Reading Design Works

Filmed on March 21, 2019 in San Francisco

Much of the psychological and cognitive bases for the choices made by filmmakers in staging their film scenes are the same for the choices made by designers when creating visual user interfaces. This is simply because both filmmakers and designers create their works for fellow humans as audience.

In every film scene, filmmakers make conscious choices about a wide range of visual elements that help convey to the audience the story, mood and psychology of the characters. They make choices to manipulate the audience’s emotions and direct their attention to dramatically relevant content. Film analysis provides a framework for observing and interpreting the choices made by filmmakers and deriving a reading of the film, its story and the director’s intent or vision. A similar framework is proposed in this talk for observing and interpreting the choices made by designers and deriving a reading of their design intent. What language emerges from the elements of a design and what does it communicate consciously and subconsciously to a potential user about an interface, its purpose and how to use it?

Rami Alayan is a UX designer, screenwriter and independent producer. He leads the development and rollout of standardized design evaluation and review processes across IBM's Hybrid Cloud Design organization. His research curiosities include the development of design techniques inspired from cinema and visual storytelling as well as the application of UX design techniques to story development for film and digital media. In 2018, he was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the Hivos Tiger Competition of International Film Festival Rotterdam for his screenplay of The Reports on Sarah and Saleem which won the Grand Jury Prize at Seattle International Film Festival, the Best Feature Film at Durban International Film Festival and several audience awards.

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Rami Alayan
User Experience Designer at IBM

Reading Design Works: Tips from Cinema

Much of the psychological and cognitive bases for the choices made by filmmakers in staging their film scenes are the same for the choices made by designers when creating visual user interfaces. This is simply because both filmmakers and designers create their works for fellow humans as audience.

In every film scene, filmmakers make conscious choices about a wide range of visual elements that help convey to the audience the story, mood and psychology of the characters. They make choices to manipulate the audience’s emotions and direct their attention to dramatically relevant content. Film analysis provides a framework for observing and interpreting the choices made by filmmakers and deriving a reading of the film, its story and the director’s intent or vision. A similar framework is proposed in this talk for observing and interpreting the choices made by designers and deriving a reading of their design intent. What language emerges from the elements of a design and what does it communicate consciously and subconsciously to a potential user about an interface, its purpose and how to use it?

Rami Alayan is a UX designer, screenwriter and independent producer. He leads the development and rollout of standardized design evaluation and review processes across IBM's Hybrid Cloud Design organization. His research curiosities include the development of design techniques inspired from cinema and visual storytelling as well as the application of UX design techniques to story development for film and digital media. In 2018, he was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the Hivos Tiger Competition of International Film Festival Rotterdam for his screenplay of The Reports on Sarah and Saleem which won the Grand Jury Prize at Seattle International Film Festival, the Best Feature Film at Durban International Film Festival and several audience awards.