Student Outreach: Eric Reiss & Søren Muus (FatDUX) visit the Bauhaus

Bauhaus University logo

A guest post by, Jan Dittrich – the course co-ordinator of the ‘Designing for Action’ course in the Media Art and Design BFA program at Bauhaus University.

Exciting news

A few weeks back, Prof. Jens Geelhaar and I – were super excited to have Mozilla Labs inform us that Eric Reiss, Cennydd Bowles, and James Kalbach had come on-board to mentor the students projects.

Imagine our reaction, when a few days later – we heard that Eric and his partner at FatDUX, Søren Muus were in Berlin and had offered to venture out to Weimar to conduct a talk & real life mentoring session!

The ‘Web Dogma’ talk

In order to share his design philosophy and enable students form other courses to participate, Eric gave a guest lecture on timeless rules for interactive design – his “Web Dogma“.

The talk was interesting and witty – having been a stage director during a past life, Eric knows how to interact with an audience!

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As background, Web Dogma was conceived by Eric Reiss back in 2003, inspired by Dogme95 created by Danish film directors Thomas Vinterberg and Lars von Trier. The idea was to create a set of design / content / usability guidelines that transcended passing fashion and advancing technology.

In essence there are ‘10 rules that will enhance the user experience of any website or online application

The mentoring session

Once settled and introductions out the way, each student team pitched their core idea to Eric & Søren.
They explained the process that got them to this point and then introduced the results of user research to show the reaction to their ideas by real users.

Eric & Søren then exchanged their thoughts on the design with the students and asked questions e.g. how it is signified that an element will be draggable? Or talked about the pitfalls of using focus groups for user research.

Eric & Soren mentoring students

Eric Reiss & Soren Muus mentoring the students

The interaction design process was also talked about at length during the conversations. An important reminder made for conceptualizing design – was to take care not to be bogged down by minor technical details. This happens quite easily in designing for and with technology and can become a bottleneck.

The session was totally interactive – with the students able to also ask questions and exchange their thoughts and ideas. This often led to very interesting insights – especially about standards and best practices in interaction design. Some questions included:

  • Is it possible that these constraints the designer works in negatively affect the user?
  • Is there a optimal design that can’t be improved anymore?

Insights gained

Students walked away gaining a whole l of hints and new ideas! Some student quotes:

Johannes: “It has been a real pleasure presenting concepts to such renowned and experienced designers as well as discussing problems and different approaches regarding functionality and usability.”

Carlo: “…it was good that they took their time to review each project in depth. […] I was amazed that it was fun to be with them. I assumed they are two very serious guys from a design agency. So it we had a lot of fun!”

Tristan: “With Eric our group mainly talked about user research, particularly which group of people we interviewed. He asked us as well to use established concepts instead of self-invented solutions if possible. Overall it seems that he liked what we did.

All good things come to an end

After an amazing afternoon our minds were filled with inspiration and possible improvements. We ended the day going out into Weimar for dinner, drinks, (crazy) ideas!

We’d like to thank, both Eric & Søren for their time and enthusiasm – as well as Dees from Mozilla Labs who helped to put the wheels in motion for this visit.