Here are some resources that I found during some recent persona research that I thought were decent enough to share.
I’m in the midst of creating a mobile strategy for my current employer and thought I would share some of the more interesting resources that I found:
An interesting article from UXBooth offers some great take-away points about approaching complex interactions:
- Realize that just because everyone does something a certain way it doesn’t mean you should do it, too. Popular design choices may not apply to your particular use-case.
- Layout the objectives of the design from the user’s point of view. Listen to customers to understand their pain points.
- Make a list of all the elements you want to include. Make sure each element has a clear function. Don’t just add things for the sake of it. Get pragmatic.
- Put everything together and see how it “fits.” Can you remove anything without jeopardizing the function of the element?
- Launch, test, iterate!
This process opened our eyes to the fact that a lot of designers might just be recycling standard design patterns resulting in sub-optimal experiences. I know we’ve been guilty of this. Are there places in your web-app where you might be doing the same thing?
Worthwhile advice when approaching any interaction, no matter how complex.
Apparently, some still think that it’s ok to let you know that their site is best viewed in a browser that you’re too lame to use.
I, however, do not think this. Neither should you. New, and emerging technologies, while cool, are just that: new and emerging. So, don’t allow your first impression to be delivered with a slap across the face. Allow for graceful degradation among the most popular browsers. Period.
As with their cars, Ferrari has created a really fantastic experience with their 458 configurator. Not only is the 458 gorgeous, but it’s a technological marvel with a seemingly endless number of options. The configurator will keep even the most critical desk jockey occupied for an entire lunch break.
Overall, the configurator looks terrific, but it could use more contrast; viewing in my bright office made reading the text sometimes an eye-squinting affair. And while offering decent, and obvious, points of navigation—which is an important interaction that not all configurators do well—if I had to pick some nits, I would like the sections—both parent and child—to be more visually distinct from one another. As they are now, it’s not immediately obvious where a section begins and ends. Also, when clicked, a parent section expands horizontally to expose its children but in doing so the following parent section label is moved. Not a deal breaker, but not awesome.
As far as that red slider thingy at the bottom of the UI goes, besides being made taller, I’m not sold on the idea that it’s really necessary at all. I understand that it’s marking where the user is located within the work-flow, but since the user is able to navigate to any point in the flow at any time, an indicator of progress is not valid here.
Other than these small issues—that are easily ignored—the configurator is tons of fun, which after all is the real goal of these kinds of things. And for those of us who don’t quite (yet) have the scratch for the real thing, it’s nice that Ferrari throws us a bone with some cool online eye candy to kill some time until we do.
Related articles: Autopilot
Every once in a while I need to remind myself that interaction design is not just about making a new thing better than an old thing. It’s ensuring that the thing—new or old—provides a great experience in comparison to nothing other than itself. It’s either good or it isn’t. Judging that something is working well for your users based on how it’s better than it used to be is no guarantee that your design is any good.
When looking for a new home, do you think that it’s reasonable to make your selection based on the current home’s condition as compared to its old condition? What if it’s a dump but the agent tells you that it also used to be a crack house? Would you buy it because a dump is better than a crack house? Of course not. So, if you, your colleagues, or clients claim that the existing experience is good because it’s better than it used to be, please stop. You’re doing yourself—and, most importantly, all your users—a disservice.
Instead rely on user testing and heuristic evaluations that will provide you the concrete data you need to ensure that what you have created is truly great and not just better than it used to be.
So, I like me some infographics. Can you blame me when there are some nutty ones like this one created by mbaonline that does an apples to apples comparison of apples to… um… Apple? Brilliant! Click through to view full graphic.
Several days ago, while checking email on her phone (natch), my wife received the above email from Microsoft. It seemed reasonable enough until she clicked the iPhone link within the “improved methods to get Hotmail on your smartphone” section. She received the following in response to her apparently misguided action:
Really? It’s hard to tell what Microsoft’s intention was here. Did they assume that since she wanted to read about using a smartphone to read her email that she would be using a PC to read the email? Considering that 27% of the word’s population (that’s 1.08 Billion for those who are counting) has a smartphone and is on it nearly constantly, it would seem that Microsoft would have made the connection between clicking on a link about smartphones and smartphone usage. They did not.
It should come as no surprise to anyone, especially Microsoft, that she was reading the email on her phone considering that they created a massive infographic that goes into ad naseum-detail about the subject of smartphone usage. According to them, not only is she the most active demographic but she spends twice as much time on her phone than she does eating. So, I have to wonder what they were thinking when they thought it was totally fine to tell her that she can’t use her phone to view information about using her phone. To Microsoft’s credit mobile phone usage won’t officially take over PC usage until 2014 so they can sit back a relax until then.
There’s a reason irony only works in books and movies.
As a UI designer, I’m constantly creating all sorts of documentation whether it be rough sketches on a whiteboard or a technical specification. In my article 1000 Words or Less, I touch on the applicability of wireframes in the design process:
Wireframes are purposely non-interactive. This is an advantage in the early stages of design. They not only keep the team focused but also decrease the time to get something in front of them.
While wireframes have their place, they aren’t as useful for documenting or maintaining the final design once coding has begun and should not be relied on to communicate the evolution of the design. Darrel Austin at uxformobile agrees and states in his article about the misuse of wireframes that:
They are an invaluable tool. What I am against is them being used as a document of record outside of the UX team. A wireframe simply can’t communicate the full complexities of the solution to every individual team.
I think this is accurate. He also goes further to suggest that an agile development methodology should serve to evolve the design into code faster and more efficiently than wireframes (and really most other forms of documentation) can. Wireframes as well as most other documentation inevitably become quickly outdated. The time spent making updates to the documentation can be spent sitting with a developer and updating the code.
The one place where I don’t quite agree with Darrel is that I don’t have a problem creating electronic versions of my wireframes. Where he would prefer to keep them on paper and whiteboards, I find that wireframes if used properly are as useful (more so in fact) if they can be shared via email, projected on a screen, or otherwise archived along with other project documentation that gets created along the way. Besides this, I agree with his final words of wisdom:
Focus on the product. Not the wireframes. After all, our users will never be using the wireframes.
Errors happen. It’s a fact of life and software. But if you go to the trouble of localizing the interface you shouldn’t stop there. Localizing the messaging content helps too, especially if the locale starts in Stuttgart and ends in Seattle. This comes courtesy of porsche.com’s 911 car configurator.
Cool configurator, not a cool message.