Number of choices per page

Nov 17, 2013

Really good blog post by Kathy Sierra about how poor user experiences deplete our cognitive resources.

If your UX asks the user to make choices, for example, even if those choices are both clear and useful, the act of deciding is a cognitive drain. And not just while they’re deciding… even after we choose, an unconscious cognitive background thread is slowly consuming/leaking resources, “Was that the right choice?” […]

If our work drains a user’s cognitive resources, what does he lose? What else could he have done with those scarce, precious, easily-depleted resources? Maybe he’s trying to stick with that diet. Or practice guitar. Or play with his kids.

Great reminder that our designs echo beyond our applications.

It's the whole package that matters

Nov 15, 2013

From Nielsen’s latest Alertbox column:

The websites that had high visual-appeal ratings were then tested for usability. On average, participants’ task-failure rate on these sites was over 50%; this is an unacceptable failure rate based on our tracking of failure rates since 2000. However, despite this atrocious failure rate, participants’ satisfaction ratings remained high. In this case, research indicated that the look and feel of the site had a Halo Effect on the entire site experience, even when these sites were poorly designed for usability.

Usability on its own might fall short if your design doesn’t connect on an emotional level. Things that look better also work better.

Think it through, and you will sleep well

Dec 15, 2012

Joshua Porter explains why UX designers sleep well at night:

People who ruthlessly prototype are in a big way setting their mind at ease because they’ve seen the future… they know what works and what doesn’t. That’s a pretty big deal… people work better when they are calm and fully understand the situation they’re in.

Seems like the “good design is thorough down to the last detail” principle works in favour of both users and designers.

Strategy behind the Microsoft Surface

Dec 14, 2012

Horace Dediu makes an interesting argument.

The product lens

Dec 03, 2012

Chris Dixon on balance between product development and financing:

Good entrepreneurs spend most of their time focusing on the other market: the one between their company and their customers. This means looking at the world through the lens of products and not financing. This lens is particularly important when you are initially developing your idea or when you are thinking about product expansions.

The product lens suggests you should ask questions like: have the products in area X caught up to the best practices of the industry? Are they reaching their potential? Are they exciting? Are there big cultural/technological/economic changes happening that allow dramatically better products to be created?

As a rule of thumb - companies that don’t view things through the product lens are short lived.

(Via Parislemon).

UX in the box

Nov 25, 2012

Boon Chew nails it:

[…] (you’re not really assuming UX = just an amazing app or website, right?). Hiring a team of “UX designers” isn’t going to solve anything unless the proper understanding, systems, culture, sponsorship and environment are in place. And if these things aren’t in place, it’s our job as practitioners to help build it up, if we all agree that’s where we need to go.

SEO as a proxy

Nov 14, 2012

More often than not, an obsessive focus on SEO obscures the view of true goals. This is down to the fact that the goals associated with the SEO efforts are usually a proxy of something else.

I like how Seth Godin puts it:

Once you find the simple proxy and decide to make it go up, there are lots of available tactics that have nothing at all to do with improving the very thing you set out to achieve in the first place. When we fall in love with a proxy, we spend our time improving the proxy instead of focusing on our original (more important) goal instead.

Gaming the system is never the goal. The goal is the goal.

Advice from Jeff Bezos

Nov 14, 2012

Speaking with the guys at 37signals, Bezos had a really insightful thought. Jason Fried writes:

He said people who were right a lot of the time were people who often changed their minds. […]

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a well formed point of view, but it means you should consider your point of view as temporary.

What trait signified someone who was wrong a lot of the time? Someone obsessed with details that only support one point of view. If someone can’t climb out of the details, and see the bigger picture from multiple angles, they’re often wrong most of the time.

$32,000 carbon-fiber fixed-gear bike

Oct 19, 2012

Kyle VanHemert writing for Co.Design:

In the world of motor sports, UBC is a well-known brand. The German company specializes in carbon fiber, manufacturing extremely high-performance parts for Toyota’s Formula 1 cars and luxury rides like the Porsche GT2. The problem was, while those gorgeous machines relied on UBC parts, they never bore the UBC name. So a few years back, Ulf Bräutigam, the company’s CEO, had an idea to raise his company’s profile: UBC would build a vehicle of its own. In 2010, he enlisted industrial designer Christian Zanzotti to design a carbon-fiber bike that the masses simply couldn’t ignore.

The result? Most beautifully designed bike I’ve seen for a while.

Reporting, curation and amplification

Oct 17, 2012

Om Malik in his recent article Amplification & the changing role of media writes:

Back in the day, news people made choice by deciding which stories to write. Today, we have to adopt a similar rigor about what we choose to share and amplify. In sharing (on Twitter or even re-blogging) we are sending the same message as doing an original news report. The easy thing is to share or reblog everything, but by being deliberate about it, we are essentially “editing” and telling the world: “this is how I see the world/this particular beat.”

[…] in the future when Dorsey, Zuckerberg and Hastings are no longer an anomaly, the media person’s role is no longer just reporting news. Reporting through sharing and curation are going to be vital roles for us to play.

I agree. If you want to become the lens through which your readers grasp and understand the world — apart from painting pictures with your own words — your job is to curate and share what the others have said.

The aim is to be the first port of call. Not last.

Automated non-curated feeds make you neither first or last (or influential).