127 posts categorized "user experience"

Friday, 09 October 2009

Good Reads Week of Oct 5

The Future of Health Care Is Social
In this feature article, frog design uses its people-centered design discipline to show how elegant health and life science technology solutions will one day become a natural part of our behavior and lifestyle. What you see here is the result of frog's ongoing collaboration with health-care providers, insurers, employers, consumers, governments, and technology companies.

A shorthand for designing UI flows
Ryan of 37Signals describes a new shorthand for UI flow diagrams. Very simplified version that I think will come in handy at the start of a complex project.

Why Traffic Signs Don't Work (And What You Should Learn From It)
People respond more effectively to natural cues rather than artificial ones.

8 Ways Doing Less Can Transform Your Work & Life
Focus, quality over quantity, do better not more.

Facilitation: A Love Story
Facilitation is easily one of the top skills a UX professional should master.

Beyond Goals: Site Search Analytics from the Bottom Up
Overview of bottom-up analysis of site search stats and how it can complement a top-down approach.

7 Tips to Sell Your Ideas the Steve Jobs Way
Great tips for presentations and even for design sessions.

Monday, 05 October 2009

Good Reads Week of Sept. 28

Forget "Shrink It and Pink It": the Femme Den Unleashed
Better thinking and design of products for women.

How Simplicity Can Help Creativity, Briefly
11 tips on simplifying to spark creativity.

Your Brain on Thousands of Products
Great examples of product filtering UIs. More examples in the comments too.

A Complete Guide to Finding and Using Incredible Flickr Images
Benefits of using Flickr images and a great overview of the different types of licenses from Creative Commons.

Statues at Melbourne's Shrine of Remembrance.
Photo by SplaTT.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Good Reads Weeks of Sept. 14 & Sept. 21

Improving the transition from paper to Photoshop
Tips on sketching concepts and moving from analog to digital tools.

Can Information Be Saved?

Possible implications of not preserving digital information and the challenges of preserving it in a way that would be readable in the future.

How I Draft an Information Architecture

Start by making it up, measure against users and content, tweak, repeat until it feels right.

Bing Visual Search Interesting, but Needs More Purpose

Review of Bing's visual search compared to Google Fast Flip

Sustainable mobility #1: think more, move less

Instead of findings alternative fuel sources, John Tackara says we "need to re-think the way we use time and space."

The Good Enough Revolution: When Cheap and Simple Is Just Fine

The rise of Good Enough Tech such as the Flip camcorder and why it happened.

Missing the Point in the Design of Electronic Medical Records

EMR's can be effective but they currently suffer from poor visual layout and organization of the information.

Systems Thinking: A Product Is More Than the Product

Products are services and it's al about the experience. Systems thinking helps companies think through the entire experience, in various stages.

Breaking Up Large Documents for the Web & Part 2
Excerpt from Ginny Redish's new book on writing and presenting content on the web.

Lisa Strausfield: Redesigning Government

Work history of Lisa Strausfield who is going to be using her IA skills to bring more awareness to government facts.

The Duct-Tape Programmer
KISS principle in relation to software development programmers. "Shipping is a feature. A really important feature. Your product must have it."

Empathy and Emotionally Intelligent Signage
Using language to generate empathy and influence behavior.

Wonderful example of an empathetic sign - does this make you want to slow down?

Saturday, 05 September 2009

Good Reads Week of September 1

http://www.slideshare.net/billder/designing-humanity-into-your-products
Bill DeRouchey's presentation to relax and be human. (via David Kozatch, IxDA list)

http://www.agileexperiencedesign.org/profiles/blogs/story-mapping-with-jeff-patton
Video of story mapping with Jeff Patton and David Hussman at Agile 09. (via Anders Ramsay, agile-usability list)

http://unify.eightshapes.com/efficiency-tips/8-tips-for-organizing-project-files-folders/
Helpful summary of organizing files when multiple folks work on the same files.

The Secret to Writing Well
http://www.thinkingandmaking.com/view/the-secret-to
(More) Tips for Writing Well
http://www.thinkingandmaking.com/view/more-tips-for
Tips on writing and editing well from Austin Govella. (via Google Reader)

(un)Synchronizing UX & Development
http://www.thinkingandmaking.com/view/agile-ux-un
Working through how much UX should be handled in an Agile fashion. (via Google Reader)

35 Excellent Wireframing Resources
http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/09/01/35-excellent-wireframing-resources/
Links to articles, tool lists and other resources for creating better wireframes. (via Google Reader)

4 Lessons that Helped Me Optimize My Workflow
http://freelanceswitch.com/productivity/4-lessons-that-helped-me-optimize-my-workflow/

Getting up earlier, scheduled breaks, strict interruption management, take advantage of spare moments. (via Freelance Switch)

Mommy, where do ideas come from?
http://www.cooper.com/journal/2009/08/mommy_where_do_ideas_come_from.html
Exploring ways in which ideas come to be.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Good Reads This Week

Interesting and insightful articles from this week... while most are the usual user experience related topics, there are some around freelancing as I begin my adventure in independent consulting.

20 Tools For The Freelance Designer On A Shoestring Budget
Links to free or cheap tools for image editors, feedback and usability testing, cross-browser testing, programming, and billing, invoicing and timetracking. (via FreelanceSwitch.com)

Convert Design Evolution
Fun video showing the design evolution of an iPhone app. (via Sporter)

Managing UI Complexity
Techniques for managing complexity in an interface. (via @Konigi)

Behind the Typedia Logo Design
Really great overview of designing the new logo for Typedia, which is a shared encyclopedia of typography. (via Twitter)

Your Future in 5 Easy Steps: Wired Guide to Personal Scenario Planning
Scenario planning is a great tool to work through an uncertain future. (via @MarkFrisk)

Design guidelines for e-commerce product pages with eyetracking data
10 guidelines for designing product pages such as clear calls to action, prioritizing important content, simple layout, quality images and helpful descriptions using bullet points. (via Core77)

Information Interplay: Visual Design, Information Architecture, and Content
Good designs and good design teams are strong in all three areas. (Via UIEtips)

Renting an Idiomatic Experience
Learning keyless ignition idiom. (via Alok Jain, IxDA list)

Are You a Visual Thinker?
Capturing key ideas in visual form engages people and they're most likely to read them. (via XPRESS)

Sunni Brown Visual Thinking


Friday, 26 June 2009

Integrating UX & Agile

Last week I attended a panel on integrating user experience into Agile development, put on by the Western NY Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (WNYHFES). The panel was interesting in that I learned more and more companies are embracing Agile in some way. However, there was not nearly enough time spent on how to integrate user experience methods into the process. Maybe there can be a part two.

What I'd like to see in a part two is more on cycle 0 and the UX processes that need to occur outside of and before Agile development begins. And more on how  to *design* in a more agile fashion. Rick Cecil's article for UXMatters addresses some of these topics. Lastly, a question from the audience on how to use Agile within fixed price projects could use further exploration as these are a fact of life for many agencies.

Here are my notes:

  • Development is broken into shorter, smaller chunks: Analysis > Design > Coding > Testing
  • Testing phases are informal, more like unit testing
  • No clear answer on doing end-to-end testing
  • Addresses the challenge of not knowing everything up front
  • Add features as you determine need with users
  • Mostly used with smaller teams
  • Constant communication with developers, testers, stakeholders, etc.
  • Can solve problems faster as they come up
  • Agile assumes 1) everything is not known early; 2) discovery throughout
  • Focus on delivering working code to customers at frequent intervals
  • Constant collaboration to deal with new discoveries and to move forward
  • Can be done (and is) with remote teams
  • UX/UCD works 1 cycle ahead of development

Best part of the presentation was the following diagram from Desirée Sy's paper Adapting Usability Investigations for Agile User-centered Design.

AgileUCD-Tracks-Miller&Sy


Image above is from The Journal of Usability Studies, Vol. 2, Issue 3, May 2007, pp. 118 and reuse is subject to the following:

Permission to make digital or hard copies of all or part of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. To copy otherwise, or republish, to post on servers or to redistribute to lists, requires prior specific permission and/or a fee. Copyright 2006, ACM.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Notes from UX London

Luke Wroblewski posted his notes from UX London:

Some great bits & pieces:

Service is 100% about user experience. User experience is not 100% about service.


Behavior can be a major product differentiator and can be a defense against feature-itis.


Features are a poor long -term strategy as they will be built by competitors. Its easy to replicate features but hard to replicate how features behave.


Start from the behavior, and then figure out what should control it. The physical form, UI elements on the screen, or even gestures in a space.
Behavior drives the form and mechanics.


An entire system’s complexity is unchanged. You just can move complexity around. By making it easier for the programmer me make things harder for the user.


When a new consumer good is released to the world, reviewers get a hold of it. Reviewers, salespeople, and feature-minded marketing are the reason for needless complexity.


The distinction for me between best practices and patterns is nuanced –a pattern is a way you can do things in a specific context. A best practice is the way you SHOULD do things in a specific context.

Monday, 27 April 2009

3 design-based strategies for beating an economic downturn

Phil Barrett of Flow Interactive offers 3 design-based strategies for beating an economic downturn.

1. Innovate your way out

Innovation doesn't mean throwing money at blue sky projects and hoping for miracles. You can cut out masses of risk by using a structured design process:

  • Contextual research. This isn't market research with surveys and focus groups. Contextual research is about observing and participating in people's lives to get the dirty truth about what they need, what they want and how they behave. The innovation often seems obvious when you've got the right information.
  • Conceptual thinking. Get your team together. Have lots of ideas. Stay out of the details and explore the new and usual stuff - that's where inspiration comes from.
  • Evaluation with target users. Make cheap prototypes any which way you can, and watch target customers try it out. Even if the feedback is not what you want to hear, it's better to face harsh reality in the R&D lab than out in the open market.
  • Iteration. Your first attempt will be shaky. Keep testing and fixing your product's design until your customers tell you its ready.

2. Optimise, to squeeze more from what you have

Digital marketers make a lot of noise about acquiring new customers. That's certainly an essential element of a successful business. But keeping your customers happy when they get to you is worthy of at least as much attention. There's a rule of thumb: acquiring a new customer is 6-10 times more expensive than retaining an existing customer. So a solid strategy when times are hard is to plug the holes in your "leaky bucket," and stop website visitors from pouring out as fast as you can pour them in.

3. Cut costs by improving the customer experience

Organisations that work to improve the customer experience benefit from reduced costs. They can entice customers to the most cost-effective channels and they generate fewer negative customer experiences and fewer expensive service calls.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

UX annoyances

A handful of user experience annoyances I've recently, um, experienced...

1) On my Samsung Glyde (Verizon) I set a daily alarm to off, clicked Save, and was prompted with this: "ALARM IS OFF. TURN ON NOW? - Yes  -No". wtf?

2) I received a shipping notification email from LandsEnd.com and when I clicked the link to track it, the web page asked for the order number. So, I had to go back to the email, find the order number, copy it, go back to the web page, and paste it in. I order lots of stuff online and any necessary data such as an order or tracking number is always passed along in the link.

3) I came across a demo of Sketchflow, a new prototyping tool which will be part of Expression Blend and I am very eager to try it out. The demo was done at MIX09 on March 20 and almost a month later I cannot find any information on the Microsoft site about when it will be released.

[Shakes fist at Samsung/Verizon, LandsEnd.com and Microsoft.]

Wednesday, 01 April 2009

Progressive User Adoption

Mike Hughes describes how progressive user adoption strategy is an effective means of getting users to take advantage of advanced features of a product.

In short, the process for successfully promoting an innovation is as follows:

  1. Tell how it is better than what a user is doing now.
  2. Demonstrate that it is easy and consistent with what the user already knows or already does.
  3. Let the user try it in safe, verifiable increments.

I found the following anecdote very enlightening on how people are afraid of change and how many times an initial reaction to a new and/or redesigned interface is usually negative, in many cases, just b/c it is different. Reminded me of a presentation by Andrei Herasimchuk, where he included a timeline of his experience and after every release of Photoshop or Illustrator he was accused of ruining the product.

I had an opportunity to see the third point in action, while observing a series of focus groups. The focus groups saw two versions of a user interface. One was very simple, but lacked a robust set of features, and the other offered a robust set of features that market research had indicated users wanted.

The facilitator demonstrated both user interfaces, then asked which one the members of the group preferred. All groups selected the simple one, adamantly claiming the other was too busy. But when asked what they would change about the user interface they’d preferred, they incrementally added functionality that eventually recreated the options they had initially rejected. Then, when shown the rejected user interface again, they enthusiastically endorsed it. Products that look overwhelming and busy, at first, often end up matching the level of functionality users ultimately want. They just need to get to that level in manageable steps—precisely the strategy of progressive user adoption.

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