An indicator has a value when it’s indicating something.

An indicator has a value when it’s indicating something. But if it’s not indicating something, it shouldn’t be there.

It’s one of those funny things – you spend so much more time to make it less conspicuous and less obvious. And if you think about it, so many of the products that we’re surrounded by – they want you to be very aware of just how clever the solution was.

When the indicator comes on, I wouldn’t expect anybody to point to that as a feature, but at some level, I think you’re aware of a calm and considered solution that therefore speaks about how you’re gonna use it. Not the terrible struggles we as designers and engineers had in trying to solve some of the problems.

Source: OBJECTIFIED (Film Clip #1)

via Hack Design

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Can you make good design for people if you’re a lousy person yourself?

Interesting article on “being human” as a UX designer.

I’ve encountered UX people who didn’t strike me as particularly good humans, consequently lowering my trust as a client in their ability to engineer experiences that would appeal to humans. If you’re not a nice person, can you really design what is essentially an avatar of what your audience should see as a nice person?

Orson Welles and Harlan Ellison were/are known for being huge a-holes to work with, but on the ‘customer facing’ side, they’ve produced some astounding works of art. Maybe there’s a base level of good UX that everyone is capable of – stock common sense principles you get in any textbook – and it only gets better from there depending on how well you think critically and apply those principles to the problem at hand.

Personally, I want to believe that being a decent human being translates to putting out decent work. Even if we can’t be so magnanimous and noble, maybe the effort that goes in can’t help but lend itself to empathic, thoughtful solutions. But that’s just my little dream.

Maybe you don’t need to be a cool guy to make cool stuff – but I’m sure it’s more fun to work with someone who can do both. 😉

Designing good UX for old people

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“We’ll use your site, but first we have to trust you.”

http://uxmag.com/articles/simple-and-secure-sites-keep-boomers-happy

UX Mag offers quick tips on how to design appropriate web user experience for the growing Baby Boomer market.

Key takeaways:

  • Educate your Boomer user before asking them to dive in.
  • Be reassuring – remind them how secure your site is, offer a heads up of what sort of information they’ll be expected to give – be nice, hold their hand.
  • Clear, simple, fairly static design is best – give lots of margin for shaky-handed, tired-eyed error.
  • Big text

When cool goes mainstream and becomes less cool

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Do you guys remember Airwalk, the skate shoe that was all the rage when we were kids?

Through ’95 and ’96, Airwalk created a shoe epidemic by staying close to what their customers wanted, then channeling their understanding into innovative products and creative, appealing advertising. But things took a turn once they got big and neglected the core stuff – what their customers actually wanted – that earned them their fame.

In case you can’t be bothered reading, the key takeaway is that it pays to keep our users at the heart of our decisions – whether designing products, websites, campaigns, brands or tools.

For those interested, this is the story of Airwalk’s decline:

The Airwalk epidemic did not last. In 1997, the company’s sales began to falter… In critical locations, [they] failed to supply enough product for the back-to-school season… [and] began to lose that cutting-edge sensibility that it had traded on for so long.

“When Airwalk started, the product was directional and inventive. The shoes were very forward,” said Chad Farmer [creative director at Airwalk’s ad agency, Lambesis]. “We maintained the trendsetter focus on the marketing. but the product began to slip. The company began to listen more and more to the sales staff and the product started to get that homogenized, mainstream look…”

Lambesis’ strategy was based on translating Innovator shoes for the Majority. But suddenly Airwalk wasn’t an Innovator shoe anymore. “We made another, critical mistake,” Lee Smith, the former president of Airwalk says. “We had a segmentation strategy, where the small, independent core skate shops – the three hundred boutiques around the country who really created us – had a certain product line that was exclusive to them. They didn’t want us to be in the mall. So… we segmented our product.” … The [Innovator customers] always got to wear a different, more exclusive shoe than everyone else. The mainstream customer had the satisfaction of wearing the same brand as the cool kids.

But then, at the height of its success, Airwalk … stopped giving the specialty shops their own shoes. “That’s when the trendsetters started to get a disregard for the brand,” says Farmer. “They started to go to their boutiques where they got their cool stuff, and they realized that everyone else could get the very same shoes at J C Penney.” The epidemic was over.

Smith says, “Cool brands treat people well, and we didn’t. I had personally promised some of those little shops that we would give them a special product, then we changed our minds. When we became bigger, that’s when we should have paid more attention to the details and kept a good buzz going, so when people said you guys are sellouts, you guys went mainstream, you suck, we could have said, you know what, we don’t. We had this little jewel of a brand, and little by little we sold that off into the mainstream, and once we had sold it all… so what? You buy a pair of our shoes. Why would you ever buy another?”

Abridged excerpt from The Tipping Point (p. 213-215) by Malcolm Gladwell.

Picture from Ninetiestalgia: October 2010.

Design is design

A conversation with a long-standing, well-known, old-school designer about how design is design, regardless of medium.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SG0Ou07IDhQ

My favourite quotes:

“Yes, web designers work like print designers. They look at the issue, they look at the client, they look at the brief, the circumstances, the user – they don’t have to keep looking at the technology anymore. But ultimately, we always had our constraints. I had to cut paper. With glue, for christ’s sakes.”

“If you design a typeface, it’s very much like writing a pop song. You can’t stop anybody singing it in their bathroom out of tune.”

Thanks, @dos4gw for the link!

Principles of User Interface Design

http://bokardo.com/principles-of-user-interface-design/

Tb;dc (too busy; didn’t click):

  1. Clarity is job #1
  2. Interfaces exist to enable interaction
  3. Conserve attention at all costs
  4. Keep users in control
  5. Direct manipulation (of interface) is best
  6. One primary action per screen
  7. Keep secondary actions secondary
  8. Provide a natural next step
  9. Appearance follows behaviour (aka. form follows function)
  10. Consistency matters
  11. Strong visual hierarchies work best
  12. Smart organization reduces cognitive load
  13. Highlight, don’t determine, with colour
  14. Progressive disclosure
  15. Help people inline
  16. A crucial moment: the zero state (the very first impression)
  17. Existing problems are most valuable
  18. Great design is invisible
  19. Build on other design disciplines
  20. Interfaces exist to be used

When bad design happens to good content

A quick, short read on good practise for styling text:

And something more recent from Smashing that uses more big words:

What makes good information design?

This infographic is a couple years old now, but still holds true.

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Source

We’ve encountered lots of this theory (often without realising) through planning blog content, writing help articles, designing and building landing pages, fixing customer tools. The principles even apply to non-technology stuff – “meeting the parents”, for example. 😉

It’s quite all-encompassing.

Design principles cheatsheet

A cheatsheet on design principles – good tidy summary of things to keep in mind when doing front-end stuff.

http://www.mendocino.edu/docs/graphics/design_principles.pdf

Admittedly, I’ve no context for this one. I was googling ‘eyeflow’ for some research and came across the PDF. Looks like it belongs a TAFE type of college.