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Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

Building a better monster: User research by LEGO designers

I am a lifelong fan of LEGO© toys and games and of J.R.R. Tolkien. So when LEGO began to release The Lord of the Rings sets, I was delighted. I then came across this video about designing Shelob™ Attacks while reviewing the new sets:

A frame of the designer video showing Shelob's wheels

Shelob’s wheels from the “Designer Video: Shelob™ Attacks” (© 2012 The LEGO Group)

As a user experience researcher and designer, I enjoy learning about the design process fellow design professionals go through to come up with brilliant products. The designer shared the unique challenges in creating an organic shape like a spider. With such well-known source material, it might have been easy to assume that once Shelob looked right, the design was finished.

However, the LEGO design team did not stop there. Read the rest of this post »

Lessons on XD from Photography

Over the last couple of years I’ve really enjoyed learning the ins and outs of photography. It has been the creative outlet that I needed that is similar enough to user experience design, but different enough that it doesn’t feel like work. Now that I’ve been shooting for awhile now, I’m finding that many of the habits I have when practicing ux design are starting to carry over into my photography. The hook between the two lies in the attention of detail, a specific moment in time and properly serving the subject being photographed. The importance of these three concepts is the same in photography and in user experience design.

Attention of Detail

The ability to point out the minor flaws of an object or interface is curse for every designer. Personally, nothing drives me more batty now then seeing a UI widget be a pixel off from its intended alignment with other UI widgets. The curse exists in the world of photography. Nothing distracts more from a photo than an out of place object. This could someone accidentally, or intentionally, photobombing the subject, or simply a power line spanning the width of the scene. Getting the details of an experience, be it interactive or visual, wrong disrupts the user and takes away from overall engagement. Being asked to take photos for a friends family or going out on a photo walk has helped increase my attention. This experience naturally translate to the work I do at Perficient XD and makes the work I produce for my clients better.

Austin Skyline

Being In The Moment

When you use an application, website, or product there are certain magical moments that will either hook you into the experience or drive you away. The same magical moments exist when you are photographing a subject. I’ve read a lot about the best way to take photos of a sunset or sunrise. The one piece of advice that is consistent across photographers is find the scene you want to shot and wait. Wait for that moment when the light is perfect, then hit your shutter release. Once you’ve captured that “perfect” moment, wait 5 or 10 minutes and take the photo again. In just that short span of time, you will have a set of photos that tell different stories and convey a different mood. The core of this advice can best be applied to registration and up selling your customers. The span of time to ask and convince someone to sign up for your site or to buy additional products happens during “magical” moments while the person is using your site. Asking too soon or too late means you failed to convert that user or that you missed out on additional revenue. Be patient, wait for the moment that will really “Wow!” someone.

Read the rest of this post »

Finding Inspiration

Inspiration sometimes sneaks up on you. That’s what happened to me when I took my son to see Wreck-It Ralph, and prior to the movie the Disney Short “Paperman” was shown. I cannot properly expresses how amazing the creative genius of this short is, and it’s great to see that it was recently nominated for an Emmy. The emotions that hit me when I watch “Paperman” range from pure joy to complete disappointment. Please take 6 minutes out of your day and watch the video below, I promise you it will leave you inspired and give you a desire to do greater, more creative work in the future.

The Recipe to a Powerful Presentation Includes an Engaging Story

If you’re like me, you spend what feels like a decent portion of your professional life creating and compiling presentations. Or perhaps you’re like the other half of the professional world where a lot of your time is spent listening to those presentations.

I reflect back on conferences I’ve been to which are often a string of presentations and I try to think about which ones really stood out to me and stick in my mind. Chances are the ones that stand out include three things. A charismatic presenter, interesting subject matter, and a good story.

It’s something I’ve always suspected to be true, but the story concept is actually backed by scientific research. This New York Times article talks about what happens to your brain when someone tells you a story, fact or fiction. Read the rest of this post »

#IdeaNotebook: Hans Rosling presents data delightfully

When discussing great data presentation, Edward Tufte is often cited, with good reason. Good data presentation has always been important. It is especially necessary to achieve the potential with Big Data, uniting Information Management and Experience Design. I’m indebted to Perficient colleague Brian Dudley for introducing me to Hans Rosling and his inspiring way of presenting data.

Rosling presents data in a way that not only tells a powerful story, but is truly delightful.  Read the rest of this post »

Big Design 2012: Re-designing for Change

Big Design Conference Geek Cowboy BootIn my last post, I wrote about the importance of changing the thinking about accessible design and how design itself is a powerful tool for change. Designing for change was a second strong theme at Big Design 2012, continuing from Big Design and UPA last year. Several sessions explored using design to bring about change, from personal to global. Read the rest of this post »

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Posted in Design, News, UX

Outdated iconography – or, why is the Save icon a floppy disk?

When was the last time you saw a floppy disk (outside of a museum, or your friendly IT guy’s stash)? In all likelihood it’s been a while. There may very well be some of you reading this who have never actually held a floppy disk, let alone used one. Oh man, that makes me feel so old…

Anyway, throughout our interfaces – both online and offline – we still use this outdated metaphor to indicate “save”, when an increasingly-large proportion of our user base actually has no idea why we’re using that icon. For a generation brought up with cloud storage, and auto-sync between devices, it will seem incredible that we ever had to carry around those little disks that only held 1.4MB (or 720KB back even further in the day!)

So the question becomes this: Should our industry start a conversation around changing this icon? And if so, what should it become? Read the rest of this post »

#IdeaNotebook: Google Science Fair 2012

Google Science Fair 2012 logoGoogle is sponsoring its second annual global science fair for students aged 13-18. This competition calls for the “brightest young scientists from around the world to submit interesting, creative projects that are relevant to the world today.”

I have always found science fair and similar intellectual challenges to be incredibly inspiring. Falling into a rut of thinking is so easy, and we don’t even realize it’s happened. We have to solve many problems every day in our work and personal lives that we learn certain patterns for quickly analyzing the situation. We build up a mental file cabinet of solutions that we draw from regularly. That serves us well, so we continue to do this. Less often, though, do we challenge those previously successful patterns and innovate new solutions. One of the things that make science fairs and other student competitions wonderful to observe is that the young participants typically haven’t had so much time to develop ingrained patterns of thinking. Consequently, they think about problems in unique and inspiring ways. Read the rest of this post »

Empathy fail: Mistakes UX designers make

In “The top mistakes UX designers make: the writeup,” Scott Berkun shares common errors about culture and attitude that designers and user researchers make. Sadly, most of the mistakes seemed to result when we fail to have empathy for our colleagues. The following summarizes just a few of Berkun’s points that I found particularly interesting and distressingly familiar: Read the rest of this post »

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Posted in Musings, UX

#IdeaNotebook: National Novel Writing Month

Image of the participant badge for NaNoWriMo 2011November is National Novel Writing Month, affectionately known as NaNoWriMo. This annual event is “a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing.” Started in 1999 by Chris Baty, the goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words, the equivalent of the average-sized novel, in 30 days. Sounds crazy? Baty acknowledges this in the first line of his book No Plot? No problem! A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days:  “The era, in retrospect, was very kind to dumb ideas.”

Success has been more than just kindness, though, as this dumb idea clearly resonated with a lot of people. NaNoWriMo participation has grown from the original 21 participants in the San Francisco area to over 200,000 worldwide in 2010. In 2006, Baty founded the nonprofit Office of Letters and Light to run NaNoWriMo, sister event Script Frenzy in April, and the NaNoWriMo Young Writer Programs, which “provides kids and teens with a month-long creative experience that improves self-esteem, teaches perseverance, and radically alters their relationships with writing and literature.” Now in its 13th year, NaNoWriMo is a global, multi-channel, social event that has grown as much because of its passionate community as the organizers’ hard work and dedication.

Participation in NaNoWriMo, like most online social communities, is free. All you have to do is sign up on the NaNoWriMo website where you can connect with fellow writers, track your progress, and get pep talks from organizers and famous authors, among other amusements. Unlike most social communities, however, this event has been refining this experience since before the words “social networking” buzzed into our social consciousness.

The history of NaNoWriMo provides an interesting perspective on how the online user experience of NaNoWriMo evolved in conjunction with and sometimes anticipated the emerging technologies. Read the rest of this post »