25 November 2009

Spicy new web designs and improved online experiences for seniors have earned University of Queensland students prestigious interaction design prizes.

Master of Interaction Design student Priscila Otero Montes de Oca and Bachelor of Multimedia Design student Sean Soon Yee Tan were each recently awarded Microsoft Interaction Design Prizes for 2009.

The prizes recognise outstanding student work in the major studio-based project course in UQ’s Master of Interaction Design and Bachelor of Multimedia Design programs.

The outcomes of the prize-winning projects must demonstrate a design process that incorporates the designer’s knowledge with feedback from the target audience.

Microsoft Australia User Experience Evangelist Shane Morris said the Microsoft Interaction Design Prize acknowledged the important work of interaction designers.

“The future of Australia’s technology sector relies not just on great technology, but also on great people doing great design,” Mr Morris said.

“Microsoft is proud to be able to support Australia’s next generation of interactive designers.”

Ms Otero Montes de Oca was awarded first prize for her work on understanding different motivations for going online in order to identify the needs and goals of different groups within the 55 year old and over Australian markets.

Working with Brisbane-based usability consultancy firm Peak Usability, Ms Otero Montes de Oca’s research developed user profiles which will help designers in creating a better web experience for the older segment of our population.

Mr Tan received second prize for developing a new corporate design for a spice blender, including packaging, corporate logo and website.

Collaborating with boutique business Splendid Blends, Mr Tan joined spice blender Gaynor Long to highlight the quality of her products, emphasising the care that goes into the production of the A-grade spice blends through a combination of visuals, graphic design and video.

Multimedia and Interaction Design Programmes Director from the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering Dr Ralf Mühlberger said the courses offered students a great headstart in the industry.

“UQ’s studio-based project courses are highly relevant to the next wave of digital media producers thanks to the strong focus on validating design decisions with clients,” Dr Mühlberger said.

“The direct interaction with external clients also prepares our students very well for stepping into full-time work after graduation.”

The Microsoft Interaction Design Prizes were awarded at the annual ITEE Innovation Expo held in late October.

Media: Alice Walker at the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology (a.walker1@uq.edu.au or 07 3346 7696)