Posts Tagged:usability

rfp-robotRFP ROBOT: Website Request for Proposal Generator

The time has come for a new website (or website redesign), which means you need to write a website request for proposal or web RFP. A Google search produces a few examples, but they vary wildly and don’t seem to speak really to your goals for developing or redesigning a new website. You need to write a website RFP that will clearly articulate your needs and generate responses from the best website designers and developers out there. But how?

Have no fear, RFP Robot is here. He will walk you through a step-by-step process to help you work through the details of your project and create a PDF formatted website design RFP that will provide the information vendors need to write an accurate bid. RFP Robot will tell you what info you should include, point out pitfalls, and give examples.


Using Custom Properties to Modify Components

Instead of using custom properties to style whole portions of a website’s interface I think we should use them to customize and modify tiny components. Here’s why. Whenever anyone mentions CSS custom properties they often talk about the ability to theme a website’s interface in one fell swoop. For example, if you’re working at somewhere like a big news org then we might want to specify a distinct visual design for the Finance section and the Sports section – buttons, headers, pull quotes and text color could all change on the fly. Custom properties would make this sort of theming easy because we won’t have to add a whole bunch of classes to each component. All we’d have to do is edit a single variable that’s in the :root, plus we can then edit those custom props with JavaScript which is something we can’t do with something like Sass variables.…

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7 Tips for the Aspiring UX Designer

This time last year, I had never heard of UX. Coming from a family of doctors, the only job-related acronym I knew was MD. But this changed during my summer in Silicon Valley, where I worked as a media intern with a startup accelerator and venture capital firm. Over the course of just three weeks, four colleagues told me that I should look into UX. I really think you would like this. You’d be so good at it! Thinking it was some sort of sign, I decided to give UX a try. It was love at first sight. From that point on, I spent my free time immersed in UX books, articles, and blogs. I had never felt so passionate about a field before.  I used my Christmas break to take an online UX course. I filled my schedule with phone calls with every UXer in my LinkedIn network. I…

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The Advantage of Comparative Research

No matter how new a problem may be to us, we are never the first person to tackle it. There are always examples to learn from. That said, the way we learn from others’ examples can make the difference between uncritical emulation and a solution that fits the unique problem and context we’re facing. Here I’ll describe what comparative research is, why it’s worth your time, and give an example of how it helped us on a recent project. Some Fundamentals of Comparative Research Comparative research is a way to broaden our thinking about product functionality. It answers questions like, “How have others dealt with this kind of content complexity? What is a good way to conduct this kind of interaction? How are different use cases accounted for?” This type of research is particularly useful when trying to identify best practices that haven’t yet solidified into conventions–ones that aren’t likely…

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Breadcrumb Navigation & its Usefulness

While navigating through websites, breadcrumbs are one way to ensure that you (or your users) can browse and explore easily. Breadcrumbs, or breadcrumb navigation links, are a set of hyperlinks that function as an extra navigation feature for websites. Breadcrumbs positively effect usability by minimizing the number of actions a website user needs to take to get into high-level pages, which enhances ease of navigation. They also provide indication as to the exact location of the visitor within the website’s hierarchy, providing context and, essentially, a virtual mini map of the site.  What are Breadcrumbs? A “breadcrumb” is a kind of alternate navigation method which helps to reveal the visitor’s location within a website or Web app. We often find breadcrumbs on websites that have an extensive catalogue of information organized in a hierarchical manner. We can also see breadcrumbs in Web apps that have a vast quantity of content,…

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What Not to Wearable: Part 2

In Part 1, I outlined strategies to coordinate the design goals of digital and physical products. Now, I want to take a look at how employing those strategies might yield wearables that appeal to a broad market. Wearables consist of three designed components: The Product This is the object that will house the hardware.The Hardware These are the technology components that make a product “smart.” It includes the sensors, indicators, transmitters (as well as requisite power sources) that are layered into a physical product to add functionality.The Digital Experience This is the suite of apps and interfaces that the user interacts with in relation to the wearable. It may be on the wearable itself (as in a full-display watch) or synced to a device (as with a fitness tracker). There are many articles (including this one and this one) that offer guidance on designing for wearables. But, they all tend…

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Accessibility, New Technology & the Aging Baby Boomers

Accessibility isn’t just for the blind or deaf. Accessibility is for everyone. Our eyes, ears, and motor function won’t improve with age. By 2020, the elderly will outnumber those over the age of 5, and Baby Boomers will make up 15% of our population, and of those Baby Boomers 68% of them have multiple electronic devices. Organizations can’t afford to ignore the growing need this part of the population has for accessible digital platforms. And when those numbers are combined with the fact that 1 in 10 Americans has a disability, the importance of improving accessibility becomes a business imperative. At this year’s DrupalCon in Baltimore, MD, Catharine McNally and I will be discussing how accessible design improves usability for everyone, while also increasing SEO and market size for every website which matters more now than ever. With a technologically competent and aging Baby Boomer population, we are expecting previously…

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Avoidable Design Flaws That Can Hurt Your Site

Inspired Magazine Inspired Magazine – creativity & inspiration daily The web was supposed to get better,  that was the promise.  And you’d think it would have, with all the increased awareness of accessibility and usability considerations.  But strangely enough, we’re more than 25 years in, and things are actually getting worse in general.  How could this be so? It can’t be blamed on education.  Every course in Internet Design and Development worth its salt covers the fundamentals of good design principles, usability, and accessibility.  It can’t be blamed on the engineering standards, because the W3C guidelines are stricter and more clearly defined than ever before.  Nor can it be blamed on technology, because the technology is more supportive of developing high quality sites, not less. No, the answer to this paradox is actually quite simple.  It’s because designers have had their power stripped away by the demands of marketers and…

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Web 3.0

Whatever happened to Web 3.0? What was it? Did it ever happen? I’ve seen multiple attempts at definitions. Things about artificial intelligence. The semantic web. Social networks.One thing I remember about Web 2.0 was that 37signals (the original company behind Basecamp) was labeled as a company who was very “Web 2.0”.I’m not sure that was true.Are those grapes? No, coffee beans. Coffee beans aren’t actually the chocolatey looking things we usually see until they are roasted. And even as recently as 1850, folks were buying those green beans and had to roast and grind them by hand at home.Along came William H. Bovee in 1850 who figured there had to be an opportunity here. He came up with an idea to roast the beans, grind them himself and sell the product in cans to consumers — making coffee much more convenient.He also hired a carpenter, named James, who took a lot of interest in the…

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Snapchat is the Donald Trump of UI Design

A few days ago, I enjoyed reading Carmel DeAmicis’ article on Medium, Did Snapchat succeed because of its controversial UI? If you haven’t read that article yet, you should stop now and give it a read, but the general argument is this: Snapchat breaks all the rules of conventional usability, yet it has been widely adopted in part because of this rather than in spite of it. I was intrigued by the article’s points about why this might be, but I want to add another perspective. As I read the article, there was a particular analogy that I couldn’t get out of my head: Snapchat is the Donald Trump of UI design. Let me explain. Every once in a while, a truly disruptive event comes along that challenges things we thought we knew about the world. Within a few hours on Election Night 2016, the world realized in unison that rules…

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Using Breadcrumbs for Website Navigation

While navigating through websites, breadcrumbs are one way to ensure that you (or your users) can browse and explore easily. Breadcrumbs, or breadcrumb navigation links, are a set of hyperlinks that function as an extra navigation feature for websites. Breadcrumbs positively effect usability by minimizing the number of actions a website user needs to take to get into high-level pages, which enhances ease of navigation. They also provide indication as to the exact location of the visitor within the website’s hierarchy, providing context and, essentially, a virtual mini map of the site. What are Breadcrumbs? A “breadcrumb” is a kind of alternate navigation method which helps to reveal the visitor’s location within a website or Web app. We often find breadcrumbs on websites that have an extensive catalogue of information organized in a hierarchical manner. We can also see breadcrumbs in Web apps that have a vast quantity of content,…

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Users Gonna Use—How Lullabot Does Usability Testing

Matt and Mike sit down with three of Lullabot’s senior UX designers to talk the ins and outs of usability testing within our design process. Source: https://www.lullabot.com

Moving the Drupal 8 workflow initiative along

Nine months ago I wrote about the importance of improving Drupal’s content workflow capabilities and how we set out to include a common base layer of workflow-related functionality in Drupal 8 core. That base layer would act as the foundation on which we can build a list of great features like cross-site content staging, content branching, site previews, offline browsing and publishing, content recovery and audit logs. Some of these features are really impactful; 5 out of the top 10 most requested features for content authors are related to workflows (features 3-7 on the image below). We will deliver feature requests 3 and 4 as part of the “content workflow initiative” for Drupal 8. Feature requests 5, 6 and 7 are not in scope of the current content workflow initiative but still stand to benefit significantly from it. Today, I’d like to provide an update on the workflow initiative’s progress…

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The True Cost of Not Hiring A Designer

We like to have fun with our designs here at AdEspresso. But that doesn’t mean we don’t take design seriously. Great design is integral to the AdEspresso experience.  We want people to enjoy our site, our ads, and our product. All our design is in-house, with our full-time designers making sure every piece of design is to the highest quality. But great design gives more than a great experience. Design increases revenue, increases customers, and decreases costs. Here’s how. The ROI of Grand Designs You don’t have to take our word for it. There is plenty of evidence that good design pays. The Design Value Index tracks the returns of design-centric brands. These are select brands that put design at the forefront of their thinking and customer experience. Think Apple, think Nike, think Coca-Cola. If you track these brands against the rest of the S&P over the last decade, they…

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Further Thoughts About the Progressive Enhancement Discussion

My previous post sparked a lot of response in the comments, on Twitter, from Aaron Gustafson and Luke Whitehouse. Those responses have helped me refine my thoughts and reconsider my tone, so I want to take another stab: a less-combative approach; more clearly walking through my thought process, while dispensing with the too-clever-by-half LSAT Game stuff that Adrian Roselli fairly called out as sloppy; and trying to be a little less insufferable. You should still read that one first for context. On Tone and Good Faith A few initial thoughts. In response to my post, Chip Cullen tweeted: RE that article railing against PE:https://t.co/HfxZNkX9BGIt comes at a development mindset rooted in compassion with active disdain— Chip Cullen (@chipcullen) December 5, 2016 I’d say intellectual-gotcha glee more than active disdain, but point taken. Read Aaron’s posts about egalitarianism and accessibility (and his response to my post); he is thoughtful and compassionate. He…

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9 Tips for Doing Fast, Lightweight Research at an Agency

Last year, we committed to doing more research at Viget. One of the ways I’ve been able to do my part is by honing in on a repeatable framework for doing lightweight qualitative research on almost any project. In this post, I want to share an approach that has become “methodological muscle memory” for me over the past year. These nine tips form a basic template that can be tweaked to fit the needs of your individual project. This approach doesn’t make the usual distinction between the user research that you’d typically do before design starts and the testing and evaluation that you’d typically do after design is mostly done. In fact, it’s most useful for projects where time constraints would normally limit you to only one (or none) of those types of research. This lightweight approach isn’t intended as an alternative to more formal research like highly technical usability testing or in-depth ethnography. It’s a replacement for doing…

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5 Conversion-Sabotaging Design Features to Avoid at All Costs

Great designers are hard to find. Ones who get it… who understand conversion principles and business objectives and can translate that into something beautiful that also works. Great designers are also vastly underpaid. Mistreated. And subjected to the most inane direction from clients and bosses imaginable. It takes 0.05 seconds for someone to have a first impression of your site. Of whether they’re going to listen to what you say, eventually trust you, and perhaps, one day, purchase. And ALL of that comes down to design.  Yet, designers are forced by the people cutting the checks to work with garbage. Which inevitably leads to, garbage. Here’s why, kicking off with a bang. Conversion Killer #1. Homepage Carousel Sliders There must be some unwritten rule somewhere. An unspoken law, that every single ugly B2B website, MUST feature a homepage carousel. You know the drill. There are, like three to five slides, each…

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Improving Drupal 8's User Experience

Matt and Mike talk with Acquia’s Kevin Oleary and Ted Bowman about efforts to improve Drupal 8’s usability and overall user experience. We talk about Drupal’s processes, user testing, semantic versioning, preinstalled content, and more. Source: https://www.lullabot.com

What is Information Architecture and Why it is Important to Your Website

Website navigation is something you probably use every day but don’t think too much about. This is how you travel from page to page within a website. It is probably the most used part of your website that you spend the least amount of time evaluating, right? I used to feel the same way. A few years ago, I inherited a site navigation that seemed to be working so my team focused on growing other areas of the site. Looking into how our menu was organized was low priority. We continued to just add things to it as we needed, and over time it morphed into a big mess that was difficult for our users to navigate. So, if someone asks you why your menu is organized the way it is, what is your answer? I’m afraid to say that for a long time my answer was “because that’s the…

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