Designing Interactions

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Tim Mott

Tim Mott is interviewed in Chapter 1 – The Mouse and the Desktop. He worked closely with Larry Tesler, and was at Xerox PARC with Stu Card, John Ellenby and David Liddle. He joined Bing Gordon at Electronic Arts as a founder.

Tim Mott was one of the very first people to apply rigorous user testingto the design of user interfaces. He studied computer science at Manchester University in England in the sixties and found a job with a publishing company called Ginn, near Boston, that was owned by Xerox. This led him to work with the researchers at Xerox PARC, and he collaborated with Larry Tesler to design a publishing system that included a new desktop metaphor; together they invented a user-centered design process. In 1982 he cofounded Electronic Arts (EA) and set about building a set of processes to enable the creation and production of really rich interactive entertainment experiences—as soon as the supporting hardware was available. From the very beginning, they built the company with people who were just crazy about games. Once EA was successful, Tim went on to run a small company called Macromind, whose founders had invented a user interface design tool called Director, leading the company to expand into multimedia and become Macromedia. He was a founding investor in Audible, setting the precedent for the MP3 players that came later, and moving from “Books on tape” to the spoken word Web site that supports public radio.

While designing a text editing system with Larry Tesler, Tim developed a process of user research called Guided Fantasy. He also invented Office Schematic, a desktop metaphor for graphical user interfaces.

Tim landed his plane in a mountain valley. Photo courtesy of Tim Mott