Design In the Open Community for Open Source User Experience Design

Just a very quick post to let you that I recently created a Ning community to allow designers and user experience people who are working in (or interested in working in) Open Source and Free Software communities to share their experiences, their projects, their questions and their mental health breakdowns!

If this sounds like something you might be interested in, come join us here: http://www.designintheopen.org/

[Participate in Research] Are you on the market for a new phone, insurance or breakdown cover?

Are you currently looking at purchasing a new mobile phone, switching your insurance provider or getting breakdown cover for your car?

We’re looking for people who are not so technically savvy who might be available to help us with a small research project in London on 6-7 July. We’re after everyone from students to grandparents, so if this is not you, perhaps it would suit someone you know – feel free to pass this onto them!

You’ll get £40 for an hour of your time, we’ll come and meet you at a location that is mutually convenient (in and around Central London), and it is really very easy – we’re interested in your experience and feedback, that’s all! Actually most people find these sessions pretty fun!

UX London – Designing for Content Rich Sites Workshop

Here’s a dump of tweets i sent during Jared’s workshop.

  • sitting up the back of @jmspool‘s workshop – Why Good Content Must Suck: Designing For The Scent of Information
  • Jared is talking about the Scent of Information and why it is more effective than designing for navigation
  • humans = informavours
  • Jared says: the best websites have a lot of content
  • conten sucks the user towards it (this is why your content has to suck… like a vaccuum cleaner)
  • every link gives off ‘scent’ that users follow. As scent gets stronger, people are more confident they’re headed the right way
  • we can only tell from users behaviour whether the scent is working or not. If you’re not watching users, you won’t know.
  • “trigger words” are the words that cause users to act
  • our eyes go straight to trigger words.
  • @Suw no videos from #uxlondon as far as I know
  • Jared says the 3 click rule is ‘complete bullshit’. Tell your boss.
  • the only time users complain about clicks is when the information scent has gone
  • good design is like air conditioning. You don’t notice it unless there’s something wrong.
  • @Suw I’m in the process of posting dumps of my tweets session by session to my blog right now :) www.disambiguity.com
  • when the user comes to the page they scan for trigger words, if they find one, they click on it. If they don’t, they go to search
  • the search box is users creating their own links by inputting the trigger words they’re looking for
  • most of the time BYOL (bring your own link) via search doesn’t work
  • users don’t like to scroll ‘that’s complete bullshit too’ @jmspool
  • iceberg syndrome: people assume the most important stuff is at the top. If ‘marketing fluff’ is at the top, don’t bother scrolling
  • nobody goes to a website without a purpose. except web designers.
  • information masking:when users look at a page they focus on only the portion of the page that has consistently given them good use
  • navigation panels are often scentless. Scent is specific, navigation is often not.
  • short links don’t emit scent
  • the best links are 7-12 words in length
  • @atownley 12 words is too long :)
  • short pages reduce scent. The best pages are *really* long. ref: CNN, Yahoo, Amazon, NYT
  • things that stop ppl from scrolling 2. Design elements that *look* like the bottom- white space, text that looks like a disclaimer
  • cute/brand/marketing type links don’t work (mystery meat)
  • homepages should look more like sitemaps in @jmspool‘s opinion. It’s not clutter. Link rich homepages do better than sparse pages
  • @jmspool on baseball – it’s 15mins of excitement jammed into 2.5hrs
  • the only people who care about what ‘section’ of a site something is in is people who manage the site. Users couldn’t care less.
  • graphics for information = v useful. decorative graphics are less easy to correlate to good user outcomes
  • the no.1 thing that users base the quality of their experience on is whether or not they complete their task
  • Navigation Graphics communicate scent. Content Graphics convey information. Ornamental Graphics do something else #uxlondon PRT @Wandster
  • yes, in case you’re wondering, I’m tweeting a @jmspool workshop at
  • designing for scent – make sure every click makes the user more confident
  • what makes users confident – ‘i know where this link is going to take me’
  • on click show desired content OR even stronger scent = happy user
  • if you’re not spending time watching people use your site there is no way you’re designing a good site #uxlondon ( )
  • you need to know – why are users coming to your site? what are their trigger words?
  • users look for blue & underlines. yes, it’s ugly and hard to see but we’ve trained users to look for that.
  • Target Content Page = the page the user is looking for to solve their objective. The most important page on the site for that user
  • you only have to worry about information scent if you have more than one page on your website
  • Gallery Page = a list of links to content pages. Scent comes from the content page thru the links on the gallery page to the user
  • @jmspool does research on ecommerce sites because they’re easy – easy to measure if users have achieved their goal.
  • 3 scent failure predictors: use of the back button, pogo-sticking, use of search
  • wireframing 2.0 #uxlondon goodies http://tr.im/uxlondongoodies (via @solle)
  • the back button is the button of doom (repeat after @jmspool)
  • pogosticking = when the user bounces between levels of the information hierarchy seeking their target content page
  • when people pogo-stick we see a huge reduction in users achieving success on a site
  • the more users pogo-stick the less likely they are to find the target content. When you see it it, tells you there’s a problem.
  • you are *much* more likely to find what you’re looking for if you DON’T use search
  • only if you have Uniquely Identified Content (like Amazon) do you get an exception to the searching = predictor of problems rule
  • people type very generic terms into search – this is the main reason search fails (behaviour not technology)
  • your users are telling you every day what trigger words they’re looking for and on what pages. Look at your search logs.
  • users are telling you every day what is wrong with your site and what you need to do to fix it. Are you paying attention? @jmspool
  • to stop people pogosticking, you need to put as much information on the gallery page as possible
  • “Changes in the web don‚Äôt change the fundamentals of human behaviour” (@jmspool) #uxlondon (via @Paulseys)
  • alphabetical order is the same as random order in 99% of cases @jmspool
  • Department Pages = collections of gallery pages. Separates gallery pages into logical groups.
  • Department pages are for winnowing, gallery pages are for selecting. Users get this.
  • More on “pogosticking” on UIE: http://bit.ly/NuY6W #uxlondon (via @bashford)
  • You can always have that much space for your gallery page because you have an infinite page length @jmspool
  • people do NOT learn the structure of your site by using it. They have no sense of the organisation of your site, nor do they care
  • When users comparison-shopped using pogosticking techniques:purchase = 11% . Compare to 55% when product lists used. #uxlondon PRT @Wandster
  • seducible moments – at the end, once users have *achieved* their goal say ‘by the way, would you like to do this?’
  • Store pages = groups of department pages. Helps users tell the system what they *don’t* want to see (eg. business or sports)
  • people who choose a ‘Store’ page tend to never choose another ‘Store’ page in the same session.
  • Do you need store pages? Look to your competitors. If they have them, you probably do. Use the same terms as they are (generic)
  • Homepage purpose – to get people to other pages, usually to a category page. Divide real estate accordingly
  • anyone who tells you that your homepage is for brand, to learn about your products/your business etc. They’re wrong @jmspool
  • the best way to solve arguments is to have everyone watching users actually using the site @jmspool

UX London – Quick Sketching for Interaction Design Workshop – Mark Baskinger & William Bardel

Here is a dump of my live tweets during this excellent workshop at UX London. If you like it, you should buy their book when it comes out later this year.

  • wondering about the easiest way to export my tweets from yesterday and get them into chronological order
  • sketching workshop kicking off, hooray! ‘and we’re going to get kind of sweaty’
  • ‘how many of you guys are IxDs? And how many are UX Designers?’ Cue chaos
  • showing people your sucky drawings is part of the growing process
  • squeak squeak squeak, explain explain, squeak squeak (how many of you use a whiteboard?)
  • why are we here (in this sketching workshop)? to become better communicators
  • design drawing is useful in the planning process, can help to see the world differently, heightened awareness of how things work
  • drawing can help you tell your story to others, its honesty can be v compelling
  • why draw by hand when we have computers? Mice suck.
  • why draw by hand – direct with the pencil is more direct, more expressive than via mouse
  • thinking is a fast paced activity, the pencil is simple & immediate, a good, fast tool for capturing thought
  • ‘Pencils Before Pixels’ – Mark Baskinger
  • we’re going to start off with really simple things like straight lines …
  • ‘i’d love to sit down and draw cubes with you after the workshop’
  • we’re grabbing pencils and paper…
  • starting with pencil holding technique. @ashdonaldson & @cennydd are getting some remedial tips
  • if you can’t see the tip of your pencil you can’t draw. You need a v loose grip to avoid fatigue
  • your bellybutton is very important for vertical lines. It’s like a visual landmark. Pull the lines toward it #uxlondon (seriously!)
  • (feels like sketch pilates)
  • @keeran of course I’m participating! my vertical lines are much better than my horizontal!
  • correct each others squares. what do you see? either ‘my squares suck’ or ‘the person next to me is blind’
  • you have to warm up before you can sketch properly.
  • techniques for better hand drawn wireframes: use non-repro blue for underlay drawing (it disappears when copied)
  • carry a sketchbook all the time. practice sketching all the time. practice straight lines, squares, using hatching for tone
  • ‘it’s all about pulling some lines’
  • use lines in various intervals, not scribble, for adding tone.
  • being purposefully rough, like overlapping corners, makes sketching look more sketchy
  • sketchiness = this is not a finished idea, I’m still thinking about this. Sketching holds the conversation back to the big picture
  • avoid crosshatching in wireframes, starts to ‘pop’ too much. Use various weight of diagonal or vertical lines instead
  • build your sketches up sequentially, add weight and tone onto the skeleton
  • uh oh. perspective! (moving shapes in space)
  • perspective – make sure your back vertical is a little shorter than your front vertical
  • try to finish your line with the same weight as you start it
  • if you can do curved planes, you can do arrows. (v pretty arrows, that is)
  • @alexjamesmorris you might think all UX people draw, but unfortunately not true, and many of us would love to draw better!
  • move the point of your arrow back just a tiny bit off centre and it will look better
  • i can recommend Trio Scribli pens #uxlondon (via @solle)
  • ‘these are all ‘ungood’ ways of drawing a circle’
  • the only useful thing your pinky does is stablise your hand when you want to ‘drop in’ a pencil
  • the trick to drawing a good circle is to do a few practice circles before you ‘drop in’ your circle (it works!)
  • @freecloud agree that blog posts are like word sketches, but there’s nothing like drawn sketches to communicate some ideas
  • @alexjamesmorris i agree. you can’t copy and paste sketched wireframes. I think that’s incredibly important.
  • I’m realising that my biggest problem with sketching before is not visualising what I am trying to sketch before starting to draw
  • realising sketching is a lot more deliberate than I thought. Resolving to *really* do the sketchbook thing from now on
  • ‘sketching becomes a magic trick. I can draw this and you can’t. That’s a powerful thing’
  • @alexjamesmorris absolutely – pencil before pixels as Mark said at the beginning :)
  • ok. drawing people. If I can leave this workshop with people drawing skills I will be stoked.
  • if you have an element in your sketch that is weak or less deliberate, it attracts attention & detracts from your entire sketch.
  • notational sketching = the act of recording things that you see in the world. Mostly for your sketchbook, less so for sharing
  • analysing visual input (what you see) and deciding what to record is a particular kind of drawing skill
  • @leisa sketching is physical thought in my book #uxlondon (via @Snowbadger) > i agree :)
  • notational sketching tips: fast & loose, use icons, images & symbols, portability is important (in context), date your pages
  • more notational sketching tips: respect the borders (esp. the gutter), print neatly (annotations), white space is ok
  • moving onto visualising functional relationships – communicating how things interact together so it makes sense to others
  • Bill: I like using watercolour because it is less controlled, it forces you to work with mistakes
  • if notation is aimed at recording, diagramming is aimed at explaining
  • tips for explanatory mapping & diagramming: balance style and substance, think about how to direct attention where you want it
  • The Don: ‘How do you draw a blur?’ Mark: ‘You lick your page’
  • @jonbho this is an unusual glut of tweets due to #uxlondon. I can assure you I’m usually much quieter! Apologies for the noise.
  • getting to the end of the sketching workshop. My sketching is still rubbish, but I have a v good idea of why and what to do
  • sketching workshop wrapped up with a gentle critiquing session. Great workshop, recommend it.