“Usability is like cooking: everybody needs the results, anybody can do it reasonably well with a bit of training, and yet it takes a master to produce a gourmet outcome.”
Jakob Nielsen, effectively treading the fine line between easing fears of Big Usability and talking people out of hiring his firm. From a good article on striking the right balance on usability.

posted by ted on Tuesday, Dec 22, 2009

Going the hand-drawn route on a blog design can easily end up looking played out and cliche, but IDEO pulls it off admirably and authentically on labs.ideo.com, their collection of tests and prototypes.

posted by jason on Wednesday, Nov 25, 2009

Be sure to check out the Web Font Specimen featured in today’s issue of A List Apart. This looks to be a very useful tool for anyone wanting to experiment with the brave new world of web fonts.

posted by john on Tuesday, Nov 17, 2009

Jeffrey Kalmikoff, new design director at digg.com, sounds off on The anatomy of useful feedback, including some excellent suggestions for making design reviews productive:

Knowing there’d be the probability of a high volume of feedback and limited time to respond via both communicatively and creatively, I asked for feedback to come in a particular format to make it as easy as possible for my team to digest.

He also suggests including as many non-designers as possible in your reviews, to spread enthusiasm and gain valuable feedback:

I find collaboration with non-designers to be so important in design. Designers have a tendency to see things thought a different lens than most people, which can be counter-productive when trying to find solutions across all use cases

See his full post for more. Good to see design reviews going well somewhere, and it’s got me thinking of how to make them better over here..

posted by jason on Saturday, Nov 14, 2009

A website needs to be more us, too.

Naz Hamid has a new article on Weightshift called Stuck between an App and a Website, and its a thoughtful look at designing to the project and the humans using it:

Get to know your client well, do the research, do what is right, not what is now and trendy and because Apple/Facebook/xxxxxx does it. Listen, communicate, design well.

It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in a look, a design or an aesthetic. The science fiction of my youth left those impressions but ultimately, it was the human element — the stories that mattered the most, that left the lasting impression. In the end, we’re all trying to make machines more rounded, more curved, more organic, more human.

By the way, I hadn’t seen Naz’s new design but it’s equally impressive:

posted by jason on Thursday, Nov 12, 2009

Public Gothic is a new gothic font by Antrepo with 4 fantastic variations, and it’s free.

posted by jason on Thursday, Nov 12, 2009

“It’s not about the quality of the sketching, but the variety and exploration of the idea that matters.”
Leah Buley, quoted by Jared Spool in a new article on exploring design options and making decisions about them. Good article and very applicable to my current project, where we are starting to develop a set of layout alternatives and visual design options for an online catalog. Especially liked the point about purposely looking at extremes to help sharpen your thinking.

posted by ted on Thursday, Nov 12, 2009

Putting people first in product development:

“No product is an island. A product is more than the product. It is a cohesive, integrated set of experiences. Think through all of the stages of a product or service – from initial intentions through final reflections, from first usage to help, service, and maintenance. Make them all work together seamlessly. That’s systems thinking.”

Don Norman, Systems Thinking: A Product Is More Than the Product

posted by emmy on Tuesday, Nov 10, 2009

Cabel Sasser (co-founder of Panic, Inc. btw) discovered this great receipt concept at a Burgerville in Oregon (via Neven Mrgan).

posted by jason on Saturday, Nov 07, 2009

While attending UI14 this week, I learned about UI Patterns, a community effort ”...to use recurring solutions to solve common problems.” Great idea. Be sure to check out the screenshot library.

posted by clifton on Tuesday, Nov 03, 2009

Thirty Conversations on Design is a collection of interviews with some of today’s leading designers and creatives. Each were asked the following questions: “What single example of design inspires you most?” and “What problem should design solve next?” There are a number of interviews live right now, with more coming during the month of November.

posted by john on Tuesday, Nov 03, 2009

Nathan Borror shares a technique for interface consistency.

posted by jason on Monday, Nov 02, 2009

“Today the most progressive companies are challenging designers to create ideas at the outset, rather than enlisting them to make an already developed idea more attractive. The old role is tactical; it builds on what exists and moves it one step further. The new one is strategic; it pulls ‘design’ out of the studio and unleashes its disruptive, game-changing potential. It’s no accident that designers can now be found in the boardrooms of some of the world’s most innovative companies.”
From a recent article in Metropolis Magazine by Tim Brown. Please read it.

posted by kaleb on Saturday, Oct 24, 2009

I had a hard time believing this was not a spoof… but from all I can tell Burger King is selling Windows 7 Whoppers in Japan—a normal Whopper stacked with 7 patties. Now… who thought that was a good idea? Check out the comments in the link above for just a taste of the comic putdown possibilities. My favorite: “Introducing … Windows 7’s first killer app.”

Also thought it was pretty funny that whenever I tried to upload a pic of this monstrosity to post here—surprise! It crashed my browser :-)

posted by ted on Thursday, Oct 22, 2009

SORT Conference Presentations

This past week the church put on a technical conference (no not THAT conference) called SORT (no it doesn’t stand for anything). It was a two day conference held at the institute building at the University of Utah. There were over 850 attendees, 200+ classes and 6 keynotes. Yes, this was a serious conference.

Aside from the keynotes, all of the classes were given by people from inside the churches organizations. Employees from the ICS (IT) department, Family History, BYU and more. The conference ran smoother then most other conferences I have been to. They provided breakfast, lunch and snacks throughout the day. Class content ranged from beginner to advanced, from back end to front end, security to performance, and many many more topics. All in all, one of the best conferences I have attended.

I decided to punish myself (and others) by presenting at the conference. I gave 3 presentations: Intermediate jQuery, Advanced jQuery and Designing Faster Websites. The Faster Websites had so many people sign up for it that they gave it a second time slot as well so more people could see it. It’s awesome that so many people were interested in this subject to need that.

Several other NorthTemple-ites also presented.

Overall a great representation from our team to get these important topics in the minds of people from many disciplines.

Due to the church being understandably overly cautious about legal issues we will probably not be able to post our slides from our presentations. But I figured posting some links to stuff I mentioned would be beneficial to those who attended my presentations and others as well. This will not be the prettiest of lists, but some good information regardless.

Intermediate jQuery

Most of my presentation was a dive into the following pages. If I can get clearance to post the demos and my other optimization examples, I’ll post them.

Advanced jQuery

Designing Faster Websites

I was glad so many people were interested in this topic. There is a lot of activity in this space lately and our users will thank us for making the extra effort.

General Performance



posted by aaron on Wednesday, Oct 21, 2009

“I don’t believe that a bohemian HTML5 interpretation is similar-to-but-better than strict XHTML for exactly the same reason that I don’t believe that an optional ordering of amino acids in my DNA chain will somehow not affect my personality.”
From “Wired Earp” in a comment at HTML5 Doctor, a resource that Nic pointed out to us at a recent training session. Funny quote that I mostly understand on the topic of loosened standards for required tags, closing of tags, etc. in HTML5.

Great session, by the way, Nic.

posted by ted on Tuesday, Oct 20, 2009

Performance guru Steve Souders dives into current performance issues with the web’s latest hot techonolgy of font-embedding via @font-face. @font-face and performance describes how the major browsers handle font embedding for good and bad. Specifically how all browsers but Firefox show no text until the font is downloaded (FF shows the default font and then re-draws when the custom font is ready).

A must read for anyone thinking to use this new arrow in our quiver, so you can know the potential drawbacks.

posted by aaron on Monday, Oct 19, 2009

Via August De Los Reyes—fun video on helping folks choose to do the healthy thing by taking the stairs… by making it more fun to do!

posted by ted on Monday, Oct 12, 2009

“Too many CIOs get lost in the thicket of what platforms are hot today, what buzzwords are ascendant, what tool got the reviews here, or there, and never take time to sit down with a user and observe, and listen, and talk.”
From Mark Hurst on Good Experience. Helpful quote as I prepare to host a training session on conducting customer interviews next week. Good dialog illustrating why it’s important for management to buy in to user-centered principles.

posted by ted on Tuesday, Oct 06, 2009

Yesterday this poster was donated to the Church History Museum with the hope that it becomes part of the permanent archives. The poster was designed for our 2008 First Annual Design Review and is signed by the designers in attendance.

Donating the artwork to its rightful owner was my final “task” as a church employee. As of today, I’m no longer part of the North Temple crew. I return to self-employment with excitement for what the future holds, and gratitude for spending the last three years with talented people whom I now call friends.

posted by cameron on Friday, Oct 02, 2009