Usability Testing, Why?

December 6, 2010 — 1 Comment

Testing? Ew, gross. That sounds like something I loathed during my school years. No, no, this is something else. Usability testing is putting designs up against real users to see how they perform. Let’s take a simple example as an illustration.

A/B Testing

A/B Test

This is a simple A/B test. Even testing as simple as this can yield some pretty impressive results. We’ll save the different kinds of testing for a different article but we’ll look at why testing should not be skipped in any design process.

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Design Like An Egyptian

November 19, 2010 — Leave a comment

This is a response article to Alexander Dawson’s hierarchy of website users’ needs in his Six Revisions article Human Behavior Theories That Can be Applied to Web Design. His is an adaptation of Maslow’s hierarchy. Shown below is Dawson’s hierarchy:

Dawson's Hierarchy of website users' needs

Dawson's Hierarchy of website users' needs

This is interesting from a number of standpoints so we’ll discuss those points as well as explain why I don’t think he got it 100% correct.
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I recently took some time to travel in a couple non-English speaking countries. Many places had English subtexts, some had text that was slightly decipherable, and others had completely indecipherable text. This got me thinking about UX Design and it’s similarities to foreign language.

  1. It’s only readable by those with specific knowledge.
  2. It is rendered completely useless by those without that knowledge.
  3. There are ways to aid those without that knowledge in their understanding.

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New Design!

August 31, 2010 — 1 Comment

Thanks to Standard Theme for providing an awesome framework for the new design. I’ll be providing some more updates, but I thought that the site had been down long enough and it was at least in shape to unveil again.

Standard Theme

Please leave your thoughts and suggestions on the new design in the comments.

Parallax. It may be an unfamiliar term to many. It’s defined as the apparent displacement of an observed object due to a change in the position of the observer. For example, a driver may look at a speedometer and it reads 65, but when the passenger looks on it appears to read a different speed due to the difference in angle they are viewing the speedometer from. There’s nothing different with the speedometer itself, but just the angle it is viewed from makes it appear different.

We need to view our designs from the parallax as well. Well, to clarify, we need to view them both head on and from the parallax as well. Doing this doesn’t change the content but gives us a different viewing angle of that content from which we base our designs. This can mean many different things. We can adapt this to mean designing a web app to fit a mobile experience or we can adapt it to mean moving a local machine experience to a network-based experience. Or maybe it’s just a simple (or not so simple) redesign. It’s really just about taking the same basic problem and adapting that problem for some difference in an environmental variable, but the purpose is to use these different angles to feed various POVs into our designs to improve the user experience.

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Facebook Page!

June 9, 2010 — Leave a comment

I’ve got a Facebook page now! Go check it out and “Like” it. Enjoy.

XenoAbe Design Facebook Page

XenoAbe Design Facebook Page

I’m putting together some designs for a Chrome Extension that would basically serve as a home page every time you open a new tab. I’ve seen some out there, but frankly they are terrible. I want one that is beautiful and provides lots of functionality that a user would want instantly at their fingertips. This would be fairly customizable and tailored to each user.

Some features I’m already considering:

  • Bookmarks
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • RSS Feed
  • Notes
  • Gmail Notifier
  • Sports Scores

What are the features you would like to see in a home page?

Let’s spend some time talking about the design process. Of course, we’re not going to hit every step here but we’ll hit the basic steps of getting to the wireframing step. Ideally, this would all be proceeded by steps such as some preliminary user research, persona creation, requirements gathering and other necessary steps in the UX process, but this article will focus on the meat of creating wireframes and mockups. We’ll talk about how to set up flows, how to translate those into functions, and then ultimately transform those into a usable form.
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WARNING: Hot Topic. Should designers know how to code/develop? This is a question I’ve seen asked many times recently. I’m a designer that started college majoring in Computer Science. This situation is not a unique one, although it seems to rarely happen that someone who majors in design becomes a programmer. I believe many share my opinion on the matter, but I’ll leave that for the end of the article. First, we need to look at why a designer may need to have development knowledge and vice versa. Let’s also look at some reasons designers and developers are hesitant to stray into the others domain.  I’ll give you a hint though, sticking strictly to one domain may inhibit your professional progression.
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As designers, we’ve all had our designs criticized at some point. Whether it was a simple “I would like to see this changed here” to an all-out “I don’t like this at all,” we’ve all heard something about our designs that didn’t pan out the way we expected. Here’s some tips to handling criticism of your designs.

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