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.


How Wikipedia implemented link previews

You might have noticed that Wikipedia recently started enabling link previews; when you hover over a link, it displays a card with more information about the linked page. My first reaction was: what took them so long? Link previews help to solve an important usability problem of having to open many articles, often in multiple browser tabs. However, after I started to read more about how Wikipedia implemented the link previews, I was reminded of how hard it is to do things at the scale Wikipedia requires. Nirzar Pangarka, who works as a designer at the Wikimedia Foundation, shared that more than 10,000 links get hovered each second across Wikipedia. In another post, David Lyall, an engineering manager at the Wikimedia Foundation, shared that they are seeing up to half a million hits every minute on the API that serves the link preview cards. I have a great appreciation for…

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Managing Heading Levels In Design Systems

Heydon Pickering looks into how to give a React component a certain heading (like <h1>, <h2>, etc.) depending on its context and thereby ensure that the DOM is still perfectly accessible for screen readers. Why is using the right heading important though? Heydon writes in the intro: One thing that keeps coming back to me, in research, testing, and everyday conversation with colleagues and friends, is just how important headings are. For screen reader users, headings describe the relationships between sections and subsections and — where used correctly — provide both an outline and a means of navigation. Headings are infrastructure. This reminds me of an excellent post by Amelia Bellamy-Royds where she explored all the problems caused by this “Document Outline Dilemma” or, say, a <h1> following a <h3>: As it currently stands, the document outline is only of daily importance to screen-reader users, and those users are currently used to dealing with…

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What’s New in Basecamp 3.9 for iOS

This release is all about usability improvements. Download it for iPhone and iPad from the App Store now.Find tab improvements 🔍The Find tab now lets you quickly jump to anything you recently viewed without having to type a word! When you open Find, you’ll see your most recently visited pages, making it super easy to quickly get back to something you were viewing. Or start typing to instantly search in place for anything in your Basecamp account. You can also use advanced filters to define even more specific search terms. Go forth and find!New project and team pages ⚡️The old project and team pages were… slow. We decided to speed them up, as well as feature your team’s latest activity more prominently with this new design. Instead of nearly identical cards for each tool, you’ll see a unique icon in a bright color, making them easier to recognize. Each icon also has a…

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RSS auto-discovery

While working on my POSSE plan, I realized that my site no longer supported “RSS auto-discovery”. RSS auto-discovery is a technique that makes it possible for browsers and RSS readers to automatically find a site’s RSS feed. For example, when you enter https://dri.es in an RSS reader or browser, it should automatically discover that the feed is https://dri.es/rss.xml. It’s a small adjustment, but it helps improve the usability of the open web. To make your RSS feeds auto-discoverable, add a tag inside the tag of your website. You can even include multiple tags, which will allow you to make multiple RSS feeds auto-discoverable at the same time. Here is what it looks like for my site: Pretty easy! Make sure to check your own websites — it helps the open web. Source: Dries Buytaert www.buytaert.net

RSS auto-discovery

While working on my POSSE plan, I realized that my site no longer supported “RSS auto-discovery”. RSS auto-discovery is a technique that makes it possible for browsers and RSS readers to automatically find a site’s RSS feed. For example, when you enter https://dri.es in an RSS reader or browser, it should automatically discover that the feed is https://dri.es/rss.xml. It’s a small adjustment, but it helps improve the usability of the open web. To make your RSS feeds auto-discoverable, add a tag inside the tag of your website. You can even include multiple tags, which will allow you to make multiple RSS feeds auto-discoverable at the same time. Here is what it looks like for my site: Pretty easy! Make sure to check your own websites — it helps the open web. Source: Dries Buytaert www.buytaert.net

Fostering a Culture of User Research in Your Organization

Usability is central to the work of user experience design, which means that user research is central to our work as designers. At Viget, we’ve come to see research and design as inseparable. Yet it isn’t enough to conduct research every now and then, when a client asks for it. What’s needed is a culture of research, a shared habit of testing design assumptions with real people. A few years ago, we realized that we weren’t doing the research we needed to be doing, and had to change. This post describes our shift to become a more research-oriented group of designers. We’ve grown as design researchers since then and hope that what we’ve learned along the way can help you improve your process and convey the value of research to clients and coworkers. Here are some of those lessons. 1. Commit to making research a priority For research to become integral to the way you work, it…

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The Best UX is No User Interface at All

I have been obsessed with User Interfaces (UI) for as long as I can remember. I remember marveling at the beauty that was Compaq TabWorks while I played “The Incredible Machine” and listened to “Tears For Fears—Greatest Hits” on the family computer. Don’t judge me—I was listening to “Mad World” way before Donny Darko and that creepy rabbit. If none of those references landed with you, it’s probably because I’m super old. In the words of George Castanza, “It’s not you, it’s me.” That’s another super old reference you might not get. You know what—forget all that, let’s move on. I really got into UI when I bought my own computer. I had joined the Coast Guard and saved a bunch of money during boot camp (when you can’t go shopping—you know—because of push-ups and stuff). I wanted to buy a Chevy Cavalier (sadly, that’s not a joke), but my…

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Design Systems: Problems & Solutions

Why do you need a Design System? In a previous article, we shared our thoughts on why Design Systems may be on the rise. Now, let’s further explore why you might need one. What are some of the common problems organizations face without a Design System, and how can one help? Common Problems Here are a few warning signs that might indicate you need to think about implementing a Design System: Process bottlenecks Through agile development methodologies, rapid release cycles have improved the ability for organizations to make timely and recurring updates. This means that individuals in organizations have had to do things more quickly than they used to. The benefits of speed often come at a cost. Usually, that cost is a compromise in quality. How will you ensure quality without introducing bottlenecks to your release cycles? Design inconsistencies Because your design needs have had to keep up with…

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Accelerate Drupal 8 by funding a Core Committer

We have ambitious goals for Drupal 8, including new core features such as Workspaces (content staging) and Layout Builder (drag-and-drop blocks), completing efforts such as the Migration path and Media in core, automated upgrades, and adoption of a JavaScript framework. I met with several of the coordinators behind these initiatives. Across the board, they identified the need for faster feedback from Core Committers, citing that a lack of Committer time was often a barrier to the initiative’s progress. We have worked hard to scale the Core Committer Team. When Drupal 8 began, it was just catch and myself. Over time, we added additional Core Committers, and the team is now up to 13 members. We also added the concept of Maintainer roles to create more specialization and focus, which has increased our velocity as well. I recently challenged the Core Committer Team and asked them what it would take to…

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Massachusetts launches Mass.gov on Drupal

This year at Acquia Engage, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts launched Mass.gov on Drupal 8. Holly St. Clair, the Chief Digital Officer of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, joined me during my keynote to share how Mass.gov is making constituents’ interactions with the state fast, easy, meaningful, and “wicked awesome”. Since its founding, Acquia has been headquartered in Massachusetts, so it was very exciting to celebrate this milestone with the Mass.gov team. Constituents at the center Today, 76% of constituents prefer to interact with their government online. Before Mass.gov switched to Drupal it struggled to provide a constituent-centric experience. For example, a student looking for information on tuition assistance on Mass.gov would have to sort through 7 different government websites before finding relevant information. To better serve residents, businesses and visitors, the Mass.gov team took a data-driven approach. After analyzing site data, they discovered that 10% of the content serviced 89% of…

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Usability as a Design Consideration

Inspired Magazine Inspired Magazine – creativity & inspiration daily Designers understand the importance of utility Sometimes it can be difficult to explain to non-designers, such as marketing managers, why utility is more important than aesthetics. That’s one of the biggest challenges every designer faces when designing user interfaces for software and websites, where the work is subject to approval from higher level marketing executives. Of course it is important to try and get the best looking result that you can, but not if it means getting in the way of what the user wants to achieve when visiting your website or using software designed by you. Usability is a dynamic field, the rules are not static There are some old usability rules that people are clinging to that may no longer be relevant, because the majority of people are now either using wide screen monitors or mobile devices. Some users…

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For the love of God, please tell me what your company does

Kasper Kubica goes on a humorous rant about the way companies describe themselves on their websites: More and more often, upon discovering a new company or product, I visit their website hoping to find out what it is they do, but instead get fed a mash of buzzwords about their “team” and “values”. And this isn’t a side dish — this is the main entrée of these sites, with a coherent explanation of the company’s products or services rarely occupying more than a footnote on the menu. While many of the examples and points are funny at their core, there’s clearly a level of frustration laced between the lines and it’s easy to understand why: At this point, I’ve given up. I’m back to Google, back to searching … because even though I came to [the site] knowing exactly what I wanted, I have no idea what they offer. While this isn’t…

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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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