Interactions for Understanding

  • Animating
  • Annotating
  • Chunking
  • Cloning
  • Collecting
  • Composing
  • Cutting
  • Filtering
  • Fragmenting
  • Probing
  • Rearranging
  • Repicturing
  • Searching

From a workshop and upcoming book, Design for Understanding, by Karl Fast and Stephen P. Anderson

(Copied from C Wodtke’s article)

 

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Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context

“Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context”, said the Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen. “A chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan.”

When designing for the web, it’s tempting to think in terms of interactions like swiping, tapping, clicking, scrolling, dragging and dropping. But very few people wake up in the morning looking forward to a day of scrolling and tapping. They’re more likely to think in terms of reading, writing, sharing, buying and selling. Web designers need to see past the surface‐level actions to find the more meaningful verbs beneath.

In their book Designing With Progressive Enhancement, the Filament Group describe a technique they call “the x‐ray perspective”:

Taking an x‐ray perspective means looking “through” the complex widgets and visual styles of a design, identifying the core content and functional pieces that make up the page, and finding a simple HTML equivalent for each that will work universally.

Jeremy Keith: Resilient Web Design

Shearing layers

In his classic book How Buildings Learn Stewart Brand highlights an idea by the British architect Frank Duffy:

A building properly conceived is several layers of longevity.

Duffy called these shearing layers. Each of the layers moves at a different timescale. Brand expanded on the idea, proposing six alliterative layers:

  1. Site—the physical location of a building only changes on a geological timescale.
  2. Structure—the building itself can last for centuries.
  3. Skin—the exterior surface gets a facelift or a new lick of paint every few decades.
  4. Services—the plumbing and wiring need to be updated every ten years or so.
  5. Space plan—the layout of walls and doors might change occasionally.
  6. Stuff—the arrangement of furniture in a room can change on a daily basis.

In a later book, The Clock Of The Long Now, Stewart Brand applied the idea of shearing layers—or pace layers—to civilisation itself. The slowest moving layer is nature, then there’s culture, followed by governance, then infrastructure, and finally commerce and fashion are the fastest layers. In a loosely‐coupled way, each layer depends on the layer below. In turn, the accumulation of each successive layer enables an “adjacent possible” filled with more opportunities.

From Jeremy Keith: Resilient Web Design