Design

The Basics of a Usability Failure

Flow Charting
Usability is a fancy word that we throw around a lot in engineering: “This API sucks from a usability perspective. It takes four calls to do anything!” or “How did anyone consider this a usable site?! I can’t find the Buy button!” There are standard or semi-standard usability indicators, like time to accomplish a task, number of clicks, and eye-tracking heat maps. All of this chatter and all of these measurements come down to understanding what usability really is: A… continue…

The Basics of Data Dashboard Design

Busy Working Time from Bigstock Thumbnail
There are three different types of dashboard design: strategic, tactical, and operational. Each serves a different purpose and a different audience. Lee Lukehart, Chief Data Visualist for SavvyData gave us the run down in his presentation, “The Art of Dashboard Design” at the 2012 Silicon Valley Code Camp conference. Make It Work Before you let a dashboard out the door, Lukehart says think about how others will see it. If not done right, dashboards can be boring, inaccurate or even… continue…

How to Become a UX Designer

User Interface
The need for User Experience designers is growing, and so even self-taught professionals can be attractive candidates for employers in need. And these people can come from a variety of backgrounds, according to Nick Finck, the self-taught director of UX Design at Seattle-based Deloitte Digital. He’s added 24 people to his staff over the last few years. “UX is essentially an umbrella term used to describe individuals who wear different hats,” says Finck. “You need to look at the skills… continue…

How to Keep the Good Stuff at the Top of Your Page

Above the Fold (Web Version)
In graphic design, there’s a concept called “above the fold,” which refers to the practice of putting important information in the top half of the page. To no one’s surprise, this comes from newspapers: The idea has carried over into Web design, except there it refers to the display of information the user can see without scrolling: Users can’t be intrigued by data they can’t see. So if you want users to get as many views as possible, you put… continue…

Apple’s Named the Best Design Studio of the Past 50 Years

Posted In Living in Tech
Apple Thumb
Those Brits love Apple’s design. They’re not alone. Design is one of the things that’s made Apple the most valued company in history in terms of market capitalization. Now it’s been named the best brand and the best design studio of the last 50 years in the D&AD Awards, one of the world’s most prestigious prizes for advertising and design. Apple design guru Jonathan Ive, who was awarded knighthood earlier this year, took his entire 16-member design team to London… continue…

TouchUI: The Misunderstood Paradigm – Part 2

Posted In Living in Tech
“In our last episode,” (which you can see here) I touched on Global Moxie founder Josh Clark’s erroneous notion of workflow interruption to help the user, and how options should open up a device’s potential use cases. In this episode, I’ll talk about user interfaces in general and what could be done to improve all of them for everyone — not just the people with two free hands. New Paradigm, Same Problems Clark calls for a standardized UI paradigm, but… continue…

How to Work with Scribus’s Graphical Document Layout

Posted In Linux, Working in Tech
Scribus
Scribus is a great Open Source application — available for Windows, Mac and Linux — that’s used to lay out pages for brochures, calendars, books and professional-quality PDF documents. It’s a pretty impressive app, so I thought I’d give you the lowdown on putting it into action. It’s a full-featured page layout program much like Adobe InDesign. It supports the concept of manipulating objects on the page, so there might be a slight learning curve for users who use word… continue…

How to Outsource Your Game Development

As a well-paid developer in a country that has seen many jobs travel overseas, you wouldn’t expect me to be a fan of outsourcing, but I am. First, outsourcing doesn’t always mean the work goes offshore and, second, from a business perspective it can make sense. The main driver is the diversity of our global economy. Developers living in countries where it’s far cheaper to live can, via the Internet, easily undercut Western developers, who have considerably higher expenses. Fortunately… continue…

Apple May Finally Make the iPad’s Smart Cover… Smarter

Posted In Living in Tech
Apple may call it the “Smart Cover,” but this particular accessory is nothing more than an expensive addition that may or may not fully protect your tablet if it drops. That’s not saying much, but it appears that Apple has a range of ideas to smarten it up. In a patent application just made public, Apple detailed how it wants to make the Smart Cover a ridiculously useful accessory that could dramatically change the way iPads are being used. The… continue…

It’s Too Early to Kill Off Adobe Flash

Kick Out
Developer Peter Zotov has started a campaign to kill Adobe Flash off sooner rather than later. Some of the reasons he gives include hundreds of security holes, the drain on battery life and the exclusion of Flash from most mobile platforms. But his chief complaint is that Adobe can’t protect Flash code. His ability to crack protected or obfuscated Flash on the Flash player lends credibility to the argument. He  challenges anyone to supply protected or obfuscated Flash code that… continue…