Context and responsive web design: why it’s important to approach your decision to build a responsive site only after considering context.
“The Story of Send” chronicles what happens after you hit “Send” in your gmail. I’m sure what happens on the backend is just as cute as how it’s pictured here.
If anything, watch it for the adorable graphics and html5 yumminess.
Why content is a UX discipline
One look at the very awesome voiceandtone.com will show you just how valuable content is to user experience.
In this excellent article from UX Mag, UX Design as a Two-Way Conversation, the author illustrates what the conversation would look like when the user types “black sweater” into Google search:
User: I am looking for a black sweater.
Computer: Here’s the first sweater I’ve found for you. It’s a white men’s sweater.
User: I am looking for a black sweater.
Computer: Here are 87 pages of black sweaters. Which one would you like?
I was recently designing a series of flows for a project I’m working on, and I thought a lot about applying the analogy of a conversation to the design and copy. Because you can’t actually be there to help your user, you have to anticipate the questions they’ll have and make the answers readily available. This is, I realized, quite a challenging copy exercise. The voice on the page has to be useful, forgiving, and friendly. It has to guide the user toward a very real goal. In designing the experience, it helped me to imagine the flow as a phone conversation. Each step is like a question. “What would you like to do today? Okay, what’s your name and where do you live? We’re asking because X, Y, Z…”
If you think that words and content are wholly disconnected from UX design, think again. Copy is a powerful facilitator, a way to communicate with your user as a human and not as a robot. I love the metaphor of design as a conversation because I want interactions to be human, intuitive, and two-sided.
Check out this core77 article that, uh, maps out the product evolution of Google Maps. I love the glimpses into their process. We get to see the design decisions that emerged over time as they built the product into what it is today. It shows that you cannot make something great overnight.
Upcoming Trends in Digital
Upstream posted a Trend Guide in preparation for this year’s Consumer Electronics Show.
Here are the “macro-trends” they listed in their blog post:
QUANTIFIED SELF & M-HEALTH
Personal biometrics and digital enabled behavior analysis will increasingly let consumers discreetly track and manage their lives more effectively.
GESTURAL INTERFACES & AUGMENTED REALITY
New natural interfaces based on movement will allow more intuitive control of tech, increasing access to information and digital content.
SoLOMo CONTENT DATA EXCHANGE
Mobile “geo-awareness” technology, will create dramatic paradigm shifts to how we shop, socialize and how we are marketed to.
Integration of Social Media and The Cult of Influence into the TV experience will transform it from a media consumption device to a content curating experience.
D.I.Y. AND DIGITAL OBJECTIFICATION
The “appification of everything”, open source tech and accessible manufacturing merge the tangible product and digital, online worlds.
I think this is a pretty good roundup of things we saw in 2011. Check out the PDF in the article to see some examples.
For 2012, I’m hoping we continue down the path of evolving things like “Gestural Interfaces & Augmented Reality”. Content is expanding into different devices, so those opportunities for improvement present themselves as huge UX challenges just waiting to be solved. Plus, if we want to use technology to help people, we need to think more about accessibility and what that means to everyone. Interaction design can go way beyond the flat screen. I wonder what will make up next year’s trend report?
Ryan Singer Designs in Real Time
UX Designer Ryan Singer from 37signals (makers of the amazing Basecamp, among other products) details his whole process in a long and informative video, which you can watch at Peepcode (it costs money, but there is a free preview). If you are at all interested in UX and Interaction Design, I highly recommend taking the time to watch this. How often to you get to see a talented designer’s thought process unfold in real time?
It is true that there is no substitute for real experience, and Ryan has a lot more of it than I do. As an observer, I was most curious to see how he would approach the UX problem and go about solving it. My biggest takeaway was that he looked at the experience holistically, rather than as a set of individual steps that needed to be mapped out one by one. The final interface and its usability were a result of him thinking about where the users start, what they can do, and where they end up. It’s a neat little showcase for both Ryan’s talent and the power of UX thinking.