Posts Tagged: usability

The Non-Designer’s Design & Type Books — Robin Williams

The Non-Designer's Design and Type BooksThis is a decent overview of graphic design and layout. Everybody who has to design a poster, web page or invitation should read it. And that’s no chore, because it’s an easy and fun read.

This book is an updated compilation of two of Williams’s previous books: The Non-Designer’s Design Book and, unsurprisingly, The Non-Designer’s Type Book. The first half is about design. Williams presents four fundamental layout concepts: Proximity, Alignment, Repetition, Contrast. (I list them in this order because PARC is a better acronym than the reverse.) Most of the rest of this part consists of elaborations and applications of these basics. Continue reading “The Non-Designer’s Design & Type Books — Robin Williams” →

UIs for rarely-used functions

Designing from Both Sides of the ScreenHow do you design interface elements that most users don’t use, but some users use all the time? And what about functions that are used by everybody, but only a few times? The answer depends on the context, but Ellen Isaacs and Alan Walendowski’s book Designing from Both Sides of the Screen has a useful set of guidelines. It’s a handy initial approximation to aid your design thinking. Continue reading “UIs for rarely-used functions” →

What is User Experience? at BCA4

One of my favourite talks from Barcamp Auckland 4 was What is User Experience? by Haunani Pao (@haunanipao). She described UX from the point of view of a practitioner and gave a lot of insights into how she approaches UX work. I made a (very) few notes, and you can also see her presentation slides. I liked the use of graphics in the presentation: they clarified the talk rather than distracting from it.

So here are some of my notes and thoughts on the talk. Continue reading “What is User Experience? at BCA4” →

Designing the Obvious — Robert Hoekman, Jr

Designing the ObviousThe title of this book describes the web application design strategy presented within. Hoekman calls it the
Framework for Obvious Design:

  • Know what to build — the conceptual element
  • Know what makes it great — the application element
  • Know the best ways to implement it — the interaction element

Continue reading “Designing the Obvious — Robert Hoekman, Jr” →

Designing and Building Great Forms at BCA4

Web guy Phil Howie talked at Barcamp Auckland 4 recently about designing forms on the web. He singled out Luke Wroblewski as a good source of wisdom on this topic, especially Luke’s book Web Form Design. I can second that recommendation — I’ve posted about Luke’s form design ideas before. Continue reading “Designing and Building Great Forms at BCA4” →

The Inmates Are Running the Asylum — Alan Cooper

The Inmates Are Running the AsylumThis is a passionate polemic on the dark side of rampant software technology. But it also shows a way out, and that is (cue celestial choirs) Interaction Design. Continue reading “The Inmates Are Running the Asylum — Alan Cooper” →

A Project Guide to UX Design — Russ Unger & Carolyn Chandler

A Project Guide to UX DesignThis is an overview of the entire world of user experience (UX) design from the point of view of a dedicated UX practitioner. It covers the UX side of project management, client interaction, design, development, and testing. Despite the broad coverage, its focus on the practitioner means it goes into a bit more depth than many such books.

The book includes good discussions of personas, user-centered design, user testing, wireframes, prototyping and more. Continue reading “A Project Guide to UX Design — Russ Unger & Carolyn Chandler” →

The Laws of Simplicity — John Maeda

The Laws of SimplicityThis simple book is worth reading for its mindset rather than for any concrete ideas. Maeda gives ten “laws” of simplicity, but they’re really pretty arbitrary. The tenth law is just a slogan (although a good one), and there are three extra laws at the end. Clearly he was intent on having ten laws in his list.

Here’s my interpretation of the laws:

Thoughtful reduction yields simplicity.
Organisation makes complex systems appear simple.
Savings in time feel like simplicity.
Knowledge makes everything simpler.
Simplicity and complexity need each other.
Simplicity needs a sympathetic context.
More emotions are better than less.
In simplicity we trust.
But some things cannot be made simple.

Continue reading “The Laws of Simplicity — John Maeda” →

Microsoft Inductive User Interface Guidelines

When designing Microsoft Money 2000, Microsoft followed a “new user interface model”, which they called inductive user interface (IUI). The Microsoft Inductive User Interface Guidelines are available on MSDN. I came across them a few months ago and thought they give a nice description of how to make simple, focussed applications screens, whether for a desktop or web application. I’ve summarised the main points here. Continue reading “Microsoft Inductive User Interface Guidelines” →

Don’t Make Me Think! — Steve Krug

Don't Make Me Think! at amazon.comTo mark World Usability Day 2009, here’s a review of a classic book on usability for web sites and applications. A lot of the information and advice seems obvious once you’ve read it, but judging by the websites that litter the web, it’s not always obvious when you’re building sites. If all web designers and developers read this book, the web would be a better place. And hey, it’s fun to read. Here are some of the book’s highlights. Continue reading “Don’t Make Me Think! — Steve Krug” →