Posts about Critiques


Presidential Election 2016: The Best UI

With each leap year comes a new race to the White House. Candidates are constantly being compared with regard to their positions on health care, international policy, civil rights, and the economy. However, one important issue has fallen off the radar this election: the strength of design of the leading candidates' websites. In this article, I'll compare and assess the designs of the five leading candidates' official campaign website homepages.

Disclaimers 

  • Candidates were selected based on their performance in the primaries at the time of this writing.
  • Candidate names are displayed in alphabetical order.
  • The messaging and imagery of candidate sites can (and do) change on a daily basis.
  • Content may appear differently depending on when you view the site.
  • The websites were viewed in New York City using Google’s Chrome browser. Content may appear differently depending on where you are.

Splash Pages

With the exception of Donald Trump, nearly all of the candidates’ websites use a redirect to a splash page in an attempt to solicit campaign donations or get users to join their cause. All of these splash pages appear on a user’s first visit to the site and most contain a hard-to-find call to action to reach the actual website.

Besides Donald Trump, who does not have a splash page at all, Hillary Clinton has the least obtrusive splash page -- mainly because it isn’t truly a splash page. Most times her site displays a small, easily dismissible pop-up, over a full-screen, transparent background. On rare occasions, after clearing cookies for the site in order to view it as a first time user, an actual splash page appears, asking for donations.

Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders sometimes display a splash page to promote an upcoming state’s primary or to gather support and collect donations after a win.

Marco Rubio appears to have a persistent splash page for first time visitors, which is always displaying a donation module.

Splash Page Comparison 

Read More

With each leap year comes a new race to the White House. Candidates are constantly being compared with regard to their positions on health care, international policy, civil rights, and the economy. However, one important issue has fallen off the radar this election: the strength of design of the leading candidates' websites. In this article, I'll compare and assess the designs of the five leading candidates' official campaign website homepages.

Read More

Against Infinite Scroll

I was recently part of a Cooper Slack conversation about infinite scrolling navigation.

"I hate infinite scroll," I said. 

"👆," several people responded. 

"But why?" asked someone else.

In my worldview, infinite scroll has three major failings. I’ve listed them here from least to most important. 

Read More

A user experience critique of infinite scrolling as a navigation pattern, based on a Slack conversation with colleagues at Cooper. 

Read More

The color of empathy is not flat: Insights to Color Blindness & Design.  

Line, motion, space, texture, size , form, shape, typography, and color.

As a member of the 9 structural units, or elements of visual interaction design, the role of color is integral to the way we communicate, parse, and enhance information on and off the screen. In an attempt to simplify human interaction with the digital interface, designers have pursued the style of a “flat UI”. This bare-bones approach relying mostly on rectangular shapes and solid, flat color is meant to place a user’s focus on content. The visual shift from skeuomorphism to flatland also helped to foreshadow a product’s ease-of-use by dramatically simplifying how the interface looked. 

Read More

Designing for color blindness (aka Daltonism) is an example of how designers can practice visual empathy and learn to experience the world from someone else’s perspective.

Read More

Easy win: Citibank

Being an interaction designer means you’re aware of improvements that can be made in the things you use every day. This one is about a dropdown in Citibank’s password recovery flow. Hey, Citi! Here’s an easy win.

So you’ve set up your Citi credit card to autopay, and don’t recall your password on the odd time you need to log in. You go to reset it, provide the identifying information, and click Reset Password, only to have the page stop you with some red text and inform you that you missed a required field. A required field with only one possible selection.

Read More

Being an interaction designer means you’re aware of improvements that can be made in the things you use every day. This one is about a dropdown in Citibank’s password recovery flow. Hey, Citi! Here’s an easy win. So you’ve set up your Citi credit card to autopay, and don’t recall your password on the odd time you need to log [...]

Read More

Easy win: Twitter

Being an interaction designer means you’re aware of improvements that can be made in the things you use every day. This one is about the notifications in Twitter’s iPhone app. Hey, Twitter! Here’s an easy win.

So you’re on your iPhone when it buzzes in your hand. Hey, neat! A Twitter somethingorother. You open the app, only to see that there are no notifications for your current Twitter profile.

That’s cool. It must be for one of the other Twitter profiles you use. So you open the list of profiles only to see…nothing. No hint of where this little tweet of goodness awaits you.

Read More

Being an interaction designer means you’re aware of improvements that can be made in the things you use every day. This one is about the notifications in Twitter’s iPhone app. Hey, Twitter! Here’s an easy win.So you’re on your iPhone when it buzzes in your hand. Hey, neat! A Twitter somethingorother. You open the app, only to see that there [...]

Read More

Easy Win: Photoshop

Being an interaction designer means you're aware of improvements that can be made in the things you use every day. This one is about the crop tool found in the most popular digital image manipulation software, Photoshop. Hey, Adobe! Here's an easy win.

Easywin01.png

Read More

Being an interaction designer means you're aware of improvements that can be made in the things you use every day. This one is about the crop tool found in the most popular digital image manipulation software, Photoshop. Hey, Adobe! Here's an easy win.

Read More

Planets Don't Have Orbits

 

 

I heard an argument forwarded by Andrew Hinton way back in Dublin at the Inteaction12 conference. The short form goes like this: "Users don't have goals." (UDHG for short.) Being a big believer in Goal-Directed Design, I thought the argument to be self-evidently flawed, but since it came up again as a question from a student at my Cooper U class in Berlin, I feel I ought to address it.

Are there, in fact, goals?

Given just those four words, it seems like it might be about users actually not having goals. But of course, goals do exist. If they didn't, why would anyone get out of bed in the morning? Or do work? Or make conference presentations? If we didn't have goals, nothing would be happening in the world around us. But of course we do we do get out of bed. We do work. We write blog posts. All because we have reasons which—for clarity—we call goals. This example illustrates that what UDHG really means that most people don't have explicit goals.

Read More

I heard an argument forwarded by Andrew Hinton way back in Dublin at the Inteaction12 conference. The short form goes like this: "Users don't have goals." (UDHG for short.) Being a big believer in Goal-Directed Design, I thought the argument to be self-evidently flawed, but since it came up again as a question from a student at my Cooper U [...]

Read More

Design > Critique > Repeat

There’s a lot of writing out there on how to run a productive critique.

One of my favorites is by Jake Knapp of Google Ventures where he lays out nine rules to follow. For example, one great rule is to write it before you say it - this requires 5-10 minutes of silent time to look at the work and write down your initial reactions. It allows you to respond to the work individually – eliminating groupthink. Scott Berkun also wrote a great guide on setting up a critique and goes into the details of specific questions to ask and what materials you’ll need.

So you’ve followed the best practices and just had a super productive critique.

 

Now what?

Read More

There’s a lot of writing out there on how to run a productive critique.One of my favorites is by Jake Knapp of Google Ventures where he lays out nine rules to follow. For example, one great rule is to write it before you say it - this requires 5-10 minutes of silent time to look at the work and write [...]

Read More

Your Flat Design is Convenient for Exactly One of Us

Illustration built on creative commons 2.0 Portrait of a Man by Flickr user and photographer Yuri Samoilov

I’m OK with fashion in interaction design. Honestly I am. It means that the field has grappled with and conquered most of the basics about how to survive, and now has the luxury of fretting over what scarf to wear this season. And I even think the flat design fashion of the day is kind of lovely to look at, a gorgeous thing for its designers’ portfolios.

 

But like corsets or foot binding, extreme fashions come at a cost that eventually loses out to practicality. Let me talk about this practicality for a moment.

In The Design of Everyday Things, Donald Norman distinguished between two ways that we know how to use a thing: information in the world, and information in your head.

 

 

Information in the world is stuff a user can look at to figure out. A map posted near the subway exit is information in the world. Reference it when you need it, ignore it when you don’t.

 

 

Information in the head is the set of declarative and procedural rules that users memorize about how to use a thing. That you need to keep your subway pass to exit out of the subway is information in your head. Woe be to the rider to throws their ticket away thinking they no longer need it.

For flat design purists, skeuomorphism is something akin to heresy, but it’s valuable because it belongs to this former category of affordance: it is information in the world. For certain, the faux-leather and brushed-aluminum interfaces that Apple had been pumping out were just taking things way too far in that direction, to a pointless mimicry of the real world. But a button that looks like a thing you can press with your finger is useful information for the user. It’s an affordance based on countless experiences of living in a world that contains physical buttons.

Pure, flat design doesn’t just get rid of dead weight. It shifts a burden. What once was information in the world, information borne by the interface, is now information in users’ heads, information borne by them. That in-head information is faster to access, but it does require that our users become responsible for learning it, remembering it, and keeping it up to date. Is the scroll direction up or down this release? Does swipe work here? Well I guess you can damned well try it and see. As an industry now draped in flat design, we’ve tidied up our workspace by cluttering our user’s brains with memorized instruction booklets for using our visually sparse, lovely designs.

So though the runways of interaction design are just gorgeous right now, I suspect there will be a user-sized sigh of relief when things begin to slip a bit back the other way (without the faux leather, Apple). Something to think about as we gear up our design thinking for the new year.

Illustration built on creative commons 2.0 Portrait of a Man by Flickr user and photographer Yuri SamoilovI’m OK with fashion in interaction design. Honestly I am. It means that the field has grappled with and conquered most of the basics about how to survive, and now has the luxury of fretting over what scarf to wear this season. And I [...]

Read More

The YotaPhone

This morning Dan Weissman interviewed me on NPR’s Marketplace about the viability of the 2-screen YotaPhone. (Americans will pronounce it like “Yoda” phone, and I suspect the semi-implied sci-fi connection will actually help.) The timeslot on NPR didn’t offer any time to expound on punditry, so here’s more on what I’m thinking.

The success of a new product in a mature market depends on many, many things. One of those is uniquely addressing an unmet need. Battery life is as yet one of those unmet needs. Until we solve some of those pesky constraints of physics and/or battery tech, we have to find ways to lengthen the utility of the phone within the constraints of existing power reserves. YotaPhone utilizes a second, e-Ink display on the “back” of the phone, and this helps battery life in two ways.


Wikimedia Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

But first, a paragraph of a primer: If you’re not familiar with the tech, e-Ink is an “electrophoretic display” where tiny transparent spheres can be turned black or white with a zap of a particular charge of electricity. (There’s a color version, but it’s more expensive and not as common.) The spheres are tiny enough to work as pixels, and that’s the basis of the display. It’s the thing driving Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook, among other products.

First: Sipping from the battery cup

One of the great things about e-Ink is that it uses very little electricity, especially compared to the full-color, backlit screens that are on most smartphones. At a 20% battery warning, then, you could turn the thing around and instead of having a handful of minutes left, you could conceivably have hours of phone time left, as long as you stick to the low-energy e-Ink display. That’s pretty cool.

Second: Life after battery death

The other crazy nifty thing about e-Ink is that once the display is refreshed, it uses no power. What that means is that you can design the phone to display critical information as its dying act, and the phone is still useful—It doesn’t become a brick. About to lose battery? Have it display the most common/recent phone numbers you access, so you can make use of some other phone. Have it display the directions you’re currently following so you can get there. Have it display your electronic boarding pass for your flight. In each of these mini-scenarios, YotaPhone can extend the utility of the phone for its users past the battery life. (That said, note that I haven’t been shipped one to play with or test, and don’t know if this functionality is built into the phone. I’m just sussing out opportunities.)

The YotaPhone is not the first to employ e-Ink. The Motorola Motofone (note the rhyming name) was released in 2006, and it featured an e-Ink display. But the e-Ink was its only display. Motofone asked its users to downgrade their whole experience in exchange for battery life, which is not a concern for most of the use of the phone. Contrast that with the YotaPhone, which says that you can have the premium sensory experience of full color and brightness as long as the battery reserves are flush. AND it gives users an option to downgrade their experience when that becomes necessary, and that’s new.

Also note that there are other design challenges to having two screens at once, but these are for a blog post longer than this one. (Somebody hire us to design for this little guy, and you can get a really, really good answer to that question. :)

Here at Cooper we design around user’s goals, and mobile phone users’ goals are actually to have mobile access anytime and anywhere, implying infinite power. And if someday battery capacity and/or decay are simply “solved,” the YotaPhone will seem very much like an antiquated, stopgap solution. But until then, it seems like a very good stopgap solution to me, one that I’d personally find useful, and I suspect the market will, too.

This morning Dan Weissman interviewed me on NPR’s Marketplace about the viability of the 2-screen YotaPhone. (Americans will pronounce it like “Yoda” phone, and I suspect the semi-implied sci-fi connection will actually help.) The timeslot on NPR didn’t offer any time to expound on punditry, so here’s more on what I’m thinking.The success of a new product in a mature [...]

Read More

1 2 3 4 5 6