All posts from
February 2013

How ‘Minority Report’ trapped us in a world of bad interfaces

Getting from off the track to on the track.

“And at the end of the day, it’s visual accessibility driving this trend. Hopefully one day we’ll reach the point where filmmakers don’t want computers to look like conducting an orchestra, and we’ll be able to back out of this interface cul-de-sac and find our way forward into a genuinely natural way of using our devices.”

(Christian Brown a.k.a. @DeepOmega ~ The Awl)

Reusable divisions of space: Grids and modular design

If it has structure, it can be modular.

“Grids follow the same principle of modularity we’ve been considering the last few weeks. In some ways that seems obvious given the terminology modular grids. In other ways though it isn’t quite as obvious that they’re the same thing. However, when you think about how grids divide space and make it easier for us to make layout decisions, I think the modularity of grids falls right in line with the reusable modularity of components and design patterns. They separate concerns, by dividing the space into modular units. The characteristics of these modular units are reusable and through reuse help us more efficiently place information. Finally, the structure of these units in the grid leads to greater consistency in how content is organized.”

(Steven Bradley a.k.a. @vangogh ~ VanSeoDesign)

Jack of all trades, master of none: Danger for interaction design

Wondering why it’s ‘User Experience’ but Interaction Design.

“Interaction design is a young field. At least, that’s what we as interaction designers keep telling ourselves. And of course, in comparison to many other fields we are respectfully young. But I get the feeling that we use it more as an excuse to permit ourselves to have an unclear definition of who we are – and who we aren’t.”

(Jeroen van Geel ~ Core77)

When to apply UX effort in agile

Likes to write agile in lower case as well.

“(…) when a UX designer is integrated into an agile team and helps model the business processes, interaction channels, and user behaviours at the start of a project, it gives everyone a clear, common vision of what they’re working with, and it provides a foundation to build upon going forward. When a UX designer asks the right questions during evaluation, the models evolve, the requirements become clearer, and ‘bad ideas’ are caught before it’s too late. And, when a UX designer facilitates group thinking and collaboration on a daily basis, design decisions get made faster and team members have a stronger sense of ownership of the final product.”

(Andrew Wright ~ nForm)

Love, hate, and empathy: Why we still need personas

Timeline forgets the very first personas for design: Henry Dreyfuss’ Joe and Josephine (1955).

“These steps (solid research, creative analysis, and compelling presentation and rollout) can bring teams back around to a tool that they badly need. Feel free to dump the shallow personas that people roll their eyes at. It’s time to reengage with empathetic work by making your users real, and letting their real voices be heard.”

(Kyra Edeker and Jan Moorman ~ UX Magazine)

UCD Toolbox: Find, learn and apply methods for user-centered design

A great initiative. Now, keep it up-and-running. And fresh!

“We believe that creating objects that people love requires the right tools and methods. In fact, using the wrong method can lead to bad design decisions. But with over 200 methods and tools available, which ones could you use in your situation? That’s why we give you access to a large chunk of the worlds’ created methods, tools, techniques and resources for User Centered Design. We are making all of them searchable and executable. You can even publish your own method.”

(About UCD Toolbox)

The origins of the internet in Europe (1895-2013): Collecting, indexing & sharing knowledge

Have I been waiting for this one.

“Brussels, Belgium, Europe, 1895: two men shared a dream of ‘indexing and classifying the world’s information’. Paul Otlet and Henri La Fontaine’s work foreshadowed the network of knowledge that a century later became the Internet with its search engines! Otlet and La Fontaine aimed to preserve peace by assembling knowledge and making it accessible to the entire world. They built an international documentation center called Mundaneum. They invented the modern library Universal Decimal Classification system. La Fontaine won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1913. By 1935, their Mundaneum grew to a staggering 16 million cards covering subjects ranging from the history of hunting dogs to finance! World War II and the death of both founders slowed down the project. Although many Mundaneum archives were stored away, some even in the Brussels subway, volunteers kept the dream alive. The French community government of Belgium brought most of the archives to a beautiful Art Deco building in the heart of Mons near Brussels.”

(Google Cultural Institute)

Web science: A new frontier

Scientists getting their heads around the largest information machine mankind ever made.

“During the past 20 years, humans have built the largest information fabric in history. The World Wide Web has been transformational. People shop, date, trade and communicate with one another using it. Although most people are not formally trained in its use, yet it has assumed a central role in their lives. Scientists and researchers cannot imagine their work without it. Governments interface to their citizens using it. Media are seeing the nature of their industry change because of it. Travel, leisure, health, banking, any sector one can think of are changed by what we have created. The Web is now ubiquitous, and like all things that become commonplace, we take it for granted. This is true for the great majority of users. Until recently, it was true for researchers too. Over the past few years, there has been a growing recognition that the ecosystem that is the Web needs to be treated as an important and coherent area of study—this is Web science.”

(Nigel Shadbolt, Wendy Hall, James A. Hendler and William H. Dutton ~ Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society)

How do users really hold mobile devices?

How to elaborate on just one facet of mobile devices: portrait versus landscape.

“Everything changes with touchscreens. On today’s smartphones, almost the entire front surface is a screen. Users need to be able to see the whole screen, and may also need to touch any part of it to provide input. Since my old data was mostly from observations of users in the lab-using keyboard-centric devices in too many cases – I needed to do some new research on current devices. My data needed to be more unimpeachable, both in terms of its scale and the testing environment of my research.”

(Steven Hoober a.k.a. @shoobe01 ~ UXmatters)

The five elements of modular and adaptive content

Object orientation moving up the ladder. Now, it’s entering the info layer.

“When the word modular comes up in a conversation about web design, it’s usually in regards to the code. Object oriented programming on the backend, separating structure, presentation, and behavior on the front end, or perhaps the reuse of certain visual patterns like buttons across the site. However, if we’re going to spend some time talking about modularity in web design our first stop, like everything else web design, should be the content.”

(Steven Bradley a.k.a. @vangogh ~ Vanseo Design)

The grammar of interactivity

Like all (visual) languages, digital has its own version of morphology, syntaxis, and semantics to communicate with humans. Grammar included.

“User experience design calls for us to write words on buttons all the time – but how do we know whether we’re choosing the right ones? Linguistics may provide a clue. What follows is a simple test to check whether your calls to action ‘work’ linguistically as well as a guide to consider the grammar of your experience elements.”

(Jonathan Richards a.k.a. @jonnyrichards ~ UX Booth)

What does a user-centered design process look like?

Reading the high-level phases, thought it was rather circular, iterative and incremental than linear.”

“What really differentiates user-centered design from a more traditional waterfall model of software design is the user feedback loop, which informs each phase of the project. This feedback loop is established through the use of a range of techniques that have become the staple for UX Designers. There are a ton of them, and knowing when to use which techniques during which phase of a project comes with experience. Personally, I find experimenting with new techniques and tweaking old favorites is part of the fun of being a UX Designer.”

(Matthew Magain a.k.a. @mattymcg ~ UX mastery)

Content strategy: Separating content from information

A kind of new style DIKW and DTDT thinking with “(…) describes what content really is.”

“Content is a piece of information we want to share with our audience. We create content by turning a piece of information into a type that our audience is familiar with. Then we distribute that content on the channels where we think our target audiences spend their time.”

(Ahava Leibtag a.k.a. @ahaval)

Reading on the web: Implications for online information design

Reading, still one of the most important activities on the Web.

“This presentation will sketch our evolving conceptions of reading on the Web. It examines the empirical literature about reading online with a focus on how reading has changed between 1980 and 2010. To support this analysis, I profile some typical purposes for reading online and suggest what these purposes imply for designing content and for supporting the human relationships that we intend to enable. I also point to research about how effective writing and visual design can help people understand, remember, and appreciate online content while creating human relationships and enabling actions.”

(Karen Shriver a.k.a. @firstwren)

A new research focus on service design: A report by the Design Council

Taking the temperature of a new upcoming field.

“Due to the lack of clarity, definitions and nascent field as a discipline, instead of calling it service design, they recommend a focus on the role of design in service innovation and for specific sectors. More research is needed in the design in the service sector. Service design academics need opportunities to engage with larger, established businesses who would benefit from service design practices. Linking business and design schools and considering the impact agenda, as well as linking design with innovation studies and policy communities.”

(Yoko Akama ~ Service Design Melbourne)