Last week I got a chance to attend An Event Apart in Seattle, here are some of my notes from the event, a lot was covered, these are just a few things that jumped out at me:
Jeffrey Zeldman – Content First!
- Content is a design problem. Our designs are often hostile to content.
- Design that doesn’t serve people doesn’t serve business.
- Designers may no longer control the visual experience (referring to add-ons like Readibility)
- Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration.
- Responsive and mobile are creating a new interaction design landscape that puts users and content first.
Jon Tan – Big Type, Little Type
- Good typography induces a good mood, users lose track of time, don’t mind it if it takes longer to perform a task.
- Test typography in the worst environment.
- Typesetting should help reading, not interrupt or distract.
- There are no rules, just good decisions.
- Design spaces where stories can be told.
- Type shapes our experience. It paints pictures that echo in our memory long after we’ve left.
Kim Goodwin – Silo-Busting with Scenarios
- Get clients to root for the user.
- Think beyond site, consider all experiences.
- 3 reasons to use scenarios first:
- Excited team = better UX
- Humans are not just system components, we empathize with emotions frustrations, hopes and dreams.
- Silos = Worse UX
- Add something unexpectedly good.
Scott Berkun – The Five Most Dangerous Ideas
- Everyone is a designer.
- You have no power.
- Whoever uses the most jargon has the least confidence in their ideas.
- The generalists are in charge.
- If there are more than 5 people in the room, you have less power than you think.
- You work in sales (regardless of your job title).
- Creativity is risk.
Karen McGrane – Adapting Ourselves to Adaptive Content
- NPR’s API – create once publish everywhere. Displayed different across devices, content is the same. NPR page views grew over 80%.
- Magazine tablet apps are just a snapshot of print version, the web is not print. Ipad magazine sales are declining.
- TV guide created adaptive content before the web even existed, they were creating multiple length descriptions for TV shows.
- Metadata is the new art direction.
- Metadata supports personalized content.
Ethan Marcotte – Rolling Up Our Responsive Sleeves
- Solve the parts, not the whole problem.
- “Chaos was the law of nature, order was the dream of man” – Henry Adams
- A responsive design has a flexible foundation.
- We should start treating layout as an enhancement.
- Let’s embrace the entropy.
- Simplify before you suppress.
- We’ve been focused too much on columns, let’s refocus on content.
- Start with the smallest part.
- If something is not necessary on small screen, why keep on desktop version.
Simon Collison – A Philosophy of Restraint
- We design to communicate and we seek emotive responses.
- We don’t design web pages, we design systems.
- Avoid misplaced vernacular and cliche, makes your design look stupid.
- You don’t have to avoid complexity, avoid creating the impression of complexity, make it more manageable.
- Don’t have to reveal everything, let audience fill in gaps, pause and think.
- CMS template vs. editorial, used to be able to tell story with design.
- Unleash complexity in orchestrated phases, and increase power gradually.
Luke Wroblewski – Mobile to the Future
- Mobile should not be a dumbed down version of desktop.
- “…copy, extend, and finally, discovery of a new form. It takes a while to shed old paradigms.” -Scott Jenson
- Do little things to make it easier, reduce mistakes.
- Login screens – don’t remove critical features, show passwords by default.
- Our focus on layout keeps us from seizing big opportunities on mobile.
- Keep people on keyboard, consolidate input fields.
Whitney Hess – What’s Your Problem? Putting Purpose Back into Your Projects
- Relying on best practices doesn’t make sites useful. No one size fits all
- Leave the desk to find the problem.
- Market research – what people like (doesn’t tell you who they are) vs. user research – what people do
- Rarely ask about the product/company, get to know user, who they are what they need.
- Specialize in the problem, not the solution.
- Personas – categorizing people based on aspirations, personality, not based on demographics
- Don’t use jargon use own words make it easy to understand the problem.
- Don’t try to be good at it all, pick one “why” or problem
- Understand the problem before devising the solution.
- Sometimes there are no problems to solve, find out if there is one to begin with.
Jared Spool – The Curious Properties of Intuitive Web Pages
- Unintuitive design – something that’s invisible becomes visible.
- Design for gap between current knowledge and target knowledge.
- Visual design – not about aesthetics, more about placement & organization.
- Techniques for uncovering knowledge:
- Field Visits – go to your users and see them work. Helps identify who the users are and their current knowledge.
- Usability Tests – watch people use your design. Helps identify the target knowledge and ideal solutions
- Paper Prototyping – testing early workflow & process ideaspaper prototyping.
- Intuitive Design is how we give our users new superpowers
- Intuitive designs are when what the user knows matches what they need to know
- Identify current knowledge and target knowledge for your design
- Train the user to grow their current knowledge
- Simplify the design to reduce the design’s target knowledge