ted boren archives
Just took an interesting survey by Nielsen / Norman on my career in User Experience. Results will be used to help others entering the field know how to prepare and what to expect. Report will be free to all.
Free book download: Mindfire 1.1. Scott is an engaging and inventive speaker and writer. I haven’t read all of these essays, but those I have ring true regarding the creative process and innovation.
Sculpture at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park in Seattle. Re-posted from last year, in honor of the holiday and the man.
When we lived in Seattle, we would usually go to this park on Martin Luther King Day to honor this great man and talk to our kids about what he stood for. I Have Dream must stand as one of the greatest and most inspiring speeches ever.
Tonight at midnight ends Optimal Workshop’s Designer’s Toolkit sale. We’ve used a number of these tools, and gotten good value out of them. For $1990, here’s what you get in the toolkit:
- OptimalSort for card sorting – 12 month subscription
- Treejack for tree testing – 12 month subscription
- Chalkmark for first click testing – 12 month subscription
- 4 books from Rosenfeld Media
- 3 remote user tests with UserTesting.com
- 6 webinars on the tools above
- UXPin Web Design Kit
- UXPin Wireframing App (first 20 purchasers)
- Moleskine Evernote Smart Notebook
- Stainless Steel Sharpie
- A stack of Optimal Workshop Post-it notes
Enjoyed this article by co-worker Tom Johnson on Writing in the Trenches. For many of the points, you could replace “Writing” with “Designing”; if you are not out there where your users are, how can you design successfully for them?
I enjoyed reading A Loose Heuristic for Mobile Design on UXBooth. The full article is worth the 5 minutes it will take to read, but here’s most of the heuristics in bullet form [with a few comments by me in brackets]:
- Simplicity is a requirement [not just a “good idea”]
- Balance brevity and comprehension [don’t throw the baby out with the bath water by stripping out necessary context]
- Understand, then optimize, your core value proposition [don’t try to do everything your desktop version does]
- “Where” is more important than “who” [understand physical context]
- Assume terrible dexterity [favorite quote: “give it to a young/drunk/old person and see how they do.”]
- The footer is a dead zone [don’t waste time on it!]
- Assume distracted, disrupted, and intermittent use
- Good experience is a subset of performance [it’s gotta be snappy]
- Provide access to the “desktop” version [like it or not, the “non-optimized” version will still work better for some people, depending on familiarity, performance, device, etc.]
- Test on as many devices as possible
“Putting the product in the customer’s hand. Demos. Knowledgeable staff that can compare across brands, give context on the product class, and show how the thing works. Why not a cooking demo, right there in the store? Not once a week: immediately, on the spot. Show customers why this is the best choice.”
Mark Hurst, in a great article on what brick-and-mortars must do to compete with online retailers like Amazon— not by trying to replicate Amazon in the store, but by providing what an online retailer CAN’T.
Great poster on why you fix bugs as soon as you find them. Many of the same cases could be made for usability issues (at least the medium to large sized ones). Here’s the short list (via uTest):
- Unfixed bugs camouflage other bugs. (So true for usability issues! This is why I love RITE testing and similar methods; you get those Big Rocks out of the way so you can discover others.)
- Unfixed bugs suggest quality isn’t important. (Amen, especially with regards to usability issues.)
- Discussing unfixed bugs is a waste of time.
- Unfixed bugs lead to duplicate effort.
- Unfixed bugs lead to unreliable metrics.
- Unfixed bugs distract the entire team.
- Unfixed bugs hinder short-notice releases.
- Unfixed bugs lead to inaccurate estimates.
- Fixing familiar code is easier than unfamiliar code.
- Fixing a bug today costs less than tomorrow. (Very true.)
Wow—a free online course from Stanford on Human-Computer Interaction, taught by Scott Klemmer! Covers the basics of both design and evaluation. Might have to check that out… (Via Justin Hamilton, user research intern extraordinaire.)
Enjoyed this article by Chris Risdon on Experience Maps
. A great combination of vision, model of current experience, and design opportunities. I’ve done some things like this before and seen great value, but never as complete or compelling.
Good post from Jakob Nielsen on the relationship between SEO and usability, including ways in which they complement each other and the ways in which they conflict.
“The media has missed a much larger, much more important point: Steve Jobs was the first CEO to bet the company on the user experience. From the very beginning of Apple, and renewing his efforts when he returned as interim CEO, Jobs was constantly focused on building products that would deliver the best possible experience—rather than the most up-to-date chipset, or the best partner arrangements, or the most horrific monopolistic lock-in scheme.”
Mark Hurst, discussing an article focused on whether it works to “be mean” (like Jobs). Personal management style was much less important than a user-centered vision of the future; I agree.
“Although the page design was nice and worthy of silver, the overall UX doesn’t even place. In fact, the Olympics should be disqualified in the UX race for kicking the fans in the gut. Hijacking links is not sportsmanlike.”
Jakob Nielsen, opining about the official Olympics site’s inability to deliver on the overall user experience, despite doing OK on following specific design guidelines.
I’ve always loved the idea of collaborative design sessions, parallel design competitions, evolutionary brainstorming— or whatever label you’ve come up with for what Jared Spool calls design studio workshops.” So … why oh why have I never gotten to participate in one? Someone invite me please.
An excellent article from Louis Rosenfeld: Stop Redesigning And Start Tuning Your Site Instead. You and your key stakeholders need to read this.
Dennis Wixon, my first “UX Boss” at Microsoft and co-chair of my masters thesis committee, will be speaking at UPA 2012. Looking forward to hearing him speak!
I liked this article on Breaking the UX Status Quo. Some good thoughts on enlivening various design deliverables by integrating personas and related information throughout.
I like the subtle design changes to the banner area on LDS.org that have gone out over the last few months. This week’s Easter messages have been a good example. (I also appreciate that they got the title and alt attributes fixed, so the thumbnails on the right are more accessible to blind readers—and others who want some text to describe what they’ll get.)
I’m always amazed at people who can take such beautiful notes… These are Benjamin Norris’s notes from the LDSTech Conference last week.
“Subjecting all designs to usability studies before shipping is prudent risk-management.
From a good article by Jakob Nielsen on
Radical innovation is extremely risky. Yes, you might invent the next iPhone. But you’re more likely to invent the next Newton.”
A/B Testing, Usability Engineering, Radical Innovation: What Pays Best?
The contrasts between A/B testing, usability activities, and just turning a genius loose to invent the next Big Thing are clearly drawn. I would temper Nielsen’s position a bit by emphasizing his final point—that there’s no reason you have to pick just one. If you have a genius on staff, subjecting his ideas to A/B testing and usability testing will only polish his or her brilliance to an even greater sheen…