Announcing The User Experience Team of One (2nd edition)!

Frequently Asked Questions

These common questions and their short answers are taken from Cheryl Platz’s book Design Beyond Devices: Creating Multimodal, Cross-Device Experiences. You can find longer answers to each in your copy of the book, either printed or digital version.

  1. What exactly is multimodal design, anyway?
    We define it in Chapter 1, “Creating the World We Want to Live In,” but think of it this way: multimodal experiences are experiences that can engage multiple human senses. Devices that let you speak or touch to make a selection. Twenty years ago, your PC (generally) only engaged you visually, and you only engaged your PC with touch. You have many more options today (see Chapter 7, “The Spectrum of Multimodality,” to fully understand all those options), but those options bring a lot more complexity to the design party [see Chapter 8, “It’s a (Multimodal) Trap!”].
  2. What’s so hard about multimodal design?
    One of the biggest challenges is the introduction of invisible inputs like voice and gesture, which complicate both the delivery of designs and the interactions themselves. Many of the existing deliverable standards don’t scale to systems with multiple inputs and outputs, but in Chapter 12, “From Envisioning to Execution,” you’ll see concrete examples of how to transform your complex ideas into tangible designs. As these devices become ubiquitous, interruptions are also a growing challenge. Chapter 4, “Activity, Interrupted,” and Chapter 10, “Let’s Get Proactive,” will help you design predictable, responsible proactive systems.
  3. Is this book about artificial intelligence?
    This book is not solely about artificial intelligence (AI). But modes of interaction like speech and gesture are inherently driven by artificial intelligence, so the topic is unavoidable, even for designers. You’ll learn about specific types of artificial intelligence driven input and output in Chapter 5, “The Language of Devices,” and Chapter 6, “Expressing Intent.” Chapter 13, “Beyond Devices: Human + AI Collaboration,” is entirely devoted to artificial intelligence as a concept—how it works, the potential biases, and the ways in which it can most effectively be deployed in your experiences.
  4. Does this book cover accessibility and inclusive design?
    Rather than lock accessibility into its own chapter, inclusion has been woven into the fabric of this book. In Chapter 1, you’ll learn more about some of the concerns that have been raised in recent years about the design community’s relationship with the disability community and new ways of thinking to address those concerns. You’ll find content about the potential risks of exclusion—as well as opportunities for inclusion—all throughout Chapter 5 and Chapter 6. And where appropriate, additional content is included throughout the rest of the book. Finally, Chapter 15, “Should You Build It,” introduces a new lightweight framework for querying the potential impact of your work, good or bad.

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