User experience design is a subset of the field of experience design which pertains to the creation of the architecture and interaction models which impact a user's perception of a device or system. The scope of the field is directed at affecting 'all aspects of the user’s interaction with the product: how it is perceived, learned, and used.'
This article showcases modern and interesting contact/web form solutions found around the Internet. I also collected interesting ways how people decide to call their contact forms – get in touch, contact info, say hello, talk to me, say hey, connect, say “hi”, mail us and of course – contact us.
What happens when you look at the world through a lens of abundance? I propose that the best user experiences sit on top of an infrastructure layer of abundance. This generation of growth in the digital channel is directly attributable to abundance. Abundance means things get cheap because they are plentiful. Cheap servers, cheap software, cheap bandwidth all set the stage for great UX.
What affects decision outcomes most is the actual context in which people make decisions. All kinds of things affect decision making—the type of decision someone is making, the decision maker’s level of expertise, the number of options available, the way and order in which options are presented, and many others. This column examines how the number of available options affects the decision-making process.
What if design projects started by thinking about accessibility first? I don’t mean the basics like ALT text for graphics, following coding standards, and creating correctly structured information hierarchies. Building in accessibility at the code level is the only way to remove many of the barriers people with disabilities experience. But if our design thinking started with the idea of making a product that focuses on key tasks and is flexible, would that create a better user experience for everyone?
Empathy is what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. We have an ability to imagine things the way that others see them and how it makes them feel. We don’t even have to have a disability ourselves. Accessibility is NOT a checklist. Accessibility is about usability. Accessibility is a paradigm shift. Accessibility is a personal issue.
How shall we design accessible GUIs? Which are the main problems, which are the right paths and techniques for doing this? The article is a story about an experience, about the development of an accessible GUI and an analyses of the procedures.
Stakeholders with business, design, and technology viewpoints can pull products in different design directions—sometimes without knowing how the design work fits into an overall strategy. This can leave stakeholders feeling lost and unhappy. Creating a focus around design goals and asking and answering the hard design questions as a team is an effective way of coalescing a team around one design direction. At the same time, it can create a more optimal and fun working environment.
Time is an important design variable to understand. Your user experience is effected by it no matter what user experience you are serving up and the rules are different for every context. For example, the "three click rule" (users must get to their destination within three clicks) applies to e-commerce primarily but not to mortgage education, financial services usability or reading the New York Times online.
Usability is the combination of effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction with which the users accomplish defined goals in a given environment. User-centered documentation matches the users' mental model, thereby helping the users find information they want quickly and easily in their hour of need. The list of documentation usability criteria is fairly subjective at this time, and various opinionated discussion groups have contributed to this. Usable documentation is based on a deep understanding of the users' tasks, and this understanding can only be gained through interviewing representative users. Applying information architecture techniques, the content within documentation should be properly chunked so that the users can assimilate the information properly. Procedural guides should have a well-defined and searchable index that enables users to connect key application terms to their correct context. User-friendly documentation is always succinct, but never at the expense of omitting critical/useful information. It should be developed using a structured process so that it starts with the big picture and gradually adds lower level of details, addressing the needs of every unique group of users. Finally, the documentation must be tested among a representative group of users, and their feedback should be incorporated to make sure that it has met all of the major usability criteria.
Over the past several years, I’ve grown increasingly dissatisfied with the vague and somewhat solipsistic nature of the gradations UX professionals typically use to describe the severity of usability issues. High, medium, and low don’t begin to sufficiently explain the potential brand and business impacts usability issues can have.
Over the past several years, I’ve grown increasingly dissatisfied with the vague and somewhat solipsistic nature of the gradations UX professionals typically use to describe the severity of usability issues. High, medium, and low don’t begin to sufficiently explain the potential brand and business impacts usability issues can have. After incrementally iterating on several existing classifications of severity, I finally decided in late 2008 to simply create some new ones, which I’ll present in this column. For lack of a better term, I call them business-aligned usability ratings.
Just because you like something you created, it doesn't mean it's any good or you have a big ego. But it can be useful to stop and ponder something you did that you particularly like--so that you can understand your own design priorities a bit better.
Children’s exposure to computing devices depends on a great variety of factors—including cultural traditions, economic power, and family values. But there is no doubt that, in general, children’s access to technological devices and interactive products has increased dramatically in recent years. We are now seeing even higher adoption of technology among children—thanks to the unpredictably intuitive interaction of youngsters with touchscreen technologies and mobile devices that they can carry everywhere and use at any time. As a result, it is important that we, as designers of interactive products, understand what is different in the development of digital applications that we’re targeting specifically for children. What are the implications for the UX design and user research methods we have traditionally followed?
The following discussion was conducted over a six-week period late in 2002. We invited members of Loop’s advisory board and several distinguished guests to address the question of how we, as an emerging community of interest, might begin to address the critical question of preserving the history of our field.
What started out as something people did via e-mail and bookmark-sharing services like Delicious, is now moving to Facebook, Twitter, and other social broadcasting services. It is just so much more efficient to share a link once with all your friends and followers than to send it to each one individually.
Through the designs we create, we have the ability to directly influence another person’s behavior. The ethical implications of this are important and not easily definable. I was interested in ethics before I ever considered becoming a designer, but the lessons I learned while studying philosophy impacts the way I view my designs. In nature, our goal is a good one. We strive to help others by improving the interactions that define their life. This drives us to create and innovate new ways of interacting with old concepts. The question remains, do we have the right to influence another person? Further, are there guiding principles we can follow that can keep us on the moral path? The answers to these questions rests on the shoulders of the whole community, not a single person or group.
Guidelines are statements of direction. They’re about looking to the future and what you want to incorporate in the design. Guidelines are aspirational. Heuristics challenge a design with questions. The purpose of heuristics is to provide a way to “test” a design in the absence of data and primary observation by making an inspection. Heuristics are about enforcement. Both guidelines and heuristics are typically broad and interpretable. They’re built to apply to nearly any interface. But they come into play at different points in a design project.
There is no single best way to have users sign up for an account online, because there are too many variables to be considered for this aspect of the user experience. Varying factors can include security, purpose of the account, understanding of the user at the time of signup, what information they must have ready and what they will have to do next, among other things. So to point to a cool new site – even a competitor’s – and say “I want a one-field signup process like that!” does not necessarily serve your needs or your user’s. In fact, there is an awesome site I recommend to people that suffers greatly from a confusing signup process because they tried to simplify it too much.
Until recently, emotion was an ill-explored part of human psychology. Some people thought it an evolutionary left-over from our animal origins. Most thought of emotions as a problem to be overcome by rational, logical thinking. And most of the research focused upon negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, and anger. Modern work has completely reversed this view.
Audio signals also help us interact with our environment. Some of these signals are designed: We wake to the buzz of the alarm clock, answer the ringing telephone, and race to the kitchen when the shrill beep of the smoke alarm warns us that dinner is burning on the stove. Other audio signals are not deliberately designed, but help us nonetheless. For instance, we may know the proper sound of the central air conditioning starting, the gentle hum of the PC fan, or the noise of the refrigerator. So, when these systems go awry, we notice it immediately--something doesn't sound right. Likewise, an excellent mechanic might be able to tell what is wrong with a car engine just by listening to it run.
Augmented cognition is about understanding the state of a user’s brain and using that understanding to manage the user’s interaction with a computer. For example, if a user were receiving too much information in image form to process it effectively, you might trigger an audio alert to ensure that he responds to another pressing matter. In this way, the user avoids becoming overloaded with information and is in a better position to act appropriately.
Kathy Sierra is the author of many successful books, including the award winning Head First series with Bert Bates. She’s an in-demand conference speaker, trainer, programmer, and the founder of the online community JavaRanch. In this interview, she and Nicky Bleiel discuss her new book, Badass: Making Users Awesome.