What I learned going back to UX school

in Design, usability

Last week I was on an expert panel, giving feedback to final project presentations at the HCDE 518 User Centered Design course at the University of Washington, taught by Douglas Pyle (syllabus here). Its always fun to see what students are doing. They are the future after all.  My fellow experts were Matt Shobe, Larry Sisson and Marcos […]

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The top mistakes UX designers make: the writeup

in Design, usability

Last week I spoke at the Puget Sound SIGCHI meeting. Since it’s a group of designers and user researchers, I let them participate in picking the topic, and top mistakes won by a wide-margin. Rather than talk about tactical mistakes, such as in prototyping and running studies, I focused on the ones we overlook the […]

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Usability issue for Kindle on Amazon.com

in Books, Design, ui review, usability

Noticed a small usability issue with how Amazon.com promotes Kindle editions of print books. This is what’s known as a bad default – it often happens when there are multiple defaults that could be considered logically correct, but only one is going to be considered correct by most users. The scenario: while there is a […]

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‘UX professional’ isn’t a real job?

in Design, usability

Lots of fun was stirred up by this recent post, ‘UX professional’ isn’t a real job.  Which I think was sparked by this tweet: 'UX Professional' is a bullshit job title. It's just a way to over-charge naive clients. All web designers should be UX pros — Ryan Carson (@ryancarson) September 3, 2010 The post […]

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The tradeoff of the hyperlink

in Design, usability, web browsers

Nicholas Carr’s recent post on delinkification explores whether we’d be better off if we didn’t use hyperlinks in-line.  He’s hitting on an old issue among the hypertext crowd, as various kinds of hypertext systems, from Apple’s Hypercard, to Hyper-G, have explored the pros and cons of the entire concept of hypertext. In ancient times, I […]

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How UX can get anything they want

in Design, usability

I’m a fan of the unconventional view that most people, most of the time, worry about the wrong things. When it comes to the world of UX, designers, usability engineers, and the rest, they tend to complain about how little power they have, but spend little time doing skill development in how to gain influence […]

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TurboTax Design FAIL

in Design, ui review, usability

I’m so hopeful when I install the new version of something. Everyone is. An upgrade, the payment of cash for the new version, is an extremely hopefully act. I imagine they’ve fixed some things, made some nice improvements, and most of all, have taken into account the things I did with the old version. And […]

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When visualizations go wrong, part 2

in Design, usability

Here’s part 2 of my continuing series of visualizations gone wrong (part 1 was about a viz on web browser market share). The idea of metaphor is a good one. It’s one of the oldest communication tools we have. It’s clever and wise to use something people understand to help explain something they don’t. There’s […]

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Today is World Usability Day

in Design, ui review, usability

Today marks the third annual World Usability Day. There are many events taking place online and more in various cities around the world, possibly near you. My favorite event is the Alarm clock rally: You have to guess how hard to use each alarm clock is. In years past I did tons of free usability […]

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What every movie review website needs

in Design, usability

I can’t tell you how many times, even in notable magazines, I’ve read movie reviews that spoil the movie. It’s the most criminal, careless thing a critic can do: steal the narrative potency of someone else’s work. Even if it’s the worst movie in the world, a decent critic can tear it apart without spoiling […]

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WordPress 2.5: Review

in Software/Web development, ui review, usability

Last week I upgraded to the latest version of WordPress. I’m a huge WordPress fan, I love what these guys do, and I was psyched to see what they’d done this time around. Total time: 9 minutes. This was end to end, from downloading their software, to reading instructions, to the moment I was able […]

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The worst keyboard in the world

in Design, On Tour, usability

Ok, I confess, I have seen worse keyboards in the world. But this is definitely the worst space bar I’ve ever seen. I found this gem at an Internet kiosk in the Minneapolis airport, on my way back from Pittsburgh last week. My complaints: Do not SPLIT my space bar. The spot in the middle […]

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Usability review #4: Simplygoogle

in Design, ui review, usability

#4 on the free review list is SimplyGoogle a utility page, exploding out many of the google options onto a single page. Since there aren’t that many user tasks here, there wasn’t much to work with. The core problem with the page is layout – it’s an endless series of command buttons running down the […]

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Usability review #3: Ginablack.net

in Design, ui review, usability

#3 on the free review list is a site for the writer Gina Black. It’s a simple site and does many of the basics well, but the home page makes some fundamental mistakes. Issue Summary: Border pattern distracts from the page. Like ParkingFriend, this isn’t a poster and there’s no need to draw attention to […]

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Usability review #5: Freetheslaves.net

in Design, ui review, usability

#5 on the free review list is a site that has a purpose that’s hard to top: Freeing slaves. This site was tricky to work with. The visuals are strong, but way too strong. And the site is trying way too hard to grab attention that it defeats it’s own purpose. With a cause this […]

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Usability is not a verb

in Design, Software/Web development, usability

I started my career in usability, but switched within a year for a management role on the same project. Why? I realized that usability is not a verb. For all the data and advice I gave my smart team, I was dependent on them to make decisions. I realized my effectiveness in the cause of […]

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Usability review: parkingfriend.com

in Design, ui review, usability

#2 on the free review list comes from Geneva Switzerland, at parking-friend.com, a site for valet parking at the airport and other places. Summary: Designed like a poster. The visual elements are strong and dominate the page. This would great for a poster where you need to draw attention, but if someone is on the […]

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Usability review: iwethey.org

in Design, ui review, usability

I got hit with a case of the lazies, and didn’t get to my promised free usability reviews until now. These will be high speed reviews: 10 minutes of analysis, and the rest of my time (30-45 minutes per site) spent explaining the issues and offering alternatives. Drew Kime submitted this homemade forum software, used […]

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UI critique: feedshot.com

in Design, ui review, usability

Feedshot.com Summary: this isn’t a site as much as a dialog box for a service. Two buttons and four fields. Should be a piece of cake. But some layout issues and seperate of control creates a few stumbles. 6 of 10. (Would be a 7 but degree of difficultly here is low). Core tasks: What […]

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