UI/UX Design

UI design has reared its (yet to be beautiful) head here at Upverter. Whenever I think of UI/UX, and especially right now, while creating the look and feel of the soon to be community, I am reminded of Steve Krug. Krug wrote two of my favorite UI/UX books, Don’t Make Me Think and Rocket Surgery Made Easy. They are simple, straight forward, down to earth, quick reads and if you have anything to do with UI/UX (or even if you just want to know why you hate software) you should go read them now!

Don’t Make Me Think is about UI/UX design, and it has, and will continue to influence our design. So I thought I would share a few principles that I found to be particularly helpful when I was wrapping my head around this stuff.

  1. Users are on auto pilot, they are not thinking about your fancy navigation, or Tron inspired color scheme. They are very often looking for something specific, and if they don’t find it, they WILL leave.
  2. Breadcrumbs are a good thing; designing your site like it’s Home Depot is not a good thing. On websites you can enter anywhere, and jump to a completely different location in the site. And worst of all its like teleporting, not like wondering around a store. So always make sure that the user has a good way to know where they actually are.
  3. Assume that the user is going to scan your page, not read it. (HUGE!)

Rocket Surgery Made Easy on the other-hand is about usability testing. It’s basically a how-to guide on doing a self run usability test (where you strap a person to a chair, and talk them through using your website while you watch the difficulties encountered). And we are just starting to do our very first batch of these here at Upverter (which is why I’m talking about it today).

The thesis of the book is that you should absolutely be doing usability testing, throughout the entire design, early and often, and even when all you have is a picture on a napkin. For me, the number one takeaway is: Anything is better than nothing, and usability testing can be done in half a day; so there is absolutely no reason that we should not be doing it! This was a new idea for me.

I had always believed that usability testing was a huge project, a time sink, and only worth doing when the site was polished. But with my newly opened eyes, I highly recommend everyone take the time to get user feedback and make the web a friendlier place. There are a lot of good UI/UX books out there, and if you are interested in the subject (or have no idea what users actually think of your software) you should start with Steve Krug; his books are definitely worth the read!

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