Recently I have been dabbling in the realm of the asynchronous interface. Normally this has been far too expensive for any interface without huge budgets, large timeframes and back enders working in perfect harmony with front enders.
But more recently services like www.pusher.com have come onto the market making these interactions simpler and more efficient to build. The beauty of these services is that they take equal advantage of modern browsers abilities, like web sockets, but equally provide fall backs for the lesser able browsers making this very appealing.
But now comes the real conceptual problem. How do you shift a team of designers and coders from thinking in terms of pages to thinking in terms of functionality.
The world of the push interfaces are very exciting. Content updating without the need for a users interactions. States changing based on external circumstances and all things dynamic can happen any time.
But it’s real stretch to get people to realise that you can’t design for the click of a button. An even more important the transitions of changes need to describe to the user what is happening. For example, you can present a live list of popular content and be changing it in real time, present the number of users connected to the site in real time or making a purchase and control the site from apps and tablets.
The wireframe won’t alone be able to communicate the rules and changes in interface required.
As usual I turn to prototyping, setting up test benches of content, applying the rules and developing the interface as I go. If the site is ‘live’ so should be your deliverables.
For a great example of how this can be used check out www.bemoredog.com – part of O2′s latest marking campaign. In one game you can flick a frisby to a cat. This is only achievable (without the dreaded flash) by using services like pusher.com. The whole concept of the way we consume can be shifted to reaction rather than interaction.
Have you worked on a project like this? The challenges are plenty but the rewards are great.