Articles & research papers

Interaction Design

Design at Facebook

Facebook’s design team walks the author through their philosophy and approach to designing for a quarter billion users. In particular, they emphasized the importance of writing code, sharing designs early and often, being involved with a project from start to finish, and not falling in love with your work. Making sure designers are technical enough to write code came up a lot.

This is an article from 2009.

Design at Facebook

Education in HCI

The HCI Education page is a collection of resources for students and educators interested in Human-Computer Interaction. The following are key resources for HCI Education:

  1. Curriculum: The SIGCHI Curriculum Development Group report Curricula in Human-Computer Interaction.
  2. Affordable Textbook: Clayton Lewis and John Rieman's shareware book Task-Centered User Interface Development.
  3. Readings: Gary Perlman's Suggested Readings in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), User Interface (UI) Development & Human Factors (HF).
  4. Educator's Mailing List: The SIGCHI Mailing List: CHI-Educators (chi-educators-request@acm.org) CHI-Educators is archived on the Web
  5. Student's Mailing List: The SIGCHI Mailing List: CHI-Students (chi-students-request@acm.org) CHI-Students is archived on the Web
  6. Program Ratings: Because it is so often asked, I have created: Gary Perlman's Ratings of HCI Education Programs

Education in HCI

Personas Make Users Memorable for Product Team Members

A persona is a fictional, yet realistic, description of a typical or target user of the product. A persona is an archetype instead of an actual living human, but personas should be described as if they were real people.

When based on user research, personas support user-centered design throughout a project’s life cycle by making characteristics of key user segments more salient.

Personas work because designers and developers have the same tendency as all other people to be captivated more by concrete instances than by abstractions and generalizations. We need all product-team members to empathize with users and be willing to go the extra step to develop something that will work for the actual users. But if users are described in statistical terms and as broad profiles, that information will simply not lodge itself as deeply in team members’ brains as a distinct persona will.

Personas Make Users Memorable for Product Team Members

Fill Your Portfolio With Stories

On the trail of exploring our next career move, it’s likely we’ll need to show the path we’ve been on. As part of a design team, that usually means displaying our work.

However, if we didn’t make proper arrangements before we took the job, it’s very likely we can’t show much of our work to anyone. Consultants, contractors, and full-time employees are usually covered (in the US at least, but most other places as well) by a "work for hire" agreement, which means that the people we work for own all the work product we produce.

Wireframes, sketches, and other deliverables are not ours to show. If the final design isn’t publicly visible, such as internal application, there might not be any evidence of what we’ve done.

This puts us in an uncomfortable position when it comes time to show our work to a prospective employer. How do we show what we’re capable of when we don’t have access to our work? What can you put into your portfolio when your work is all locked up? The simple answer: Fill your portfolio with stories.

Fill Your Portfolio With Stories

Google Maps Design Secrets Revealed

Google Maps launched in 2005 and it was a revolution: you could go to your desktop browser, click and drag a map with a mouse and watch it render smoothly and quickly. Before then, you usually had to click arrows at the edge of a map in order to pan it, and wait for it to load.

Google Maps' 'fishbone' zoom controls predominated the map; after all, screen resolutions were small, and double-clicking the map would re-centre it rather than zoom into it. Beside the map, a column of suggested searches and instructions took over one third of the screen's width. Oh, and it only worked in Firefox and Explorer browsers.

Only eight years later, Google Maps spans multiple browsers and operating systems on desktop, mobile, tablet, and wearable devices. But how did its latest reincarnation come into play?

Learn some of the design foundations that fuelled Maps’ latest evolution.

Google Maps Design Secrets Revealed

The BBCi Redesign Process- Understanding, Concept & Build

In setting out to redesign the BBCi homepage, the team knew they were tackling a hard task. Many people use and love their homepage, so they knew that any changes we make will evoke a strong reaction. They needed to balance the needs of these users with the needs of their own business. They needed to satisfy a large number of people with a range of different objectives, both inside and outside the BBC. Any solution required them to make decisions, but they believed that they had at least made informed choices to ensure a sensitive evolution of the page.

They wanted to make a clear step change with the design of the page without alienating the users. To begin with they looked at the way people use the current page using click-throughs and the way they feel about it through emotional response testing. They looked at how people build up relationships with the services and objects they use on a daily basis. This helped them address the issues they saw in all elements of the homepage, including the main story.Throughout the process, they benefited from continual user testing and internal feedback.

They believe that the resulting page will feel familiar to their existing users, but through digital patina, balanced design and excellent functionality, they also believed they gave it soul. The Glass Wall which gave them the title of this book was the center of the project. Most of their discussions were visualized on the wall and its location at the entrance to the studio ensured everyone could see what was going on and contribute. This book aims to give some background on the process they followed and covers the redesign from its early stages in May 2002 up until launch in November 2002.

 

The BBCi Redesign Process- Understanding, Concept & Build (PDF, 8mb)

Opinion- There Is No Mobile Internet

It’s time to stop thinking about the Internet and online communication in the context of a device, be it desktop, tablet or mobile. Advances by Google and Apple have heightened consumer expectations, which now require stricter focus from us to create seamless online communications — communications that work everywhere and that get their point across. We need to embrace a device-agnostic approach to communicating with connected consumers and forget the idea of a "mobile Internet". There is only One Web to experience.

There Is No Mobile Internet

The Design Of Effective Online Help In Web Applications

The usability and ultimately the success of web-based services are partly due to effective user support. Although the use of online support tools is now more prevalent in Web applications, these often overwhelm the user with information poorly organized, or are simply ignored (Parush and Kaporovsky Parush, 2001). This paper proposes a guide for the appropriate choice and design of task support tools based on user profiles, tasks and characteristics of help tools.

An increasing number of applications are being developed on the Web, and their usability is considered as being critical for success (Donahue et al., 1999). One important aspect of Web application usability is its capacity to successfully support users while they are completing their tasks. The best way to support users is to provide task support tools that are embedded in the application. Very few guidelines have been proposed to help designers choose the appropriate tools based on users types, needs and tasks.

The main purpose of this paper is to explore the different ways of supporting users electronically, the current trends in task support, and the effectiveness of the different tools available. It provides a guide that could be useful to anyone interested in developing online help to improve the usability of their Web applications.

The Design Of Effective Online Help In Web Applications

Top 5 posts at The UX Bookmark in 2012

I wish you, all my readers, a wonderful 2013. These are the five posts which people read the most in 2012.

  1. A huge list of Style Guides and UI Guidelines
  2. Free User Experience books (Interaction design, HCI, web accessibility & Information Architecture)
  3. Download IDEO’s Human Centered Design Toolkit
  4. Ergonomics for Interaction Designers
  5. Mobile Prototyping Essentials

The best Interface is No Interface

Creative minds in technology should focus on solving problems. Not just make interfaces.

As Donald Norman said in 1990, "The real problem with the interface is that it is an interface. Interfaces get in the way. I don’t want to focus my energies on an interface. I want to focus on the job…I don’t want to think of myself as using a computer, I want to think of myself as doing my job."

It’s time for us to move beyond screen-based thinking. Because when we think in screens, we design based upon a model that is inherently unnatural, inhumane, and has diminishing returns. It requires a great deal of talent, money and time to make these systems somewhat usable, and after all that effort, the software can sadly, only truly improve with a major overhaul.

There is a better path: No UI. A design methodology that aims to produce a radically simple technological future without digital interfaces. Following three simple principles, we can design smarter, more useful systems that make our lives better.

  • Principle 1: Eliminate interfaces to embrace natural processes
  • Principle 2: Leverage computers instead of catering to them
  • Principle 3: Create a system that adapts for people

The best Interface is No Interface