Aaron Gustafson – Designing Across Devices with Progressive Enhancement

Sean Carmichael

December 30th, 2013


[ Transcript Available ]

Aaron Gustafson

Responsive web design seems to come up in every other discussion or article about UX these days. And rightfully so as it’s an elegant way to make sure your design adapts to the multitude of devices on the market. But with the Internet of Things looming, it’s becoming more than just the visuals of your site that are of major concern. How your content displays on a car dashboard, “can a watch handle this page weight?”, or “is this refrigerator JavaScript enabled?” are not unrealistic issues moving forward.

Aaron Gustafson believes that progressive enhancement can go a long way to addressing these questions. In his virtual seminar, Designing Across Devices with Progressive Enhancement, Aaron discusses strategies for layering the experience. By thinking of the interface as a continuum, it can not only adapt to devices, but can become more robust with browser capabilities.

The audience had a lot of questions for Aaron during the live seminar and he joins Adam Churchill to address some of those in this podcast.

  • How can you approach pages where JavaScript is required to complete a task?
  • How do you prioritize design considerations?
  • Are semantic ID classes useful?
  • Are there performance issues with lazy-loading?
  • When can we stop supporting older browsers?

Recorded: December, 2013
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UIEtips: Explore These 7 Great Podcasts from 2013

Jared Spool

December 23rd, 2013

This past year we featured some fantastic podcasts from a variety of UX luminaries. It was difficult to cull the list but we managed to do just that. Here for your listening pleasure are our favorite podcasts from 2013.

Designing Microinteractions

Dan Saffer photoDo you think about the ringer on your phone and the ability to turn it off? Dan Saffer uses this example to kick off his book Microinteractions. Silencing the ringer on your phone is a common feature. If that feature is clunky or hard to find, it interferes with needing to silence it quickly, in a crowded movie theater for example. These tiny interactions that surround the main functionality are integral to rounding out the entire experience.

Listen to the podcast

Lean UX: Escaping Product Requirement Hell

Jeff Gothelf photoAssumptions tend to be the downfall of many research projects. Jeff Gothelf suggests starting with an attitude that you’re testing a hypothesis which leads to a more open discussion. The main thing is, hypotheses, just like design, can change. Being flexible and iterative in your design process encourages an environment of collaboration.

Listen to the podcast

When Responsive Design Meets the Real World

Jason Grigsby photoResponsive web design allows the notion of “one web” to be a reality. Designers are increasingly able to sell to their organization the idea of delivering content to multiple platforms. Putting it into practice is another story. Jason Grigsby, co-founder of Cloud Four, says that it is easier to sell the idea of responsive web design than to do it well.

Listen to the podcast

Prototyping for Mobile Designs

Kelly Goto photoBuilding a prototype is a great way to test your design early on with users. Whether you choose to go for a high-fidelity representation, or go lo-fi with paper, you can learn a lot about the usability of your site. Often, teams are concerned with which technique or tool to use because of the litany that are available. Kelly Goto, founder of Gotomedia, suggests that the importance of the tool lies more with when you use it than why.

Listen to the podcast

Using Scenarios to Design Intuitive Experiences

Kim Goodwin photoScenarios can represent the ideal picture of a user’s experience with a product or service because you can see how and when they’ll interact. However, a scenario is often missing the details of what’s going on at this moment in time and that can be a sticking point. This is where the value of the journey map emerges. Kim Goodwin has years of experience teaching teams how to create and work with personas and scenarios.

Listen to the podcast

Adapting Your Content for Mobile

Karen McGrane photoContent touches all aspects of a design. Having presentation independent content allows for it to adapt to different screens and devices. Karen McGrane suggests that having the specifics of how the content will be structured in place first, allows for the freedom and flexibility to make the right design choices. Karen says that thinking about content first, over how it will appear, helps ensure you’re communicating the right message.

Listen to the podcast

Accessibility as a Design Tool

Derek Featherstone photoAccessibility is important, but somewhere along the way it got an undeserved reputation for being ugly, costly, and driven only by technical-compliance requirements. Making it an integral part of your design early creates something that is beautiful, inexpensive, and user experience-driven. Derek Featherstone of Simply Accessible believes that implementing accessibility into your designs will flat out make for better design.

Listen to the podcast


Share Your Thoughts with Us

What were your favorite podcasts in 2013? Tell us about it below.

Managing Content Sprawl

Adam Churchill

December 20th, 2013

Information architecture is more than just navigation or structure. Instead, it’s how your users find you, understand you, and continue interacting with your company over time.

If flexibility in content publishing is a key goal for your team, then it’s time to try taxonomy-driven design.  On January 9, in her virtual seminar, Managing Content Sprawl, Stephanie Lemieux will show you how.

Join us for this seminar if you:

  • Want to create dynamic content that works across devices, contexts, layouts, and user networks
  • Realize that you don’t have to be bound by physical structures—especially in SharePoint
  • Are ready to make your content more meaningful, helpful, and flexible

Save your team’s spot, and kick off the year with one of our most popular presenters. Or, register your team for all 9 virtual seminars in the first half of 2014.



UIEtips: Announcing our Favorite Articles of 2013

Jared Spool

December 19th, 2013

Over the past year we published more than 35 articles. Here are 6 of our favorites in no particular order:

What Makes an Experience Seem Innovative?

There are so many better things we could be doing with our time than standing in line. But if we step out of the line, we lose our opportunity to get the service we want. Who would’ve thought you could innovate around something as simple as waiting in line?

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Since customers think standing and waiting is a necessary evil without alternatives, they may not complain about it. Organizations that focus on the specific activities to resolve their perceived customer objective, may overlook the deep frustration from tool time that’s happening in the gaps between those activities.

Teams that study the entire experience look into those gaps to see from where the deep frustration emerges. Addressing that frustration, when no other product or service has done so, will look innovative to the customer.

Read the article What Makes an Experience Seem Innovative


Feedback Illuminates the Rules

In this article, Dan Saffer discusses how a good microinteraction immediately shares a result with a user. It lets them know the next steps to take or if they’re going in the right direction.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Let’s take a microinteraction appliance like a dishwasher as an example. The dishwasher process goes something like this: a user selects a setting, turns the dishwasher on, the dishwasher washes the dishes and stops. If someone opens the dishwasher midprocess, it complains. Now, if the dishwasher has a screen, each of these actions could be accompanied by a message on the screen (“Washing Dishes. 20 minutes until complete.”). If there is no screen, there might be only LEDs and sounds to convey these messages. One option might be that an LED blinks while the dishwasher is running, and a chime sounds when the washing cycle is completed.

Read the article Feedback Illuminates the Rules


Extraordinarily Radical Redesign Strategies

In this article, Jared Spool discusses how it is common for companies to completely change their website design all at once versus gradually. But it often causes havoc for the user. There’s a strong case for making your redesign practically unnoticeable and slowly releasing small aspects of it.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

It’s your most loyal customers who will hate your flip-the-switch redesign the most. Designers are quick to declare, “Users hate change.” But that’s not it at all.

Your loyal users have invested a lot over the years mastering your current design, to the point where they are fast and efficient with everything they need to do. When you change it, even with something you want to label “new and improved,” all of that investment is flushed down the drain.

Read the article Extraordinarily Radical Redesign Strategies


Meetings: The Canary in the Culture Coal Mine

We all know that a company’s culture is a key factor to its success. Culture isn’t something you can whip up or easily change, but its presences will define what is and is not possible to accomplish. In this article, Kevin Hoffman talks about understanding the effects of an organization’s culture on its processes and outcome.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

The culture of a group or a project team is like water to fish: it is invisible yet everywhere, and it defines what is and is not possible to accomplish. Understanding or changing any aspect of a culture requires immense focused effort and luck.

Read the article Meetings: The Canary in the Culture Coal Mine


A Typical UX Team of One Job Description

In this article, Leah Buley discusses the various ways one can spot a UX team-of-one situation. Few UX jobs are advertised as a team-of-one gig, but there are usually telltale signs that give them away.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

To get a sense of what your colleagues do and don’t know about user experience, take them out to lunch and have a casual conversation. Consider a “Bathroom UX” campaign to promote a broader understanding of the roles and functions of user experience. Employers expect UX practitioners to be able to back up their recommendations and show their work. Employers also might expect the user experience practitioner to challenge and persuade others in the organization to adopt new approaches. UX teams of one sometimes have to be diplomatic, informed, and well-meaning meddlers.

Read the article A Typical UX Team of One Job Description


Five Prevalent Pitfalls when Prototyping

There are five common traps teams fall into with their prototyping efforts. Using prototypes is key when designing, but are you falling into some of the frequent traps with your prototyping efforts? Learn about 5 typical traps and how to prevent them.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

A great prototype can sell an idea better than a specification or other form of describing the design. Seeing the design in action and playing with it brings the underlying ideas to life.

It’s no wonder that we focus so much on what the prototype will look like and how it will work. We want to achieve that wow factor with the key decision makers and stakeholders on the project.

As important as the working prototype is, it’s not the most important outcome of a prototyping effort. What’s more important is what the team learns from the prototyping process.

Read the article Five Prevalent Pitfalls when Prototyping


Share Your Thoughts with Us

What was your biggest UX challenge in 2013? Tell us about it below.

Jeff Gothelf – Axe Requirements-driven Product Design Live!

Sean Carmichael

December 18th, 2013


[ Transcript Available ]

Jeff Gothelf

This is a sample of Jeff’s 90-minute talk from the User Interface 18 conference.

There’s a traditional way of building a product. Normally there’s a huge time investment made as you come up with the idea, design, build and re-build until it’s released. At this point you’re hoping this solution solves the users’ problems, and also that it doesn’t crash and burn. And if it does fail, there’s going to be some hell to pay.

Jeff Gothelf considers this “the old way” of product development. He posits that there is an immense amount of risk involved with this approach, and suggests that design and product development should be viewed as a hypothesis. Using this method, you’re putting hypotheses out there, testing them, and even if they fail, you’re continuously learning.

With these “small bites” being taken, you can design with a comfort level, knowing you’re not putting the entire project at risk. You’re collecting data and therefore able to iterate based upon objective observations. If the data proves you’re heading down the wrong path, you can quickly kill the idea and move onto the next hypothesis.

Want to hear more from Jeff? The recordings of the User Interface 18 conference are now available as UI18 OnDemand. Relive (or experience for the first time) all eight featured talks and Jared Spool’s informative and entertaining keynote. Get all of the details at uiconf.com.

Recorded: December, 2013
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Ben Callahan – Structuring Your Workflow for Responsive Web Design

Sean Carmichael

December 17th, 2013


[ Transcript Available ]

Ben Callahan

As responsive web design becomes more prevalent, our approach to designing for the web is changing. With former assumptions, as dismissive as they may have been, that the web was a fixed width, it was easier to have a more linear workflow. With the need for the web to reconfigure and adapt to different devices and displays, designers and developers need to adapt to changing workflows.

Ben Callahan of Sparkbox has experienced this changing landscape firsthand. He has found that even down to the core of how they price projects has changed with responsive work. The fact that their development and design process have continued to get more iterative and collaborative has had a ripple effect on all aspects of projects. This has allowed clients to become more involved in the process.

Ben says that getting the client involved from the beginning helps shape the scope and phases of the project. They try to learn as much as they can to inform what it is they’ll do next. He says that his team has really tried to embrace the idea and approach clients with “The understanding that we know less about your project today, then we will tomorrow”.

Ben is joining us to teach one of the daylong workshops in Denver, CO April 7-9 as part of the UX Immersion Mobile Conference. For more information about Ben’s and the other 5 workshops, visit uxim.co.

Recorded: December, 2013
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Dana Chisnell – Gaining Design Insights from Your Research Recruiting Process

Sean Carmichael

December 12th, 2013


[ Transcript Available ]

Dana Chisnell

Getting great participants for usability studies can provide invaluable insights for your design process. But if you aren’t doing your own recruiting, you could be missing out on additional important information. Dana Chisnell has learned that the best way to find great participants is to think of recruiting as bonus user research.

Dana is the author of The Handbook of Usability Testing. In her virtual seminar, Gaining Design Insights from Your Research Recruiting Process, Dana shares her thoughts on recruiting, how to find the best participants, and what types of things predict behavior. The audience asked a bunch of great questions during the live seminar. Dana joins Adam Churchill to answer some of those questions in this podcast.

  • How can you convince stakeholders not to use an agency for recruiting?
  • How measurable is the difference in quality of the participants when self-recruiting?
  • How can you get busy people to participate?
  • What is the best way to approach recruiting users with disabilities?
  • How do you recruit outside of your geographic location?

Recorded: December, 2013
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Get yours now — 13 hours of recordings from the UI18 Conference

Lauren Cramer

December 11th, 2013

UI18 OnDemand gets you front row access to 10 UX experts sharing best practices and cutting edge techniques on advanced design processes, flexible team-based techniques, and meaningful data display.

Recordings include:

Stephen Anderson – Help Users Decide
Is your phone bill easy or enjoyable to read? Help users make decisions more easily by displaying your information in highly visual, interactive, and meaningful ways.

Kim Goodwin – Get More from User Research
Think you don’t have time for user research? Once you see the tools and techniques Kim uses to quickly gather customer insights and prioritize designs, you’ll change your mind.

Adam Connor and Aaron Irizarry – Discuss Design without Losing Your Mind
Overcome the endless barrage of opinions that thwart your design progress. Get the techniques to make critique a positive experience for everyone involved.

Scott Berkun – Do Great Work from Anywhere
How can WordPress be effective when its entire team works remotely? Managers, designers, and developers all thrive in its autonomous environment — hear why.

Kevin Hoffman – Hold Meetings That Aren’t Excruciating
Enjoy your meetings by applying the same design thinking that UX pros already know and love. Get real work done and build consensus, regardless of personalities and opinions.

Dan Saffer – Dig into Tiny Design Details
The difference between a product we love and one we only tolerate often lies in these details. Turn your product’s dull microinteractions into memorable, engaging moments.

Jeff Gothelf – Axe Requirements-driven Product Design
Start spending your time on the right work for your business by creating a series of hypotheses. Then, run experiments to validate which solutions are worth building.

Christine Perfetti – Essential UX Techniques for Creating Delightful Products
Learn to gather insights that lead to user engagement and delight and help drive your product decisions.

Jared Spool – It’s a Great Time To Be a UX Designer
There’s never been a better time to be a designer. After years of wishing we’d have the recognition and appreciation for the value we bring, we’re now highly sought after for our talents and skills.

Purchase the recordings for $189
The special price of $189 ends January 16. Get your recordings today.

Karen McGrane – Mobile Strategies for Your Content

Sean Carmichael

December 10th, 2013


[ Transcript Available ]

Karen McGrane

Ensuring that your site is responsive or adaptive is becoming essential to your mobile design strategy. With the plethora of devices available, users want to be able to access your site on whichever one they’re using. The days of the separate mobile site are gone. But as your design is reflowing to display perfectly across devices, what’s happening to your content?

Karen McGrane is the go-to expert for content strategy. She reminds us that responsive design is a technique and not a silver bullet. It’s an important technique that, along with others, can help solve the larger design problem. After all, if the layout of content is confusing or simply lost in the design, the site itself won’t be very useful.

Simply tacking a responsive framework on top of your existing site will often end in disappointment. Image sizes need to be adjusted, headlines get truncated, and you need to go back and take another look at design decisions previously made. Having a solid strategy about how and what your site will display across devices will go a long way to developing an asset and content management system to accompany it.

Karen is joining us in Denver, CO April 7-9 as part of the UX Immersion Mobile Conference. She will be teaching one of the daylong workshops along with 5 other amazing speakers. For more information about Karen’s and the other workshops, visit uxim.co.

Recorded: December, 2013
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UIEtips: The Redesign of the Design Process

Jared Spool

December 10th, 2013

There are two kinds of work in the world: work we do alone and work we do with others. Working with others often requires meetings, which can be a waste of time and energy. Feedback from clients, stakeholders and team members is also critical for designers but at times terrifying and often missing a common language to share the feedback. Progress comes from understanding why something is the way it is, then examining how it meets or doesn’t meet desired goals. If you and your entire team can build a shared understanding of success through objective research and validation, you’ll start spending your time on the right work for your business and for your brain.

This past UI18 conference focused on best practices and cutting edge techniques on advanced design processes in the areas of Lean UX, critique, and successful meetings in addition to other critical UX topics. Just imagine what you could do with over 13 hours of video and audio recordings from the inspiring talks and all the presentation slides and materials from the workshops. Get UI18 OnDemand for just $189 until January 16. Share all this UX goodness with your entire organization for this one low price.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Today, the best designs aren’t coming from a single designer who somehow produces an amazing solution. The best designs are coming from teams that work together as a unit, marching towards a commonly held vision, and always building a new understanding of the problem.

These teams create their great designs without using any magic or special formula. They create great designs by applying their design skills to the act of designing.

Read the article The Redesign of the Design Process.

Is your design process geared towards forming a common understanding? Tell us about it below.