Being able to say whether you like whale watching, country music and going to bookstores is a more secure way to verify your identity than your mother’s maiden name according to the SigCHI 2008 paper, Love and authentication. A lot of the so-called security questions ask for information that is a matter of public record, such as your mother’s maiden name or your city of birth. Markus Jakobsson, Erik Stolterman, Susanne Wetzel, and Liu Yang have looked at the kinds of questions you might answer for a match-making site which, as a collection, are unique to you and are quite hard to guess, even for folks who know you well. “When subsets with at least 16 questions are used, the resulting error rates are tolerable, and for subsets of size 24 or greater they are very low.”

I think it would be awkward to ask someone to fill out such a long form when they register for a site, but it would be intriguing if it could be somehow connected to the purpose of the site. For some applications, this could make registration more fun and more secure.

More info at

On Wednesday evening, I heard Christian Robertson speak about Motion Design: Wayfinding and Storytelling in Mobile UI at IxDA SF.

Christian began his talk by defining motion design as “change over time with visual continuity.” However, throughout the presentation, he revealed details of motion design which made clear that it is a lot more than that: the reasons to do it and what it helps you accomplish in a design. It is about story telling, setting context, establishing mood and helping someone find their way.

On a mobile phone, you have the design challenge of very few inputs and outputs. The screen size and resolution are small, and it is easy to have a scattered experience. The mobile UI is composed of many, many states. Without visual continuity, it is like teleportation, which one can only imagine would be a disorienting experience. Christian compares it to taking the NYC subway a few blocks instead of walking. You come up above ground and you don’t know what direction you are facing and exactly how to get where you want to go. Whereas, if you walk there, you know exactly where you are. Our eyes provide a very small slice of the visual field, but our brains are adept at putting together complex maps of a scene or territory so we can find our way.

Movement makes us look. Christian compared a picture of large, fuchsia flowers and a low contrast photo of a lion blending into grass. If that lion moves just a little, our eyes are drawn there. The pretty colorful flowers are fairly uninteresting contrasted with the fear of death. We’ve evolved to pay attention to motion. As designers we can take advantage of that.

User Generated Motion
Christian noted that to make motion feel natural, you can use traditional character animation effects like ease-in/ease-out and secondary or residual motion. However, as interaction designers we have an opportunity to incorporate the motion of a live human being in the design to create a richer, more textured experience. Mouse movement creates an organic feel with a natural fluidity. Even navigating through a list has randomness.

Christian also provided a great list of practical tips of how to inject motion into the design process that I’ve written up over a the cinematic interface blog.

Seth Godin writes that the secret of success on the web is patience. I agree with HMK that this is true for just about everything. Persist at the stuff that matters and you will succeed. Seth makes a good point about the difference between tactics and strategy. Having a strategy and sticking to it will allow you to be successful when some of your tactics fail — and to notice that when your tactics are successful, you still haven’t won.

I usually think of the key to success as being passionate about your goal, rather than patient in achieving it. Perhaps you need both… or one is born of the other. I sometimes joke that a bit of obsessive compulsive behavior is an element of excellence. Most artists will focus on a theme and repeat it over and over — whether it is a style of painting or a subject. Iterating on a theme or patiently moving toward your goal is not only about steadily making wins in the market, it is about becoming the best at what you do through practice and experience.