In usability we trust

UX and all things web

Tag: Interaction design

Available for projects

My six month long parental leave is coming to an end and my new career as an independent Interaction/UI Designer and Web Developer is starting full time. This means that I’m available for projects as I’m not fully booked for this fall yet.

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Action-Confirm Design Pattern

Inspired by the User Interfaces of mobile apps on the iOS and Android platforms, I created a delete button using a design pattern that I’ve named the Action-Confirm design pattern. I created this for a web application that I recently worked on.

In a nutshell it’s an Action button that transforms into a Confirm button when clicked. It’s a compact solution that provides the user with a way to confirm a possibly destructive action without interrupting the flow of the application.

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Mobile First Person User Interfaces

The mobile devices are getting increasingly sophisticated. With the combination of GPS, compass, camera, Internet Connection and a big screen it’s now possible to create amazing, context aware, first Person UI’s. Imaging for a moment that you’re in a foreign city, standing in front of a statue that you never seen before. Point your mobile phone at it and it will tell you what it is, who built it etc, imposing the information as a layer over the reality.

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Free E-book on Multi-Touch Technologies

mttechcover_160Some people on the forum NUI-group have written a book called Multi-Touch Technologies. The book is about Multi-Touch seen from several perspectives like hardware, software and gestures. It’s more about hardware and software than Interaction Design but contains some interesting bits on the latter subject.

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Designing Web Interfaces

Designing Web Interfaces is a book about how to design rich interactions within web pages. In todays web with richer user interfaces, far from the static, full page load web applications we were once used to. We need patterns, guidelines and best practices on how to design those Interfaces to work well. This book is about just that.

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Forms that Work

Forms that Work is a book on how to design web forms properly. Some time ago I reviewed a similar book, Web Form Design by Luke Wroblewski, which deals with the same subject. I then thought that this was a very narrow scope for a book, but perhaps it was not since this book was published shortly after.

No doubt web forms are all around us, so the need for knowledge and skill to design them well should be great. I certainly can’t seem to get enough of these books. Continue reading

The rise of Zooming User Interfaces

The first time I ever read anything about Zooming User Interfaces was when I was reading The Humane Interface by Jef Raskin, where he introduced the concept of Zoom World, a whole OS based on a Zooming User Interface (ZUI). Of course this wasn’t my first encounter with this type of user interface since I’ve, among other things, been using Interactive maps like Google Maps. But it was the first time that I started considering a Zooming Interface a viable alternative to the traditional interaction idioms.

In this article I will explore some of the Zooming User Interfaces out there today and also take a sneak peak of what’s around the corner.

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How Spotify have changed the way I listen to music

SpotifyA while I go I wrote an article called Spotify is right on the spot where I described a service called Spotify that let’s you listen to music over the Internet. I was impressed of how well it worked and of how good the music player was.

I’ve been using Spotify for about four months now and that has been four month of more intense music consumption than usual for me. I’ve noticed that Spotify has made me listen to music in new ways.

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The Design of Future Things [Book review]

The Design of Future ThingsI’ve read a few books by Don Norman before and they have all been a great source of inspiration and full of “Aha” moments. This book doesn’t quite reach that same level, but I still find it an interesting read.

The book is basically about how to design intelligent things. Some call it ambient computing others discrete computing, but it’s all about the pitfalls and principles when we try to add intelligence to our daily objects.

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How people really use the iPhone

Strategic research and design firm Create with Context has published a presentation on SlideShare showing what they’ve come up with after evaluating the iPhones User Interface. The research goal was to understand how ordinary people interact with the iPhone.

The methods used were interviews, user testing in a lab environment and heuristic evaluation. The result of the research was eight rules of thumb when developing applications for the iPhone.

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Shopping for groceries in style

Conchango is developing a shopping system for the British grocery store Tesco. It’s supposed to help customers when buying/ordering food and has a graphically rich interface.

I’m for one hate shopping for groceries. If I could have a system like this that remembers what groceries I normally buy and suggests a shopping list according to my dinner plans, I would be more than delighted. In fact, if I didn’t even had to physically go to the grocery store, I would be even more delighted.

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Visualizing the age of content

How do one visualize the age dimension of content?

In the real world it’s not a problem. Physical objects, like paper, clearly wears the mark of time. Paper turns yellow and get torn. Other things get scratched or changes it’s appearance in some other way that makes it obvious that it’s not new.

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The use of buttons in web forms

Action buttons exists at the bottom of almost every web form. They’re so common that we often doesn’t even reflect on how to actually design them. By gathering information from a few of the great minds in the field of web usability and also from my own experiences, I’ve tried to come up with a set of best practices on how to design them efficiently.

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Web Form Design [Book review]

This book has a very narrow scope. It’s all about how to design web forms. And when you think about it, why not. Most interactions with websites and web application happens through the use of web forms so why not make sure to design them as effectively as possible.

Studies have shown that completion rates of forms can be increased by 10-40 percent by designing them using best practices. If the form is the check-out form on an e-commerce site you can easily see that this potentially can be a good investment.

Luke makes the observation that most forms suck. Therefor it should be every designers mission to make them suck less. Exactly how to do this is explained in great detail throughout the book.

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No undo? Redo!

Why is it that web apps very often lack something that we take for granted in most window applications, namely the undo function? Is it because it’s not needed? Is it too hard to implement or is it simply just because it’s something that developers don’t think is needed?

The most common solution to prevent user errors is to simply throw an alertbox warning about potential damage or loss of data that the action might cause. Even otherwise awesome web applications often resorts to this behavior. Take for example Backpack from 37 signals, which I regard a very usable and overall great product. When you try to delete a note they throw this alert in your face:

Are you sure you want to delete this note?

This is, from the developers point of view, the easiest way to handle it. It’s almost too easy to implement an alert and many developers habitually do it without giving it a second thought.

A far better solution is to use an undo function. Although harder to implement it maps so much better to the users mental model and behavior patterns. As Alan Cooper puts it in About Face 3:

Users generally don’t believe, or at least don’t want to believe, that they make mistakes. This is another way of saying that the persona’s mental model typically doesn’t include error on his part. Following a persona’s mental model means absolving him of blame. The implementation model, however, is based on an error-free CPU. Following the implementation model means proposing that all culpability must rest with the user. Thus, most software assumes that it is blameless, and any problems are purely the fault of the user.
Alan Cooper, Aboute Face 3

An undo function enables the user to easily recover from mistakes and also encourage him to explore the interface without fear of doing irreversible damage. It transfers the responsibility of handling errors from the user to the system, where it righteously belongs.

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Great video seminars from Stanford on iTunes U

Stanford University - Human Computer Interaction SeminarThey’ve been around for a while but in case you haven’t seen them I want to share about a really good seminar series from Stanford on iTunes U. The series is called Human Computer Interaction Seminars and include lectures from leading figure within the HCI community.

The sound and video quality of the seminars is fairly good during the lecture part. However in the later part of the seminar where the audience ask questions, the sound quality can be quite bad.

I haven’t watched all of the seminars but here’s three that I can really recommend.
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Designing the Moment [Book review]

Designing the Moment

Robert Hoekman Jr, the author of Designing the Obvious, has written yet another book on interaction design, Designing the Moment. This time he get’s down and dirty with the nitty gritty details of web- and interaction design. In this book he uses a variety of real-world examples to describe, in great detail, how and why to design all the small details of navigation, forms, video interfaces, tag clouds and more.

I had high expectations on this book since I really liked Designing the Obvious. And I have to say that it met my expectations. It’s fun to read and provides lots of interesting examples on great interaction design.

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