After reading this article, I am definitely relieved when it comes to financial ability to do usability testing. What I have been mainly wondering is how do small companies afford successful usability tests? This reading definitely answered that question. I really focused on the tips for setting up usability testing and why focusing on some details can be really unnecessary, Time consuming, and inevitably hinder you more than help you. I appreciated the small tips as well like not recording the interviews or sitting down right after and discussing it with your team of designers. Those things put the process a little more into perspective for me.
The small company that I work with now, Gradient Productions, is going through the first testing phase of an app that we are designing right now. The project is still young and it was a relief to read the part about starting testing early. I know there will be several other testing phases as we expand on the interface, and I will definitely take some of the knowledge I gained from this and apply it. I want the interface to be something that is really simple to use. This reminds of what the article said about simplicity, even people that have a higher level of intelligence aren’t going to be offended by a simple interface.
Over all, I think this was the most interesting and helpful material for this class. Not that the other readings weren’t useful, I just felt that this one answered many questions for me. I had actually never heard of usability testing within the graphic design field before this and I’m sure that my designs will be better because of these readings and this class.
Reading these articles was somewhat of review for me, but I still like reading about type and learning how to use it effectively. I think it’s awesome that we are now able to use a specified typeface on a web site. I think this will open up web design and make it much more diverse. The problem however, is licensing, as this article was talking about. Buying a typeface is expensive! and it should be. I created a typeface in my Type II class at the Art Institute, and one weight took a really long time to make. I actually really enjoyed it. If I want to make much more and sell them. I think its a great way to make money.
One thing that I have become more aware about recently is bad typefaces, mostly those that you can download free from the internet. Just using some, I have realized that most are not good for body copy because kerning issues haven’t been resolved. And on some typefaces, when I zoomed in on the letters they were poorly built.
The other article that we read on creating hierarchy and choosing a typeface well was really interesting. My favorite part was how they used the typefaces to create compelling compositions. It was also really clever how they compared choosing a typeface to being in a relationship. I like it so much I bookmarked it. All of what I read in that article I have seen in my type class but I haven’t seen it laid out so creatively.
Web Content That Persuades and Motivates
I really like reading this article. Although I have done writing in the past for classes, etc., I have always wondered what goes into writing successful web content. I really appreciated the examples that he gave, comparing the iphone ad with the droid and the other web sites. I just recently watched the movie The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. It was all about product placement and what goes into advertising your product. I saw a connection between what I learned in this movie and what this article was telling me. It is all about reaching a person’s emotions. People are so flooded with information on a daily basis that the things that stick out are those that bring about a person’s emotions.
So the challenge is: how do you create content that is short enough to keep the reader’s attention and personal enough to get their emotions to react in some way. Don’t get me wrong, I think facts are important because there is so many issues with trust and security in today’s world. I just think once you have guaranteed that you assist a person in some way and THEN give them facts it helps to reinforce what you have said. If you can be the one company that makes an experience personal instead of blasting the user with information, yours will be the site that they stay on.
Graphics only capture attention for so long, but the user is at your site for a particular reason and they are not going to forget that cause of a pretty layout or color. That is why I think there should be so much time and effort put into creating an appropriate message.
Communicating Design Personas
This reading was unlike many of the readings that we have done so far. Mostly because I have absolutely no knowledge of creating design personas. From what I saw in the article, preparing for design personas is alot of time and alot of work. I completely understand why they are necessary. There are so many sites that I have come across since I started this class that I realize didn’t take the time to pay attention to their users. Granted the sites may look really cool and utilize pretty flash graphics, but underneath it all, there is no easy and understandable way to find your way around.
Something I am not looking forward to is having a client that thinks they know what is best and won’t listen to design personas. There are most likely so many companies out there that think they have it 100% figured out with their customers and how they run things. I feel like that is probably a huge flaw in having your own business. There is always room to grow ways to do something better.
I did think it was kind of funny how the article showed ways to manipulate user personas to show specific things to your client. Personas can actually be way to reinforce what the client refuses to admit or see. In this way it becomes the designers tool. Even if you do not have time to do interviews, surveys, etc. the right way, you can always create fake user personas emphasizing the knowledge you do know about the people who will be using the site. This seems like it would remind you who you are designing the site for. With time or not, you as the designer must keep that in mind.
I am excited this week to be making this first wireframe for the oregon.gov site. We have discussed alot of information in class regarding wireframes so the much of the reading was a little repetitive. I felt like as I read through the document that it was being drilled into my head: simple, simple simple. I’m actually not sure what type of designer I will be: the one who puts more detail/design elements into the wireframe sketching or the lather. I can totally see how putting too much detail can become a major problem though when the client views it as a finished product instead of a basic layout. I think above all, the designer must really know the team and the client so that he/she can make a wireframe that will be most helpful.
One part of the reading that I did find really helpful and new was the different type of place-holding text and what they are used for. Also, I liked how you can simply describe what text is going to be about instead of having to make up dummy text.
In many ways it seems like we have to treat the client like they are completely stupid. You (the designer) can’t do too little cause you’ll confuse them..but you can’t do too much either because it will confuse them. Most of all, wireframes seem like a balancing act. Knowing how to balance content, typography, labels, and graphics. It seems like alot of choices that must be made by the designer.
Week 3 - What Users Do
Well First off I will say the obvious: that this reading was much harder to get through then the other ones. Although there was some repetitive information, I did encounter some interesting things that I hadn’t thought about. Such as “Changes in Midstream”, “Deferred Choices” and “Streamlined Repetition”.
I thought deferred choices was interesting because I noticed the tendency for me as a user to fit right into this rule. Whenever I have made my profile on anything or had the option to register and app/program etc., I never do it right when I create an account or download the product. I always come back later to do those things. I realize that as a person trying to accomplish something on the internet, doing those things don’t take me closer to accomplishing my main goal which is just getting to the part where I get to use the site/product and be entertained. I feel like having control of the interface is so important…otherwise users will be turned off by having to make all these choices right off the bat.
I had also never really thought about the keyboard when designing an interface and how it would come into play. I myself use the Tab key many times when I’m filling out forms and the arrow keys when I see something that resembles a slide show. I have also gotten used to pressing the space bar when I want to play or pause music or any kind of media.
Finally, I really liked the metaphor that this reading provided of user interface design relating to having a conversation in real life. Sometimes when we talk to people we change the way we say something or prevent something. I don’t think we do it consciously, but the person we are talking to would definitely notice if we were to not adapt like this. Much is the same with the user…if you are speaking their language they won’t notice the interface…but when you don’t they do notice (in a bad way)
Week 3 - Don’t Make Me Think
One of the things that this article covers that I didn’t think much about is what happens when a user is dropped into a random page of your website through using a search engine like google? The design of the web site should be good enough to where it doesn’t take thought in order to 1. establish where you are and 2. know how to get to where you need to be. Navigation designers can make the mistake that users are going to start with the home page and “follow the nice little trails” you have set up to lead them to information.
I also liked the analogy of web users being initially lost in space so to speak. The navigation that you design is their only footing. That is why sticking to conventions seems so important; such as the site ID in the upper left, search bar in the right, home page. I think more than anything, people just get frustrated when sites don’t stick to these conventions. Also, their must be a way to locate where you are in a site. I decided to test this out with one of my favorite sites: apple.com. I decided to type “apple.com genius bar” into google. I then clicked on the first link and it brought me to the genius bar part of apple’s web site. Although this was convenient for me, it took me a while to find exactly what section of the web site I was in. I then found this at the bottom of the page:
I don’t know why the locator is at the very bottom: “Apple>Apple Retail Store>Genius Bar”. It just seems to me like this should be at the top of the page. This seems like an important part of navigation so I’m wondering why this decision was made…
Week 2 - Elements of User Experience
This chapter definitely gave me more information on the different roles/jobs of user interface design: navigation design, information architect, interface design. Reading about all the choices that must be made for creating one web site, I have to say that I am actually really glad this isn’t all up to the graphic designer anymore.
However, As the designer, I definitely still want to assist with defining the wireframe and making other critical choices about how the web site works. I remember reading a quote from this chapter that said graphic designers felt that when they weren’t being involved with the wireframe development, it “reduced their role to paint by numbers artists”. I can definitely see why they would feel this way. Its like someone handing me the layout and text for something and saying, put it together. There’s absolutely no creative freedom…and isn’t that why I decided to get into this field? Instead I want to be involved with the wireframe of the web site. I agree with what this chapter said about how the most successful wireframes come from a collaboration between the information architects and designers. You get more points of view and that can only strengthen a site structure.
I really liked reading about the role of the navigation designer. I think this is by far the most difficult job. The complexities of linking one thing to another in the right way and at the right place on the page overwhelm me. It probably isn’t ever 100% successful right off the bat either. It takes time to know how testers/users respond to the navigation design in order to determine how successful it is.
After reading this article, I am starting to understand more and more why this class and user interface design is going to be a vital part of my learning as a graphic designer. Although I have only designed two web sites so far, I have come to realize that many of my ideas for future sites may be a little bit to innovative, sacrificing the user’s experience for my personal preference as a designer. As a designer I want to capture someone’s eye by being new and different but this shouldn’t be the case when designing the structure or layout of a website. In fact, being predictable is something your website should strive to be. One of the phrases in the article that I picked out is “content is more important than the design that supports it”. Above all, information has to be easy to find.
Another phrase that I found interesting was “Optimizing is hard and takes a long time”. This design method of, “putting the user first” seems like it’s a process that must be always evolving and changing as you help design. As a designer you must be open to change. If users are unhappy, you must be willing to change things to make their experience easier. This is something that will help you in the long run. It’s much different than the original method of designing a “cool” looking website and uploading it. Things that make sense to you as a designer might not make sense to the user. This sounds like it can be frustrating, but if you (the designer) allow yourself to be open minded and not cling to your personal preferences, your web site will benefit. Don’t assume that you know what they want.