Category: Design

This category features articles on general design principles, Web design, typography, user interface design and related topics. It also presents design showcases and practical pieces on the business side of design. Curated by Alma Hoffmann.

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User Experience Takeaways From Online Car Shopping

Emergency car shopping is no fun. This past month was the second time I had to shop for a car in a short timeframe without advance warning. Like most informed shoppers, I went online to get a feel for my options, armed with knowledge of what I was looking for: apart from safety, gas mileage and reliability, it had to comfortably seat six and not require me to take out a second mortgage.

User Experience Takeaways From Online Car Shopping

I felt like a persona out of a scenario that I had role-played a few years ago when our UX team conducted a global UX benchmarking project for General Motors. That year, a JD Power consumer satisfaction study revealed that 68% of GM’s US websites were below the industry average, with two in the bottom 10%. This time, though, the experience was personal and made me think about the lessons to be learned from the experience of shopping for a car online that could be applied to any website.

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Design Patterns: When Breaking The Rules Is OK

We’d like to believe that we use established design patterns for common elements on the Web. We know what buttons should look like, how they should behave and how to design the Web forms that rely on those buttons. And yet, broken forms, buttons that look nothing like buttons, confusing navigation elements and more are rampant on the Web. It’s a boulevard of broken patterns out there.

Design Patterns: When Breaking The Rules Is OK

This got me thinking about the history and purpose of design patterns and when they should and should not be used. Most interestingly, I started wondering when breaking a pattern in favor of something different or better might actually be OK. We all recognize and are quick to call out when patterns are misused. But are there circumstances in which breaking the rules is OK? To answer this question properly, let’s go back to the beginning.

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The History Of Usability: From Simplicity To Complexity

The story of usability is a perverse journey from simplicity to complexity. That's right, from simplicity to complexity—not the other way around.

The History of Usability: From Simplicity to Complexity

If you expect a "user-friendly" introduction to usability and that the history of usability is full of well-defined concepts and lean methods, you're in for a surprise. Usability is a messy, ill-defined, and downright confusing concept. The more you think about it—or practice it—the more confusing it becomes.

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Stop Redesigning And Start Tuning Your Site Instead

In my nearly two decades as an information architect, I’ve seen my clients flush away millions upon millions of dollars on worthless, pointless, “fix it once and for all” website redesigns. All types of organizations are guilty: large government agencies, Fortune 500s, not-for-profits and (especially) institutions of higher education.

Stop Redesigning And Start Tuning Your Site

Worst of all, these offending organizations are prone to repeating the redesign process every few years like spendthrift amnesiacs. Sadly, redesigns rarely solve actual problems faced by end users. I’m frustrated because it really doesn’t have to be this way. Let’s look at why redesigns happen, and some straightforward and inexpensive ways we might avoid them.

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Gamification And UX: Where Users Win Or Lose

The gaming industry is huge, and it can keep its audience consumed for hours, days and even weeks. Some play the same game over and over again — and occasionally, they even get out their 15-year-old Nintendo 64 to play some Zelda.

Gamification And UX: Where Users Win Or Lose

Now, I am not a game designer. I actually don’t even play games that often. I am, though, very interested in finding out why a game can keep people occupied for a long period of time, often without their even noticing that they’ve been sitting in front of the screen for hours. I want my apps and products to affect my visitors in the same way.

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Designing With Audio: What Is Sound Good For?

Our world is getting louder. Consider all the beeps and bops from your smartphone that alert you that something is happening, and all the feedback from your appliances when your toast is ready or your oven is heated, and when Siri responds to a question you’ve posed. Today our technology is expressing itself with sound, and, as interaction designers, we need to consider how to deliberately design with audio to create harmony rather than cacophony.

Designing With Audio: What Is Sound Good For?

In this article, we’ll explore some of the uses of audio, where we might find it and when it is useful. This is meant not as a tutorial but rather as a discussion of some basics on using audio feedback.

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Not Just Pretty: Building Emotion Into Your Websites

Emotional design has become a powerful tool in creating exceptional user experiences for websites. However, emotions did not use to play such an important role on the Web. Actually, they did not use to play any role at all; rather, they were drowned by a flood of rational functionality and efficiency.

Not Just Pretty: Building Emotion Into Your Websites

We were so busy trying to adapt to the World Wide Web as a new medium that we lost sight of its full potential. Instead of using the Internet on our terms, we adapted to its technical and, at first, impersonal nature. If it wasn’t for visionary contemporaries such as Don Norman or Aarron Walter, we might still be focusing on improving processes, neglecting the potential of emotional design.

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