South by Southwest Live Notes

So here I am, sitting in a panel at South by Southwest on “designing for convergent devices.” As I walked in, I caught the tail end of something that seemed really cool – a service called Zannel that does user gen video content with a mobile and Web UI. Forget Youtube for mobile – these guys have already done it. They’ve designed for simplicity, and it’s great that the designers and app developers here at SXSW are getting that message. Also interesting to see that the site is getting a lot of discussion here – and people aren’t asking “what is dotMobi?” – there really seems to be a lot of recognition here of what dotMobi is and more generally what a mobile friendly Web site is (works on your phone). That’s pretty cool.

Just now listening to Denise Burton from Frog Design talking about the challenges of 4-way navigation based design (especially with regard to focus state). She stressed the importance of animations and transitions. YES. This is exactly the challenge that the WICD mobile profile seeks to address – being able to design consistent user experience that responds in a coherent way to user input, and be able to use SVG-based animations and transitions to respond to user feedback.
Other notes:

I had joked that they would probably put all the Interactive content off in a back room somewhere to keep the nerds away from the film and music people. Well, it’s no joke. These SXSW Interactive panels are off in what seems like an annex building only accessible by going up and escalator walking to the back of the building and then down an elevator. Still, a good 100 people here just in this panel (one of 9 running here at 10:00 am on a Sunday).

A quick travel note: There is a fine line between international air terminal and bus station. Delta Airlines have crossed that line in JFK. Unbelievably disorganized entry to the terminal. Staff who can’t tell you anything useful (like which line to stand in). It all felt like a cattle call, and I hadn’t even got to Austin yet. To be fair to Delta, airline travel in the States just generally stinks and seems to be all about being incoherently shouted at these days. Adding to the fun was that the flight from New York to Austin sat at the gate after we boarded for about an hour due to an incident on the previous flight where a passenger had apparently “vandalized” a seat. So we had to wait while New York’s finest came on to snap polarids of the “crime scene.” In the end, I got into Austin at 1 am instead of 10 pm as intended.

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One comment on “South by Southwest Live Notes
  1. Jeff Beckham says:

    Thanks for coming to the panel, Dan. I was the moderator and was thrilled with the turnout in the morning and the feedback from the audience. Feel free to drop me a line any time.


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  1. […] In the panel on designing for convergent devices that I attended at South by Southwest, Denise Burton from Frog Design made some very good points about focus (that is, of everything on the screen what is the “active” element — subject to actuation of the “OK” button or other functions such as text input) and the use of animated transitions to clue the user in when that focus changes. She also demonstrated a UI built on top of Qualcomm’s UI1 that brought some of these concepts to life (a kind of continuum of widgets with clear transitions to show which widget is active and the ability to dive deeper into a particular widget to get a more detailed view). The advantage of this kind of metaphor is that it puts a large amount of information at a user’s fingertips and provides a highly efficient navigational metaphor (as few clicks as possible to get to the information you want). The only problem is that this type of experience exists as a closed universe — another walled garden. How do you take this kind of immersive UI and open it up to a world of developers? How can such a user experience support the kind of user choice that we have come to expect from the Web? […]

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