UI Design

3 reasons most UI Design is pretty — but ineffective.

3-reasons-most-ui-design-is-pretty-but-ineffective

Even the best-looking UI design can still be nothing but an obstacle, an unusable collection of nice-looking elements.

Everything a user sees onscreen does one of two things. Each element either:

  1. Illuminates the path to their desired outcome and helps them get there easily, or
  2. Serves as an obstacle standing between them and what they hope to find and accomplish.

In my travels, I’m sorry to report that number 2 is the most common outcome. And with the UX and Design industries’ current fixation on technology and tools — libraries,

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Tips & Advice, UI Design

The difference between amateur and professional design

the difference between amateur and professional design

Today’s fast food for thought re: #design and #UX.

If the conversation is around how good the design is or how it looks, it’s the wrong conversation.

The shift depicted here marks the difference between amateur and professional design.

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UI Design

Design is Design is Design is…UX?

Design is design is design is ux

Look, we all know at this point that UI design is not the same thing as UX, and that doing one well does not guarantee the quality of the other. But at the same time, the two are more closely related — interdependent, in fact — than most “experts” seem to want to admit.

The truth is that, with a digital product, you cannot have meaningful UX without equally great UI design.

And by the same token, you cannot truly call a UI design great unless

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UI Design

Signal vs. Noise: Removing Visual Clutter in the UI

signal-noise-transistor-radio

When I was a kid, terrestrial radio was pretty much our only option for listening to music on the go. Small, portable transistor radios (like the one you see in the picture) were essentially the blueprint for iPods and today’s smartphones.

And if you were a music fanatic like me, the hallmark of this traveling listening experience was the need to be ever vigilant — because at any moment the signal might grow weak and that favorite song you’d been waiting to hear for the last three hours would be mercilessly attacked

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UI Design

Simplify UI Data Visualizations – in 7 Simple Steps

data-visualizations-main

To give you some context as to the importance of designing effective data visualizations, I’d like to give you a scenario to consider.

Imagine that you’re standing in a room with 100 other people, all of whom are shouting at you at the very top of their lungs. Now imagine that you are expected to:

  1. hear every word of what each person is shouting,
  2. fully understand what each person is shouting, and
  3. recognize all the ways in which each person’s diatribe is related to all the others.

Impossible, right?

Of

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UI Design

The Right Way to Use Icons in Your UI

Back in 2005, a young man by the name of Jensen Harris was an intern program manager at Microsoft. During that summer, he says, he learned a key UX lesson — on the use of icons — that carried over into the DNA of the now-ubiquitous “Ribbon” toolbar.

In a post titled “The Importance of labels,” he explains a user issue that had come to the Outlook 98 team’s attention:

“Part of the user experience effort around Outlook 98 was improving the menu and toolbar structure.  One of the problems noticed again and again among non-expert users was that people

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UI Design

The Power of Progressive Disclosure

progressive-disclosure-russian-nesting-dolls

Interactive design of any kind means walking a very fine line between not enough information and information overload. At the core of that balancing act is one of the most important principles of UX and Design: progressive disclosure.

Progressive disclosure means that everything in the User Interface should progress naturally, from simple to complex.

This mimics the natural way the brain processes information, successively; we build upon each subsequent step of experience and learning, adding to what we know.

In terms of the app, site or system we’re designing, this means only the

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UI Design

Isn’t “above the fold” UI design dead? (Tuesdays with Joe, Episode 02)

Don’t people scroll automatically?

And given that, isn’t this idea of “designing for the fold” — the bottom edge of the device/browser’s screen — obsolete? Irrelevant in the age of mobile devices?

Not so fast.

Look, the old arguments about getting every shred of content above the fold aren’t applicable — I’ll give you that. The mass adoption of social media and the “ infinite scroll” technique most apps use have created a habitual, instinctive response to scroll to view more content.

But the bottom of the browser still plays a very critical role in whether or not people engage

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UI Design

UI Design Quick Tip: Better UX for Buttons

UI design improvement for a large site or system can seem like a gargantuan task. In some cases I’ve seen, we’re talking about hundreds of templates across even more screens. What’s often overlooked in these situations is the fact that huge improvements can actually come from very small, specific changes — sometimes to a single UI element. When you’re up against the wall and are falling short on time and resources, you focus on single interactive elements that are used most frequently across the system. In our case today, that means buttons.

When I work with clients to audit UI

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UI Design

Is it OK to design my UI before content is created?

Which came first, the content or the design?

This chicken-and-egg debate has raged for as long as there have been designers, and content needing design. On both sides you’ll find seemingly sound reasons to do one before the other, but to my eye the balance has shifted greatly, where we all too often see UI design happen before content. The house, in my opinion, is being built before we understand how many rooms it should have or how big it’s supposed to be.

UI design

With the proliferation of fully-designed themes, UI kits

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