Mark @ tumblr
Be Deliberate

Every object tells a story if you know how to read it.

- Henry Ford

I had need to use a baby changing table recently inside of a Target men’s room. This label caught my attention and I snapped a picture.

Sometimes I notice things like this - I’m sure I’m not alone - and I’m trying to make a point to capture and share them more.

Anyway, take a look at those words for a second. How easily this could have read “DO NOT LEAVE CHILD UNATTENDED” in big bold letters. This struck me because it’s certainly a message that has been done before, and it could have just gone with that default, but it didn’t.

What’s the difference, you ask? Both messages meet the requirement: Place a safety label so we don’t get our asses sued if some numbskull drops their kid on the floor. Maybe it was just a random choice of words that happened to meet that requirement.

But remember that every choice made in the design and presentation of a Thing conveys something. Somebody was deliberate with the presentation of this message. It doesn’t presume that I am an idiot or a neglectful parent. Somebody took care in choosing those words, in that presentation, with those ellipsis giving it both an informal, passive, considerate tone (it also feels more within current vernacular, but maybe that’s just me).

I’m sure this probably doesn’t even consciously register with most users of this table. It is discrete, almost invisible. In fact many good UX design decisions should be invisible in that way. But make no mistake that it gives an impression. It tells the user something about how the maker of this thing thinks about them (or doesn’t).

This is an interesting place to be. On one hand most companies/ventures would be more than glad to have this problem, where design changes can translate to thousands or millions of dollars in revenue. On the other hand, and as the supposed FB employee bemoans, it’s easy to then become a slave to those numbers. Where do you compromise on the user experience? When is that OK? And to what extent?

Some interesting thoughts and strong emotions around the role of Dribbble in the interaction design community. However this is what stuck on me:

When I first started getting into interface design, our community was struggling pretty hard against the perception that design meant a coat of paint. Often, our work was an afterthought, a last step in a product development process …

… Since then, we’ve made gigantic strides as a profession. We’re now not only partners in the process, but our skill set is basically a non-negotiable when building a new team or product.

Strides have been made, certainly, but there is still a HUGE sector of the engineering and product development world that hasn’t caught on yet. I’ve seen several repetitions of this sentiment: that we’ve “won the fight” and we can all stop evangelizing and start actually practicing. That management across the globe has come to recognize and appreciate the role of UX and IxD in the product design/development cycle.

Would that it were true. A “coat of paint” is actually a fairly apt metaphor for how some still see UX and IxD (and sadly I’ve had it put to me in almost exactly those terms … we’ve checked off all the features, now let’s pretty it up)

Animations in UI design

Been thinking a lot about the psychology behind animations in UI transitions. I’m finding words get thrown around a lot in this regard - words like “compelling” and “engaging” and “delightful”. But the Left Brain in me needs a better answer than that. Does this really improve usability? Why? Why? 

I don’t like taking design decisions like this for granted (this is just the way you do it). Not least of which is because I need some compelling arguments to give the developers when they complain about how hard those animations are going to be.  =)

Found a few good readings on this so far, but I’m still researching to grok it fully.


Prototyping with Facebook Origami

Perhaps a corollary to Cooper’s “the best interface is no interface” via

Perhaps a corollary to Cooper’s “the best interface is no interface” via

I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on earth. Then I ask myself the same question.
Harun Yahya (via stellablu)

Sketch of a man flapping his arms

“You cannot not communicate. Every behaviour is a kind of communication. Because behaviour does not have a counterpart (there is no anti-behaviour), it is not possible not to communicate.”—Paul Watzlawick’s First Axiom of Communication

This is the first rule of UX. Everything a designer…

Kind of an old series but I just found it. Looks like I’ve got some reading ahead of me.

Reveling in mediocrity

Hammer, meet nail.

Agencies, on the other hand, are clinging on to the same ideas, tools and ways of working. It’s the perfect storm of increasing entrepreneurialism, decreasing  loyalty and an industry reveling in mediocrity.