A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Mark Boulton

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1.
#33140

Card Sorting, Part 1

Card sorting is a user testing method for organising data into structure. There’s a lot of information about on what they are, how to conduct them. Problem is, they’re all over the place and mostly they’re written by scientists so tend to be a little difficult to grasp and bogged down in analysis (which can take over your life if you let it!) I’ve decided to document my understanding of how to plan, conduct and analyse a card sort, from a practitioners point of view.

Boulton, Mark. Mark Boulton (2007). Articles>Information Design>User Centered Design>Card Sorting

2.
#33141

Card Sorting, Part 2: Facilitation

You should now have everything ready to conduct your card sorts - cards, users, observers and most importantly a clear objective of what you want to achieve.

Boulton, Mark. Mark Boulton (2007). Articles>Information Design>User Centered Design>Card Sorting

3.
#33142

Card Sorting, Part 3: Analysis and Reporting  (link broken)

In the final part of the article I talk about perhaps the most important part of the procedure - Analysis. This is the part in which you can get the most bogged down. You must be thorough, ruthless and accurate. Card sorting won’t always give you the answer - it may just give you more questions. This is where the analysis comes in.

Boulton, Mark. Mark Boulton (2007). Articles>Information Design>User Centered Design>Card Sorting

4.
#33153

Feeling Your Way Around Grids  (link broken)

During art college I was subjected to a lecture on the Golden Section (who remembers that lecture, come on hands up?), that ambiguous set of rectangles that is requisite art school discussion. During this lecture I was shown slide after slide of seemingly tenuous links between paintings and sculptures, and this set of rectangles. My lecturer at the time seemed as equally uninterested, droning along in self-imposed boredom. What he failed to convey at the time, has taken me over 15 years to even begin to understand. So what is the importance of these boring rectangles and how do they relate to design?

Boulton, Mark. Mark Boulton (2005). Articles>Document Design>Methods

5.
#33149

Five Simple Steps to Better Typography: Hanging Punctuation

Hanging punctuation is an area of typographic design which has suffered at the hands of certain software products. It's a term which refers to glyph positioning to create the illusion of a uniform edge of text. It's most commonly used for pull-quotes, but I feel the most neglected is that of bulleted lists.

Boulton, Mark. Mark Boulton (2007). Articles>Document Design>Typography

6.
#33151

Five Simple Steps to Better Typography: Hierarchy—Size

Typographic hierarchy is how different faces, weights and sizes of typefaces structure a document. Some of these hierarchical devices are well-established conventions, such as cross heads and folios, so I'm not going to touch on them in this post. To keep it simple I'm going to concentrate on two things - size and weight. The first of which is size.

Boulton, Mark. Mark Boulton (2005). Articles>Typography>Information Design

7.
#33152

Five Simple Steps to Better Typography: Hierarchy—Weight

Typeface weight, and the choice of weight, is perhaps one area of typography that to most designers is simply a matter of choice. That choice is dictated by answering a design problem which is aesthetically, or content, motivated. What many designers do not realise is that there are rules which should govern the choice of weight - a typographic pecking order - which when followed, aids the designer's typesetting and can produce stunning results.

Boulton, Mark. Mark Boulton (2005). Articles>Typography>Information Design

8.
#33150

Five Simple Steps to Better Typography: Ligatures

The third installment of this series is dedicated to just one typographic element - Ligatures. Ligatures are combinations of letters - some of them are functional, some are decorative. They are more commonly seen in serif faces, although ligatures in sans-serif faces such as Gill Sans and Scala Sans are important to the typeface and should be used.

Boulton, Mark. Mark Boulton (2005). Articles>Typography

9.
#33148

Five Simple Steps to Better Typography: Measure the Measure

There is an optimum width for a Measure and that is defined by the amount of characters are in the line. A general good rule of thumb is 2-3 alphabets in length, or 52-78 characters (including spaces). This is for legibility purposes. Keep your Measure within these guidelines and you should have no problem with legibility. Please note that this figure will vary widely with research, this is just the figure I use and it seems to work well as a generally rule of thumb.

Boulton, Mark. Mark Boulton (2007). Articles>Document Design>Typography

10.
#33144

Five Simple Steps to Designing Grid Systems:

Aesthetics can be measured and more importantly can be constructed. If you want something to be aesthetically pleasing there are steps you can take to make sure it is going in the right direction. Now I'm not saying that 'follow these rules and you will create something beautiful'. What I am saying is that by following a few of these guidelines can go some way into creating something compositionally balanced, which will inherently be more aesthetically pleasing.

Boulton, Mark. Mark Boulton (2007). Articles>Document Design>Graphic Design>Aesthetics

11.
#33145

Five Simple Steps to Designing Grid Systems: Grid Systems for Web Design, Part 1  (link broken)

Designing grid systems for print is considerably more straight forward than designing grid systems for the web. First off,in print, the designer has a fixed media size - the paper size (or packaging, poster, whatever). Let's say a print designer has designed a magazine. The reader of this magazine can't suddenly increase the font size if they find it difficult to read - well they just move it closer to their eyes I guess. This is just one consideration, there are more but I'm sure you get the point.

Boulton, Mark. Mark Boulton (2007). Articles>Web Design>Document Design>Methods

12.
#33146

Five Simple Steps to Designing Grid Systems: Grid Systems for Web Design, Part 2

Fixed width grid design for the web. What is it, how do we do it and how do we implement it? For the purposes of this article, I'm going to be focussing on the theory of creating the grid rather than the implementation. I did mention in the last series that I would cover implementation using CSS, well I'm not going to. There are just so many resources and books available telling you how to create the CSS layouts you need—I'll touch on it, but I won't be going into too much detail.

Boulton, Mark. Mark Boulton (2007). Articles>Web Design>Document Design>Methods

13.
#33147

Five Simple Steps to Designing Grid Systems: Grid Systems for Web Design, Part 3

Flexible vs Fixed. Which one to choose? Why choose one over the other? Well you won't find the answers to those questions here. What I'm aiming to do with this article is to investigate how the theory of grid design can be applied to a flexible web page.

Boulton, Mark. Mark Boulton (2007). Articles>Web Design>Document Design>Methods

14.
#33143

Five Simple Steps to Designing Grid Systems: Subdividing Ratios

Ratios are at the core of any well-designed grid system. Sometimes those ratios are rational, such as 1:2 or 2:3, others are irrational such as the 1:1.414 (the proportion of A4). This first part is about how to combine those ratios to create simple, balanced grids which in turn will help you create harmonious compositions.

Boulton, Mark. Mark Boulton (2007). Articles>Document Design>Methods

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