UIEtips: The 5 Most Popular Articles and Blog Posts of 2011

Jared Spool

December 28th, 2011

During 2011, we published 33 articles and 174 blog posts and podcasts. We featured guest writers, published interviews, and wrote numerous articles about research we’ve done.

There’s value in listening and reading everything we produced in 2011. But we know time is a factor. So in the last UIEtips for 2011, we decided to share the 5 most popular blog posts and articles.

Here they are, in no particular order, the most popular articles and blogposts published during 2011.

Why I can’t convince executives to invest in UX (and neither can you)

Blog post published June 8, 2011, by Jared M. Spool

Every few weeks, a phone call or email comes out of the blue, asking me to perform magic. The inquirer always wants the same thing: to stand up in front of a room filled with their executives, delighting them with a presentation that will make them rise to their feet cheering. This audience will then burst out of the room, demanding their subordinates to invest everything in a whole-scale, no-holds-barred user experience effort that will revolutionize the company, the products, and the world.

OK, maybe I’m exaggerating a little. But I am quite frequently asked to convince executives to invest in user experience.

And it may surprise you to learn that I refuse the offer every time.

Read more about Jared’s rationale behind, Why I can’t convince executives to invest in UX.

6 Epic Forces Battling Your Mega Menus

Published August 24, 2011, by Jared M. Spool

“This is a perfect opportunity for us to use that mega menu we wanted to try out.” That’s what I heard a few weeks ago, sitting in a client meeting.

The client was dealing with balancing a lot of navigation while keeping their home page free for the important messages they want everyone to see. A mega menu – those large multi-column layered menus that pop up when you hover over the navigation – seemed like just the ticket.

However, our research shows mega menus come at a price. In this article, I talk about the epic forces that are constantly in battle with any mega menu implementation, preventing the users from getting value.

Read the article, 6 Epic Forces Battling Your Mega Menus.

Beans and Noses

Blog post published July 8, 2011, by Jared M. Spool

Over the years, I’ve received a lot of great advice. One piece of advice I keep coming back to is about managing expectations. It came from an old friend, just a few days after I’d started my consulting practice.

He was a seasoned consultant himself and I had asked him what I should know, just starting out. He told me his First Rule of Consulting:

No matter how much you try, you can’t stop people from sticking beans up their nose.

That was it. Beans up the nose. Really.

At the time, I thought he was nuts. Now, I’ve come to realize those are words to live by.

Find out more on what Jared means regarding beans and noses.

Creating Great Design Principles: 6 Counter-intuitive Tests

Published March 1, 2011, by Jared M. Spool

The excitement in the room was electric. Everyone was waiting for the big moment. Finally,
it was here.

For six months, the team had been working on their new design principles. In closed meetings, they were hashing out what they were going to do and how it would be different. Now, the project manager was walking to the front and revealing the fruits of their labors.

Easy to use. Enjoyable. Innovative.

People were shuffling in their seats. Really? Six months for this? “But, we’ve got executive buy-in. That took a lot of work,” the project manager defended. Right, because who could argue against ‘innovative’?

We’ve seen this scenario play out way too often. Teams create principles that prove too generic to be useful in any design decisions.

Learn about the six tests that separate out generic design principles from those that really work for a team in the article, Creating Great Design Principles: 6 Counter-intuitive Tests.

Do Users Change Their Settings

Blog post published September 14, 2011, by Jared M. Spool

Back in the early days of PC computing, we were interested in how people used all those options, controls, and settings that software designers put into their applications. How much do users customize their applications?

We embarked on a little experiment. We asked a ton of people to send us their settings file for Microsoft Word. At the time, MS Word stored all the settings in a file named something like config.ini, so we asked people to locate that file on their hard disk and email it to us. Several hundred folks did just that.

We then wrote a program to analyze the files, counting up how many people had changed the 150+ settings in the applications and which settings they had changed.

What we found was really interesting.

Read more about what our research discovered.

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