Fun, Fast, Foundational
Don Norman
Design Lab, University of California, San Diego, United States

The theme of the conference, Fun, Fast, and Foundational, matches the theme of my life: Make a difference-have fun. (It also matches the goals of the newly established Design Lab at UC San Diego: Be Important, Be Exciting). Fun refers to designing for positive experiences, something we neglected in the early days of HCI but that is now critical. Fun also requires the merging of the computer science/cognitive science emphasis of much of HCI with the industrial/graphical design base of the traditional design community. Fast means agile methods to some people, but not to me. For me it means a human-centered, iterative design, where issues and problems are discovered early in the game so they can be corrected quickly, without pain and frustration. Fast also means subscribing to the Minimum Viable Product philosophy. Foundational is absolutely critical if the field is to grow and prosper. We have good theory for interactional design, but not for the experiences part, not for the fun part. We need enhanced and enriched theories and, where this is not possible, documented, verified, best practices.​

Don Norman likes the fact that in addition to being named as “one of the world’s most influential designers”, Business Week has also labeled him a curmudgeon. “Question everything,” he argues, “for questioning and debate provides deep understanding.” He is both a businessperson (VP at Apple, Executive at HP and a startup, and member of company boards) and an academic (Harvard, UC San Diego, Northwestern, and the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, KAIST). He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is co-founder of the Nielsen Norman Group where he helps companies make products more enjoyable, understandable, and profitable. He is an IDEO fellow and a Trustee of IIT’s Institute of Design in Chicago. He is one of the founders of CHI conference and received their Lifetime Achievement Award.

Norman gives frequent keynotes. His books include “Design of Everyday Things”, “Emotional Design”, and “Living with Complexity”. His latest book is an expanded and revised edition of Design of Everyday Things. He lives at

Could computers design great user interfaces?
Antti Oulasvirta

Department of Communications and Networking, Aalto University, Finland

Antti Oulasvirta is a cognitive scientist who at times is mistaken for a computer scientist. Inspired by Don Norman and other stars of the 2000s, he embarked on a career of applying experimental psychology to HCI. He later delved into mobile and ubiquitous interaction, but got frustrated with the paradigm of user-centered design, viewing it as inefficient and at times ineffective. He started asking if it would be possible to design a provably optimal user interface, the best possible design. Is this question even meaningful? Antti’s keynote about Computational User Interface Design closes the conference with an attempt to grasp a “holy grail” of user-centered design. It calls for rethinking what design is and how behavioral and computational sciences contribute to it.

Antti recently joined the Aalto University as an Associate Professor at the School of Electrical Engineering. Before returning to his roots in Finland, he ran the HCI group at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics in Germany (2011-14) where he started developing his view of interface optimization. Earlier, he co-led the Ubiquitous Interaction group at the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIIT (2008-11) and visited the University of California – Berkeley as a Fulbright Postdoctoral Scholar (2007-08). Antti is an active member of the HCI community, serving as an associate editor for the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies and as a Subcommittee Chair for CHI’15. He has been awarded 5 Best Paper Nominations and Awards at CHI’08-14, the Best Note Award at MobileHCI’11, and the Most Influential Paper Award at MobileHCI’13.

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