Articles in the ‘Usability’ Category

UX Questions with Andy Budd

Last night was London Web Standards‘ UX Questions with Andy Budd  (of CSS Mastery and Clearleft fame)

My sketchnotes for this are at the bottom of the page. This is only a brief write-up, hopefully the LWS guys will put the video up soon. Much of this is para-phrased. Andy, if you do read this, let me know if you want any of these answers changed.

Q: Good UX vs Good design? (the actual question was a lot more wordy than that)

UX is a quality attribute, it can be good and bad. An aspect of good design takes UX into account, though there are exceptions i.e. the Phillips Juicer. Good design does not imply ease of use, UX is a design philosophy or style. A good UI designer understands HCI, social, environmental and cognitive psychology .

Q: User-Centric Design or Persuasive Design?

Both together please.

Q: How do you manage difficult clients?

Clearleft tend not to get them thanks to their reputation. Basically, just manage expectations all the way through.

Q: What should you do if you’re told to design “for IE 6” or “inaccessibly”

Ignore the request. You’re a professional (dammit) and you need to use the right tools for the job. Don’t just keep patching a crumbling building, i.e. if you have an intranet made for IE6, don’t just patch it up, start again.

Q: What tools couldn’t you live without?

Pen and paper. Oh, and sticky notes.

Q: What makes a good UX designer?

  • Empathy
  • Inquisitive
  • Unsatisfied with life (want to make things better)
  • Desire to fix the world

Q: How do you get clients to invest in UX even if they have a small budget?

Design on paper to reduce costs. Too many designers just go straight into photoshop. This will allow for more iterations and less money in the long term. Remember that you’re also in a facilitation role so its up to you to guide the process.

Q: Is any testing better than no testing?


Generally there’s lots of low-hanging fruit (if doing a re-design) so take that! You only need to do the deep level of thought if you’re solving a very specific problem.

Q: Are there any design patterns you use regularly? Should you make new ones?

Real-world patterns work very well, i.e. tabs. Most people don’t know that a site logo takes you to the home page, so always have a home link. If you’re making a new pattern, test test test, then think, would something else be better.

Q: Where do you get your inspiration from?

The real world. Architecture, a book called “Why people buy” (but not the section on the internet), the Disney Imagineers. Overall, it’s about how it functions, not how it looks.

Q: Is the user wrong? When does the designer know better?

Generally, the user isn’t wrong. It’s very rare that their opinion doesn’t count, so swallow your pride.

Q: How do you establish credibility in an organisation?

It’s difficult, very hard to do internally. You need to play the office politics game. Build a level of knowledge and use references as much as you can, so it’s not only you saying these things. Have confidence in you and what you are doing. Visualise it in your client’s language if possible.

Q: What should you do if a business objective creates a disjointed experience?

Andy can’t help on this one, this is an answer from the LWS crowd.

Switch it around, get buy-in from people and sell ti to them. Do it in the pub, many people are much more open there. With regard to “Dark Patterns” i.e. hiding a company’s phone number or directing through certain channels, read Dan Lockton’s post.

Finally, if you’re not happy in your job, there are loads of UX jobs out there at the moment. Clearleft is hiring a world-class interaction designer.

That’s it. Sketchnotes below. Hope you enjoyed it

UX Questions Sketchnotes

UX Questions Sketchnote - apologies to Andy Budd

“Click here” for basic SEO

In the office on Friday, I was talking about web site content, more specifically about links and SEO. I discussed the most basic element of SEO, link text. The link text contains the keywords that Google, Bing, Yahoo et al use to match your search query to their web site. The more links to a page with the same keywords, the higher up the ranks it goes.

So, sounds pretty obvious that you should have searchable keywords in your links. But what do most people do? Well, you mostly see something like “Click here to see…” which to a search engine explains nothing about the target content. If you search Google for “click here“, you get 872,000,000 results, most of which point to Adobe Reader!

Click here on Google

So, a very simple tip: Don’t use “Click here” in your link text.

If your link text matches the content of the <h1> or <h2> tag on the target page, you also get a rank boost as these headings telegraph that the content matches the link, making it a trusted link, rather than just spam or “Google bombing“.

It’s hard to underestimate how important SEO is for a web site. With billions of pages now floating around the Internet, if you don’t appear on the first few pages of Google for your targeted search, for all intents and purposes, you don’t exist.

O2 Broadband’s Efficient Packaging

I’ve signed up for O2 broadband (again) this week, and I’ve been quite impressed with their service for setting things up. For every step you get an e-mail, then a text, which is great and keeps me up to date with how everything is going.

What’s better than that is the new router that they’ve sent me, other than that it arrived before the text saying it was on its way. The packaging on it is really quite clever and space efficient. Here’s the package I got:

O2 Broadband box package
It’s just a box with shipping labels right? The router will be in another box inside it? Wrong.

O2 Box in a box
It seems that the outer box is the whole box. Everything is tightly packed and doesn’t move around. The best thing though is under the lid:

Instructions under the lid
A list of package contents, quick steps on how to get set up and a sticker with the wireless information. It’s clear, it’s informative and it’s all I needed from the box. There’s only one sheet of cardboard, only one panel is written on to save printing and it’s small enough to fit through most postboxes. A definite win for packaging and the environment.

Competitors take note.