Design is the practice of imagining, producing, and evaluating options. EVERY problem you encounter has a range of possible solutions and you can’t be sure you’ve found the best one until you’ve looked at all them all.
In order to uncover our customer’s perceptions towards our product’s attributes, we need to use the Kano questionnaire. It consists of a pair of questions for each feature we want to evaluate:
One asks our customers how they feel if they have the feature;
The other asks how they feel if they did not have the feature.
The first question is called the functional form and the second one is the dysfunctional form (they’re also called positive and negative by Jan Moorman.) These are not open-ended questions, though. There are very specific options we should use. To each “how do you feel if you had / did not have this feature”, the possible answers are:
I like it
I expect it
I am neutral
I can tolerate it
I dislike it
- Technology should inform and create calm
- Technology should make use of the periphery
- Technology should amplify the best of technology and the best of humanity
- Technology can communicate but doesn’t need to speak
- Technology should work even when it fails
- The right amount of technology is the minimum needed to solve the problem
- Technology should respect social norms
From UX trends
When designing, start with a concept.
Concepts are simple metaphors we can use to help people understand how a system will work, before getting too attached to the details.
Prototype the most radical idea first.
As Jason Fried said: “When prototyping, always try wackier/quirkier stuff first. The deeper you get into a project, the more conservative it tends to get. Stranger ideas are more at home earlier in the process.”
Advocate for less. Or as Julie Zhuo states: prioritize and cut.
“When the discussion becomes ‘should we ship this mediocre thing, or should we spend additional time that we don’t have to make it better?’ the battle has already been lost. The thing we failed to do weeks or months ago was cutting aggressively enough. Either this thing matters, in which case make it great — don’t make it mediocre. Or it doesn’t, in which case, don’t work on it in the first place.”
Practice zooming in and zooming out of your designs
Force your brain to be idle; test your design in a different screen (print them out!); share your design earlier and often, talk aloud about it; write a summary of your idea; write the case study while you work on it. It’s all about creating the habit.
We like intensity. We love things that are fixed in time and easily measured. But only by staying with it for the long-run will the vision be delivered. Consistency, patience, and hard work are the keys to good design (and any other work, really).
From UX trends
1. At the top of the product design process, you have the surface-level work of designing the interface — the visible manifestation of the design process in layouts, colors, styles, and interactions. Organizations that only focus on the top layer won’t succeed because the underlying structure, function, and features haven’t been considered thoughtfully and systematically.
2. More success comes when you dig to the middle layer — designing the experience. This means applying design thinking to understanding the problem, goals, and users, and then designing the right set of features and product architecture to meet those needs. There are plenty of products that do reasonably well by only addressing the top two layers.
3. But the products and companies that have true success, the ones we look to as revolutionary, are the companies that go one level deeper and apply design innovation. I think of this layer as designing the opportunity.
Designing the opportunity means understanding the system itself, the people who use it, and the external landscape in which that system exists. By comprehensively looking at all three of these factors, one can start to identify hidden opportunities and gaps.
Soooo useful: Questions UX designers should be asking
- Equitable Use
- “The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.” For example:
- High Contrast: Having high contrast helps both users with weak vision, and users simply standing in the sunlight.
- Alt Texts: Screen readers need alt texts, of course, but they also help users on slow or unstable connections, and act as a fallback if the image path is broken.
- Mouse-Only Interactions: Hiding information behind a mouse-only interaction (like hover or double-click) makes it impossible to access for many users. Devices without pointers are in the majority, which changes the interaction ‘abilities’ of your users regardless of their personal physical state.
- “The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.” For example:
- Scroll-Jacking: The arguments against scroll-jacking are often in line with this principle. If you take away the user’s ability to navigate your website at their own speed, they may not have time to take everything in. This can get frustrating, causing them to leave.
- Text Resizing: Allow for the sizing up and down of text in your layouts. A simple browser or OS text adjustment shouldn’t ruin your beautifully crafted application.
- “Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.”
- “The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities.” For example:
- Information Organization: Besides having adequate text contrast and sizing, breaking your information down into easily digestible pieces will make your content more accessible. Specifically, things like using subheadings in a long text post will make speed reading and skimming more effective.
- Graphics: A graphic to emphasize a point you’re making in text helps more visual users (and can convince a skimmer to slow down and read more closely).
- Charts and Graphs: Supplying both graph and table views of data allows users not only the flexibility to choose how to get information (#2 Flexibility in Use), but also can help make patterns in the data more discernible. Who doesn’t want that?
- “The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.” For example:
- Avoiding Accidents: Account for these inevitabilities by putting permanent functions inside menus and/or behind “are you sure?” confirmation prompts. This makes them harder (practically impossible) to accidentally execute.
- Allow for Undo: An alternative to prompting users all the time is to give them an “undo” option, or a way to dig into archives to retrieve old items.
- “The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.” For example:
- Action Grouping: Group actions together in specific areas of the screen. This minimizes the amount of mouse dragging or thumb stretching needed, which is helpful for anyone. It is especially helpful for users with either very large screens, or for users who have super-zoomed into their operating system and have to scroll through interfaces that would normally fit on a “default” screen.
- Minimize Requests: Don’t require users to fill out lengthy forms or jump through multiple ‘hoops’ to gain access to their goal (account creation, a trial period of your application, a sample of a new book etc.). The less effort you require, the more involvement you’ll get.
- “Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of user’s body size, posture, or mobility.” For example:
- Action Targets: Take into account varying hand size and dexterity, especially for one-handed mobile device use. Make action targets large enough to click or tap easily, and put your primary actions within easy reach.
- Posture: Some users are walking down the street, laying in bed, or doing other things that may make their reach a challenge. We can’t assume all users are sitting in a chair, at a desk, with a keyboard and mouse.
- Dynamic Spaces: Virtual keyboards (and other accessibility tools) cover part of the screen. Keep dynamic space usage in mind through all states of onscreen keyboards, dropdown menus, etc. to avoid causing the user to block their own actions forward.
1. Rags to Riches (rise)
2. Riches to Rags (fall)
3. Man in a Hole (fall then rise)
4. Icarus (rise then fall)
5. Cinderella (rise then fall then rise)
6. Oedipus (fall then rise then fall)