Tag Archives: UX

Top 3 Usability (UX) Conferences in 2009

A few people asked what would be my Top 3 recommendations for Usability and Human-Computer Interaction Design conferences to plan for in 2009. I’m looking at this from very Central European centric point of view of course.

Star burst
Image by Kounelli via Flickr

In no specific order:

  1. UX London, 15th – 17th June 2009, London – Early bird: £895 (~900 EUR)
  2. UX Week, 15-18 September 2009, San Francisco, CA – $1795 (~1 356 EUR)
    or alternative UX Intensive Berlin, 12-15 May – Early bird: $1795(~1 356 EUR)
  3. UX Camp Berlin, 23 – 24 May 2009, BarCamp style event.  Most useful if you speak German or are pushy enough about people speaking English around you.

There’s also a Upcoming group Interaction Design that lists most of these events.

I would advise against going to general Web conferences to learn more about UX as their are too general in their nature and you’ll unlikely learn anything new.

Is there an UX conference that I missed and is a must go in your opinion?

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3 must read documents for usability experts

Doing usability in startups is often very confusing as you don’t have time for proper process and you’re always wondering how good you could do it, if you had proper resources. With time, you wish you would just be able to read some of these resources in order to be in touch with your industry.

Luckily, there are two incredible startups that open-sourced their usability and redesign process – WordPress and Acquia’s Drupal.org redesign.

Lets start by two documents published by WordPress – wireframes for upcoming 2.7 release and results of their usability studies, that were used in order to actually produce wireframes and from there designs.

1. Usability Testing Report: 2.5 and Crazyhorse

This 25-page document describes what they’ve learned while observing bloggers while using WordPress 2.5, and also posts gaze trails from eye tracking, to get better idea how they used surroundin visual information while achieving their goal.

2. WordPress 2.7 Wireframes

The same team also produced these excellent wireframe documents, detailing changes and behavior, allowing programmers and product manager to use it as an initial input for more detailed specification, without having to go back and ask any bigger conceptual questions. Good example to learn from.

3. Drupal.org prototype

Drupal.org is taking an interesting approach towards redesign, where the usability experts and designers do everything out in open, getting community feedback and input into almost everything they do.

As such they’ve produced a wide range of interesting documents and videos. For now I would like to focus on their prototype, which is built in HTML, with no design, but includes something more important – notes. This is a great way to talk about information distribution, without the noise of actual design.

Modern civilization is built by standing on shoulders of giants. This is the reason why studying examples of other practitioners while doing your own work, will make you better UX expert.

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Drupal.org redesign wireframe for projects

At DrupalCon, Leisa and her team introduced their efforts to redesign drupal.org page. They want to make it a community driven process where all the existing and potential users can give input at all the design stages.

The latest step in this effort is her invitation to the community to send in wireframes and sketches of our ideas.

Here is my effort, done fast and rough, as these things by definition should be done. I went to re-sketch Drupal module page for Zemanta Drupal module as this is something I’m involved with professionally and it bothers quite a lot.

First the wireframe:

Drupal Wireframe for projects

Drupal Wireframe for projects

There are two basic ideas behind this wireframe:

  • make it more visual by adding image gallery and screenshot as  integral part of the page
  • downplay the fact that it’s a developer thing and make it easier for end-users.

Going from top left downwards:

  • the title is made prominent, with author name next to it, but much more discrete
  • folksonomies bellow the title, with possibility that it’s driven by the trusted community and not just authors themselves. Uses like tag Works7x, or similar could then emerge
  • The description text is then presented around the image gallery

The design behind this part should be tight in order to fit all the catchy information within one screen, without scrolling and help “sell” the author the modules itself.

Below this description area, there is a new section – Download, which is a quick call to action, find the module that works with your Drupal installation and download it now. Release notes and release dates are there to provide extra information of any special requirements and to see how fresh is the release.

The third section is support/developer part. In current release one can’t easily see latest issues without going to a separate page.

This design does following things:

  • Visually separates support and developer sections in order to not confuse end users with developer things (patches, etc.)
  • Provide a short list of latest support issues, together with a link to a full support forum sub-page (the same as it’s done now)
  • The developer tab works the same, it just visually changes the <div> and presents the developer information
  • This section possibly needs some sort of legend on top of the table

It’s also important to note the things I removed:

  • No more authentication stuff on this page. There is no “create new issue” link here, as we want to drive people to full support page in case the last few answers don’t help; auth is done from there
  • The documentation and homepage are downlplayed; they can be mentioned at the end of description if required from the author

Other ideas:

  • It should be possible to disable support forum and dev forum on the page and drive to alternative location: either author forum or places like getsatisfacition. Drupal could then just read some sort of standard RSS feed of this information.
  • Reasoning behind previous points is: some companies (like my company) have a number of different modules and they don’t want to scatter their support resources around the web. Alternative reason is that for some popular modules advertising on their forums/support pages is actually substantial sources of income and drupal.org could help drive the traffic towards original developers
  • Being able to group modules into arbitrary groups could be a neat feature. It would work in a way that one could create a group of “e-commerce necesseties modules”, and then list all the modules one should download in order to have the optimal/initial set of modules for such task.
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iTunes 8 UX genius login problem

Trying a latest software update is something that every true Apple user does in the morning after the big Apple announcement. So this time it was iTunes 8 with it’s genius button that automatically makes great connected playlist.

For some reason I was sleepy enough to actually fail at their Genius/iTunes store login form. Whoever designed this probably didn’t realize that the radio buttons seem to indicate that they have text areas next to them and that they are not visually separated enough.

My solution for the problem showed in a screen shot below would be to move the radio buttons on top of the form, or at least make it more visually separated. Without this change, it’s really easy to just assume that the form wants you apple ID, but the second text box is there to enter you AOL ID, if you have one.

The error message is also pretty obscure, just one red arrow next to big AOL logo. Whoever design this, released it much too soon.

Itunes form

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