to the end of my classes at University and I was thinking of writing design stories, bi-weekly from now on, based on the knowledge I acquired in 1.5+ years of studying Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). I will graduate from University sometime in September so I selected the first Friday of September to be the last day when I post as part of this series.
The goals of the series
I thought that it's better to share what are my goals, for me and for anyone that wants to follow through as I go through the stories:
📚 I want to better understand and stick the information in my head. I feel that there is so much good information that can help me in the future projects, that I just can't dig in all my notes and material from University to find what I need. This blog format is much more convenient.
✍ I want to get better at writing, both in terms of storytelling and consistency. In the past, I was never able to be consistent with blog posting. In fact, ~16 blog posts is a number way above what I wrote so far in the online medium. I feel that writing is one of the most important skills to have as it's so versatile and I can use it in everything I do in life.
📬 Even though I write these posts primarily for me, I would very much enjoy knowing that what I share here is useful for readers out there to help them build awesome stuff.
What is the content? What is HCI?
"Design" is a very broad term, and in my circle of makers in the tech world, it will most likely mean UI/UX. Well, the content of this blog will be a bit different. It will touch UX, yes, but there will be no UI here. I'm going to talk mostly about the process of designing an interface or a digital product from start to finish. These processes are inspired and/or created by the research activities in HCI.
HCI is quite a vast research domain that focuses on building interfaces and digital products for a well determined user profile and to make this technology simple and accessible for those particular users. So HCI draws from other domains like Psychology and Human Factors.
To give you a better idea, here are some of the themes that I'm going to cover through the stories:
- Discussing Don Norman's principles of design and how looking at doors won't be the same ever again 🚪
- How to power up your brainstorming game and different methods to do so
- How to interview users to get workable data
- Information gathering techniques through observation
- Usability testing (when to use it and when to stay clear of it) and other evaluation methods
- Lo-fi & Hi-fi prototyping
- Video prototyping
- ...and many more
Every story will have examples to nail down all the theory. After getting some concepts out of the way, I will try to write part of the series as a "blog bootcamp" where we start from an idea, then gather information, brainstorm, create scenarios, personas, sketches, lo-fi prototype, video prototype, evaluation, etc. A lot of stuff, but the beauty of it is that you can use whatever you feel it's necessary to design your product. The point of this activity is to make sure that creativity is not killed too early (which happens often and easily, without knowing). But we'll get to that in due time.
Who I am and why HCI
Now that we got the more important stuff out of the way I can present myself, right? 😁
I'm Raz, diagnosed as a geek when it comes to technology, mainly software. I have a background in Computer Science and I started studying it all the way back in high-school. I finished a 4.5 years Software Engineering degree at Napier University in Edinburgh and then decided to pursue HCI and Entrepreneurship in a 2-year Master course. I started this Master course at KTH in Stockholm and then moved to Paris Saclay for the second year. I was contemplating between Data Science and HCI but went with something more different than my previous studies in the end.
It's not obvious straight away, but all this time I studied HCI affected (in a positive way) how I think about digital products or any products for that matter. A good example is Chartbrew, a side-project that I started working on before beginning the Master degree. When I resumed working on it a few months ago I had so many ideas and I could see so many flaws in the way I was interacting with it. I think it's always hard to see the benefits of learning something as you are doing it, especially something very deep as HCI. I lost count of how many times I complained about having to do certain projects during the course, but it's all coming together now.
And with this series, I plan to reflect on everything I learned so far and apply the knowledge once more by writing about it and going through examples.
Even though the topic brings concepts from research labs, the blog posts won't be written as though they will be published in a journal. I will concentrate more on my reflections and providing examples than doing a literature review. Of course, I will explain the concepts, provide further reading and give credit when it's due, but the writing style will be more personal and less scientific. I do this for two reasons: I think it's easier to understand in this way and I hate scientific writing, at least I can take a break from that on my own blog. Feedback help as well and I can adjust my style based on it.
I hope you will join this journey and most importantly, I hope this knowledge will prove useful to you. I'm obviously not expecting anything of my readers. All the material here will be 100% free, open to critique and discussion. I guess one thing I can ask for is that if you join me on this journey you have to keep me accountable to post every week ✍
See you all next week with the first story in the series!
EDIT: The original goal was to write every week but this took too much of my time and concentration from my personal projects, so I changed it to bi-weekly instead. This will still allow me to cover a lot of ground.