ideation iteration illumination

Personas are useless. OK there I’ve said it. I’ve made a strong, dare I say “controversial”, statement. How useless are they? Well that’s another matter. There is a modicum of utility to them if a designer never gives much thought to who’s on the other side of the of the screen when creating new products. After all, human understanding is the currency we deal in. It is empathy we need, that is what connects us as humans, one to another. Personas are not a necessary means to empathy and can quite often be the heavy mallet that shatters the fragile subtitles that enrich human experience.

Personas are so very correctly referred to as a tool. Some tools prove useful and stand the test of time and some tools turn out not to live up to their promise and should be discarded. The endemic problem is not the personas themselves but rather it’s the designer wielding them. See, we humans are pretty clever and despite the old saying that you “can’t fit a square peg into a round hole”, we can. We can as long as we have the right tool.

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Cox Cable's Trio UI

I believe that a cable set-top-box is capable of a more interesting browsing experience than the Trio UI that has been recently announced from Cox Cable.  In fact, I’m sure of it.

In case you are unaware, there are many limitations that come with developing engaging user experiences on devices like set-top-boxes because of limited storage and chipset capabilities. They’re really, really, dumb machines compared to how we are used to consuming media in our broadband world. They’re nothing like desktop computers or cell phones. But technical constraints are no excuse for poor design implementations. Some amazingly creative ideas have emerged despite severe limits. In partnership with frog design the Trio UI is being baked into Cox Cable’s latest hardware offering. The new design takes advantage of the wider 16:9 format of today’s TV sets by offering three panes (Trio, get it) that function as a cascading menu. I want to spend some time unpacking my grudges with it because it bothers me too much to ignore. I will be ignoring the outdated graphics and ‘borrowed’ navigation highlight bar care of TiVo. I’m really sticking to the Trio UI as a poor choice for an optimal multi channel browsing experience on the television.

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