UIEtips: 6 popular articles from 2012

Jared Spool

December 19th, 2012

During 2012, we published 37 articles in a variety of areas in user experience. Sure, we’d love you to read all the articles, but we realize it’s difficult to find the time. So we’ve put together a list of the more popular articles. Some of these articles are by guest writers, others are based on the research we d

Use the insights you learn from these articles to enhance your designs in 2013. Now, without any further ado and in no particular order here are the 6 article excerpts and their links.

The Magical Short-Form Creative Brief
Jared M. Spool

Something this simple shouldn’t have such wide–spread, long–term effects on the quality of a team’s work. Yet surprisingly, it does.

We first saw it with one of our clients. It was this weird ritual at the start of every meeting that discussed one of their designs.

One of the team members, always a different person, would read the exact same document out loud, word for word. The document, about three–quarters of a printed page, contained a tiny creative brief about the design they were working on. Reading it out loud was how they started every design meeting, whether it was a brainstorming meeting or a design review.

Typically, this little pledge–of–allegiance–like ritual took about two minutes to complete. Not much really. However, it completely changed the tenor of the meeting.

Read the rest of Jared’s article.

Device Experience and Responsive Design
Luke Wroblewski

While the task of designing Web applications and sites for multiple devices can be daunting, two techniques can make the process more manageable: classifying device experiences and designing/building responsively. Here’s how these two approaches can work together to optimize interface designs across a wide range of connected devices.

Read the rest of Luke’s article.

Unleashing the Power of a UX KPI
Jared M. Spool

The Eight-Minute # Field

It took the customer-service representative what seemed like forever to explain this one field. In fact, it was just eight minutes – we timed it. He explained what the field did, how it worked, but most importantly, that the customer should never, ever, under any circumstances, change the value of this field in his customer profile to any value other than what it was currently set to. The field’s label was a very uninformative pound sign (‘#’) and the value that should never change was 1.

The customer on the other end of the phone will never get those eight minutes back. Nor will the customer-service representative. Nor will the three developers watching the recording.

But that eight-minute description of the # field and its never-to-change value was critical to the success of the product. It helped the team identify something that could easily be fixed and have ripple effects through the entire product.

Read the rest of Jared’s article.

Designing What’s Never Been Done Before
Jared M. Spool

For today’s designer, much of the work we do focuses on improving designs that already exist. Whether what we’re working on is something we’ve built or we’re improving on a competitor’s idea, we can look to what users do today to figure out where we can make the design better. We understand how to identify the improvements by using time-proven methods and processes.

However, with greater frequency than ever before, we now get opportunities to work on design solutions that don’t have existing models to work from. We’re working in the world of the “never been done before.”

Maybe we’re integrating a new technology into a workflow that’s never had something like that before, much like what’s been happening with handheld devices in medicine? Maybe we’re providing new data and insights to people because we can now combine data in a way we never could before, like what’s happening in the world of big data? Or maybe we have a way for users to take advantage of each other’s experience and knowledge, like some of the emerging crowd-sourcing applications?

Read the rest of Jared’s article.

In Defense of Lorem Ipsum
Karen McGrane

Lorem Ipsum is one of those things like silicone breast implants or orange spray cheese in a can that just seems wrong. It’s fake. It’s unabashedly fake. It calls attention to itself by being so fake, making you look at it in wonder, asking: “What is that? Can that be real?”

We don’t like fake, right? We like organic cheeses, and, well, organic breasts, and we’re 100% in favor of real content in our designs.

What you put in your mouth or have surgically inserted into your body is your business. What you put in your wireframes or your design comps? Well, that’s a heated public debate. With respected thought leaders asking us to pinky-swear that we’ll never, ever use Lorem Ipsum ever again, I want to say a few words in support of greek text.

Read the rest of Karen’s article.

Prototyping’s Resurgence: Communicating the Designer’s Intent
Jared M. Spool

Interaction design is facing a paradox because of two seemingly conflicting truths. The first truth, “Great design is done in the designer’s head.” Design is a thoughtful activity. We sit and consider what we’re designing very carefully. If we don’t have time and a place to think, the odds are we’ll arrive at a poor design.

However, that seems to be in direct conflict with another truth: “Design is a team sport.” Today’s interaction design is so involved, so complex, that it can’t be done by one person alone. Great designs come from teams of designers working together.

Yet we can’t shove the entire team into our head (or even part of the team, for that matter). So how do we reconcile these two truths? How can we do the design in our head while working as a team?

This is why prototyping is seeing a resurgence amongst interaction designers. I say resurgence because for the last ten or so years, prototyping hasn’t been a popular design activity.

Read the rest of Jared’s article.

See these authors in person

All three authors will be presenting at next spring’s UX Immersion Mobile Conference in Seattle, WA. Three days that delivers in-depth full-day workshops on every important topic for mobile UX designers.

Which articles did you find most valuable, or share with others this year? Tell us about it.

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