Different designers solve the same common problems in different ways. I was interested in looking at how a popular website handles its search interface. I decided (for no very good reason) to look at The Atlanticmagazine.Read More
Sometimes Wikipedia doesn't cover the topics you need to have defined. I think this is the case with personas as the term is understood in the web communications world. Here's my attempt to rectify that.Read More
In website redesign projects that I've led, I've often encountered the problems associated with ambiguous organization schemes. While there are other organization schemes, it's almost impossible to rely on a single solution. A combination of approaches is often best.Read More
When does a vendor not want a customer to immediately find the content they want? When they want them to accidentally find other stuff that they didn’t even know they wanted when they began their search.Read More
Before a user experience expert begins their contribution to the project, the team that first conceived the idea for the website has to be able to wrestle their imagined website into a physical reality that others can see. This is where the wireframe comes in; it’s the first crack at making the big decisions that will make a website work.Read More
Responsive web design solves the problem of device proliferation and multiple domains. The organization need only maintain one website. In a site build using responsive design principles, the content of that single website will re-flow according to the device on which its being viewed, creating no penalty for how the site is used or on what device. Not only that, the site is future-proofed against the emergence of as yet unknown devices that are sure to hit the market in the years ahead.Read More
A good mobile website is one which allows the site user to be accomplish their online task in a manner that is easy and free from frustration. Among the wide universe of possibilities, some common user tasks on mobile sites include reviewing the latest news, researching a product, making a purchase, verifying an address, or checking the weather forecast. A good mobile site facilitates quick, painless completion of tasks like these in a way that never calls the user’s attention to the limitations of a small screen or restricted bandwidth.Read More
Having already attended web conferences hosted by An Event Apart and Confab, I wanted to branch out a little with this year’s training budget and try something new. After perusing Lanyrd and doing a little googling, I found WebVisions. How are they different from the Other Guys? They define their particular niche of conference as one that “explores the future of design, content creation, user experience and business strategy in a way that inspires learning, collaboration and entrepreneurism.” Their website says that their event is “seen as the creative conference for the Web.” I think that’s pretty accurate. I found their speaker lineup devoted less to tech specifics (as AEA usually is) or content management (as Confab is) and more on firing up attendees’ design spirit and creative juices with a healthy dose of business savvy sprinkled in.
The Digital Executive Officer
Day one’s keynoter was Maria Giudice, Director of product design at Facebook and author of “Rise of the DEO: Leadership by Design.” Giudice believes that the Digital Executive Officer is a ”hybrid of strategic business executive and creative problem-solver who looks at ALL problems as design challenges.” Speaking as a web designer and team manager, I find this to be an interesting notion—one that many of us have probably felt but never clearly articulated. Giudice is explaining to the world how the web has fundamentally transformed business such that it’s not a separate place where business happens, it IS business (like the two fish swimming in the ocean discussing what water is; they’ve heard about it, but are unaware of where it is). All going concerns need to have a senior leader on staff who simply ‘gets it.’ What kind of skills bag does the successful DEO need? A lot of the skills that you may already have: creativity, a sense for what makes products pleasurable to use, the ability to see your company’s landscape as an interconnecting system, and the people skills necessary to marshal the talents of a diverse stable of on-staff specialists.
Creating a Culture of Design
A perfect bookend to Giudice’s talk was presented by Chris Avore, product design lead at NASDAQ. Avore talked about the difference between an organization that’s “design averse” and one that actively embraces good design as a core value. That sounds slippery. How do you know which side of the fence your organization falls on? Some companies make a big stink about their creative and innovative spark but it amounts to nothing more than words in an unread mission statement. Here are some examples.
- Design cultures deliver the right product instead of the one that came out of the planning committee. You know the one; it’s that thing that no one wants and will probably never use but that has to be made because it was mandated by someone who’s got horsepower. These people follow a roadmap of pre-defined facts.
- Design cultures aren’t afraid to take a risk now and then, wading out into unfamiliar territory. Design averse cultures are terrified of New Things. They’re scary…”because we’ve never done it before. How do we know it will work?” Design averse cultures like the familiar and their managers are comforted by the ol’ tried-and-true. They live in a universe defined exclusively by features, deadlines and requirements.
- Design cultures share information and ideas. They promote collaboration and take advantage of the resulting synergy. When I win, you win and we share the warm glow of success. Design averse cultures are filled with people who are looking out for Number One. If I win, you lose. If I have information that you don’t, I’m more powerful because you’re at a disadvantage. Crap products result.
- Design cultures engage in team-based, shared creation which results in a sense of shared ownership. Design averse cultures live in an “Us vs. Them” world where envy, suspicion, and cynicism thrive.
- Design cultures get the right people on board for the project. The design-averse culture tolerates the continued inclusion of ill-fitting underperformers because, well, they’re on the org chart and they’re related to someone who we can’t get around.
Who wouldn’t want to work for an organization that embraces a design culture. I’d love to be part of this utopia. I’m sure you would too. After all, who wants to get out of bed in the morning to report back to what Avore calls the “cocoon of mediocrity?”