IUE2009: Keynote track, part 2

The 3 afternoon presentations were top-notch.

  1. Feeling: What makes an engaging product experience? (Kumi Akiyoshi, Adaptive Path)
  2. How to do social media right in 2009 (Marta Strickland, Organic Detroit)
  3. Lessons learned from the world of game design (Lisa Mullinaux, pogo.com and Rich Briggs, Electronic Arts)

The game design (3) presentation was the most stimulating. That one of the experience goals had to do with strategic dismemberment may have contributed. Seriously, it was excellent to hear stories of intense usability work involved in design, production, and strategic product decisions for the game Dead Space by EA. Rich Briggs shared an interesting term “Kleenex Test” which he described as throw-away tests. The point being to do quick tests on identified tasks, make changes, and keep testing till design improvements are successful. That sounds to me like rapid iterative design.

Another great detail from the presentation was that one of their goals for the game was that it meet an 85 Metacritic score. I’m not a gamer, and had never heard of metacritic, so for those with me on this one, it sounds like a way that the gaming community can rate the overall quality of a game based on a series of attributes. An 85 was a lofty goal, but they had committed to meeting it. After 70+ reviews, they had average above 85. What a great use of a purely 3rd party metric as a goal!

And a final point on the game design presentation was that when the usability research irrefutably identfied experience issues that were hard to fix, the team and leadership committed to fixing them. The example given was that the hero of the game was too slow for the users’ liking. Speeding up the hero’s movements and reactions meant changing a lot of other elements in the game that were important to the overal user experience. This was deemed an important part, and the game development team buckled down and made the improvements.

The social media presentation seemed the most coherent and well-thought-out. Marta covered a lot of ground, including this idea of what comes afer Web 2.0—that being the Relevant Web, which seems based on what can be possible through the semantic web.

Overall, the moral of her story: to represent yourself well on the social web, be real.

Kumi’s presentation on what makes an engaging product experience was the most beautiful. Is it belitling to say that? I don’t think so. Her presentation slides were really nice to see. She moved fast through them, which I heard some people comment on (not sure if it was good or bad), but I really liked the quick pace.

She also shared some good stories and advice in championing good design in siloed organizations (everyone who had worked in large universities, raise your hands).

In the questions/answers at the end, I was entertained that she was tossed questions about the future and commercializtion of new, engaging experiences. She answered them very well, which is to say she completely avoided fortune-telling, and returned to her message, which was that we are coming into new ways to interact with our devices in more “human” ways. Direct manipulation, gesture, etc. and feedback that engages all senses.

Photos: Also, I see photos are starting to show up on the internet user experience flickr group.