- A Complete Guide to A/B Testing (by Cameron Chapman) – convince yourself and your clients of a design that works better – good summary and tool collection.
- It Isn’t Minimalism (by Dmitry Fadeyev) – as Dmitry argues: “Simplicity isn’t a design trend, it’s an attribute of good design.”
- Complete Beginner’s Guide to Content Strategy (by Andrew Maier) – about strategies to abstract, analyze, collect, publish & manage. Nice!
- Understanding border-image (by Nora Brown) – nice CSS3 tutorial for custom borders – come on Microsoft, you can do it…
- Search Analysis with Google Analytics (by Dave Sparks) – may I introduce, your users. Get to know your users, what they do, what they want, what they are looking for. All invaluable information. Good intro by Dave.
- Best Tools for Testing Cross Browser Compatibility (by Joel Reyes) – every designers nightmare, browser compatibility.
- 10 Tools for Getting Web Design Feedback (by Ben & Jerry’s) –
- Drawing the Line: 6 Things You Shouldn’t Tolerate in Projects (by Sacha Greif) – Thank you, thank you, thank you. Can’t reiterate enough. We Designers have to show integrity! Thank you.
- 7 Warning Signs of a Nightmare Client (by John Urban) – oh, I know the control freak, and well, the extra freebie guy too
- 40 Great Resources for a Complete Roadmap to Freelancing (by Aidan Huang) – plentyful of good links, not only for freelancers.
- Putting Content Back on Top (by Felicity Evans) – on top of the sandwich, like thinking outside the bun hehe.
- The ROI of UX: Proving the Value of User Experience Design (by Erin Lynn Young) – “[...] holistic consideration of the user’s perspective will reap larger returns than other potential business investments”, nicely said.
- 5 Web Files That Will Improve Your Website (by Alexander Dawson) – robots.txt, favicon.ico, sitemap.xml, dublin.rdf, opensearch.xml – yes, you can!
- 10 Free Wireframing Tools for Designers (by Grace Smith) – Online wireframing, I love it and you should too.
The original motivation for this article stems from a recent discussion with a customer who argued that UI elements must not be redundant, i.e. there must not be two links on any single page pointing to the same target.
His argument was that the link to the contact form – which was embedded in the content – already exists in the header, thus replicating the other link.
To me it seemed clear that this “redundancy is bad” theorem doesn’t make sense. But how could I argue the opposite?
Be aware of the “Rule”
Over the time I’ve seen many so-called “rules” appear, most of them are really hard to counter and battle or even detect in the first place. Remember the “Everything-needs-to-be-reached-within-three-clicks” rule? Says who? Why? So the user can reach any target without dropping off? It’s not about the amount, it’s about the motivation to get there, it’s like a bicyclist that needs more strokes uphill but still has enough motivation to get there.
I call those rules Lazy-Designer rule, or should I say, don’t know better designer?
What is Redundancy?
Redundancy is the amount of information used to transmit a message minus the amount of information of the actual message. One might call this “wasted space” or “overhead”.
In information theory the amount of information is described in number of bits and data compression is used to reduce or eliminate unwanted redundancy.
But communication over noisy channels with limited capacity pose possibilities of data loss and that’s why checksums are added for the purpose of error detection.
Simply put, the basis of communication is sending and receiving a message from a sender over a channel to a recipient. Error detection is the detection of errors caused by noise or other impairments during transmission from the transmitter to the receiver.
Error correction is the detection of errors and reconstruction of the original data. This reconstruction can happen in either of two ways:
- Automatic repeat request (ARQ), sometimes also referred to as backward error correction, basically a request for retransmission of data until the correct receipt can be verified.
- Forward error correction (FEC), where the additional data (redundant data) that was added is used by the receiver to reconstruct the original information.
Translation into UI Design
The objective of user interface design (=sender) is to communicate a message via the internet (=channel) to the user (=recipient).
Importance of the Message
Without going into details of quantity (information theory and entropy) or quality (importance of a message) it can be said in general that the better message (=content) follows the lesser is more and more precise is better recommendations.
Methods of Error Detection
But how can one assure that the message has actually arrived? That the user found what the designer has intended to present? Or in other words, how can I (=designer) detect that a user has NOT received the message (=error detection) and what can be done to correct (=error correction) it?
- Traffic Log Analysis can help finding patterns in user behavior purely based on click-through rates and times.
- User Testing helps finding qualitative answers.
- A/B Tests compare alternative design choices and their effectiveness.
Methods of Error Correction
More important is how the UI can handle errors in data reception, i.e. the user “didn’t get it”.
- ARQ is almost impossible to implement. How would I know that the user missed our message? Maybe he/she simply wasn’t interested (e.g. in clicking the ‘contact us’ link).
- FEC on the other hand seems to be a real alternative. Adding redundancy may help the recipient to overcome the missed message and despite having noise (ads, other UI elements, etc.) being able to continue the task in the most likely way the designer had intended to.
Like mentioned above, it seems natural to enhance the quality of content and balance the quantity between removing content (=data compression or unwanted redundancy) and adding content (=desired redundancy). It’s like an intersection having two or more traffic lights (desired redundancy) but surely not traffic light hell like on the satiric image.
On a personal note
I wish Directv would ship all their receiver units with two remote controls. You can’t imagine the sudden peace in our house since we ordered a second one. “Babe, where is f…in remote again?”, “Will you finally shut down the volume honey?”, “Come on, skip the commercials, or are you sleeping already?”
- Debunking the Myths of Remote Usability Studies (by Corrie Kwan, Jin Li, and May Wong) – some myths might seem obvious, but others – drawn from first-hand experience – are not. Anyway, lot’s of good advise to be considered.
- How to Communicate With Your Clients (by Joel Reyes) – In short: Listen, Ask, Consult, Respect, Reason
- Beginner’s Guide to SEO: Best Practices – Part 3/3, Part 2/3, Part 1/3 (by hongkiat) – Search Engine Optimization is a must in all our toolboxes. Excellent three-part tutorial, thx!
- 250 Quick Web Design Tips (Part 2) (Part 1) (by Alexander Dawson) – about Browsers, Styles, Techniques, Marketing and all other good stuff.
- Agile UX and The One Change That Changes Everything (by Anders Ramsay) – Start Building Earlier through Rapid and Rich Communication and Just-in-Time Detail.
As always, send me your link or mention it in the comments. Anything related to this blog is much appreciated by all of us. Thanks!
- Complete Beginner’s Guide to Web Analytics and Measurement (by Andrew Maier) – a really great summary of tools and methods for web analytics.
- Favorite UX & Technology Blogs | Learning About New Web & Mobile Applications (by Janet M. Six) – uxmatters answer to favorite UX and technology blogs and how to learn about new Web and mobile applications.
- 10 New UX Books To Look Out for in 2010 (by Paul Seys) – what more to say…?
- 7 Steps to Better Website Feedback (by hongkiat) – good content but I really love this blog entry for its references.
- 15 Google Chrome Extensions for the Avid Designer (by Joel Reyes) – from Firebug to Resolution test and many more…
- Using Landmarks Makes Page Layout Easy (by Ben Gremillion) – harmony in design is based on well-known layout principles – great discussion by Ben!
If you feel qualified and are interested please send me your resume to mgaigg at esri.com. I’m also happy to answer any kind of question (except payment) you might have.
My job here
Use your technical background and innovative visual design skills to simplify complex business processes through the creation of intuitive and visually engaging user interfaces.
- Create sophisticated, imaginative, efficient, and visually striking interfaces for front-end solutions
- Design reusable UI components by utilizing or building UI framework components
- Develop storyboards, mock-ups, and prototypes to communicate ideas for navigation and interaction models
- Evaluate requirements and initial mock-ups; make technology recommendations that support optimal construction, maintenance, and performance
- Translate complex functional and technical requirements into detailed architecture and design prototypes
- Ensure cross-browser/platform integrity of Web designs
- Work closely with software developers and software testers to create a working end-to-end solution
- Define, maintain, implement, and enforce style guides, standards, reusable templates, and best practices for client-side software development
- Leverage the latest developments in Internet technologies
- Serve as a technical resource and mentor
- Bachelor’s or master’s in computer science, graphic design, visual design, human factors engineering, interaction design, information architecture, or other relevant field
- A minimum of five years of experience in user interface design, information architecture, user-centered design methodology, and implementation in complex enterprise environments
- Significant and proven experience demonstrating innovative UI visual design skills
- Ability to balance designs with the understanding of technical constraints within a software development environment
- Good understanding of user experience (UX) and user-centered design (UCD)
- Ability to take a concept from sketch to final implementation
- Ability and willingness to take ownership of projects and help drive them to effective implementation
- Exceptional attention to detail, organizational, communication, and presentation skills
- Passionate about novel user interface design and software development
- Experience with GIS/ESRI products and solutions
- Experience with .NET, C#, Silverlight, and Expression Blend
- Experience with JSP, Java Web frameworks, Flash, and ActionScript
- Experience with Linux, PHP, and MySQL
- Proficiency with Adobe Creative Suite including InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator
- Ability to interface with customers, gather requirements, and implement new solutions
ESRI Headquarters, Redlands, CA
Really interesting research note by Gartner.
- HTML5 will become the mainstream of the Web during the next decade.
- HTML5 is a potential threat to the continued adoption of plug-in based RIA approaches (including Flash/Silverlight).
- Enterprises should try avoid becoming dependent on any one browser or client-side technology.
- Enterprise developers should “design for standards” and not browsers or runtimes.
- Developers should favor the lightest-weight technology that will meet their requirements.
- Architects should consider hybrid approaches […]
- Before purchasing or committing to a new UI technology or platform, enterprises should first invest in a user-centered design process based on objective data about user behavior.
Complete Analysis: http://www.adobe.com/enterprise/pdfs/html5_flash.pdf
On a personal note I especially like the following part (btw: brilliantly written):
- The end of the killer feature (by Scott Berkun) – Scott points out the downsides of upgrades and compatibility; version management across third-party development, huge field.
- The Experience belongs to the User (by Joshua Porter) – about the effects of over-architecting on the actual user.
- How Well Are You Pricing Your Designs? (by Joel Reyes) – usually I consider previous experiences and their workload in hours, plus/minus additional requirments and the client itself (more communication involved, more/less hand-holding required, etc.) and multiply it with a fixed price. That’s my total.
- Apologizing like a human, not a corporation (by 37signals) – we all make mistakes, let’s start recognizing them and learn to appologize right – great example!
- Defining the Designer of 2015 (by aiga.org) – aiga teamed up with Adobe to take a look into the future. Capture the attention span of a user, huh?
- Destroying Designer’s Creative Block and Unleashing Your Creativity (by Aidan Huang) – Watch my caffeine intake?? Are you kidding me????
- There’s no right answer (by Donna Spencer) – Donna mentions some factors for designing the ‘better’ solution, the successful design will take all these factors into consideration.
- UCD info graphic poster (by Pascal Raabe) – information graphic poster illustrating the underlying lifecycle, methods, principles and techniques in a user centred design process.
- Using Charts and Graphs for Content (by Chris McConnell) – comprehensive overview and discussion of charting and graphing content.
- Considering Prototypes (by Andrew Maier) – prototypes generate context and questions and move teams in the direction of meeting business demands.
- The Frankfurt Kitchen (by Harry Brignull) – about design perfection that becomes counter-productive.
- Design Better And Faster With Rapid Prototyping (by Lyndon Cerejo) – another great blog post about prototyping – don’t overdo it and be aware of scope creep – it’s a bloody prototype
- Two Beautiful New Mini Pixel Icon Sets (reported by Paul Andrew) – what more to say, go get them.
- UX Lx Wrap Up (by Theresa Neil) – good wrap-up (with links to material) of the 3 day UX Lx conference in Lisbon last month.
- Master user experience design (by Craig Grannell) – inside UX, well-researched and laid out article, good read.
For everybody who has been wondering where I’ve been the last two months, my wife and I had a wonderful baby boy “Sebastian”. He is our sunshine and we try to spend every minute with him, if we want or not
So many exciting things have been taking shape in the meantime and I really want to write about them again. Next to my daily work at ESRI and our child it’s not always easy to find the time to collect and summarize my thoughts but your constant feedback and comments keep me going, thanks for your support and understanding. Stay tuned!