All posts from
November 2011

The Perfect Paragraph

Or, what a paragraph can do for you.

“In this article, I’d like to reacquaint you with the humble workhorse of communication that is the paragraph. Paragraphs are everywhere. In fact, at the high risk of stating the obvious, you are reading one now. Despite their ubiquity, we frequently neglect their presentation. This is a mistake. Here, we’ll refer to some time-honored typesetting conventions, with an emphasis on readability, and offer guidance on adapting them effectively for devices and screens.”

(Heydon Pickering a.k.a. @heydonworks ~ Smashing Magazine)

End-User Development

Significant body of work on this type of software development. But what about design?

“End-User Development (EUD) is inherently different from traditional software development, and trying to support EUD by simply mimicking traditional approaches is often insufficient to produce successful results. End users usually do not have training in professionals’ programming languages, formal development processes, or modeling and diagramming notations. Moreover, end users often lack the time or motivation to learn these traditional techniques, since end users usually write code in order to achieve a short- or medium-term goal rather than to create a durable software asset that will produce a continuing revenue stream. Consequently, supporting EUD requires providing appropriate tools, social structures, and development processes that are highly usable, quickly learned, and easily integrated into domain practice.”

(Margaret M. Burnett and Christopher Scaffidi ~

The upper bounds to quality

AAPL seems to falsify this. People willing to pay high prices for superb quality.

“The digital age changes our notions of quality, and in particular, our notions of the limits to quality. Generally, there are two limits to quality: The first limit is your imagination. If you are innovative, you can increase quality in many creative ways. The second limit to quality is what the customer will pay for. If your product is priced too high, even if it is of super high quality, you won’t be able to sell many.”

(Alan Cooper a.k.a. @MrAlanCooper ~ Cooper Journal)

Networked Knowledge, Decades Before Google

Great reference article to pass around. The more Otlet, the better.

“He dreamed of a ‘mechanical, collective brain’ and his complex system for indexing information could be considered an analog version of Google. Belgian lawyer and librarian Paul Otlet died in 1944, poor and disillusioned. But his work is now being looked at in a whole new light.”

(Meike Laaff ~ Der Spiegel)

Origins of the Apple Human Interface

A first hand recollection of ideas, concepts, and prototypes.

This is a verbatim transcript of a public lecture given on October 28, 1997. ~ “We got clearance, thankfully, from the Apple lawyers, which came about two – three weeks ago, so we could give it here, just in time to announce it. We’re grateful to Apple to release this for public disclosure, because we think it’s of general interest.”

(Larry Tesler a.k.a. @nomodes and Chris Espinosa a.k.a. @cdespinosa)

Towards an Aesthetic of Friction

It’s academic, so it must be European.

“Dr. Marc Hassenzahl is Professor for Experience Design at the Folkwang University of Arts in Essen, Germany, and research manager at MediaCity, Åbo Akademi University, Vaasa, Finland. He is interested in the emotional and motivational aspects of interactive, mostly tangible technologies, that is User Experience, Experience Design, the hedonic side of product use. Marc worked with companies, such as Samsung, Nokia, German Telekom, and lately BMW, on his vision of designing ‘the experience before products’, arguing for a postmaterialistic notion of designing things. He recently published Experience Design: Technology for all the right reasons with Morgan Claypool.”

(Marc Hassenzahl ~ TEDxHogeschoolUtrecht)

The Impact of Persuasion

The Don at TEDx (again), event organised by a Dutch ‘university’.

Understanding features in terms of complexity instead of functionality ~ “His studies and books on design theory coupled with his extensive academic and industry experience help companies produce enjoyable and effective products and services. Norman brings a systems approach to design, arguing that great design must touch every aspect of a company.”

(Donald A. Norman a.k.a. @jnd1er ~ TEDxHogeschoolUtrecht)

Complexity and User Experience

Great to see B&A revitalising.

Understanding features in terms of complexity instead of functionality ~ “The best products don’t focus on features, they focus on clarity. Problems should be fixed through simple solutions, something you don’t have to configure, maintain, control. The perfect solution needs to be so simple and transparent you forget it’s even there. However, elegantly minimal designs don’t happen by chance. They’re the result of difficult decisions. Whether in the ideation, designing, or the testing phases of projects, UX practitioners have a critical role in restraining the feature sets within our designs to reduce the complexity on projects.”

(Jon Bolt a.k.a. @epic_bagel ~ Boxes and Arrows)

Mental Modeling For Content Work: An Introduction

Introducing an old concept to a ‘new’ field of practice. Sigh!

“All it takes is a moment for our mood to change. Ideas and complex concepts can form in seconds given the right amount of cognitive capacity. Even something as simple as the way a sentence is structured or the words we choose will impact perceptions or the potential for another’s comprehension. It’s precisely for all of these ambient, behavioral and situational factors that content strategists should be better leveraging mental mapping and modeling for the planning, design and implementation of content. Mental Modeling is far from a new thing. (…) the first post in a three part series about adapting traditional views of mental modeling for the practice of content strategy.”

(Daniel Eizans a.k.a. @danieleizans)

Everything is a service

But what if ‘everything’ is, then ‘nothing’ is.

“The emerging service economy will require business and society to do some some fundamental restructuring. The organizations that got us to this point have been hyper-optimized into super-efficient production machines, capable of pushing out an abundance of material wealth. Unfortunately, there is no way to proceed without dismantling some of that precious infrastructure. The changes are already underway.”

(Dave Gray a.k.a. @davegray ~ Dachis Group)

When Is an Immersive Digital Experience Appropriate?

Whatever you build, make sure it’s usable and ‘fun’.

“So, when is an immersive digital experience appropriate? Although platforms should focus on getting users to their destination, the content users find there can be immersive. Programs should be immersive, but balance experiential design with usable design. Immersive experiences are notoriously difficult to document, from a UX perspective. The frameworks I’ve outlined are helpful in defining immersive experiences to a sufficient level of fidelity for a client to feel comfortable with the direction your solution is taking, but doesn’t inordinately influence the creative team.”

(Jordan Julien a.k.a. @thejordanrules ~ UXmatters)

The Design and Display of Simple Interactions on Mobile Devices

Are we re-inventing everything now it’s mobile?

“Users visit mobile sites not only to consume content, but to get things done. Let’s take air travel as an example: tasks that users often find themselves performing on an airline company’s mobile site include checking flight status, checking in for a particular flight, and searching for and booking a flight. How does mobile user interface design support task completion? What are the optimal ways of communicating and displaying interactions on mobile sites? With the aim of discovering optimal ways of designing simple interactions on mobile devices, I examined the task of checking flight status. I’m hoping that my analysis sheds some light on this topic.”

(Shanshan Ma a.k.a. @shanshanma ~ UXmatters)

The ROI of content

ROI (‘return-on-investment’) is this weird bean counter concept addressing the question what do you buy, in atoms or in bits.

“The idea that content contributes to the bottom line is no longer a novel idea. I can’t really blame management for their skepticism; after all, what has been rather thin in public discourse about the benefits of content is the actual ROI.”

(Intentional Design Inc.)

Goal Driven Design Decisions

Goals are achieved when certain events occur. But what are the events? In all other cases, it’s not a goal but an intention, motivation or just a task.

“There are a lot of theories about what drives people and how they move through life. It’s my belief that on a subconscious level we are goal driven creatures. There is nothing people do that can not be defined as a goal. From this starting point I designed a simple model that can help us as designers make the decisions where to focus on in the design process.”

(Jeroen van Geel a.k.a. @jeroenvangeel ~ Johnny Holland Magazine)

The Content Triangle: Empathy and Accountability Create Engagement

Out with deliverables, in with prototypes.

“By not focusing on the deliverable value, but on the quality of the idea within, we stand to motivate and engage people to a much higher degree. By helping focus colleagues on the value of their direct input, we stand to create a sense of accountability as ideas spread and evolve.”

(Tom Bennett a.k.a. @tom_bennett ~ DachisGroup)