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Category: UX Design
Quality articles on usability, information architecture, interaction design and other user experience (UX) related topics – for digital (Web, mobile, applications, software) and physical products. Through these articles, experts and professionals share with you their valuable ideas, practical tips, useful guidelines, recommended best practices and great case studies. Curated by Chui Chui Tan. Subscribe to the RSS-Feed.
In computer science, the term “adaptive system” refers to a process in which an interactive system adapts its behavior to individual users based on information acquired about its user(s), the context of use and its environment.
Although adaptive systems have been long-discussed in academia and have been an aspiration for computer scientists and researchers, there has never been a better time than today to realize the potential of what future interaction with computer systems will be like.
The key statement of Fitts’s Law is that the time required to move a pointing device to a target is a function of the distance to the target and its size. In layman’s terms: the closer and larger a target, the faster it is to click on that target. This is easy to understand, not too difficult to implement and it doesn’t seem to make much sense to contradict such a simple and obvious statement.
However, before you start applying Fitts’s Law on every single pixel you can find, consider a few problems that might arise for you as an interaction designer.
The Web is technical by nature. Different scripts and pieces of code are linked together through hyperlinks, forming an endless net of interwoven, encrypted information — data that is accessible only through technical interfaces, such as Web browsers, or applications.
Yet, Web professionals have made it their calling to tame the “wild” Web and turn it into an accessible, user-friendly and, most of all, personal medium. Designers can do plenty of things to counteract the technical appearance of the Web. One very effective way is simply to make it look less technical, by using a more human, personal style.
Welcome to a new column in the UX Design section on Smashing Magazine! Each month we'll pick a handful of popular questions asked by our readers around good practices in designing smart and usable experiences.
They will be answered by Christian Holst, a regular author here on Smashing and founder of Baymard Institute. Prior to co-founding Baymard Institute in 2009, he worked as a usability engineer in the hearing aid, credit card and consulting industries. If you have any questions that you would like me to tackle for a future Usability Q&A column here on Smashing Magazine, please ask them in the article's comment section!
The rapid pace of UX design in the agile world can lead to shortsighted design decisions. Focusing on addressing the immediate needs of particular user stories within the limits of a sprint can lead to neglect of larger design questions, which can come back to haunt UX designers later.
Sometimes, UX practitioners just need some time to work through big design issues that don’t fit neatly into an existing user story or an individual sprint. This article will explore one answer to these problems — namely, design spikes, an agile approach that I have developed for large projects. Design spikes, which are bubbles of time that allow designers to focus on complex UX issues, can fit comfortably within the scrum framework and can be an effective tool for designers who have holistic design questions whose answers could potentially invalidate the work being tackled by the team.
Growing up, weekends were about worship in the Hinman household. Sunday mornings were reserved for a laborious worship ritual dictated by my parents. It required dressing up in uncomfortable clothes, going to church and pretending to listen to long-winded sermons about Jesus (while I drew doodles in the hymnals).
Saturday, however, was reserved as my day of worship, and I was a proud and dedicated disciple of the church of Saturday Morning Cartoons. Every Saturday, rain or shine, healthy or sick, I’d jump out of bed, run downstairs to the living room, plant myself in front of the TV, and celebrate the gospel of Wonder Woman, Captain Caveman, Scooby Doo and Papa Smurf for hours on end.
Editor's Note: This article expresses the author's personal opinion and covers experimental UX techniques which aren't considered to be best practice.
Masking passwords is an old practice that’s commonly implemented in sign-up and log-in forms. It’s used to prevent over-the-shoulder snoopers from catching the user’s password. While masking passwords is a good security practice, there’s a chance it could jeopardize the user experience of your sign-up form. When users sign up on a website, they expect a no-hassle, worry-free form to fill out. But masking the password could prevent that.
Log-in forms are used more often than sign-up forms. Users only need to sign up once to create an account, whereas they will need to log in multiple times to access their account. Because log-in forms are used so frequently, there’s a strong chance that users will end up typing their password in front of other people.
When Albert Einstein was a professor at Princeton University in the 1940s, there came the time for the final exam of his physics class. His assistants passed the exam forms to the hundreds of students, and the hall was dead silent. One of the assistants suddenly noticed something was wrong.
She approached Einstein and told him that a mistake had been made with the exam form and that the questions were the same as those in the previous year’s exam. Einstein glanced over the exam form and said that it was OK. He explained that physics had changed so much in the last year that the answers to the questions were now different.
Unless you’re developing completely new products at a startup, you likely work in an organization that has accumulated years of legacy design and development in its products. Even if the product you’re working on is brand spanking new, your organization will eventually need to figure out how to unify the whole product experience, either by bringing the old products up to par with the new or by bringing your new efforts in line with existing ones. A fragmented product portfolio sometimes leads to an overall broken user experience.
Understanding an organization and its users and designing the right interaction and visual system take exceptional effort. You also need to communicate that system to teams that have already produced work that doesn’t align with it. This isn’t easy work. In this article, we’ll introduce you to a strategy for fixing the broken experience that starts with surface improvements, goes progressively deeper into structural issues and ends with a big organizational shift.
In the first television advertisement for the iPad, the narrator intoned, “It’s crazy powerful. It’s magical. You already know how to use it.” This was an astonishing claim. Here was a new, market-defining, revolutionary device, unlike anything we had seen before, and we already knew how to use it. And yet, for the most part, the claim was true.
How does a company like Apple make such great new things that people already know how to use? One answer lies in the ability of Apple designers to draw upon patterns that people are familiar with.
Today we are happy to release two printable UX sketching and wireframing templates, designed by Pixle for Smashing Magazine’s readers. This article presents Outline, a set of sketching and wireframing papers for mobile platforms and Tapsize, a set of templates for checking optimal tap areas without a mobile device.
Outline is a set of 28 printable sketching and wireframing papers (in PDF) for seven mobile platforms: Android, BlackBerry, iOS (iPad and iPhone), Meego, Symbian, webOS, Windows Phone 7. The set consists of a few combinations, such as actual size, 10 devices fit to a page, and landscape layout.
My relationship with the Internet oscillates between waves of euphoria and waves of angst. Some things make me extraordinarily happy: like a client who loves usability testing so much when they first experience it that they can’t sleep for days; or connecting with someone whose writing I’ve admired for many years.
But other things make me want to close my computer forever and go live on a farm somewhere: like people who take entire articles and present them as their own work, with tiny source links at the bottom of the page; or endless arguments and name-calling that ignore even the most basic human dignity.