As a beginning exercise in understanding interaction and feedback, I was tasked to create an interaction around heteronyms (words that are spelled the same but have a different meaning and pronunciation). My project was around the heteronym, minute: the adjective meaning very small or inconsequential, and the noun meaning an measure of time. Using both the denotative and connotative meaning of these words to guide me, I created an interaction using visual variables such as letter forms, color, sound, weight, shape, and line. With the tool, Axure, a wire-framing and prototyping program, along with HTML, I used motion, audio, and interaction to lead the viewer to the correct form of the word, minute.
Getting to Know the Words
Starting out, I used the meaning and connotations of both forms of the word minute to guide me as I began my process. Research was an important part of this project as I thought about aspects such as visuals and sound that were indicative of the word. For example, I thought about the ticking of a clock for the noun form of the word minute. These exercises lead me to a better understanding of how connotation can help or hinder communication. I dug deep into each word to try and fully understand how both forms of the heteronym is distinct. Through this research, I was equipped with characteristics of each word that I used to begin thinking about my interaction. I began thinking about the timeline of the interaction, mapping out clear beginnings and endings while also keeping in mind how each word’s meaning can inform visual qualities of the interaction.
The challenge I faced with the noun form of the word minute was how to communicate the distinction between seconds, minutes, and hours. I also had to be mindful of being consistent in my use of visual and aural qualities. For instance, as I moved forward with using a digital clock face as inspiration for my work, I realized that the combination of digital and analog qualities could create confusion. I also had to be mindful of how my interaction would communicate the passing of time accurately, whether it was with a constant beat or motion. Using gifs to scroll through all the letters in minute second by second, I created clicking interaction. As the gifs display different letters in minute, when each gif is clicked, it spells out the word minute.
Minute in the form of an adjective was harder to work with as it’s connotative meaning is different for different people. While some may interpret it as a physical object or thing being very small, others only think of minute in reference to detail. After much brainstorming and storyboarding, I decided to play off of the idea of “a minute detail” to create my interaction. Using Axure in combination with Adobe After Effects, I designed a pattern that utilized all the letter of minute. As the interaction progresses, each letter of minute is revealed through a “minute detail.”
This project gave me a concrete understanding of interaction in its most basic form. I learned how to use interaction to encourage a user to interface with digital products. For instance, what shapes or motion informs a user about how to interact with something. Working with creating storyboards of my interactions also gave me a chance to develop my story telling skills through the lens of design. Throughout the process of making this interaction, it was critical to formulate a clear story line in order to create meaningful moments of surprise and interest for the user.
more process here