All posts from
March 2011

Use Gestalt Laws to improve your UX

“An overall good user experience is an essential aspect for creating a successful website. The term user experience seems to be a popular trend recently, but how can we describe user experience and how can we make sure to offer enough of it on our websites? To keep it simple, user experience describes how users perceive a website, what kind of emotions they have when visiting a website, and whether or not they are motivated enough to return. This subjective experience is in a large part based on the visual appearance of a website.” (Sabina Idler ~ DesignModo)

Imagine Design Create

Interview with Hugh Dubberly “Design practice does not learn. As a profession, we don’t even know how to learn. We’re stuck. Trapped in the past. Unable to move forward. Unclear on what forward might mean. Lacking mechanisms to build and share knowledge. Lacking even a model of design knowledge. In fact, the problem is so structurally embedded, so pervasive, so deep, that we don’t see it.” (Dubberly Design Office)

Mobile Design and Development: Practical Concepts and Techniques for Creating Mobile Sites and Web Apps

Free for anyone to read – “In the book I share my advice and experience working with publishing content to mobile devices from the past decade and discuss what I think will be important in the next decade of mobile and the web. Even though mobile is one of the fastest growing industries on the planet with things changing every day, I spent a considerable amount of thought and time to try to fill the book with timeless advice that isn’t specific to a particular platform or en vogue device.” (Brian Fling)

Designing For The Future Web

“In this article, we’ll look at what the future Web might look like and how we can adapt our current skills to this new environment, as well as how to create fluid websites that are built around a consistent core and that adapt to the limitations and features of the device on which they are viewed. We’ll also look at how our conceptual approach to designing websites should evolve: designing from the simplest design upwards, and not from the richest website down.” (James Gardner ~ Smashing Magazine)

The Importance of Strategic Micro Copy: An iTunes Case Study

“Poorly devised, unhelpful content is wasteful. It potentially wastes the time of users and can also have financial implications for the company responsible for it, in this case Apple. Because they were not more thoughtful about their micro copy, they’ve had to correspond with me multiple times, costing them and me money and time. They’ve also left me feeling frustrated and, if at all possible, I will probably look to spend my money elsewhere. Lucky for them, they are one of the only providers of digital MP3 and video content online in my region of the world. Unless you’re Apple, can you afford to alienate customers because of careless copy?” (Amy Thibodeau ~ Contentini)

A Richer Canvas

“Grid system design should begin with a constraint. Something that is knowable and unchangeable. This constraint is used to build the modules of your grid. In book design, that constraint is defined by the page through subdivision. Book designers take the page, divide it up into a modular grid of spaces. These spaces (called modules) are then combined to create rows and columns. These are then filled with content (images and text). The text feels like it belongs because the columns are related to the physical object: the page. (…) Embrace the fluidity of the web. Design layouts and systems that can cope to whatever environment they may find themselves in. But the only way we can do any of this is to shed ways of thinking that have been shackles around our necks. They’re holding us back. Start designing from the content out, rather than the canvas in.” (Mark Boulton)

Anatomy of a Design Decision

“The best designs come from not one, but hundreds of well-made decisions. The worst designs arise out of hundreds of poorly-made decisions. All that stands between you and a great design is the quality of your decisions. Where do they come from? For the last five years, we’ve been studying how designers make their decisions. When do they use outside information, such as research about their users? When do they go with their gut instinct? When do the designers look to past decisions and the lessons they’ve learned? What we found will surprise you. In this presentation, Jared will take you on an entertaining deep dive into the gut instinct of the best designers (without looking at all the gooey parts). You’ll learn five styles of decision making, from Self Design to Experience-focused Design, and which style produces quality results. Prepare to learn how to be a better designer, as Jared shares the secrets of the best and worst.” (Jared Spool ~ UIE)

Motion and The Clay of Interaction Design

“I am in constant pursuit of the ‘clay’ of interaction design. Even if that clay is intangible, if we are to consider ourselves a true design discipline there must be something that we are manipulating. Once we understand what it is that we are manipulating we will be better able to communicate to all our stakeholders the intentions of what it is the interaction designer designs. One possible property of said “clay” may be motion or movement.For almost all interactions we place our body in motion. Even speaking requires muscles to move in order to work. There has been a ton of work done on motion as an aesthetic quality towards an audience, even if that audience is just perceived. What I’m interested in is motion as an aesthetic regardless of perceived or real audience. The question I ask is if certain movements just feel better than others at an aesthetic level and further that perception is manipulated by other interacting factors.” (David Malouf ~ Johnny Holland Magazine)

Considerations for Mobile Design (Parts 1-3)

“The three parts of the series were split into the following segments: Part 1: Speed (The introduction to the series identified constraints in mobile design imposed by bandwidth, download and upload speeds.); Part 2: Dimensions (This section attempts to establish common limitations across groups of devices based on resolution and physical size. In addition, solutions for serving specific styles to groups of devices are offered, and analyzed.); Part 3: Behavior (Perhaps the least complete of the sections, this article attempts to show how users behave differently on handheld devices compared to desktops. At the same time, this area probably interests me most, but I believe much more testing will need to be done in regard to how gesture-based interfaces can be used in an acceptable way before the ideas explored here become more relevant.)” (David Leggett)

Design Principles for Visual Communication

“Visual communication via diagrams, sketches, charts, photographs, video, and animation is fundamental to the process of exploring concepts and disseminating information. The most-effective visualizations capitalize on the human facility for processing visual information, thereby improving comprehension, memory, and inference. Such visualizations help analysts quickly find patterns lurking within large data sets and help audiences quickly understand complex ideas.” (Maneesh Agrawala, Wilmot Li, and Floraine Berthouzoz ~ CACM)

Ten Ways Mobile Sites Are Different From Desktop Web Sites

“Many believe the basic principles and guidelines that are applicable in the design of Web sites should still apply when designing for mobile platforms. After all, Web design has evolved from basic, text-based HTML pages into today’s Web standards. So, we might expect that mobile sites that follow the same guidelines could easily reach the same level of success with users that desktop Web sites have achieved.” (Shanshan Ma ~ UXmatters)

UX Analytics, Part I: A Call to Action

“As UX researchers, our goal is to identify customer pain points and obstacles in a given workflow or process, then tell a compelling story about their risks and provide general recommendations for alleviating those risks. But after eight years in UX research – even having mastered the arts of compelling storytelling and building stakeholder empathy – I still never quite saw the results I’d hoped for. Worse, my work required me to move quickly onto the next project, never to hear again about the outcomes of projects past.” (Kristi Olson ~ UXmatters)

Assume an Amorphous User

“Physicists often have to construct clean, clear-cut models to describe messy realities. They do this by cleaning up their concepts about reality, assuming things like frictionless surfaces, lossless mirrors, and yes, spherical objects. UX designers often do the same thing, assuming a spherical user (…) who knows what he wants to do and takes the logical path in achieving his goals. Our scenarios describe happy paths that lead to success for this user.” (Mike Hughes ~ UXmatters)

Why UX Professionals Should Care About Service Design

“I’m very excited to be kicking off my new UXmatters column, Service Design: Orchestrating Experiences in Context, with this discussion of the value of service design to UX professionals. In my column, I’ll explore the concepts of service design and how to leverage its practices to optimize the user experiences our companies and clients look to us to create.” (Laura Keller ~ UXmatters)