KJ Technique

I had a recent project where I needed to work with a larger than normal group to reach some quick consensus on where we should be focusing our time trying to improve their website. In the recesses of my brain, I knew that the KJ Technique was a good way to handle this. What I found in my googling was that no one does a really good job of explaining it succinctly.

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The Law of Proximity

In design, the Law of Proximity states that objects that are near, or proximate to each other, tend to be related. Users inherently expect things that are related in theme or function to be grouped together in space. When this expectation is violated, confusion and/or frustration results. This is a classic example of bad user experience.

In this case, I spent a mere ten seconds updating my Twitter profile blurb...then spent way too much time trying to find the control that would allow me to commit the change. Couldn't find it, couldn't find it, couldn't find it...oh, wait. It's on the opposite side of the page, nowhere near the part of the page I was working on.

Don't do this to your users. It makes them feel stupid. When you do that, the service you're offering suffers. 

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Three Quick Checks for Effective Visual Hierarchy

This is another of those posts where I grab someone else's great ideas and squirrel it away here for future reference. Dominic Harkness posted these little gems on what he calls his "3 Ws." Any effective webpage design should immediately answer these questions for anyone who happens to view it. These are simple ideas, but they're often overlooked. It's good to remind ourselves of these basics from time to time.

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Say No to Placeholder Text

We spend a good part of our days filling out screen-based forms. Some forms are easy to fill out because a thoughtful designer has taken best practices into account. Some forms are painful because they create confusion over what's expected. They're ambiguous or they require too much typing. Here's a snippet of wisdom that I wanted to save for later use: ditch the placeholder text.

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