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.

UX London Tweets – Don Norman

Here is a dump of my live tweets during The Don’s presentation at UX London. I’m writing a more coherent version of this for Johnny Holland – coming soon!

  • Don Norman on the stage. Last speaker of the day at UX London
  • the Don opens with ‘Thank you, it is now time for questions’
  • whenever anyone says they want something, I oppose it. I question it. #uxlondon #TheDon
  • Rules of complexity: Life is complex, The tools we build have to match life, the problem is understanding not simplicity #uxlondon #TheDon
  • Complexity is not bad. Complicated is bad. #uxlondon #TheDon
  • If you want to make something simple you compensate by making other things complex #uxlondon #TheDon
  • When @lukewdesign says ‘no one’ customises Yahoo.com he means ‘only 60million people’ #uxlondon #TheDon
  • Complex can be enjoyable. Some simple things can be horrible. #uxlondon #TheDon
  • Don Normal talking about the doors. What a treat. #uxlondon #TheDon
  • ‘I highly recommend walking around with sticky green dots to remind yourself which way things should turn’ #uxlondon #TheDon
  • As a generalisation, Asian cultures prefer more complex interfaces #uxlondon #TheDon (123india.com vs google.com)
  • he even sounds a bit like a messiah, don’t you think?
    </starstruck>#uxlondon #TheDon
  • Magpies are the only bird that can pass the mirror test, can lie, they’re extremely intelligent #uxlondon #TheDon #WhoKnew
  • reading music is incredibly complex but it produces amazing things, we don’t complain about that complexity. #uxlondon #TheDon
  • People whose offices look messy often know where their stuff is & are better able to find things than ‘neat’ people. #uxlondon #TheDon Amen
  • Too simple is boring. To complex is frustrating. There’s an ideal amount. Experience moves the preferred complexity up. #uxlondon #TheDon
  • Being distracted is sometimes a good thing, it can be how we learn things. #uxlondon #TheDon
  • some ‘simple’ tools take time to use well. eg. a silversmith’s hammer #uxlondon #TheDon
  • there’s a sweet spot for complexity & engaging things are found in that sweetspot, but it keeps shifting! #uxlondon #TheDon
  • As I get better at something, I need increased complexity to maintain interest, otherwise I get bored. #uxlondon #TheDon
  • Complexity is good. It’s good to feel the world disappear as you engage in what you’re doing. It’s enjoyable & productive #uxlondon #TheDon
  • I think Don is proving his point re: complexity & understanding (unconvinced by his suggestion to redesign musical scales) #uxlondon #TheDon
  • @fred_beecher yes, he mentioned games re: complexity & shifting sweetspot #uxlondon #TheDon
  • we are sending seriously mixed messages – we say we want simplicity but we buy things because they’ve got more features #uxlondon #TheDon
  • we can’t resist features. Even when incredibly simple mobile phones are produced, we don’t buy them. We want features. #uxlondon #TheDon
  • quoting The Paradox of Choice, Schwartz – we have more choices than ever but less satisfaction. More is Less #uxlondon #TheDon
  • You can contain complexity by putting things in modular clumps so you only see options when you need them #uxlondon #TheDon
  • Google’s advanced search interfaces helps me do something complex in a supported way and starts to teach me Boolean search #uxlondon #TheDon
  • the solution: conceptual model #uxlondon #TheDon
  • eg file system interface is a fake. It doesn’t really exist but it helps me understand where to find things on my computer #uxlondon #TheDon
  • But the Graphical User Interface does not scale. #uxlondon #TheDon
  • Another solution: Systems Thinking #uxlondon #TheDon
  • The reason the ipod is such a success is that it is a complete system. License music iTunes iPod #uxlondon #TheDon
  • Lots of the visiting US speakers are talking up the Kindle. And saying it’s increasing their reading volume. Jealous. #uxlondon #TheDon
  • Complexity can be fun – for example this very complicated coffee maker. I don’t know if it makes good coffee or not #uxlondon #TheDon
  • and that’s the end of Don Norman’s ‘In Favour of Complexity’ – what a treat! #uxlondon #TheDon
  • from the Q&A – if I can’t get my pictures out of my camera, it’s hopeless. The whole system has to work #uxlondon #TheDon
  • in the old days we suffered through technology, but now we are selling to everyday people. Things have to work. It really matters.

UX London Tweets – Jeff Veen

Here is a dump of my live tweets during Jeff’s presentation at UX London. I’m writing a more coherent version of this for Johnny Holland – coming soon!

  • @veen talking about designing our way through data
  • @veen things that happened in 1974 (meta = hippy goes mainstream). A v important year for the internet #uxlondon (also the year i was born)
  • a tiny little 6yr old epiphany for @veen in 1974 when he first saw Pong – ooh, I can control what’s on the screen!
  • tools for participation lots of capacity to store data = some pretty cool effects
  • there are 24hrs of video uploaded every 8 seconds on YouTube.
  • as a designer I can look into the data and see if there is something in there I can use to inform the design (eg. the colour)
  • I’ve taken the story out of the data and shown it by applying design elements
  • ‘decorating’ data rather than using design to provide better access is dangerous. @veen
  • Google Analytics interface inspired by Indiana Jones @veen
  • use visualisation to change behaviour (statistics can be anesthetizing, hard to make meaning)
  • find the story in the data, assign different visual queues to each dimension, remove everything that isn’t telling the story
  • mini theme from #uxlondon – don’t be a control freak
  • think more about giving yr audience tools so they can find their own patterns & stories, rather than controlling their experience
  • shout out to Dopplr at
  • provide filters to enable clarity (helping people make sense of data) @veen
  • Storytelling using data visualisation is incredibly compelling Now we need to give people tools so they can find their own stories
  • @veen tshirt: ‘Math is Easy, Design is Hard’. Not a popular tshirt at Google.
  • research is great but it’s just data that you use to inform your design. Data doesn’t tell you how to design. shoutout to @stop
  • @veen quotes @zeldman: ‘start with the user, but know yourself’. Thinks this should be inverted
  • ‘The purpose of computing is insight, not numbers.’ Richard Hamming, 1962 #uxlondon (via @ritchielee)