I dislike visual clutter. Most people do. Perhaps they can’t articulate it. I know most of our clients say things like, “It looks too crowded,” if presented with something that strikes them that way. They don’t use the words “visual clutter” as we would in design parlance.
However, that idea of clutter-reduction has recently over-reached its bounds in the oft-cited and overused mantra of “flat design.” I’m all for simplifying, but there are some designers who take it too far, slashing and ripping out things that they claim help to simplify the UI to its bare essentials, but they’re only thinking one-dimensionally, pun intended.
When you’re a hands-on CEO, you want to get involved in every aspect of your company. Now, as UX Design becomes a differentiating factor for product and company visibility, CEOs are paying more attention to design, but some, like Yahoo!’s Marissa Mayer, are ham-handing it.
User Experience design has always been, and continues to be, a field riddled with ambiguous labeling and nomenclature. We hear all sorts of conjecture and debate as to what terms have what specific meaning. Are profiles and personas the same thing? When exactly do wireframes become mock-ups? Is “mock-up” supposed to hyphenated? These are issues of semantics, and when it comes to the actual meat of the work we do, we could call a wireframe a “whosamawhatsit” and it wouldn’t change it’s purpose. From the perspective of standardizing our professional space, common labeling is important. This is not in doubt. Client, asset, and project management aside, there is something vital to the decisions that we make as designers that is not addressed as often as it should be: Science.
Creating successful user experiences is an art. A lot of art involves taking advantage of the way that the brain processes information. The most successful designs (user experiences or otherwise) are those that give off feeling of “how else would you do it?”. The design simply seems to make sense. Designing an interface is a more complex process than simply creating links and putting arrows on a page. To compare this process to that of another in art in terms of complexity- let’s have a look at foreshortening. Foreshortening in art is a good illustration of how difficult it is, because it illustrates that something that seems so obvious once it’s done well. It harnesses the power of the brain to fill in the things it’s expecting, even if they aren’t there.
Designing for responsive layouts has been a big topic lately. I’ve been reading up on it a lot, and have officially been won over to a side. I believe that starting small and working upwards in size is most often the best way to create websites these days. We should start with the mobile design first.
Designing mobile first forces the content and functionality to be considered from a “what is most important” standpoint. Designing for mobile also outlines colors, general shapes, the feel of the website; all while restricting the design to its most basic elements. This starting point will help organize the site and fixing user experience problems at this size will help prevent them showing up later, when things are more complex. Architecting the user profiles at this stage will only serve to be the foundations of the…
This article focuses on one aspect of the recommendations I made for a client, which saw its way into the final Design Recommendations document I left with them at the end: how the use or misuse of color affects user interfaces.
There are many people who believe that product design is a less important part of the things we build. They almost believe that it can be left as an afterthought. I’m sure most people have heard the phrase, “Lipstick on a chicken,” or as I post this soon after the ’08 election season, the phrase, “Lipstick on a pig.” They believe that “beauty” of the product is far less important than the “workings” of the product, and so the engineering schedule and the project management behind it give the design process little play.
On the other side of the fence are those who argue that the beauty and design trumps the workings. I suppose they get this idea from the mainstream media and advertising companies who dress up products and package them such that no matter what the workings, even if…