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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.
As a veteran designer, developer and project manager for more websites than I can count, I’ve identified a common problem with many Web projects: failure to plan. The same issues come up repeatedly in my work, so I’ve written this guide in order to help clients, other designers, businesses and organizations plan and realize successful websites.
This guide is written in relatively non-technical language and provides a broad overview of the process of developing a website, from the initial needs assessment through the launch, maintenance and follow-up. If you’re building a four-page website for your family reunion or a 5000-page website for a Fortune 500 company, then this guide might not be for you; it will either be too detailed or way too short, respectively.
The thing that makes navigation difficult to work with in Web design is that it can be so versatile. Navigation can be simple or complex: a few main pages or a multi-level architecture; one set of content for logged-in users and another for logged-out users; and so on. Because navigation can vary so much between websites, there are no set guidelines or how-to’s for organizing navigation.
Designing navigation is an art in itself, and designers become better at it with experience. It’s all about using good information architecture: “the art of expressing a model or concept of information used in activities that require explicit details of complex systems.”
Content strategy is a beast with many heads, names and trajectories. To approach it is to be sucked in full force. Even so, as crucial as content strategy is, conveying its gravity to a big audience, or to key administrators, is often hard. Being so inherently complex, it’s often easiest to tackle by example.
My first job as a Web content writer involved creating a campaign that promoted holiday spending and travel. I came up with clever tag lines that incorporated lyrics from Bing Crosby Christmas jingles. I thought I was doing great work, and when I got an email from my boss to discuss the campaign, I assumed I would get a pat on the back.
Nothing ruins a great website UI like people using it. At least, it often feels that way. You put in days or weeks building the interface, only to find that a vast majority of visitors abandon it partway through the process that it supports. Most of the time, visitors leave because they’ve hit a roadblock: a problem that lets them go no further. They typed their credit card number wrong or clicked the wrong link or mistyped a URL. And it's not their fault.
A good design assumes that people make mistakes. A bad one leaves visitors stuck at a dead end because they mistyped one character. The best professionals account for this with smart, defensive design strategies (also known as contingency design).
I recently had to design a couple of teaser pages for a client and a personal project, and this led me to think about what exactly makes for a good teaser page — or to be more precise a “coming soon” page that companies often put up before they’re ready to launch their product. After careful research and many scientific tests in the brand new field of teaserology, I’ve developed a patented Teaser Effectiveness Analysis Matrix™, consisting of four elements.
The perfect teaser page must score high on all four axis of the following: memorability, virality, desirability and data collection-ability. I know that “data collection-ability” is not proper English, but inventing new words is one of the perks of being a scientist. As we’ll see, most teaser pages focus strongly on two or three of these elements but rarely hit all four.
I remember when we first met. We hit it off instantly, and it didn’t take long before I was in love. I introduced her to my family, and they all loved her, too. Hell, I even convinced my wife that she was perfect. We’ve been happily together now for years. I spend a good portion of my day with her and, yes… sometimes she joins my wife and I in bed. Although, not much sleeping gets done; I’m typically too busy studying curves.
Save your scarlet letter. If you’ve read part one — Relationship Engineering: Designing Attraction — you know that I’m not talking about some affair. I’m describing my relationship with Apple and their slew of gadgetry. Even when it’s not practical, I still find myself wanting the latest Apple iWhatever.
In this article I'll be reviewing a few techniques that will help Web designers and UI professionals to improve their error pages in order to engage visitors and improve overall website experience. As C. S. Lewis once said, “Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement”. Web designers should take this to heart.
I’ll be focusing on error and maintenance pages, both from tracking as well as usability perspectives. I’ll also be providing a good number of examples on how to use analytics and defensive design in order to optimize user experience for such pages. First, let’s go over the error pages and cover the questions on how to optimize them efficiently.
There are many ways to design sign-up and log-in forms. Most designers are familiar with the conventional ways. But understanding and applying a few innovative techniques could make your forms simpler and more efficient to fill out. In this article, we'd like to present a couple of new ideas that might be useful for your next designs. Please notice that before using these techniques, you should make sure that they make sense in the context in which you are going to use them. We'd love to hear about your case-studies and usability tests that affirm or dismiss the suggestions proposed below.
The purpose of every sign-up form is for users to complete it successfully and send it in. However, if the form is long and complicated, then the user’s excitement for your website could turn to displeasure. Here are a few innovative techniques that will make your forms faster and easier to fill out.
As Web designers, we face a daily struggle to keep pace with advances in technology, new standards and new user expectations. We spend a large part of our working life dipping in and out of recent developments in an attempt to stay both relevant and competitive, and while this is what makes our industry so exciting to be a part of, it often becomes all too easy to get caught up in the finer details.
Responsive Web design, improved semantics and Web typography have all seen their fair share of the limelight over the last year, but two trends in particular mark true milestones in the maturation of the Web: “real-time data” and a more “personalized Web.”