All posts from
June 2013

Insights into site search

With optimal design, search goes down, browse goes up.

“This crossover presents a challenge for site search: how do we meet the advanced needs of professional users without confusing members of the public who just want a simple answer? We can’t rely on the page they searched from to define which type of user they are; some people expect to search only within that department, but others have landed in the wrong place and need to find the general results. One of our priorities for this project was to start making search better for advanced users, without getting in the way of less experienced users.”

(Tara Stockford a.k.a. @tarastockford ~ Government Digital Service)

A brief history of content strategy

Every field should know its history and be proud of it.

“Content strategy is a new ‘old thing’, as old as publishing itself, so it’s potentially a foolhardy exercise to lay down a history – although we won’t let that stop us, oh no! (…) When it comes to web content in particular, whether technical content or marketing comms, content strategy has experienced exponential growth in the past decade.”

(Fiona Cullinan a.k.a. @fionacullinan ~ Firehead) ~ courtesy of infochef

Replacing “requirements gathering” with something that works

Requirements are these wet pieces of bath soap you can’t get a strong hold on.

“The replacement activities of creating hypotheses, conducting research, creating scenarios, and running critiques will take more time. A lot more time. How do we do that when our schedules are already full? We have to put it into context with the rest of the project. How much time will we save by getting closer to a great design faster? How much time will we get back because everyone is on the same page about why we’re doing what we’re doing? We spread these activities evenly throughout the project, instead of a small box upfront. They make practically every other box in the project chart better and faster. In a weird twist of project physics, we end up saving time by spending time. Most importantly, we end up with a design that uses real requirements to create a great experience. That’s what we were brought in to do in the first place.”

(Jared Spool ~ User Interface Engineering)

The future of user interfaces

Minority Report in laymen’s terms. HCI for academics

“We are web designers and developers. As obvious as our work is (we build interactive media applications) there’s a deeper meaning to what we do. We analyze design problems and explore different concepts to solve them. This also means that we think of the communication between a device and the user. We develop that communication. We design what the user sees and does.”

(Sven Lenaerts a.k.a. @svenlen ~ tut+)

Designing for services beyond the screen

CX design thinking to the rescue.

“(…) services aren’t made on an assembly line. They are complex and difficult to get right, because your users might interact with the service across a wide array of touchpoints. You can’t predict precisely which of them each user will need, in what order she will encounter them, and who will help her along the way. The service is experienced differently by every person, because every person is different.”

(Andy Polaine a.k.a. @apolaine ~ A List Apart)

Context, bloody context

When you know the context, you know the meaning.

“If you’ve been in the mobile field for a while, you’re sick of context debates. Sure, they all start innocently, but soon enough they collapse into a sad tangle of metaphysics (“But what IS context anyway?”), lazy stereotypes, and implausible scenarios involving public transport. So let’s try a fresh approach. Dictionary definitions and “it depends” generalizations are hereby banned. Let’s talk details. We’ll discuss whether context even matters in modern web design, ways to find out how people will use your product, design principles for different situations, and why we’ve been looking at the whole thing upside-down anyway.”

(Cennydd Bowles a.k.a. @Cennydd ~ Mobilism 2013)

Sketching for better mobile experiences

Just follow the tips and you’ll sketch the stars on the mobile heaven.

“Sketching helps you better understand the problem you are trying to solve and lets you visualize possible solutions. It is a fast and inexpensive way to brainstorm and to test out a lot of UI ideas before committing to one. Sketching speeds us the concept creation and iteration phase and makes it possible to get feedback early on, when changes are easy to make.”

(Lennart Hennigs a.k.a. @LennartHennigs ~ Smashing Magazine)

Generating new business by design thinking

Business thinking going downhill; design thinking going uphill. An uphill battle that is.

“(…) several conclusions can be drawn. First of all, the typical iterative and holistic way of working of design thinking is also a viable option for generating business. Possibly many of you design thinkers will say: we knew that. Point is: our stakeholders needed to learn that! Second, we were amazed by the results of the ‘business prototype’. Many new insights arose, and admittingly some of our assumptions turned out wrong. A next step will look different already. For a relatively small amount of money and resources this was learned, instead of the hard way in actual business. Third, and possibly most important: it created a platform all stakeholders could look at, reflect and decide. They could invite others, including even their friends. They could discuss with us. Suddenly it was not a ‘good idea’, but a viable option.”

(Guido Stompff ~ Design in Teams)

Website reading: It (sometimes) does happen

Thin versus deep reading and understanding: online versus offline.

“When web content helps users focus on sections of interest, users switch from scanning to actually reading the copy.”

(Jakob Nielsen ~ Alertbox)

Color and user experience

Great how resolution can drive design decisions.

“Proper use of color can enhance the user experience of any design as color affects humans psychologically, physiologically, and emotionally. (…) Remember that user experience is overarchingly affective. Both objective and subjective evidence supports the concept that color affects humans psychologically, physiologically, and emotionally. Importantly, these effects come wrapped in cultural contexts. This means that the reactions that color evokes in us can change depending on the culture or cultures in which we were raised, currently reside, or are currently acting as a user. Selecting and using color with thought, purpose, and care can enhance the user experience. We would love to hear your experiences with color use and choice in your designs. Please write your comments below. Until next time, please enjoy the experience.”

(Ashley Karr ~ SIGCHI Interactions)

Tectonics of UX: Drifts, shifts, and changes in the user experience landscape

Change is the only constant.

“As UX continues to broaden in scope and appeal, I’d like to look at certain aspects of current UX design practice to identify some emerging themes indicating that a fundamental shift in the UX landscape may be occurring. By considering its diversity, its varying roles, and its growing relevance, my intent is to provoke conversation and reflection on current practice and speculate on some future disciplinary goals beyond the screen. In this article, I’ll put forth a few dimensions of an expanded view of UX practice that ties directly to current themes in design education and explicit shifts in industry as UX continues to gain clarity and mainstream status.”

(Mark Baskinger ~ UX magazine)

It’s not enough to change the light bulbs: A conversation with Brenda Laurel

Brenda presents a holistic view of technology, humans and the planet Earth.

“I see us developing technologies and design practices that reduce cognitive distance for people who use them. I hope that we will continue to create alternatives to the trivial pursuits currently favored by the marketplace. (…) Technology is an extrusion of the human spirit.”

(Julia Moisand Egea ~ Adaptive Path)

The future of human-centered design

Copernicus and his heliocentrism are getting a lot of traction these days with outside-in thinking.

“HCD has been a breakthrough for our industry – it’s repositioned design as a tool to help transform product development by ensuring customer’s needs are met and also by helping to uncover people’s latent needs (those not surfaced by traditional focus groups for instance). We are taught to think about the world in three lenses as designers: desirability – what people want, feasibility – the capabilities of a firm, and viability – its financial health.”

(Nathan Waterhouse a.k.a. @natwaterhouse ~ Firm follows form)

Service design in the physical space and why it makes sense to design for a minority

Edge cases are a lot of fun.

“Instead of using the default route and using bricks and mortar to solve a problem in the physical space, which is what architects are good at, this case shows that service designers offer an alternative approach. An approach that is focused on understanding the behavior of people in the space.”

(Marc Fonteijn ~ 31Volts)

Transforming our conversation of information architecture with structure

Language generates structure, said RSW.

“Information architecture has been characterized as both an art and a science. Because there’s more evidence of the former than the latter, the academic and research community is justified in hesitating to give the practice of information architecture more attention.”

(Nathaniel Davis a.k.a. @iatheory ~ ASIS&T Bulletin)

Tools for mobile UX design

Tools that shape us, mobile us.

“There are several ways to approach the design of interactive systems and an ever larger number of specialized products to help UX professionals do their work. But I think there is a bit of a gap between some well-discussed practices that many of these new tools support and the way many UX professionals actually do their work.”

(Steven Hoober ~ UXmatters)

Measuring customer experience

Business pressure leads to CX quantification. What else can they see in CX?

“Since customer experience is so important, shouldn’t we all want to know how our digital products, services, and interactions compare to those of our competitors? Are they sparkling examples of interactive delight that rival those of the CX champions or more like the punch-in-the-face customers get when they deal with health-plan providers?”

(Ben Werner ~ UXmatters)