Monday, January 02, 2006

Controlling speed...

One of the more universal things about designing for users is controlling user speed. For example, I recently did a study of mall jewelry stores. Those are the stores which are built out of swanky glass cases arranged in a kind of winding, circular path. Unlike most other stores, these slow the buyers down. They let customers know that their store is worth spending time in. Some even have an immediate jink which causes abrupt deceleration, like the big display baffles you find just inside the entrances of department stores.

But this doesn't apply just to store layout. It applies to everything that involves people cruising in. The trick is to do it in a way which scores the highest percentage.

For example, in web page design, the "velocity" of the audience is a critical concern. Someone stumbling across my page may be in the mood to read long, scholarly essays, but it's more likely they are just cruising around looking for something interesting. When they see a wall of words, they don't bother. They move onward.

The Machine City, on the other hand, will be a lighter, more media-rich blog. Someone stumbling across it will likely see pictures. Pictures, like display cases, are decelerants. When someone finds a web site with pictures on it, they naturally slow down to assess the pictures. This is especially true of hand-drawn pictures. Obviously, quality is an issue.

Functionally, pics, text, and download all operate at a different "velocity" of user. Users who are going too slow or too fast will skip the ones that are too far from their velocity. A fast-moving browser theoretically hits pics, gets interested, hits text, reads it, hits downloads, and downloads them. Or, if someone is looking for games to download, they might move in the opposite direction.

I would put decelerants here, but it would serve little purpose. This dense, pseudo-scientific babble is too slow for pictures to reach. I would have to put pictures, then jokes, then anecdotes, then these essays. And that would dilute the page too much. That's what the Machine City blog is for. :)

In not entirely unrelated news, Gmail now has functionally unlimited invites. Anyone want one?


Patrick Dugan said...

Its funny, I just wrote this crucial theory post at King Lud IC and nobody commented on it, yet I managed to get the authors of two game design theory books to comment on my last post, probably because I cited their books there. Which brings me to a request, would you read that post and tell me what you think? Its a brandishment of a discussion we had earlier in the fall.

Craig Perko said...


I have, as you might have noticed, been rather not here the past few weeks. :)