Roundarch Hosts IxDA Chicago Chapter October Meeting

Roundarch is proud to have hosted a special event for the Interaction Design Association’s (IxDA) Chicago chapter this past Wednesday. IxDA is a global network dedicated to promoting user-centered design, most visibly through its annual Interaction conference, but also through active local chapters like ours. I’ve had the privilege of being a board member of our chapter for the past two years, helping to organize our monthly events to promote and share the great work of Chicago’s designers.

Garrett Hrncir, UX Lead of Roundarch, presented a taste of our work in creating digital experiences that span multiple networked devices. This concept known as Multi-Channel Design focuses on how everyday people now use many devices as a part of their daily lives–a PC at work, a tablet at home, and a smartphone within arms reach at all times. In a perfect world, these devices all work together to make our lives easier–helping us work, providing entertainment, and keeping us in touch. When executed correctly, the transition from desktop web app to iPad app is totally seamless to the user. Garrett shared how creating such an experience, while sure to be complicated, doesn’t need to seem daunting.

Our presentation began with an overview of the state of the mobile industry and Roundarch’s capabilities in this area, highlighting our work with clients like Avis, HBO, and Bloomberg Sports. It is estimated that by 2012 tablets will outpace laptops sales in the US, and by 2015 more users will access the Internet in the US by mobile devices than PC (Forrester Research, Inc., Tablets Will Grow As Fast As MP3 Players, January 2011). With this changing landscape, it is more important than ever for organizations to understand how to use these devices to meaningfully reduce friction and not add to user frustration.

This event was special in that it gave us a rare opportunity to share learnings from our recent conceptual design work for the US Air Force on potential Multi-Channel strategies. The goal of our research and development effort is to discover how the iPad can best be deployed to provide our servicemen and women with access to mission-critical information. Based on features and functionality of the enterprise web applications we’ve built with the Air Force, a new prototype iPad app explores use of streamlined data analysis tools, interactive infographics and Augmented Reality (AR) . Garrett’s presentation and demo of the prototype highlighted the methodology employed by our co-located team, including on-site contextual research with users, translation of common design patterns to a new platform, and rapid iterations of design and development.

All in all, an audience of about 50 local designers and developers stayed throughout the hour-long presentation and peppered Garrett with questions for another 15-20 minutes. At Roundarch, we’re excited to work at the forefront of technology and tackle the challenges it presents. To be able to partner with and deliver a meaningful solution to the US Air Force is unique and rewarding in and of itself. But to have the ability to share and discuss it with the local design community is an opportunity we don’t often get, and we’re glad to have spent the evening with members of IxDA Chicago.