Going forward most, if not all, of my articles will be on external sites. There are two reasons for this.

  1. It gets way more eyes on my work than this site tends to do.
  2. I make a little bit of money that I wouldn’t make posting it here.

Image via gregoryhogan (Flickr)

I will link to these articles though. You can check out my first two articles on Envato Web Design site Webdesign Tuts+.

Today let’s talk about cognitive models. That’s really a fancy term for how someone thinks about something. It’s taking an action or goal and creating a model in your brain about how you would perform that action. For example, if someone said to “make dinner” then that would mean different things to different people. Some are going to throw something in a microwave, others craft something from what’s in the pantry, others go to a restaurant, and others pull out their cookbooks to pick something appetizing. The cognitive models for different people can differ for the same activity.

Introspección > Música. (CenTerO / JaguariTech)

Introspección > Música. via CenTerO / JaguariTech (Flickr)

As UX professionals, we need to know the cognitive models of our users. If we’re designing within that model then their experience becomes much more enjoyable and seamless than designing something that they have to explore and discover to build a new model. Sometimes that can be a good thing but we still need to know cognitive models in order to be intentional about when we break that rule. Let’s look at some questions to ask when designing and accounting for cognitive models.

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Have you ever had a project that is too big or outside your comfort zone and you have no idea where to start? I have no idea where you start either, but start somewhere. The point is that it doesn’t matter. Here’s some tips for when you have something in front of you but you don’t know where to go with it.

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I’ve seen UX people run the entire gamut of programming knowledge. I think I sit somewhere in the middle. I can read code and do some basic things but if I were a client I wouldn’t trust me to code up your website. I know some incredible coders (I recommend my friend Tom at moreco.de for anything you need in that realm). I started in college with Computer Science. I switched because there’s two things about code that didn’t completely jive with me. One, I was not very good at it. Two, I didn’t enjoy it very much. I found my passion in UX with my major switch. However, my profession is not one that I believe that should let me (or you) off the hook of having coding knowledge.

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to increase my coding knowledge this year. I’m using CodeAcademy.com and some other resources. For me, I find that the more I actually sit down and fully understand what I’m writing the more I do enjoy it.
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Status Update

January 5, 2012 — Leave a comment

Sorry everyone for the absence. This site got hacked and it took a while to get things going again. We’re back now. I’ve lost a few posts but, fortunately, that seems to be the extent of the casualties.

I’ll be doing some updates to the site, some obvious and some not so obvious. I’ll also try to provide much more consistent coverage in 2012.

Keep designing and I’m looking forward to what 2012 brings.

What’s Your “Single”?

February 4, 2011 — 3 Comments

Single of a Michael Jackson song on a vinyl recordIn the music industry, singles are very important. They are less important for established bands and groups, but are enormously important to brand new and debuting artists. Singles are windows into the artist and if the audience doesn’t like it upon first listen then they likely will not come back. The same process is followed for designers.

If you are not established people will likely take a look at your stuff and decide within the first 5 seconds whether or not they like your work. Whether it’s your website, portfolio, business card or something else, your “single” will decide if people will hire you, recommend you, or ignore you. Sometimes if a first single doesn’t work there’s a chance for a follow-up that does, but that’s rare.

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The NFL playoffs start this weekend and I’m very excited. My Atlanta Falcons are the #1 seed in the NFC and I just got NFL Network this week so I’m excited about the awesome coverage they do. Today let’s take a look at how we can take the basic playoffs structure and apply it to design.

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Mac App Store, The UX

January 6, 2011 — Leave a comment

I personally really like the idea of the Mac App Store. It’s not an end all-be all solution but let’s look at some of the features of the App Store and discuss why it enhances the UX.

Mac App STore

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3D Movies were a huge trend in 2010. A few movies got it right, but most screwed up royally. A lot of them did it post-production just to have 3D and it served no purpose other than to say it was 3D. It added no value to the movie and, in some cases, even ate into the quality of the movie.

3D Glasses

The lesson learned here is don’t follow a trend just because it’s a trend.

In UX Design the same problem can arise. We can’t use HTML5 just to use it. We need to use it in a way such that it adds value to the product. Big typography looks great for certain uses in which it fits, but it can’t be haphazardly thrown in a design where it does not fit. Think about your design elements like this: Every single element and attribute of that element should have a purpose. If it’s not serving some sort of purpose then remove it, it’s just bloating your design unnecessarily.

There will be a new format for posts on XenoAbe Design from now on. Short. The posts I’ve put together usually take a lot more time and research than they may appear to at first glance. To make this a much more active website, and community, I will be making shorter posts more frequently. I hope you like the change and I implore you to encourage any of your friends/family/coworkers/acquaintances/world domination hopefuls interested in usability, UX, or technology in general to visit and leave their opinions. I’m supposed to be the expert, but that in no manner means I can’t learn things from others with varying opinions.

By the way, the Kristen Chenoweth reference simply means the posts will be short, sweet, and displaying my talents (I know her from Pushing Daisies and not any broadway plays so I get to hold on to my man card).