User Experience – 2009-11-24

Terminology: Avoiding buzzword bingo

Selling the concepts of user experience is often as much about education around activities and terminology as it is about showing real world effects, listening and comprehending client needs.

The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.

-Ancient Chinese Proverb

While numbers in proper context will speak for themselves UX-terminology does not. It is ugly, has diverse definitions depending on approach and is many times unnecessarily technical or in worst cases a smug acronym (just look at the title of this blog). If you like me do not live in an english speaking country add to that an unnecessary language barrier. Most often your own language (swedish in my case) already has perfectly adequate terms to match its english/techno-based counterparts. Markus Weber recently posted a few thoughts on the subject. Continue reading if you are curious to my approach.

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Social Media – 2009-11-19

I will follow you into…


Twitter has partially positioned itself as the social networking, idea and news spreading platform of choice for professionals. Even more so with the recent LinkedIn integration. Creating a separate Twitter account for your work related activities can be a good idea. In my case splitting work from private was an easy choice due to the obvious problems of mixing languages. Having a second account has also taught me something else. I´m beginning to see a pattern in the tweets by people I choose to follow out of professional reasons.

Most often I will look up people whose work I find inspiring in hope of them sharing some of their wisdom. However great work alone or working for a respected agency does not make much of a difference when it comes to clicking the follow button. If the sum of your recent tweets don’t have a certain balance or feel to them it´s just not going to happen. So what makes you interesting to follow? There are a lot of great guides out there on how to and how not to tweet. The emerging pattern I´m looking at consists mostly of my gut feeling which is not necessarily a bad thing after reading Malcolm Gladwell´s Blink and learning about the concept of thin slicing. Keep going for the full breakdown.

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UI Design Patterns – 2009-11-03

Mega Drop-Down Menus

Apparently I´ve been living in a cave during 2009. Just now have I found out that drop-down menus are all the rage. Not your ordinary everyday drop-downs mind you. This years model is non other than the Mega Drop-Down Menu. I reacted to a particularly large one earlier this week when Norwegian oil company Statoil launched their new site. Curious as to why they choose this type of navigation Google and designfollow led me to an article about these navigational menus at Jakob Nielsen´s Alert box. Although my initial reaction was not entirely positive (to put it mildly), surprisingly Nielsen´s usability studies show that these drop-downs work. Have a look at Soh Tanaka´s excellent post on how to build one if you feel the urge to create something “mega”.

User Experience – 2009-11-02

Five cents worth of zebras and tables

While reading Jessica Enders articles on Zebra Striping at A List Apart I made a couple of observations. Fairly obvious ones as the formatting of table data is not rocket science but still perhaps worth a few minutes of typing.

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User Experience – 2009-11-02

Exploring enjoyable experiences

I heart WWW
In the user experience field, the small details that go beyond expectations and make the difference when it comes to an enjoyable experience, are often called delighters. Many times delighters spring from a single team members will to show off their talent, out of love for a project or love for the end user. Activities that make your site more enjoyable should however not be left to chance but rather be planned for in advance. Planning for and thinking about enjoyability throughout your project can set your site apart from the competition and engage your users emotionally.

There has also been some talk about playfulness lately. Playfulness is another example of how to achieve enjoyability. Emil Ovemar UX Director at Bonnier R&D recently wrote a good post on playfulness.

Whatever you choose to name your attempts at making your site enjoyable, delightful or fun to use, you should approach these activities with some caution. Trying to make your site enjoyable may never come at the cost of the foundations of good web design (structure, interaction design, usability, etc). Creating enjoyable experiences must also be aligned with your clients design strategy, brand and identity. Without this, doing any of the following will likely only help you waste time. Read on for some examples.

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