October, 2008

  • Canadian UX Blog

    TechDays 2008 Toronto.....it’s a wrap!


    Hi Everyone,

    I can’t express how excited and how tired I am.  It has been a wonderful journey to bring this type of conference to Canada.  I received some great feedback on how we are going to adjust the experience for the next cities and I'm floored about all the positive feedback that  shows we are on the right track.

    Here’s a summary from the context of a TechDays guest.  I’ve tried to take a scenario approach to capture the experiences as we’ve had many individuals share their experience and comments with us.

    When I first heard of TechDays, I was excited and a little be skeptical that you can move so far from the marketing sessions to deliver on this technical conference.  I arrived on the first day and was pleasantly surprised as the logistics and breakfast was unlike any of your past events.  Being treated as a guest vs. an attendee was a nice touch.  Oh yeah, the TechieCrunch  box was pretty neat as well......it took me a while, but I got it.....the spoon is a pen.   Then it was time for the rubber to meet the road....the first session.  Bringing real world speakers that have been then and done it was a nice touch.  You can see they were nervous and as there some early logistics to work out as we got started….so it was sort of slow to get going.  But after that, it seemed to pick up and it took stride, especially day two.  There were lots of great speakers, some needed some more work and can use some practice, yet the speakers, their experience and the content really made the difference.  There was so much content over the two days it was hard not to find something for anyone.  We found ourselves mixing it up and went to 3 or 5 tracks.   Here are some ideas I’ve gathered to help improve the experience.

        • It really did show it was your 1st event - which I find REALLY weird since you have been in business how long...glad you are taking the focus off marketing
        • I would recommend it to others, and I would go yearly to such an event....please make it yearly and give time in advance to know when it’s coming
        • Provide some more healthy snacks, the food was great...(nice touch with the break snacks) and there was lots
        • Provide the ppt in soft copy or allow access for attendees onsite...maybe provide all demos and ppts on a usb key
        • Bring in more of the real world speakers and invest some time in supporting them with speaker training
        • A little confusing to realize that I got copies of all the platform software....as part TechNet subscription
        • Need more interaction, fun stuff to drive connection as it was great to share and meet people that are deploying the technology
        • Great clarity.....Techdays is about current technology which I can deploy today.....PDC and EnergizeIT is about looking to the future
        • Overall a great start and we can see the possibilities
        • Having access to the speakers was great….can we get more time with them….i.e. open panel at the end of the day or lunch?
        • Sessions need to be longer so not to rush and have more time to discuss the topics.
        • Love to see some sort of hands on built into the sessions….maybe access to onsite demos?

    On to the next city and continuing to improve and refine the experience as we go.  From the Toronto event it’s clear that we need to support this type of conference across Canada and we will.  Please keep sending me your comments and feedback as that is what has gotten us this far.  We can only make it better and build this into a yearly conference based upon your desire to help us make it happen.

    Please feel free to contact me directly as my email door is always open ..... john.oxley@microsoft.com

    See you in Montréal!


  • Canadian UX Blog

    Design Student of the Month - Adam Bourret


    There are a lot of creative students in Canada who are doing innovative work to improve people's life through interactive, visual, informational, and other aspects of User Experience Design. I invited them to introduce who they are and share their work with you. To nominate a Design Student of the Month, email us. The Design Student of the Month for October 2008 is Adam Bourret! Congratulations!! Let's hear from Adam.


    Who’s Adam?

    I’m a recent grad of the Centennial College Centre for Creative Communications in Toronto. I came to this city after graduating from Brock University with a degree in Fine Arts, intent on becoming a graphic novelist. I started designing web sites to pay the bills and wound up making something of a career of it.

    What cool stuff is Adam doing?

    I just finished my first book - “I’m Crazy” and I’m taking on a variety of sites, principally for arts organizations. I think the web is such a great place for learning and free expression, so I think it’s important that arts have a presence there. Sometimes I feel like the whole web is moving towards this boring template style. I want to bring a sense of originality, personality and fun to my work. The internet is not a boring place.

    Recently I’ve been working on flash games. I’m a big geek in my private life and making flash games is like a whole new level of geekiness. My favourite game so far is an adventure game I built out of old Super Nintendo graphics. I’m also very proud of a little game called “Science Fair” a deductive reasoning adventure for kids. I loved computer games as a kid and I think they’re a wonderful tool for teaching.

    What are Adam’s plans after graduation?

    As much freelance work as I can muster. I’m working on developing a series of flash games that follow a soap opera story line. I’m really interested in how user input can influence a narrative and I think it would be an interesting fusion of comics and code.

    Want to learn more about Adam?

    I’ve launched an online portfolio at http://www.bluespaceship.com/adam_bourret/, most of my web projects are featured there, and some of my art projects as well.

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Had your Techie Crunch today?


    Techie CrunchWelcome to day TWO of the Toronto edition of TechDays 2008 in Canada. As our first two day event, it was a little strange going to the hotel last night, remembering that we had to be back bright and early at the Toronto Convention Centre.

    I wanted to introduce you to our Learning Kit - A.K.A. Techie Crunch. Instead of a giveaway bag full of marketing material, this box is packed full of learning goodness.

    • 6 month TechNet+ Direct subscription
    • 30% off Certification Voucher (any MS exam)
    • Virtualization Kit
    • Visual Studio 2008 Professional (full version)
    • Microsoft Expression Web 2 (full version)
    • Complete TechEd DVD set from TechEd North America 2007
    • $100 discount coupon for Dev/SQL Teach
    • Exclusive access to online training portal
    • A Brain Warming Toque
    • A spoon you can take notes with

    The cereal boxes are at hit! You can get yours exclusively by attending a TechDays event across Canada. Before anyone asks - they are fully recyclable and made from paper containing recycled content.

    Pierre and Rodney are thinking of doing an "unboxing record" of the cereal box in the not too distant future. Stay Tuned.




    Rick Claus

  • Canadian UX Blog

    TechDays Social Networking - Show Your Colours!


    I am taking a couple of minutes of rest to have an diet coke in-between sessions here in Toronto. Man - if I had a pedometer, I'd swear that I had walked a couple of kilometres so far today.


    I acted as host for our lunch time session and reinforced the opportunity people had to make connections with other TechDays guests who had self identified themselves with the track colours. It's something new we are trying to help facilitate some of these networking opportunities. It's self identification by attaching a matching track colour ribbon to your conference badge.


    Look for other like minded individuals in the halls by matching the colours and you are set to have a common ground of interest. At Lunch time - we even had "recommended seating areas" based on colour, to increase your odds of connecting even more. A couple of members of our team decided to take this to another level and organize a "Women in IT" roundtable.


    When you come out to TechDays - seize the opportunity to connect up with others and makes some new connections to strengthen your network. We'll have the colour tags at the front of every room and will be continuing this trend across all the cities.



    Rick Claus

  • Canadian UX Blog

    TechDays and PDC


    It's such an eventful week! 80% of our community team is at TechDays today, and the rest 20% at the Professional Developer Conference in LA.  I presented the last session of the day in Web Developer Track and the first session on Silverlight. I was very anxious to hear the feedback from developers about my session because I was trying to talk about Silverlight controls from both design and development sides. Below are my first and last slides. At the end of the session, I was happy to hear from several developers that they found Expression Blend was very interesting, and they were surprised that it was so easy to create a user control and changing visual states in Blend. At the same time, they better understood the designer-developer workflow from Blend to Visual Studio. I'd like to keep improving the session as I'm going on the TechDays tour around the country. If you attended my session, feel free to contact me on the blog and give me feedback.

    image image

    Also, at TechDays today, I had a chance to network with many women at the conference. We had a Women In IT networking area where we shared our passion in IT and some common challenges of being a woman in IT. It's great to see people use the area to meet other women in the field. Below is a snapshot at breakfast.

    DSCN0051 by Rickster-CDN.

    See more TechDays coverage on my sister blog CanITPro: http://blogs.technet.com/canitpro/

    See more all the excitements from PDC and a comparison between TechDays and PDC at CdnDevs blog: http://blogs.msdn.com/cdndevs/archive/2008/10/29/on-the-eve-of-techdays-2008.aspx

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  • Canadian UX Blog

    <3 Your Web at MIX09


    clip_image002MIX09 registration is open now! We are going with a funky and modem look. The website gives some highlights on what's new in MIX09:

    There’s something different in the air at MIX09. Some might call it love - love of the interaction between designers and developers; love of inspiration and innovation through interactive media; love of everything that makes the Web truly great. <3 Your Web at MIX09.

    • MIX09 weaves UX into the very fabric of the conference. Join the conversation with world-class thought-leaders on a range of user experience topics. More
    • Come early for the pre-event workshops, designed to provide in-depth focus on practical skills and topics. More
    • how your passion for the Web and win a trip to MIX09 by entering the MIX10K and ReStyle challenges, or support your friends and co-workers by voting for the community choice winners. More
    • We’ve heard your feedback loud and clear — keep MIX intimate. Space will be even more limited this year, so register now to reserve your spot at MIX09. More

    The first set of sessions are listed. Some of them look very interesting:

    C# for Designers, AGI

    Having some programming knowledge as an interactive professional can set you apart from the rest. Come learn the essentials of C# for creating interactivity in Microsoft Silverlight and Windows Presentation Foundation in this session, and add another weapon to your design arsenal.

    The Future of Microsoft Expression Blend, Doug OlsonMicrosoft Corporation

    Introduced in 2007, Expression Blend is already revolutionizing the design and development workflow for creating highly immersive, interactive applications for Windows and Microsoft Silverlight. In this session, Expression Blend’s leader Doug Olson discusses the future plans for Blend and reveals some amazing sneak peeks straight from the workshop. This session focuses on design and shows how Blend improves the productivity of visual designers, providing better access to data and enhanced tools for interactivity. This session also shows how designers can be deeply engaged and remain in control of the creative decisions while enjoying improved collaboration with developers throughout the project lifecycle.

    Go Beyond Best Practices: Evolving Next Practices to Prosper in the 21st Century, Lou Carbone

    It’s obvious that times have changed. We are nearly a decade into the 21st Century and awash in all the capabilities and benefits that technological advancement has lavished on us. Yet we are still stuck framing business management the way we always have—from a mental model that originated in the early days of product manufacturing. It is a framework that is outdated, irrelevant and will not get us where we need to be to prosper and remain influential globally. In this session, Lou Carbone cites evidence and outlines next practices based on sensing and responding to customers’ needs versus a world of making and selling in which product manufacturing is rooted. Come learn why you need to view business differently—to evolve from best practices to next practices—if you are to survive and prosper in the years to come.

    Join the MIX social crew at Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and subscribe to the RSS feed for MIX09 Headline news. See you at MIX09!

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  • Canadian UX Blog

    [Podcast] Interview with Lisa Anderson


    Hope you enjoyed my podcast with Jensen. During Explore Design, I also had a chance to sit down and chat with another Microsoft design leader, Lisa Anderson. Lisa has worked in several large companies as their UX director and very passionate about designer's career in technology companies. It's great to hear her insights on Surface UX design and her view on Microsoft design culture in general. Below, I broke my interview into two segments (about 10 mins each) to share with you. You can listen to Lisa's answer on the following questions.

    Surface specific questions

    • Tell us about your role and main responsibilities as a director at Surface UX team?
    • How is Surface UX team organized?
    • What are some challenges in multi-touch design?
    • What's the future for Surface?
    • How does the Surface UX team work with other Microsoft Experience design teams?

    General questions about Microsoft Design

    • What is the design culture at Microsoft?
    • In your mind, what are some great design successes from Microsoft in the past 3 years ?
    • What are top 3 UX design areas/opportunities for Microsoft in the next 5 years?
    • What is career path for UX designers at Microsoft?
    • What contributes to a great UX designer?

    Lisa C. Anderson is currently the Microsoft Surface User Experience Director. Previous to this role, she held similar positions at Intuit and Autodesk in the Bay Area. In years past, Lisa acted as User Experience Director for several other teams at Microsoft: Windows XP, MSN, Real Time Collaboration. She was also Executive Producer at Corbis for several years, where she produced award-winning, high-end documentaries on CD-ROM (Leonardo da Vinci;  Critical Mass: America’s Race to Create the Atomic Bomb; FDR; The Barnes Collection). Her background and education are in Design, Art History, English Literature, Writing, Editing, Publishing.

  • Canadian UX Blog

    [Podcast] Interview with Jensen Harris


    During Explore Design, I had a chance to sit down with Jensen and ask my specific questions face-to-face. Jensen joined Microsoft right out of college and has been with Office team for 10 years now. It's very interesting to get his perspective on Office UI design and Microsoft design culture in general. Below, I broke my interview into two segments (about 10 mins each) to share with you. You can listen to Jensen's answer on the following questions.

    Office UI specific questions:

    • Tell us a little bit about your role and main responsibilities.
    • Office 2007 has shipped for almost 2 years now, it got great recognitions for its innovative UI. From the feedback you've heard, what do people most like about the Ribbon UI? What are some improvements people suggested for the Ribbon UI?
    • What's the future for Office UX?
    • You recently blogged about Office Labs, can you tell us about the relationship between Office team and Office Labs team?

    General Microsoft Design questions:

    • What is the design culture at Microsoft?
    • In your mind, what are some great design successes from Microsoft in the past 3 years ?
    • What are top 3 UX design areas/opportunities for Microsoft in the next 5 years?
    • What is the career path for UX designers at Microsoft?
    • What contributes to a great UX designer?

    Jensen Harris is the Group Program Manager of the Microsoft Office User Experience team and was one of the key designers behind the new Ribbon user interface introduced in Office 2007. Jensen joined Microsoft in 1998, and has focused on the overall user interface of Microsoft Office since late 2003. Prior to working at Microsoft, Jensen graduated with degrees in music composition from Yale University and Interlochen Arts Academy. He publishes his thoughts on software and user interface design on his blog: http://blogs.msdn.com/jensenh.

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Silverlight 2 is Released!



    Earlier this week, we shipped the final release of Silverlight 2! This is an important milestone for us in terms of providing rich media and interactive experiences on the web. Scott Guthrie has a very comprehensive blog post on the improvements of Silverlight 2 RTW.

    Many of you may already have upgraded to the RTW version without knowing it because we've migrated Silverlight.net to the RTW version over a week ago. Later this month, people who have previous versions of Silverlight will be automatically upgraded to the final Silverlight 2 release. Couple of weeks ago, Paul talked about the breaking changes between Silverlight 2 Beta 2 with Silverlight 2 RC. If you've already updated your site with RC, then your websites should work fine under the RTW version. There are no breaking changes from Silverlight 1.0 – our goal is to maintain100% compatibility between published releases.

    The tools you need to download to create Silverlight 2 RIAs are:

    • Expression Blend 2 and SP1. If you had Expression Blend 2.5 Preview, you need to uninstall Blend 2.5 first before installing Blend 2 SP1. The Service Pack exposes two key new features of the Silverlight 2 platform, control skinning and the Visual State Manager, which give designers the visual freedom and power they need to build even more compelling Silverlight 2 applications. Control skinning gives designers the ability to visually customize controls to enable them to exactly fit the function they play within an application, while the ‘Visual State Manager’ gives a flexible and visual way to control precisely how each element of a control will behave and look in a given state. I'll be posting mini-tutorials on both features.
    • Silverlight 2 tools for Visual Studio 2008 SP1 and . If you had the old Silverlight 2 Beta 2 tools installed for VS, the new toolkit will replace the old one during installation. Make sure you also install VS2008 SP1 before installing the Silverlight tools.
    • New Deep Zoom Composer for creating rich zooming experience.

    Have fun with Silverlight 2!

  • Canadian UX Blog

    TechDays Early Bird Pricing Has Been Extended!!

    Technorati Tags:

    Hello Everyone! 

    During this time of global economic instability, It’s important that IT Professionals and Developers remain focused on delivering value, enabling business and increasing the impact it has to across your organization.   From speaking with many of you, without a doubt, the current economic situation is a topic that is on everyone’s mind. In uncertain times making sure you have the right skills to make an impact is important.  I see this is a real concern and feel we need to help.  I’m not an economist, I can’t predict the future or the end of the economic uncertainty, but, what I can do is focus on what we can control and extend the early bird price for TechDays 2008 to Oct 29th!  image

    Act now to take advantage of this opportunity as TechDays not only provides you the right skills you need, it also gives you the tools and the support necessary to ensure you can have an impact and support you in your career.

    Help Grow your Skills:

      • This is definitely not your “typical” MSDN/TechNet tour.  It is not a marketing event - it's is a professional development event We truly are focusing on helping you to grow your skills across a breath of products and solutions while learning from someone that has the real world experience. 
      • With over 30 technical sessions with a technical depth of 200 or greater the content will be technically deep, and delivered by an array of great speakers. We truly are focused in on helping you and ensuring you have a great experience at the event with content reigning supreme.

    Provide you with the Tools you need:

      • You get a lot of great free stuff.  A 6 month subscription to TechNet Plus (which includes 2 free support incidents), Microsoft® Visual Studio 2008 Professional - Full Version, Microsoft® Expression Web 2 - Full Version, the TechEd 2008 DVD Set, a 30% off Certification voucher - applicable to all Microsoft Commercial Certification Exams, Microsoft® Visual Studio Team System 2008 Team Suite - Evaluation Software, Microsoft® Expression Studio 2 - Evaluation Software, Office Communications Server 2007 - Evaluation Software, and A $100 Discount Coupon for DevTeach/SQL Teach Training

    Provide you the support you need:

      • Included in the TechDays Learning Kit - TechNet Plus subscription helps you prepare for critical issues and plan for future deployments by providing fast and convenient access to the latest software for evaluation without time or feature limits, beta releases, 2 complimentary Professional Support incidents and other technical information and tools to get your jobs done faster. Here is what’s included:
        • Full-version evaluation software without time limits
        • Beta software releases
        • Technical Information Library
        • 2 Professional Support Incidents
        • Managed newsgroups
        • Online concierge Chat
        • Technical training resources and Microsoft E-Learning Courses

    I look forward to seeing you there!

    take care,



  • Canadian UX Blog

    Oct. 22 Silverlight User Group Meeting


    In the last Silverlight user group meeting,  Mano and Chris gave everyone an overview on Expression Blend and demoed the workflow between designers and developers using the new toolset to create Silverlight applications. In the next user group meeting, I'll take a closer look at the latest version of Expression Blend and show you some practical examples of creating Silverlight rich user experience using Blend and how both designers and developers can take advantages of the tool. Some topics will be covered include:

    • Blend UI editing features overview
    • Create an interactive button using Visual State Manager
    • Create a user control in Blend vs. VS2008
    • Control styling vs. Control skinning

    Carlos Rocchetti from Navantis, who has more than a year now developing in Silverlight will also present. Here's the meeting detail:

    When: 6:30PM, Wednesday October 22nd, 2008.

    Where: MSN Office Downtown Toronto,  222 Bay St. Toronto, ON


    6:30 – 7:30: A Close Look at Expression Blend – presenter Qixing Zheng, Microsoft
    7:30 – 7:45: Break
    7:45 – 8:45: Silverlight Model-View-ViewModel design pattern with LINQ and WCF data service  - presenter Carlos Rocchetti, Navantis
    8:45 – 9:30: Q&A

    Register at: http://www.torontosilverlight.com

    Speakers Bio

    Qixing Zheng, joined Microsoft Canada as its first User Experience Developer Advisor, in which she talks to schools, IT communities and companies about Microsoft's investment in UX, finds design heroes and design stories from the community. More importantly, this role allows her to work with IT professionals to find great UX design solutions that can impact the  technology we deliver today. She graduated from UBC at the end of 2005 with a Masters degree in Computer Science, specializing in Human-Computer Interaction.

    Carlos Rocchetti, is a technical architect at Navantis, and has been in the IT industry for over 12 years.  He has been involved in various projects, including a Hospital information system called CCIS for which his team received the 2007 Tech-Net innovation award.  Carlos has been working with Silverlight since beta 1, and is very keen on practically applying this technology and WPF to line of business applications. Carlos is a Microsoft Certifified Technology Specialist – ASP.NET, enjoys sports, strategy games and loves spending time with his wife and son.

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Cozying Up to Silverlight Controls at TechDays


    image Now the words are out about TechDays and the first stop at Toronto is just around the corner. I'm really excited about the conference because I took up an exciting challenge for myself as a presenter at the Wed Developer track. The challenge has two favors...

    First is I have been talking about Silverlight as our rich web platform from a user experience perspective for the past year and most often my audience are designers or academics focusing on UX design. I demonstrated to them how to use Expression Studio tools especially Expression Blend to create rich interactive experience such as animation, control styles, event triggers, and vector graphics. This is the first time I'm speaking to a large developer audience and deliver a deep technical session focusing Silverlight Control Framework. I definitely get the chance to refresh my Computer Science roots while preparing for the presentation. At the same time, I learnt a lot about the pros and cons of creating Silverlight controls in Visual Studio vs. Expression Blend. I don't like people strictly categories Blend being a designer tool and Visual Studio being a developer tool. I believe the right tool for the right job. RIA development is blurring the line between designers and developers, and a type of role is emerging called "Devinger" or "Integrator." These are people who care about the user experience for their web applications and understand how to translate design visions into reality without sacrificing design fidelity. Either designers or developers can expend their skills and take up on this key role. In my presentation, I'll talk about how to create rich and reusable Silverlight controls most effectively in both Expression Blend and Visual Studio and share with you some best practices for designer-developer workflow in building Silverlight applications.

    Second favor of my challenge is to incorporate UX message into my technical presentation that can resonate with developers. Just to quickly clarify what do I mean by user experience (UX). "It's all aspects of the user's interaction with the product (in our case web application): how it is perceived, learned, and used." - wikipedia. It much more than the prettiness of the UI, it's about performance, accuracy, usefulness, and desirability. This is something everyone involved in developing Silverlight applications should care. Silverlight controls are building blocks of Silverlight applications, so we need to make sure they are attractive, accessible, easy to restyle to fit the overall application theme, and have consistent behaviors. The topics I'll cover are: creating Silverlight user controls, styling controls vs. customizing controls, creating simple control interactions using Visual State Managers. From the presentation perspective, my goal is to stay away Powerpoint bullets and integrate more design into my presentation.

    Finally, to sum up:

    • My session is - Cozying Up to the Silverlight Controls Framework, Web Developer track.
    • What you should come to my session:
      • get a good understanding of Silverlight Control Framework
      • learn about creating and styling controls in both Blend and Visual Studio
      • get a close look at the new designer-developer workflow in Silverlight
      • discover your inner artist, especially if you are passionate about UX
      • it'll be a fun session ;-)

    See you at TechDays!

    Qixing Zheng  |  User Experience Developer Advisor  |  Microsoft Canada


  • Canadian UX Blog

    [Podcast] Microsoft Designer: Cinthya Urasaki


    Cinthya UrasakiThere are about 500 designers working at Microsoft. People in the UX community are often very surprised to hear about it. I think part of it is we haven't given our designers enough opportunities to talk about what they do and what's it like to work as designers at Microsoft. Therefore, I used my spared time during my visit to Redmond last time to chat with Cinthya Urasaki, who is a UX Design Lead at the Unlimited Potential User Experience Team.

    I think one of the biggest advantages of working at Microsoft as UX designers is there are so many different groups with their unique design challenges you can work on. I first met Cinthya at the MIX conference this year, she talked about her group designing for emerging markets such as China and Africa. As designers in the team, they really need to understand the culture difference. Many things we may already take for granted in the way we interact with computers could be completely different. For example, you'll need to rethink the PC experience because computers are often shared by a community of people in those markets. One of my favourite blogs talking about culture and design is Future Perfect by Jan Chipchase.

    In my 20 minutes conversation with Cinthya below, I asked her about:

    • what's her role at the Unlimited Potential design team?
    • what are some design projects the team is working on?
    • what are the challenges when designing for emerging markets?
    • What are Cinthya's daily activities?
    • What are some necessary skills to be a great UX Designer?

    You can view the interview below or download it here. Enjoy!

    Cinthya Urasaki is a User Experience Design Lead at Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential Group. By partnering closely with user research, Cinthya works on shaping incubation projects that addresses the needs of the other 90% of users in the world. Her current focus is on mobile solutions for Emerging markets. Prior to UPG, she led the social networking UX team at Windows Live. She was involved in creating current and next generation of social communication products like Windows Live Messenger, Spaces, Events and Groups. Before joining MS in 2004, Cinthya went to the Institute of Design, IIT in Chicago to do her Masters in Human-centered communication design, where she learned how to apply user-centered methods in innovation and design processes. Cinthya comes from Peru, where she spent 4 years doing design consultancy in Lima, Peru creating corporate identities for small and big enterprises including print, packaging, web and advertising solutions.

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Great Time at Explore Design!


    Explore Design (ED) is one of the most energetic conferences we've participated in. After ED wrapped up on Thursday, our feet and throat were telling us just how much they were overworked, but it was totally worth it. :) During the two-day conference, a couple of thousand high school students visited the Microsoft booth. It's so nice to interact with them directly and hear their unique feedback on the Microsoft Design examples we showed. Some of interesting observations:

    • Interacting with a Surface table and learning how to design games for XBOX were two biggest hits in our booth.
    • There were more girls at the Surface table than boys. Although both genders loved playing games with each other on the table, girls often explored more applications on the Surface tables.
    • Many students liked the Zune design. Actually, during my presentation "Designing Magical User Interfaces," a student mentioned Zune is a magical designed object. Other examples are Wii, iPone, and Photoshop. When I asked "why zune," he told me that he really liked the shape and the external materials of Zune. It makes him feel Zune is more sturdy than iPod. Students also liked the social feature of Zune.
    • Most of the time, instead of actively demoing Surface, we let students interact with it on their own. We found often times the sequence of how they explore Surface table is: interacting with one finger from one hand first, and then with two or more fingers from one hand, and finally with multiple fingers from both hands.
    • Many interesting questions were asked about Surface. Among those, one of them I remembered very clearly. One Industrial Design professor asked me about the bacterial concern for Surface when it's touched by so many people in public places! This is something I haven't thought about, but it's a very valid concern. Today, we do to eat at a restaurant, we hardly touch the dining table even in very high-end restaurant. If these tables are replaced by Surface tables in the future, we'll interact and play with them before, during, or after eating our meals. How can we design the surface so it'll be germ free? Maybe having hand sanitizer attached to the table.

    We actually got some media attention, too. An interview with Lisa Anderson, Director at Surface UX team, on ITBusiness.ca. Both Tech Life (CTV Online) and OMNI Television came to our both and conducted interviews.  I really hope the experience of Explore Design can encourage more students go into the field of design, especially User Experience Design for technology!

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