Always ask: What's it like from their point of view?
"Good" visual examples to get you thinking

Mix 09: Bill Buxton on Design & Return on Experience

Bills_book You may not have heard of Bill Buxton yet, but the Canadian designer and computer scientist is well known in the field of human–computer interaction. Currently he is Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research. Bill wrote a good book in 2007 called Sketching User Experiences: Getting the Design Right and the Right Design. A lot of the things he talks about in his book (e.g., thoughts on sketching, on users, etc.) are applicable to presentation design as well. Last month Bill gave a good 20-min keynote at Mix09 that kicked off a longer keynote by Scott Guthrie (corporate vice president of Microsoft's .NET Developer Division). I was quite impressed with Bill's natural, upbeat performance. The guy has passion for his field, and it shows. From the moment Bill takes the stage he makes a strong connection with his energy and enthusiasm. I could tell from the moment he walked on stage that this was not going to be a boring keynote. Watch the Day One Keynote at Mix09 below (use the full-screen view for a better viewing experience) or go directly to the MIX09 website to see this entire keynote. (If you do not want to install Silverlight, you can download the whole keynote video in mp4 here. There are a few other download options on their site here, including the actual (gulp) PowerPoint deck (sans Bill's special font).

Get Microsoft Silverlight

Displaying the presenter & the visual simultaneously
Below are a few screen captures from the website. Displaying presentations online with both the speaker and visuals always visible is a challenge. Yet using two screens as shown above worked well I think, though the colorful dotted lines that comprise the onscreen background have far too much salience and are a rather cluttered distraction. (The live Mix09 stage design — with superfluous animation — was a distraction for me as well, but I guess that's just Vegas.)

This is a good time to be focused on experience, says Bill Buxton.

Good example of Return on Experience: Walter Teague's design work at Kodak some 60 years ago. (And Apple's iPod more recently).

It's not about the thing!

It's about the experience.

Oops, demo didn't work (but he moved on quickly).

Creativity, Design, & the return on Experience
Bill was not introducing new products nor tasked with going though a laundry list of features. He essentially told a few stories and gave several examples. The slides could be improved (especially a couple at the end of his talk), but for the most part the visuals supported his talk well. More then anything, I was inspired by his message. I love his comments on the ideation step of the process... "You can not be anal. These things are far too important to take seriously. We need to be able to play." Here's another takeaway:

"Our job is not to answer questions, it's to ask the right questions...that get us to the right answer."

                                 — Bill Buxton

H/T Michael Olan



Hi Garr,

thank you for the post. I haven't seen all of it yet (it's over 2 hours long, so I'm gonna watch it on saturday afternoon or so), but I like the video because it's a mix of a lot of different speakers and I always enjoy watching and analyzing different types of presenters (I just did this in my last post on my blog You can see what works, what doesn't, what's boring, what's exciting.

Though Scott Guthrie uses waaay too many bullet points. And maybe there are a tad bit too many presenters? E.g. in comparison, Steve Jobs in his keynote speeches would introduce some new product highlights of his company and maybe invite 2-3 other speakers; but at MIX09 there's a long line-up of presenters and products.



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