In his Paranormal Interactivity presentation at An Event Apart in Minneapolis MN, Jeremy Keith talked about the importance of interaction on the Web and provided a few techniques for building interaction into your Web applications effectively. Here's my notes from his presentation:
- The biggest leap in our ability to interact with people was the advent of speech. We vibrate the air to transmit ideas between brains. But in order to communicate with speech you had to be in the same space and time as someone else, representational art allowed us to cross that barrier. Iconography (as representational art) has a wider reach than language (because of different languages) but it is more prone to misinterpretation.
- Once you use language, you can inject personality and more precise information. As human beings we anthropomorphize many things including objects.
- Software programs can appear sentient through their use of conversational tone. On the Web, however, we tend to use the same personality over and over again (your best friend!) instead of genuine people personality. Like paranoid or concerned, etc.
- When we talk about interactivity on the Web -we are talking about links and forms. We often forget how powerful the link is. The main interaction you get from a link is clicking on it to go to some other resource. But you also have the ability to add interactivity through hover/mouseover actions. But mouseovers that hide important functionality should be avoided. Where you use hover, make sure you use focus.
- In the real world, forms are rarely used for pleasure. So why do we adopt the same interface on the Web? People loved the “mad libs” style form on Huffduffer. It added some personality and removed the feeling of doing your taxes. Think about making your forms different –how can you give them some personality?
- The hard part about Ajax is not communicating with the server it is the design decisions. Up until now the browser has given people feedback that something is happening. With Ajax, the browser doesn’t do this. Now you need to provide the user with instant feedback.
- We can learn and be inspired by other mediums but we should not copy from other mediums.
- The web is not bringing us to something new, but bringing us back to the beginning. We can now interact at a distance and over time. That’s the difference. Just like representational art did for language.
- Allowing people to interact is the important part. Not the technology.