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Improving Interface Design

Improving Interface Design

Presentation from a half-day workshop on interface design that explored the influences of physical products and every aspect of design from shape, color, typography all the way through to usability and accessibility as being defining aspects of interface design.

Garrett Dimon

May 03, 2007

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  1. Jakob Nielsen A field study identified twenty-two ways that automated

    hospital systems can result in the wrong medication being dispensed to patients. Most of these flaws are classic usability problems that have been understood for decades. “ ” http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20050411.html
  2. Roger Martin A reliable process--which tends to attract folks in

    finance, engineering, and operations--produces a predictable result time and again. This is business as algorithm: quantifiable, measurable, and provable. “ ” http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/109/open_design-tough-love.html
  3. Roger Martin A valid process, on the other hand, flows

    from designers’ deep understanding of both user and context, and leads them to ideas they believe in but can’t prove. They work in a world of variables: the unpredictable, the visual, the experimental. “ ” http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/109/open_design-tough-love.html
  4. Roger Martin The challenge is to manage the chronic push

    and pull between a value system premised on what’s valid and one based on what’s reliable. “ ” http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/109/open_design-tough-love.html
  5. User Experience Usability Design (Visual & UI) Project Mgmt. AJAX

    (JavaScript) Back-End Information Architecture Account Mgmt. Flash Programming APIs Packaged Solutions Interaction Design Content User Research Design Deliverables Business Intelligence Problem Framing Requirements Gathering / Research DOM Scripting Accessibility CSS Front-End Development User Agents Markup e "Universe" of User Experience Designing the Experience Managing the Project Defining the Problem Architecting the Technology Delivering the Experience Prototyping Creative inking
  6. We need to be somewhere in here. Logic Gut Feel

    Lots of Bad Ideas Out Here We feel safer here.
  7. Web Visions Portland, OR | May 3rd, 2007 Understand Design

    Design is NOT about decoration. It’s about communication and problem solving. 8 1
  8. Steve Jobs Design is not just what it looks like

    and feels like. Design is how it works. “ ”
  9. Jeff Veen I’ve been amazed at how often those outside

    the discipline of design assume that what designers do is decoration. Good design is problem solving. “ ”
  10. Bob Baxley Like all forms of design, visual design is

    about problem solving, not about personal preference or unsupported opinion. “ ”
  11. Components of Usability (http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20030825.html)) Learnability. How easy is it to

    accomplish basic tasks on the first encounter of an interface? Efficiency. Once users are familiar with the interface, how quickly can they perform tasks? Memorability. When users return after a period of not using the interface, how easily can they reestablish proficiency? Errors. How many errors do users make, how severe are the errors, and how easily can they recover? Satisfaction. How pleasant is it to use the interface?
  12. Smallest Effective Difference Edward Tufte Make all visual distinctions as

    subtle as possible, but still clear and effective.
  13. Web Visions Portland, OR | May 3rd, 2007 External Inspiration

    History, art, other mediums, other professions. Find beauty in everything. 28
  14. Don Norman The field of usability design takes root in

    the cognitive sciences -- a combination of psychology, computer science, human factors, and engineering. These are all analytical fields. The discipline prides itself on its scientific basis and experimental rigor. The hidden danger is to neglect areas that are not easily addressed in the framework of science and engineering. http://www.jnd.org/dn.mss/emotion_design.html “ ”
  15. Web Visions Portland, OR | May 3rd, 2007 Cultivate the

    Culture Lipstick on a pig doesn’t cut it. 37 2
  16. Conway’s Law It is a consequence of the fact that

    two software modules A and B cannot interface correctly with each other unless the design and implementer of A communicates with the designer and implementer of B. Thus the interface structure of a software system necessarily will show a congruence with the social structure of the organization that produced it.
  17. Benjamin Franklin The definition of insanity is doing the same

    thing over and over again and expecting different results. “ ”
  18. Khoi Vinh Design groups really need a strong, diplomatic leader

    who can help engender a climate for good design. “ ”
  19. Web Visions Portland, OR | May 3rd, 2007 Think Critically

    If the question is wrong, the answer is irrelevant. 43 3
  20. Bertrand Russell The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating

    the problem in a way that will allow a solution. “ ”
  21. Benjamin Disraeli There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned

    lies, and statistics. Popularized in the U.S. by Mark Twain “ ”
  22. Web Visions Portland, OR | May 3rd, 2007 Ignore Users

    We have to look beyond what people say and understand their real needs. 51 4
  23. Jakob Nielsen To design an easy-to-use interface, pay attention to

    what users do, not what they say. Self-reported claims are unreliable, as are user speculations about future behavior. “ ” http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20010805.html
  24. Sidney Deane Look man. You can listen to Jimi, but

    you can’t hear him. There’s a difference man. Just because you’re listening to him doesn’t mean you’re hearing him. “ ” White Men Can’t Jump, 1992
  25. Steve Jobs It’s really hard to design products by focus

    groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them. “ ”
  26. Web Visions Portland, OR | May 3rd, 2007 Document &

    Code Better Current state of traditional and expected documentation is atrocious. 58 5
  27. 1. User enters the building 1.1 User opens door. (See

    Misc-01) 1.2 User walks through door. 1.3 User closes door. 2. User leaves the building. 2.1 User opens door. 2.2 User walks through door. 2.3 User closes door. Misc-01 Outside doors should open inwards and the knob should be placed towards the outer edge of the door about waist high. The doors should be 7’2” tall and 3’ wide.
  28. Getting Real No matter how much you plan you’re likely

    to get half wrong anyway. So don’t do the ‘paralysis through analysis’ thing. That only slows progress and saps morale. Getting Real http://gettingreal.37signals.com/ch06_Done.php “ ”
  29. Getting Real The same way you should regularly put aside

    some of your income for taxes, regularly put aside some time to pay off your code and design debt. If you don’t, you’ll just be paying interest (fixing hacks) instead of paying down the principal (and moving forward). “ ” http://gettingreal.37signals.com/ch10_Manage_Debt.php
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  33. Web Visions Portland, OR | May 3rd, 2007 Avoid Specialization

    Use specialists for special things. 73 6
  34. Getting Real Too many companies separate design, development, copywriting, support,

    and marketing into different silos. While specialization has its advantages, it also creates a situation where staffers see just their own little world instead of the entire context... http://gettingreal.37signals.com/ch07_Unity.php “ ”
  35. Peter Morville The design of good houses requires an understanding

    of both the construction materials and the behavior of real humans. “ ”
  36. Christopher Alexander So it is inevitable that as the work

    of building passes into the hands of specialists, the patterns which they use become more and more banal, more willful, and less anchored in reality. “ ” The Timeless Way of Building
  37. Web Visions Portland, OR | May 3rd, 2007 Cut Features

    (and ignore the darned competition.) 85 7
  38. Paul Graham A few years ago I read an article

    in which a car magazine modified the “sports” model of some production car to get the fastest possible standing quarter mile. You know how they did it? They cut off all the crap the manufacturer had bolted onto the car to make it look fast. “ ” Foreword from Founders at Work
  39. Steve Jobs [Innovation] comes from saying no to 1,000 things

    to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important. “ ”
  40. Kathy Sierra Give users what they actually want, not what

    they say they want. And whatever you do, don’t give them new features just because your competitors have them! “ ”
  41. Getting Real We kept the tool clean and uncluttered by

    letting people get creative. People figured out how to solve issues on their own. “ ” http://gettingreal.37signals.com/ch05_Human_Solutions.php
  42. Hans Hofmann The ability to simplify means to eliminate the

    unnecessary so that the necessary may speak. “ ”
  43. Jakob Nielsen (http://www.useit.com/alertbox/progressive-disclosure.html) Progressive disclosure defers advanced or rarely used

    features to a secondary screen, making applications easier to learn and less error-prone. “ ”
  44. Charles Mingus Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the

    complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity. “ ”
  45. Web Visions Portland, OR | May 3rd, 2007 Deliver the

    Basics Enough with the AJAX and superfluous visual effects. 114 8
  46. Jakob Nielsen Clear content, simple navigation, and answers to customer

    questions have the biggest impact on business value. Advanced technology matters much less. “ ” http://www.useit.com/alertbox/design_priorities.html
  47. Joe Dolson Validation, by itself, should never be considered as

    a primary signifier concerning the quality or accessibility of a website. http://www.joedolson.com/articles/2007/01/beyond-validation/ “ ”
  48. Jeremy Keith From now on, instead of talking about making

    a site accessible, I’m going to talk about keeping a site accessible. http://adactio.com/journal/1224 “ ”
  49. Principle of Least Astonishment When two elements of an interface

    conflict or are ambiguous, the behavior should be that which will least surprise the human user or programmer at the time the conflict arises, because the least surprising behavior will usually be the correct one.
  50. Iam Malcom Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with

    whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should. “ ” Jurassic Park, 1993
  51. Web Visions Portland, OR | May 3rd, 2007 Balance Context

    & Consistency Balance the need for consistency with the need for context. 128 9
  52. Larry Marine Things that look different should act different. Thinks

    that look the same should act the same. “ ”
  53. Web Visions Portland, OR | May 3rd, 2007 Fail Fast.

    Iterate. Explore. This isn’t construction or rocket science. 155 10
  54. H. L. Mencken For every complex problem there is a

    solution that is simple, neat and wrong. “ ”
  55. Lead Designer at Netflix We make a lot of this

    stuff up as we go along. I’m serious. We don’t assume anything works and we don’t like to make predictions without real-world tests. Predictions color our thinking. So, we continually make this up as we go along, keeping what works and throwing away what doesn’t. We’ve found that we about 90% of it doesn’t work. http://www.uie.com/articles/fast_iterations/ “ ”
  56. Marisa Mayer Vice President for Search Products and User Experience

    at Google Since only 1 in every 5 to 10 ideas work out, the strategy of constraining how quickly ideas must be proven allows us to try out more ideas faster, increasing our odds of success. http://www.uie.com/articles/fast_iterations/ “ ”
  57. In Summary... 1. Understand Design 2. Cultivate the Culture 3.

    Think Critically 4. Ignore Users 5. Document & Code Better 6. Avoid Specialization 7. Cut Features 8. Deliver the Basics 9. Balance Context & Consistency 10. Fail Fast. Iterate. Explore.