Yesterday, I had the pleasure of hearing Bill Moggridge outline some of the key themes in his new book Designing Interactions. The book features interviews with 40 people that have helped shape our interactions with technology.
When asked to provide the key themes that underlined the success of each of these stories, Moggridge pointed to the fact that each team almost naturally followed an iterative prototyping approach to bringing their ideas into the world. For example:
“Larry describes a process of prototyping and user testing on a twenty-four hour cycle, by working fourteen-hour shifts with a partner. When he was working with Bill Atkinson at Apple to define the interaction design for Lisa.” –Video interview with Larry Tesler
According to Moggridge, it wasn’t an autocratic leader (Steve Jobs, Walt Disney), or any specific methodology that enabled good design. Rather, the most common factor was a “culture of excellence” that permeated the entire organization.
Another point of interest was Moggridge’s interview with Terry Winograd where Winograd explained the three main ways we interact with the world: conversation, manipulation, and locomotion. The initial explosion of the World Wide Web promised great advances in conversation and manipulation but ended up delivering mostly on locomotion (people went from site to site). The next generation (call it Web 2.0 if you must) does a much better job of enabling conversation (blogs, social networking) and manipulation (Web applications).