Archive for May, 2011

The ‘one site fits all’ debate

May 27, 2011

(peaking about ‘mobile’ users:

‘While we have to design for the “I’m microtasking” mindset, optimizing for quick dashes of activity, we also have to accommodate the “I’m bored” mindset, allowing and encouraging leisurely strolls through our apps and data.’

Josh Clark: Responsive Web Design or Separate Mobile Site? Eh. It Depends.

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Building blocks of navigation

May 22, 2011

Navigation system components:

  • Global
  • Local
  • Understanding the difference between children and siblings
  • Avoiding purpose-less pages
  • Prioritized local navigation
  • Faceted search
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Utility
  • Related links
  • Social filters
  • Quick links
  • Site map
  • Process/navigation
  • Pagination
  • Tag clouds
  • Spatial navigation

Navigation patterns and behavior

  • Tabs
  • Vertical links
  • Filmstrip
  • Accordion
  • Standard hyperlinking
  • Landing pages
  • Sub-navigation bars
  • Drop-down menus
  • Fly-out menus
  • Cascading menus
  • Mega menus

From NN Group training syllabus

3 mathematical laws and their implication for usability

May 20, 2011

According to Thomas Baekdal, usable sites/apps are fast, efficient, simple, (and focussed).

  • Fast is connected to “GOMS keystroke model”
    “The fewer times you click on something and the fewer times you move your hand between the keyboard and the mouse, the faster it is to use”.
  • Efficient is connected to “Fitt’s Law”
    “A large target close to you, is easier to hit than a small target far away”
  • Simple is connected to “Hick’s Law”
    “The fewer choices you have, the easier it is to choose between them”

Mandel: The Golden rules of interface design

May 16, 2011

Place Users in Control

  1. Use modes judiciously (modeless)
  2. Allow users to use either the keyboard or mouse (flexible)
  3. Allow users to change focus (interruptible)
  4. Display descriptive messages and text (Helpful)
  5. Provide immediate and reversible actions, and feedback (forgiving)
  6. Provide meaningful paths and exits (navigable)
  7. Accommodate users with different skill levels (accessible)
  8. Make the user interface transparent (facilitative)
  9. Allow users to customize the interface (preferences)
  10. Allow users to directly manipulate interface objects (interactive)


Reduce Users’ Memory Load

  1. Relieve short-term memory (remember)
  2. Rely on recognition, not recall (recognition)
  3. Provide visual cues (inform)
  4. Provide defaults, undo, and redo (forgiving)
  5. Provide interface shortcuts (frequency)
  6. Promote an object-action syntax (intuitive)
  7. Use real-world metaphors (transfer)
  8. User progressive disclosure (context)
  9. Promote visual clarity (organize)

Make the Interface Consistent

  1. Sustain the context of users’ tasks (continuity)
  2. Maintain consistency within and across products (experience)
  3. Keep interaction results the same (expectations)
  4. Provide aesthetic appeal and integrity (attitude)
  5. Encourage exploration (predictable)

From the chapter ‘The golden rules of interface design’ in: Theo Mandel, ‘The Elements of User Interface Design’, 1997

UX principles from 1971

May 16, 2011

Hansen (1971) proposed the first (and perhaps the shortest) list of design principles in his paper, “User Engineering Principles for Interactive Systems.” Hansen’s principles were:

  1. Know the user
  2. Minimize memorization
  3. Optimize operations
  4. Engineer for errors

From: Theo Mandel, The Elements of User Interface Design, 1997

Don Norman: Living with complexity

May 16, 2011
  • Life is complex
    Or more importantly, complexity (vs simple) is not the same as being complicated (i.e. difficult, vs understandable) — ordering a Korean meal is complex but understandable, rows of light switches simple but complicated.
  • Tools must match life
    We adapt ourselves if the result is worth it, be it organising our rooms to power points or learning the violin. However, a hack is a sure sign that there’s a problem and a workaround. While in the past he’d have said to use affordances for this, he now prefers the word signifiers, as designers signify activity.
  • Understanding not simplicity
    People with messy desks can often find things they need quicker than those who stow it away because their storage mental model is more visible. Another example is some London street crossings — with their messages repeated in different ways (signs, road markings, traffic lights), they’re not simple, but similarly easy to ignore the redundant signs.
    Norman showed that people’s preference for complexity
  • It’s all about design
    The biggest enemy of design is needless complexity (encouraged by marketers, critics, and simple minded thinking).
    He suggests to make it activity based (rather than human centred)— a great example is the Logitech Harmony Remote, which rather than try to be an all-in-one remote instead allows you to do the actions you would like to on each device — and make it come together seamlessly (e.g. as iTunes or Kindle does).

Don Norman on UXLX11, summarised by Johnny Holland

Apps vs Web sites

May 16, 2011
  • Apps need an appstore, websites do not.
  • Apps can make money pretty quickly, websites not so.
  • Apps have great UX, websites not so.
  • Apps have to be downloaded, websites work right away.
  • Apps need to be updated manually, websites can be updates as much as you want without having to bug the user.
  • Apps are about doing things, websites are about reference.
  • Apps have great word-of-mouth, websites not so.
  • Apps can speak with each other, websites not.
  • Developing an app is a pain, building a website is not; in fact, prototyping a mobile website is a breeze.

Josh Clark: Mobile web vs Native Apps summarised by Johnny Holland

Innovative UX thinking

May 16, 2011
  • reframe the problem;
  • explore many perspectives;
  • synthesize information;
  • embrace constraints;
  • challenge assumptions;
  • appreciate details

Stephen Anderson: Critical Thinking for UX Designers – summarised by Johnny Holland

Survey tips

May 16, 2011
  • Aim for 100+ completios per segment
  • make it less than 15 minutes long
  • ask about behaviour (not importance)
  • clear, familiar language
  • use scales (not y/n)
  • randomise answers when appropriate
  • don’t avoid open-ended input fields
  • break up into pages

From UXLX11 (Johnny Holland)

Strategic UX design

May 16, 2011
  • Business strategy: value proposition/experience strategy, product description, target audience, business model
  • Customer experience strategy: experience map & touchpoints, personas, design principles, KPIs & metrics
  • Tactical execution: prioritization, strategy led design, design evaluation, methodology

Leisa Reichelt at UXLX11 – summarised here