A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Johnny Holland

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Android and iPhone App Design: Is It Twice the Work?

Less than one year ago, most of my clients were requesting iPhone app design. Today they are still asking for iPhone app design but many also say, “Do you do Android, too?” Most of them plan to start with one platform, see how things go, and then decide whether to invest in the second platform. This roll-out strategy is often tied into engineering costs. Since few developers possess the coding skills required for each platform—Objective C for iPhone and Java for Android—it’s often necessary to hire two development teams. But what about design? Would I, too, have to do twice the work when designing for the iPhone and Android? And what will happen if the Windows, Palm, and Blackberry app stores take off? Would I have to do five times the work?

Ginsburg, Suzanne. Johnny Holland (2010). Articles>User Interface>Mobile


Applying Curiosity to Interaction Design: Tell Me Something I Don’t Know

Given just a bit of information, we naturally crave more. Given a puzzle, we have to solve it. So, as interaction designers, how are we using this bit of insight into human behavior?

Anderson, Stephen. Johnny Holland (2009). Articles>User Centered Design>Interaction Design>Cognitive Psychology


Are We The Puppet Masters?

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.

Nunnally, Brad. Johnny Holland (2009). Articles>User Experience>Interaction Design>Rhetoric


Beyond Staggered Sprints: How TheLadders.com Integrated UX into Agile

Agile has a relatively short history in the broader view of software development. Integration of User Experience into Agile has an even shorter history with relatively few stories of overwhelming success. Over the last eighteen months, we at TheLadders have had some successes—and some failures—in our foray into a post-waterfall way of developing elegant, efficient and sophisticated consumer-facing software. This is our story.

Gothelf, Jeff. Johnny Holland (2010). Articles>User Experience>Agile>Case Studies


Content Lifecycle: Closing the Loop in Content Strategy

The process of publishing content, particularly when it includes content destined for the web, continues to be a mysterious process for corporate stakeholders, and sometimes for those involved in the process of publishing.

Bailie, Rahel Anne. Johnny Holland (2010). Articles>Content Management>Content Strategy>Workflow


Content Strategy: No Longer Just the Preserve of the Web Professional

Please, please, please could we stop talking about content strategy as if it only applies to the web design professional. The impact of content and user experience go far wider and should be at the heart of everyday marketing practice.

Baldwin, Jeremy. Johnny Holland (2010). Articles>Content Management>Content Strategy


Creating Successful Style Guides

Style guides are a great way to ensure user experience consistency when developing an application and a way to communicate user experience standards across an organization. They can be application specific, platform specific, and may encompass enterprise-wide standards. A style guide can help make the development of user interfaces more efficient and help ensure good user interface design practices.

Quinn, Amy. Johnny Holland (2010). Articles>User Experience>Style Guides


Deconstructing Analysis Techniques

On a recent project I needed to collect and analyze the content management templates in use across a large enterprise Intranet. We were looking to inventory the diversity of templates in use; whether they existed outside or within the enterprise content management system; what changes might be made to the ‘official’ template set to reduce the overall number of templates, and to prepare for the migration of all content to a new design a few months down the track. I looked around at the literature for information architecture and Web design generally and found quite a few references to content inventories and content analysis, but nothing on analyzing templates.

Baty, Steve. Johnny Holland (2009). Articles>Research>Methods>Web Design


Design for Interaction: Ideation and Design Principles

Once you’ve come up with tons of ideas, how do you choose which ones are worth pursuing? You use a set of design principles that will not only help select the best ideas, but guide the design through refinement, prototyping, development, and beyond. But first, let’s diverge and come up with concepts.

Saffer, Dan. Johnny Holland (2009). Design>User Experience>Interaction Design


Designing Alarms and Alerts

Is your design resistant to failure? If a worst case occurs, can the user recover and regain trust in your solution? This article explores the case of warnings, alerts and alarms, and provides an introduction to the important factors in gaining user attention to failures or critical events – and how to deal with them. As designers, we all would like to focus on the “happy trail” through our system; but as many users will tell you, annoyances and obstacles to a pleasurable user experience is how a system handles errors and important events out of the ordinary.

Michelsen, Mikkel. Johnny Holland (2010). Articles>User Interface>Risk Communication>Technical Illustration


Designing for Social Innovation: An Interview with Ezio Manzini

Professor of Design at the Politecnico di Milano, Ezio Manzini, took time away from airline food, flatbed seats and a view out the window of the Himalayas to talk to us about designing for social innovation and his work with the DESIS network.

Baty, Steve. Johnny Holland (2009). Articles>Interviews>Web Design>Social Networking


Engaging the User: What We Can Learn from Games

As an Interaction Designer, I’m perpetually impressed with the continual design success inherent in most video games. We are taught to know our users by understanding their goals, leveraging mental models, and taking ourselves out of the equation in order to design useful and appropriate interfaces. And although a user-centered design approach is invaluable, I can’t help but wonder how game designers just seem to nail it time and again for what are large and diverse audiences.

Sasinski, Marc. Johnny Holland (2009). Articles>User Experience>Interaction Design>Games


Good Interaction Designers Borrow, Great Ones Steal...

When you’re knee-deep in wireframes or CSS it’s all too easy to end up in a bubble of IxD books and blogs. One option is to take inspiration from vintage art and nature, but what about what other smart people are doing in their respective disciplines? In other words, why not steal from them? Here are my picks of a few other fields with ideas worth appropriating, or at least glancing at.

Telnaki, Vicky. Johnny Holland (2009). Articles>Information Design>Interaction Design


How to Combine Multiple Research Methods: Practical Triangulation

All research methods have their pros and cons, the problem comes when you rely on just one method. I’m often disappointed when UX and IxD practitioners describe the research they do, and it’s obviously very one dimensional. This is where the concept of “triangulation” comes into its own. Also known as “mixed method” research, triangulation is the act of combining several research methods to study one thing. They overlap each other somewhat, being complimentary at times, contrary at others. This has the effect of balancing each method out and giving a richer and hopefully truer account.

Kennedy, Patrick. Johnny Holland (2009). Articles>Research>Methods


How to Shop for Unmoderated Usability Testing Tools

I really don’t like to go grocery shopping. There are a lot of things I don’t like about it, but especially trying to choose the “right” product. There are just too many choices. Do we really need this many types of mustard? Unmoderated usability testing tools used to fit nicely into the old general store. There were just a few tools, and the differences were obvious. Recently, unmoderated usability tools have begun to fill an entire American sized grocery store. In this article I would like to help you walk down some of the aisles of this store, and provide a little guidance in how to shop for the right unmoderated usability testing tool. Think of me as your “personal shopper”!

Albert, Bill. Johnny Holland (2010). Articles>Usability>Testing>Software


Indi Young on Non-Directed Interviews

Jeff Parks talks with Indi Young about non-directed interviews. Indi shares the hallmarks of a non-directed interview and how to guide these conversations accordingly. She also shares the importance of understanding the difference between a screener and an interview; and the necessity to encourage interviewees to avoid statements of fact by focusing on verbs rather than nouns when sharing experiences.

Parks, Jeff and Indi Young. Johnny Holland (2010). Articles>Interviewing>Audio>Podcasts


iPhone Is Not Easy to Use: A New Direction for UX Design

I live and breathe user experience design, and yet it took me two years to get myself the device referenced by almost every single presentation about user experience since 2007… Apple’s iPhone. My reasons were very specific and perhaps boring, but what is interesting is the perspective this wait has afforded me. Since it was released, the iPhone has grabbed an astonishing share of mobile Web traffic, been regarded as a “game-changer” in both the design and business worlds, and has even been referred to as the “Jesus Phone.” Now that I’ve owned one for two weeks I’ve developed a different perspective. The iPhone is surprisingly difficult to use, but it sure is fun! And that is why it’s a game-changer.

Beecher, Frederick. Johnny Holland (2009). Articles>Usability>Interaction Design>User Experience


Lean UX Is Dead. Long Live Lean UX.

If we’re going to get pumped up about a new method, then let’s get pumped up for the right reasons. Lean UX isn’t about a new way to just make stuff and avoid deliverables. It’s about a new way to be strategic actors in our organizations.

Laugero, Greg. Johnny Holland (2012). Articles>User Experience>Minimalism>Workflow


The Like as Interest and Social Gesture

Likes are not just the core social gesture on Facebook. They are a one-click sign of interest used on many kinds of social services. Likes are like social bookmarks — a simple expression of interest in a bit of social data. That is, a selection of one thing among many things, an expression simplified in order to communicate to an audience.

Chan, Adrian. Johnny Holland (2010). Articles>User Centered Design>Social Networking


Low-Budget Prototyping Techniques

We believe user research is too important to give up. So we have to run tests quickly and cheaply for our clients to accept the cost - and we have to clearly show how it brings value. Because of this, we’ve developed a toolbox of quick, cheap UX research techniques. In this article, we’ll talk about one technique known as fast prototyping, and how we effectively used it in a recent project for Vodafone Ireland.

Barros, Belén, Colin Bentley and Elizabeth McGuane. Johnny Holland (2009). Articles>Usability>Prototyping>Testing


Manipulating Data: Analysis Techniques, Part 3

One of the key characteristics of a manipulation technique versus related techniques like transformation is that the underlying data remains unchanged. The main thing we’re doing is changing the relationship - logical or physical - that one piece of data has with another. Reorganizing the data helps us to identify patterns that may otherwise not be apparent. In fact, it is almost certain that most patterns won’t be visible at first glance. Let’s start by taking a more detailed look at some of the processes that contribute to the manipulation of data.

Baty, Steve. Johnny Holland (2009). Articles>Research>Methods>User Centered Design


My Recommendation: Stop Making Design Recommendations

It’s easy to believe them when clients ask us, designers, to make recommendations. We want to believe they love us for our wisdom, knowledge, and experience. They want our advice. And we love giving them advice. It makes us feel smart—like they finally “get” what we’re about. They want to do the right thing and we know how to help them. So, why is it bad to make design recommendations? They want it. We want it. Why shouldn’t we make the recommendations they’re asking us to give?

Spool, Jared M. Johnny Holland (2010). Careers>Consulting>Advice>Web Design


On the Power of Crowdsourcing: An Interview with Erik Hersman

Recently we got a chance to interview Erik Hersman. He is the co-founder of Ushahidi, a web application created to map the reported incidents of violence happening during the post-election crisis in Kenya.

van Geel, Jeroen. Johnny Holland (2010). Articles>Interviews>Social Networking


Organizational Culture 101: A Practical How-To For Interaction Designers

It’s happened to all of us. We walk into what we think is a Web redesign project, only to find we have unwittingly ignited the fires of WW III in our client’s organization. What begins as a simple design project descends – quickly – into an intra-organizational battle, with the unprepared interaction designer caught in the crossfire. What is it about design projects that seem to attract such power struggles? Contrary to what you might think, being stuck in the middle of an internecine battle is actually an opportunity to effect meaningful change on your client’s organization. But it requires a set of practical tools to negotiate these battles and a more sophisticated language and knowledge to exploit these events to create meaningful change.

Ladner, Sam. Johnny Holland (2009). Articles>Project Management>Interaction Design>Workplace


Pay Full Attention To People

Don’t do any analysis during an interview because you want the person who is talking to feel comfortable opening up, so you can get those underlying explanations.

Young, Indi. Johnny Holland (2012). Articles>Collaboration>Interviewing



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