30 posts categorized "visual design"

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

Monday, 29 December 2008

The Disciplines of User Experience Design

Dan Saffer updated the UX model from his book, Designing for Interaction.

UX Model

I agree with the conclusion that User Experience Design is not a discipline on it's own but more "management and coordination between the disciplines to ensure holistic products".

In support of this conclusion, Liz Bacon pointed to a similar blog post: User Experience Design Does Not Exist.

The designers that work on amazon.com don't create the experience— they're responsible for building the system, product and service that allowed those different experiences to happen. The designers work to understand how the user interacts with the website to create the most desirable and profitable experiences. We call that interaction design.

Designers need to stop thinking that they're creating experiences. They're allowing them to unfold with sound design decisions.

Friday, 11 January 2008

Playgrounds for Data: Inspiration from NYTimes.com Interactives

Very inspiring article on UIE -Playgrounds for Data: Inspiration from NYTimes.com Interactives. Really great ideas for creating visualizations of data to tell a story.

Monday, 12 November 2007

The 5 Competencies of UX Design

Steve Psomas describes the 5 Competencies of UX Design in UX Matters.

  1. IA
  2. IxD
  3. Usability Engineering
  4. Visual Design
  5. Prototype Engineering

For each he outlines the questions to ask yourself and the options for doing the groundwork and delivering the output. The author advises using these competencies to help determine you strengths and weaknesses and as an individual and as a team.

If you, like me, are deep into making design decisions day after day, you might at times become disoriented and need to realign your thinking about the appropriateness and purpose of the task at hand. It’s important that we come up for air once in a while, not only in the midst of creating our deliverables, but also when managing our time and our team’s expectations.

Our industry is at a crossroads, scrambling to adjust to the demand for richness in Web applications. Design principles, processes, tools, and resources are changing, too. So, now we need to clarify the value of UX design and the competencies it offers to the greater product development process.

Friday, 04 August 2006

UIE Interview with Luke W

UIE recently interviewed Luke Wroblewski on the relationship of visual design and usability.

Part 1 tidbits


When properly applied, visual design is all about communication. The better at communicating we are, the easier it is for our users to use and appreciate the web sites we design.

many usability findings only focus on what happened and don't delve into why:

What’s missing in this scenario is the reason why the user overlooked that particular feature and what the designer changed to address that. Odds are the visual contrast between all the elements on the page was too low and everything looked the same to users, so they glossed over the feature. Or, perhaps the visual contrast was too high, so every element was screaming “look at me,” in which case none of them got noticed. Whatever the exact reason, there’s likely a visual organization issue at the heart of the problem.

"ugly design" of Craigslist, MySpace, etc.:

Sites like Craiglist and Del.icio.us remain popular on the merits of their content. But, does their audience enjoy bumping through the site’s awkward graphics and hard to read text? No, but the personality of the content — It could be high quality, funny, worthwhile, and more—makes the rest more than bearable. Would their audience be happier if the personality of the presentation matched the personality of the content? Of course. They like the content, don’t they?

Part 2 tidbits

visual hierarchy:

Too often, everything on a Web page looks the same and users don’t know where to start. Conversely, everything looks very different and users end up bouncing between elements that are competing for their attention. An effective hierarchy employs just enough meaningful differentiation to walk users through the unique content and actions on a page in a purposeful order.

continuous exploration:

You mentioned sites like Craigslist and MySpace [in Part I] and I think you’ll see a lot less visual hierarchy there because the predominate user action is continuous exploration. Little visual hierarchy however would be a very bad thing for a task-specific site. In that case, using hierarchy to communicate how to accomplish a task clearly is indispensable. The fluid, flattened, exploratory nature of MySpace would quickly become aggravating when you are trying to book a flight.


Other rich interactions that technologies like Ajax enable, however, don’t just show up when they are useful. In fact, actions like right-click and drag-and-drop aren’t visible at all and are not expected within the Web browser. In these instances, we’ve increased the need for effective visual communication because through the presentation of the interface, we have to tell users these features are available and how to use them.

Currently, many sites do this through Help text that explains what’s possible. Moving forward though, I think we’ll see more conventions emerge that use visual indicators to better communicate the availability of rich interactions.

Consider the shopping cart icon. No e-commerce sites explain what that indicates with inline Help text anymore. Over time, it becomes part of the vernacular online.


I recommend having a full time interface, interaction, or Web designer—call them what you will—who is either capable of developing the visual design for a Web site or versed enough in the principles behind visual design to work with a visual designer. I say this because, in most cases, Web sites have moved beyond the simple navigation of information.

Web applications, instead, enable people to communicate with each other, to get work done, or to create and share content. These interactions require a holistic approach to task flows, information architecture, and more. Your core design talent needs to have the ability to see the big picture and translate it to a series of Web pages and/or UI elements. If that person can represent the big picture visually—all the better. If not, they need to communicate with a visual designer that can.

Thursday, 27 October 2005


What a nifty liitle tool this is! ColorBlender.com is an online tool for creating color palettes. Here's one of the random blends that came up:


Tuesday, 27 April 2004

natural inspiration

the online gallery of Yann Arthus-Bertrand's outdoor aerial photography exhibition is truly amazing.


(via lukew)

Monday, 29 March 2004

flag design

grading flags on various criteria such as good/bad colors, level of plagarism, similarity to a corporate logo, writing - slogans or country names, business, and presence of "colonial nonsense".

the us flag got a C+!

Faroe Islands flag Faroe Islands A- 80 / 100

Nicest of the cross flags so popular in Scandinavia.

(via InfoD-Cafe)

Monday, 01 March 2004

tracing tutorials

couple links from the AIGAExperienceDesign group on Bitmap to Vector conversion:

Illustrator Tracing tutorial
Hello, and welcome to this tutorial. Here you'll learn how to
do those nice looking traced images like the one to your right.
Now, I know there is a lot of software out there that will do this work
for you, such as Adobe Streamline or Flash with its bitmap tracing option,
but I'm sure you'll agree with me that there's nothing like the real
thing baby, so let's get on with it and get some skills.

Illustrator How-To: Turn Bitmap Images into Vector Art

Transforming the jagged edges of raster images into the smooth curves of
vector art isn't hard to do using Adobe Illustrator's Auto Trace feature.
But the end result can look simplistic. For more sophisticated images,
you'll need additional help from Illustrator's path-editing tools and from
your image editing application. Here's what you need to do.

Thursday, 12 February 2004

found type

itchyrobot.com's collection of found typography

bless these people who collect and post this stuff up for me to enjoy!

(via memepool)

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