All posts from
February 2010

Living with Complexity

“This person sits unperturbed by the apparent chaos of his desk. How does he cope with all that complexity? I’ve never spoken with the person in the picture, Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States and winner of the Nobel prize for his work on the environment, but I have talked with and studied other people with similar looking desks and they explain that there is order and structure to the apparent complexity. It’s easy to test: if I ask them for something, they know just where to go: the item is retrieved, oftentimes much faster than from a person who keeps a neat and orderly workplace. The major problem these people face is that others are continually trying to help them, and their biggest fear is that one day they will return to their office and discover someone has cleaned up all the piles and put things into their ‘proper’ places.” (Donald A Norman – Living with Complexity)

Content strategy is, in fact, the next big thing

“Content strategy is more or less on the same trajectory as social media was three years ago. Why? I think it’s because the reality of social media initiatives—that they’re internal commitments, not advertising campaigns—has derailed more than a few organizations from really implementing effective, measurable programs. Most companies can’t sustain social media engagement because they lack the internal editorial infrastructure to support it.” (Kristina Halvorson)

Surprise as a design strategy

“A surprise reaction to a product can be beneficial to both a designer and a user. The designer benefits from a surprise reaction because it can capture attention to the product, leading to increased product recall and recognition, and increased word-of-mouth. Or, as Jennifer Hudson puts it, the surprise element ‘elevates a piece beyond the banal’. A surprise reaction has its origin in encountering an unexpected event. The product user benefits from the surprise, because it makes the product more interesting to interact with. In addition, it requires updating, extending or revising the knowledge the expectation was based on. This implies that a user can learn something new about a product or product aspect.” (Geke D.S. Ludden, Hendrik N.J. Schifferstein & Paul Hekkert)

Designing User Interfaces For Business Web Applications

“Business Web application design is too often neglected. I see a lot of applications that don’t meet the needs of either businesses or users and thus contribute to a loss of profit and poor user experience. It even happens that designers are not involved in the process of creating applications at all, putting all of the responsibility on the shoulders of developers. This is a tough task for developers, who may have plenty of back-end and front-end development experience but limited knowledge of design. This results in unsatisfied customers, frustrated users and failed projects. So, we will cover the basics of user interface design for business Web applications. While one could apply many approaches, techniques and principles to UI design in general, our focus here will be on business Web applications.” (Janko Jovanovic – Smashing Magazine)

Dense and Thick

“This is where the future is entirely in your hands. You can leave here today promising yourself to invent the future, to write meaning explicitly onto the real world, to transform our relationship to the universe of objects. Or, you can wait for someone else to come along and do it. Because someone inevitably will. Every day, the pressure grows. The real world is clamoring to crawl into cyberspace. You can open the door.” (Mark PesceThe Human Network)

SpoolCast: Interesting Moments with Bill Scott

“Bill speaks about both patterns—successful interaction models for common interactions – and anti-patterns. By showing what not to do, anti-patterns often provide insight on the right way to do something.” (Brian Christiansen – User Interface Engineering)

Training the Butterflies

“Whether it’s in front of a huge audience or a handful of executives, smooth public speaking is essential to a successful web design career. Yet most of us are more afraid of speaking in public than we are of death. In a lively give-and-take, Liz Danzico interviews Scott Berkun, author of Confessions of a Public Speaker, for tips on how to prepare for public speaking, how to perfect your timing, and what to do when bad things happen.” (Liz DanzicoA List Apart)

Progress in Usability: Fast or Slow?

“Over the past decade, usability improved by 6% per year. This is a faster rate than most other fields, but much slower than technology advances might have predicted.” (Jakob NielsenAlertbox)

Search is the Web’s fun and wicked problem

“Search is the Web’s most powerful and frustrating tool. It’s the conduit to unfathomable amounts of information, yet it requires a fair degree of user education to reach its full potential. It’s odd that something so important is so hard to harness. And it’s not going to get easier anytime soon. We may think of search as static and mature because we’ve used those ubiquitous boxes for years. But it’s a tool in flux. Developments in mobile, augmented reality, and social graphs — to name a few — signal big changes ahead.” (Mac Slocum – O’Reilly Radar)

Designing value beyond the inflection point

“In 1999, Pine & Gilmore presented a model for the progression of economic value in their bestseller ‘the experience economy’. The model explains the generic progression of economic value that any business in our society goes through sooner or later; the shift for commodities to experiences. Prehaps the most used example is the progression from raw coffee beans to the starbucks ‘experience’. The great thing about this model is that it’s easy to use and applicable to almost any industry.” (Marc Fonteijn – 31Volts)

Laban Movement Analysis for User Experience Design

“As a User Experience Designer, there have been moments on projects when I’ve had similar feelings of ineptitude—usually when I’ve been faced with a large, complex system or some completely new and foreign domain I didn’t understand. Have you ever experienced an awkward moment as you’ve tried to figuratively dance and negotiate your way through an uncomfortable situation? This often brings fear of making a decision or taking a step forward along with it—maybe even some shoe-flying moments. A recent acting class, in which I learned what Laban Movement Analysis is all about, helped me find a way to get past this fear. When people say knowledge is power, they are most assuredly correct.” (Traci LeporeUXmatters)

Rapid Desirability Testing: A Case Study

“In the design process we follow at my company, once we have defined the conceptual direction and content strategy for a given design and refined our design approach through user research and iterative usability testing, we start applying visual design. Generally, we take a key screen whose structure and functionality we have finalized—for example, a layout for a home page or a dashboard page—and explore three alternatives for visual style. These three alternative visual designs, or comps, include the same content, but reflect different choices for color palette and imagery.” (Michael HawleyUXmatters)

How social media is changing the face of enterprise applications

“User resistance can be a big contributor to IT project failure and a lot of this comes down to a poor user experience of dated, clunky user interfaces. In order to get people using business applications, you have to make interacting and engaging with them more satisfying.” (Daily Mirror)

New Ways of Interaction

“This channel is a collection of projects about newer ways of human and physical interaction. It features interactive installations and systems with a strong focus on technologies such as multi-touch, tangible and gestural interfaces, augmented reality and physical computing.” (@Jens Franke)

Do you need a strategy or a vision?

“(…) let’s take a closer look at some examples of visions and strategies. For my first example consider you are living in the 15th century and you have a family with 2 kids. As a responsible parent you want to make sure they are fed well. Your children haven’t had a full meal with a nice piece of meat in a while. As soon as you wake up you create your vision: “Today at 20.00 my children will eat a full meal with a fresh piece of meat, larger than they can eat!”. That is pretty concrete, right? There is a time-line, a quantifiable goal, although the type of meat and the quantity is still left open. But you sort of get it, it is concrete enough.” (Martijn van Welie – Thoughts on Interaction Design)

The Essence of a Successful Persona Project

“Personas are a flexible and powerful tool for user researchers. They’re also one of the most misunderstood. When done well, they ensure the team focuses on the needs and delights of their users. Like other effective user research techniques, personas deliver confidence and insights to the team. Personas help the team make important design decisions with a thorough understanding of who the users are, what they need, and when they need it.” (Jared Spool)

BBC Online: Our mobile future

“We are at a similar turning point in the internet age. We still, in the most part, define our digital agenda through the lens of broadcast output, and rightly so. But times are changing, and the internet is taking its place alongside TV and radio as a third platform in its own right.” (Erik Huggers – BBC Internet Blog)

Sitemaps: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

“Sitemaps are a safety net. They can be a last resort for users before they abandon ship and leave your site having not found what they needed and vowing never to come back.” (Rob Mills – Think Vitamin)

UX Strategy II: About the iterative diagram: What is it?

“In the second part of this Strategy discussion, I will concentrate on the Strategy diagram from the previous post. This post will cover what the diagram is and who is it for. There are more issues than that to be complete, but I can always add an additional post if there is a desire to read more detailed information about it.” (Jonathan Arnowitz – User Experience in ArnoLand)