19 February, 2007

The Human Factor in Gadget / Web Design -cNet

"Design is starting to change who succeeds and who fails. A few years ago that wasn't true. If I had a better algorithm, I would win."
-Alonso Vera, senior research scientist at NASA Ames Research Center

NASA, which has faced cutbacks in recent years, has a human-computer interaction group that's grown to 10 people since it was started in 2002. It recently worked with Google and the Firefox browser team on a new iteration of Firefox. NASA used its cognitive modeling tools or computer algorithms that simulate how people will respond to new products to help Firefox and Google develop more intuitive browser tabs.

NASA's Vera has also worked on new design for the Mars rover expedition, creating a better interface for scientists programming the daily activities of the rover. It used to take the scientists 90 minutes to plan the rover's activities, but Vera's design team cut the process down to just 10 minutes. Its latest design for the Phoenix rover, which will launch in July, cuts the routine time to three minutes, according to Vera.

The future of design Industry, experts say designers will have to be mindful of human attention spans in an age of information-overload. and the technology's become so good that it's not the differentiator between products, it's the user interface that is becoming a huge differentiator.

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