SxSW: Learning Interaction Design From Las Vegas

by Luke Wroblewski March 20, 2007

"Notes from the Learning Interaction Design From Las Vegas session at SxSW 2007 taken by Polly Ng:

What can we learn from the mess in Las Vegas?

  • Withholding judgement may be used as a tool to make later judgement more sensitive. This is a way of learning from everything.
  • ""Disorder is only an order that we cannot see"" - Henri Bergson We should look past the clutter and understand it. We need to design for people. We need to think about technology (Are they too complicated for people to use?) Going to Paris hotel in Vegas instead of Paris, France = going to Myspace instead of going to blogs, email, IM, etc.
  • Less is more? Instead, let's consider that less can be a bore.
  • The abandoning of pure form for mixed media - Nothing in Vegas does just 1 thing. Everything does everything. (ie.1 building has casino, buffets, theatres, etc) You can do complimentary activities in one place.
  • The importance of role playing - In Vegas you can be somewhere else, someone else. People want to explore other identities, switch roles and we should design to allow this.
  • Branding is intriguing - "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" ad. Also, in design there's no need for an undo button.
  • Statue of Liberty in Vegas - Put something in a different context and you experience it in a different way.
  • Vegas understands macro and micro user experience - no clocks, pump oxygen into the air, it keeps you there and engaged.
  • Casinos have tiered functionality - Slot machines require no training to play - high stakes poker games. Each tier has its own thing to offer. The high-stakes poker game is given special treatment but the slot machine is the bread and butter of the casino.
  • A single model of a slot machine makes more than McDonalds, Wendys, Starbuck, and other retailers combined. Players initiate the game every six seconds to an average of ten games per minute. So how do you tune this experience at the micro level? Slot machines have an amazing amount of detail: Focus on a primary persona - single, female, over 55, with disposable income; Typography large enough for almost blind; Provide a sound experience; Designed to keep you going by giving out low, medium and high payout.
  • Use irony in order to take good design and make it approachable - that's what we should learn from Vegas.