–Engage

“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it.” - Steve Jobs

“Encouraging [blank]” – Taking an aesthetic idea from architecture and bringing it to IxD.

Often in my reading of design literature I come across the phrase “encouraging ”, especially in architecture. Recently, I was reading BusinessWeek’s Architecture Award’s selection and a few times I read that phrase. Whether it be “encouraging creativity”, “encouraging collaboration”, “encouraging productivity”, etc.

This use of the term “encouraging” to discuss how a specific spatial design can elicit more of a behavior type, struck me as being very “interaction design” oriented. It implies that a space (in this case) can have qualities, functional and aesthetic that change the behaviors of the human beings in it.

The examples in architecture are clear:
Bloomberg’s new headquarters (a place I got a chance to tour while being interviewed there) is completely transparent. Every wall except for the border walls of infrastructure and the adjacent neighbors are all made of glass, thus transparent. There are no offices with doors of any kind and even the conference rooms have glass walls.

In this case Bloomberg, as a communications company, is turning its transparency of information, into reality for all its employees, creating a space where communicating and sharing are primary to work behavior.

Microsoft recently created some re-designed spaces. They broke away from their classic, “Everyone with their own doored-office” model which is great for work that is focused, to an open environment that engages collaboration, teamwork and creativity.

Google’s headquarters is famous for eliciting creativity, but doing the usual open space concept for collaboration, but also aesthetically uses the vibrant colors of its logo in furnishings and other accessory details, as the use of primary colors create a more playful environment and causes us to access creativity centers in our mind.

Ok, so that’s architecture (and probably interior design). What does this have to do with interaction design?

Well, this blog is called “Engage”. It is for a reason. I believe that good interaction design should “engage” users. But that is an overly generic statement in that not all interaction solutions require engagement. Some infact require invisibility, or worse repel.

But how do we do this? What is our “open space” and “color”? What are the patterns or UI elements that we can use to better “encourage” activities? I believe there are some elements to the answer here in the Captology work by BJ Fogg at Stanford University around “persuasion” but also believe there is more here.

Think about game play and how that engages, discourages, encourages, dissuades, rewards, etc. Points, goading, death, etc.

These types of interaction models can encourage specific behaviors, some are desirable and some are unwanted either by stakeholder or direct user.

Could it be that a knowledge management system with folksonomy functionality added encourages more collaboration amongst peers both on and off the system than one without it?

It seems that most of the discourse of IxD has been centered around ease, simplicity, and desirability, but are there other types of emotional or behavioral responses around engagement we would hope to achieve? What are the building blocks to achieve those behaviors?

In the IA community they often speak about how the spatial metaphor is a direct translation to the “architecture” part of their work. While I only half-heartedly see the metaphorical connection, I actually see a lot of affinity between the emotional connections people make to space and objects and the same connections people make when using digital/virtual products.

Anyone have further thoughts about this?

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