A List Apart


Topic: Interaction Design

Design products and experiences that delight people and change their lives. Where graphic design meets experience design meets interface design. Never use a warning when you mean undo. Move beyond human-to-computer interfaces and embrace human-to-human design. Designing navigation and exploration. Wireframing and prototyping on paper, in Keynote, and in the browser. Narratives of experience.

  • Hello, My Name is <Error>

    by Aimee Gonzalez-Cameron · Issue 428 ·

    Registering for school, paying bills, updating government documents—we conduct a significant part of our daily lives through web forms. So when simply typing in your name breaks a form, well, user experience, we have a problem. As our population continues to diversify, we need designs that accommodate a broader range of naming conventions. Aimee Gonzalez shows how cultural assumptions affect what we build on the web—and how fostering awareness and refining our processes can start to change that.

  • Designing Safer Web Animation For Motion Sensitivity

    by Val Head · Issue


    · Issue 428 ·

    For millions of people with vertigo and inner ear problems, large-scale web animations can trigger nausea, migraines, and dizziness. To make websites accessible for everyone, we don’t need to eliminate animation; we need to apply it more thoughtfully. Val Head walks us through some of the challenges posed by vestibular disorders and provides guidelines for designing with motion sensitivity in mind.

  • Multimodal Perception: When Multitasking Works

    by Graham Herrli · Issue 427 ·

    Don’t believe everything you hear these days about multitasking—it’s not necessarily bad. In fact, humans have a knack for perception that engages multiple senses. Graham Herrli unpacks the theories around multimodal communication and suggests that we can sometimes make things easier to understand by making them more complex to perceive.

  • The Risky Business of Onboarding

    by Rick Pastoor · Issue 424 ·

    Attracting—and keeping—new users is a delicate dance. Too many obstacles and people don’t sign up; too little interaction and they don’t come back. The ideal onboarding process turns potential users into loyal ones—by thoughtfully identifying new users, teaching them to use your product, and giving them a reason to return. Rick Pastoor shares his onboarding framework and what he’s learned about the difference between a good onboarding process and a great one.

  • Unsuck the Enterprise

    by Rian van der Merwe ·

    The people who pay for enterprise software aren’t the ones who try to work in it day after day. How much has been spent on “Solutions” with an abundance of features that don’t help users get their jobs done? If design can alleviate some of that dysfunction, it doesn’t seem like a mere luxury anymore. Rian van der Merwe shares his four-step approach to redeeming the awkward rich kid no one wants to play with.

  • Designing for Post-Connected Users — Part 2, the Recommendations

    by Antoine Lefeuvre ·

    Post-connected users don’t want to be in thrall to their communication tools all day (and then there’s the never-ending loop of updates, upgrades, and trending technologies to try). They want stable communication tools that work on their terms and adapt to their preferences. Antoine Lefeuvre urges us to see the web experience through their eyes and think about how classic, basic internet tech can be reimagined in fresh, user-pleasing ways.

  • Crafting a Design Persona

    by Meg Dickey-Kurdziolek · Issue 421 ·

    Every product has a personality—but is yours deliberately designed? Meg Dickey-Kurdziolek shows you how Weather Underground solved its personality problems by creating a design persona, and teaches you collaborative methods for starting a personality adjustment in your company.

  • Instant Web

    by Mark Llobrera ·

    For some, Facebook’s Instant Articles is a sign that the traditional web stack is incapable of giving users a first-class reading experience. But the sluggish performance of the web isn’t due to an inherent flaw in the technology. That particular problem originates between the seat and the keyboard, where builders make choices that bloat their sites. For Mark Llobrera, Instant Articles is a sign that we need to prioritize performance like we actually mean it.

  • Building Nonlinear Narratives for the Web

    by Senongo Akpem · Issue 419 ·

    The web operates in ways that can conflict with our traditional view of what a “story” is. Content is chunked, mixed, and spread across channels, devices, and formats. How do we understand story lines, characters, interactions, and the role of the audience, given this information sprawl? Cue nonlinear narratives—Senongo Akpem guides us past basic “scrolly-telling” to immersive, sometimes surprising experiences.

  • The Illusion of Free

    by Laura Kalbag ·

    The number of predictions that algorithms can make about us from even minimal data is shocking. Although we’re offered privacy settings that let us control who of our friends sees what, all our information and behavior tends to be fair game for behind-the-scenes tracking. We simply don’t know everything that’s being done with our data currently, and what companies might be able—and willing—to do with it in the future. Laura Kalbag believes it’s time to locate the exits.

  • There Is No Data vs. Intuition

    by Nishant Kothary ·

    Heads/Tails, Left/Right, Church/State, Engineering/Design, Logic/Emotion. Oh wait—the flipside of logic isn’t emotion. It’s fallacy. Another fallacy is feeling obliged to join either the faction of the sensibly-clad engineers or the faction of the crayon-toting creatives. Nishant Kothary has found that research is on the side of trusting your gut (then backing up your instinct with testing).

  • Designing for Post-Connected Users — Part 1, the Diagnostic

    by Antoine Lefeuvre ·

    How sustainable is a model where social networks take a central role in our daily routine? Antoine Lefeuvre believes there’s growing awareness that social networking tools don’t necessarily bring out the best in us. While we do want and appreciate tools that let us engage with others and do things together, we’re getting tired of the high price in attention and stress.

  • The Role of the Web, an Excerpt from Understanding Context

    by Andrew Hinton · Issue 413 ·

    What place am I in? By giving us the ability to link to anything at any time, the web complicated this question and changed our concept of context. In this excerpt from Chapter 2 of his new book, Understanding Context, Andrew Hinton explores why that happened, and how our resulting “place confusion” affects the way we perceive and use the web.

  • How Big is Big Enough to Pick On?

    by Laura Kalbag ·

    Businesses aren't all faceless juggernauts. Some are just one or two people. Yet when we interact with them through reviews or social media, we fall into the notion that there's no real individual in the other side whose feelings can be hurt. Laura Kalbag asks us to be sure to criticize the work and not the person.

  • Logically Speaking

    by Nishant Kothary ·

    The human mind has its own logic far beyond the binary states of mere computers. Even in the tech industry, you can't escape the reality that it takes more than data and solid conclusions to win people over.

  • The Challenge for the Tiny Global Business

    by Rachel Andrew ·

    Long ago, a company had to grow to a certain size before it could embark on international trade. With digital goods, that’s no longer so. Learning all the applicable laws and taxes can be daunting, but that’s what allows the small business owner to stay independent as an exporter.

  • Stars and Stripes and ISO Codes

    by Antoine Lefeuvre ·

    The labels of version links are key to navigating international websites. Making sure they are clear and unambiguous can increase user happiness and make you stand out in a crowd.

  • Managing Feature Requests

    by Rachel Andrew ·

    You’re proud of your product, and welcome user suggestions on making it even better. Will you be able to make everyone happy? Should you even aim to accommodate them all? Before you start coding, think about how to prioritize feature requests, and even say no to some.

  • Gardens, Not Graves

    by Allen Tan · Issue 399 ·

    The stream is great for showing timely, scannable content. But solely organizing by reverse chronology leads to a dire loss of context. What can we do to make content easier to understand for those coming across it for the first time? Allen Tan explores methods for turning our untended archives into lively, flourishing spaces.

  • Kids 4–6: “The Muddy Middle”

    by Debra Levin Gelman · Issue 398 ·

    Full of knowledge and creativity but not yet quite able to read, kids from ages 4 to 6 occupy a “muddy middle” for designers—they’re too old for toddler games, but too young for most apps and games made for “big kids.” Learn how to understand this group in this excerpt from Deb Gelman’s book, Design for Kids, out now from Rosenfeld Media.