All posts from
July 2014

Breaking web design conventions is breaking the user experience

De facto standards are still standards, if you like it or not.

“(…) the reality is that too often, resources are spent on making the site look great or creating an innovative widget, and usability is neglected until the very end of development (if it’s even ever looked at). Ideally, you’ll be doing testing throughout the project, be it testing your information architecture, creating and testing wireframes and paper prototypes, and conducting usability tests with real users on all the devices that you’re targeting with your design, all with enough time before the launch so that you can iterate your designs and test them again.”

(Katie Sherwin a.k.a. @kwsherwin ~ Nielsen Norman Group)

Up and down the ladder of abstraction: A systematic approach to interactive visualization

Abstraction, the core competency for thinking.

“This interactive essay presents the ladder of abstraction, a technique for thinking explicitly about these levels, so a designer can move among them consciously and confidently. I believe that an essential skill of the modern system designer will be using the interactive medium to move fluidly around the ladder of abstraction.”

(Bret Victor a.k.a. @worrydream)

Honing your research skills through ad-hoc contextual inquiry

UCD mantra: “Don’t listen to them, but watch them.”

“It’s common in our field to hear that we don’t get enough time to regularly practice all the types of research available to us, and that’s often true, given tight project deadlines and limited resources. But one form of user research – contextual inquiry – can be practiced regularly just by watching people use the things around them and asking a few questions.”

(Will Hacker a.k.a. @willhacker ~ Boxes & Arrows)

Deciphering data through design

That’s why the byline of this stream is ‘Understanding by Design’.

“Understanding problems are common when trying to visualize data. Designing a layout to effectively communicate complex or even simple data can be a challenge. If the visualization isn’t immediately apparent to a user, it requires a level of understanding to get the most out of their experience. (…) In this podcast with Jared Spool, Stephen outlines what he calls the 7 Problems of Understanding. These range from problems of comprehension to problems of discovery and more. Each of these problems is usually brought about by a design or display decision. Looking further at these issues, simple changes can greatly increase the experience for users.”

(Stephen Anderson a.k.a. @stephenanderson ~ User Interface Engineering)

Design’s fully-baked deliverables and half-baked artifacts

Digital design cooks and pastry chefs do their magic.

“In design, we have something similar to the two states of a cake: artifacts and deliverables. If deliverables represent the fully-baked ideas in our design, artifacts represent the half-baked ones still forming. The distinction between artifacts and deliverables is very important, yet something we never find ourselves discussing, just like the multiple states of cakes. If we create one when we think we’re creating the other, it will lead to confusion that wastes time and convolutes the team’s efforts. We need to understand how they work and what makes each one valuable.”

(Jared Spool a.k.a. @jmspool ~ User Interface Engineering)

Digital government service: The fragmented experience

Government must become the new hunting ground for UX designers, as well as Health and Education. Which is Government in the broadest sense.

“Governments around the world face a set of challenges that are highly complex and interconnected: education, health, social security, and transparency to name a few. Public institutions haven’t changed much in the last couple of centuries. Their architecture, practices, processes, platforms and communication streams have remained pretty much the same. We have 18th century institutions trying to deal with 21st century problems.”

(Livework)

Memory recognition and recall in user interfaces

Established findings in psychology never die in HCI.

“Showing users things they can recognize improves usability over needing to recall items from scratch because the extra context helps users retrieve information from memory.”

(Raluca Budiu ~ Nielsen Norman Group)

Social enterprise by design

Great to see Milans work of the INTERSECTION Conference 2014 in moving images.

“Traditional organizations around the world are now beginning the intentional effort to re-design themselves en masse for the contemporary digital world. Transformative technologies such as social media, digital ecosystems, and community-powered processes are often driving these changes. But smart organizational design, open and community-based process re-engineering, and careful cultivation of network capital is required to deliver meaningful results. The data now seems to show that the major challenge of making the transition to next-generation business in the current stage of industry maturity is a lack of balance between the sizes, motivations, and interests of employees, business parnters, customers, and the marketplace. Fortunately, it’s also clear that this situation doesn’t have to exist. Organizations that pro-actively re-design their structures and processes at scale are beginning to distinguish themselves from their peers in terms of real business performance. To see how to make the transition, we can explore how organizations can achieve these results today.”

(Dion Hinchcliffe a.k.a. @dhinchcliffe ~ The INTERSECTION14 videos)

Persona Grata: Welcoming users into the interaction design process

Personas in the play of interacting with organizations, people and communities.”

“(…) I have come across many strategies and approaches to help increase the quality and consistency of my work, but none is more misunderstood or misused than the persona.”

(Shlomo Goltz a.k.a. @MoGoltz ~ UX magazine)

Provide meaning with motion: Why motion design is now a required skill for designers

Another step to use cinematography features into digital design for understanding.”

“Carefully choreographed motion design can effectively guide the user’s attention and focus through multiple steps of a process or procedure; avoid confusion when layouts change or elements are rearranged; and improve the overall beauty of the experience.”

(Paul Stamatiou a.k.a. @Stammy)

Undesigning interaction

A really good start of any article: “This article has no pictures. I don’t want to disappoint readers who are expecting glossy images, straightforward examples, or prescriptive methods. I’m not going to give any.”

“The point of this article is to motivate ‘undesign thinking’ and rethink the familiar forms of interaction design. I want to recast with positive connotations the words we have for articulating what is objectively negative. Doing so will hopefully allow us to speak and write more openly and productively about designing to inhibit, displace, erase, or foreclose. But beyond speaking and writing about design, I want to suggest practical design action. Not just the type of practical action we typically think of as interaction design, but forms of design that may seem too different or else too trivial to fall within the scope of interaction design. Indeed, thinking in negative terms about design may require us to broaden our understanding of practical action. Is replacing a digital technology with a non-digital technology interaction design? Is replacing a high-tech digital display with a paper display interaction design? Is removing Wi-Fi interaction design? (…) At the very least, such intentions, actions, and outcomes suggest both opportunities and responsibilities for interaction design—regardless of whether we call them undesign, design, or something else altogether.”

(James Pierce ~ ACM Interactions Magazine July + August 2014)