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@media 08 – Things That Made Me Go ‘Ooo’ – Part 1

@media 2008

So, we were at @media 2008 last week. Marty and I had a couple of good days listening to a lot of very clever and interesting people talk about all sorts of things to do with design, data, communities and code libraries, to mention just a few!

Although most of the talks we went to were very informative, there were a few that stood out to me as an interface designer and developer and those were the talks from Jeff Veen (ex. Google, Adaptive Path) and James Box (Clearleft). I’ll talk about Jeff’s presentation first.

Jeff was talking about telling stories with data, about how to present reams of information in a more intelligent and useful way. This is something that was piqued my interest because in Moshi we have a lot of data present on the main HUD (and potentially it may fill up more as we add more features) so I was keen when designing the HUD to display these pieces of data in groups that would make the most sense in context. Now although Jeff was primarily speaking about visualising data from a more tabular source, the approach he talked about is still useful, because he emphasises that it’s not the raw data that’s important, it’s actually the story that data has to tell and how we as designers can help the user make sense of it.

In Moshi we’ve aimed to group related data into specific groups that should (hopefully!) makes sense to a child. As a result we have 3 main areas of interest. The top right section holds Moshi’s two core metrics in terms of your progress in the game, one being your level (based on the amount of experience earned in minigames and puzzles), the other being it’s Monstar rating, essentially how popular the monster is in the community. The side bar is all about your monster, it’s health, happiness, wealth and well-being, and you can even check out a little bit of it’s history if you click on the profile button. The final section is related to the room itself, how visitors rate it and how many visitors you’ve actually had in total. I think it’s a good start to quite a difficult problem, but as with everything in design there’s always more to do!

Talking about interface design for children, this is a major challenge we face with the design process at Mind Candy. None of us are children (well… ahem, no comment), but we have to make sure our interfaces work for them. I’m sure this is something we’ll no doubt explore at a later date on this blog, along with a bit more usability research, once we finally get a hold of a copy of Silverback!

@media 2008

@media – part of London Web Week took place a few days ago and Steve and myself went along to get our faces talked off about all the latest in web design geekery, discussions on wood textured concrete (seriously, next time you are at the Southbank Centre, check it out, weird) and score a couple of rather nice lunches along the way.

This year saw a brilliant line up of speakers, headed up by Jeffrey Veen (Adaptive Path, Google) first thing Thursday morning chatting about designing your way through data, data visualization and how incorporating users into our practice of user experience – and yes, that is taken directly from the sessions booklet :-). Veen lead the redesign of Google Analytics and managed the web apps UX team.

Tom Cartwright and Clare Roberts took us through the new BBC homepage and spoke about various odds and ends they come across during its development. This project took 3 client side devs and 2 software engineers 3 months and is of course ongoing. One interesting thing they mentioned was that they are currently using JQuery, which is what we use here, but due to JQuery dropping support for Safari 2 they are developing their own library – Glow, so will have to keep an eye on that. They also explained how they got their static image requests more than halved by using CSS Sprites and the Sliding Door techniques – pretty simple stuff really but none the less stuff that I never thought of myself, (apart from simple rollovers) of having 1 big image containing more than a dozen separate images that are simply positioned within the CSS. Simple but very cool. You can check out the beta site here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/home/beta/.

atmedia2008

James Box from Clearleft, Brighton showcased edenbee.com – a new community for people to tackle climate change – nice looking site and up to the usual Clearleft standard.

We also attended a chat about up and coming HTML5 and all that it will offer us from James Graham and Lachlan Hunt, again this was interesting – nothing was mentioned about XHTML2 apart from: HTML5 = Evolution, XHTML2 = Revolution, but I think they will both offer good and bad things. In the end a mixture of the 2 seems a good bet. If you fancy nerding out you can read more about whats in and whats out here: http://xhtml.com/en/future/x-html-5-versus-xhtml-2/. I am going to look more into HTML5 over the next while and thanks to Opera – which I think leads in support, try a few things out!

Dan Rubin of Sidebar Creative fame took us through some design techniques – some may argue this was pretty much Photoshop 101 but it can never be a bad thing to brush up on skills. Seeing more designing with grids was also good.

Andy Clarke took it a step further with his chat “Underpants Over My Trousers” – I love hearing Andy’s talks and this was another awesome session. In this session we learnt how Andy applied his passion for comics to almost everything as well as with his design for a Puerto Rican newspaper of all things.

John Resig, author of the JQuery Javascript library gave us the run down on all the different libraries out there at the moment and features they each offer.

The first day panel was good, discussing things from design workflow, scrums and sprints and how designers fit into this space along with current trends in web design.

Overall the event this year surpassed expectations and I took a lot away from it. I’m looking forward to next year – but maybe not as many drinks on the Thursday evening ;-)

@media Flickr pool.

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