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Topic: Interaction Design

  • How Big is Big Enough to Pick On?

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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”

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    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.

  • In Pursuit of Facebook Happiness

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    Our level of happiness and satisfaction on social networks is largely determined by the same things that make us happy in the rest of our lives. You can let your timeline be a perpetual reunion of your dullest second cousins or get out there and join some clubs.

  • Content-out Layout

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    Grids serve well to divide up a predefined canvas and guide how content fits onto a page, but when designing for the web’s fluid nature, we need something more responsive. Enter ratios, which architects, sculptors, and book designers have all used in their work to help set the tone for their compositions, and to scale their material from sketch to final build. Designers can apply a similar process on the web by focusing on the tone and shape of our content first, then working outward to design fluid, ratio-based grid systems that invite harmony between content, layout, and screen. Nathan Ford takes the next step toward more sophisticated, content-focused layouts on the web.

  • UI Animation and UX: A Not-So-Secret Friendship

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    The words “web animation” make many of us search frantically for the “skip intro” button, but adding motion to our work can be meaningful and functional—when we find the right circumstances. Animation can provide cues, guide the eye, and soften the sometimes-hard edges of web interactions. Val Head shows you how CSS makes it possible.

  • Web Animation at Work

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    We use HTML to tell stories and communicate vast amounts of information—and animation helps us do both better. Just as hierarchy guides users through content, animation guides them through interactions by helping them understand relationships, structure, cause, and effect. Rachel Nabors explains her fascination with CSS3 animations, Canvas, SVG, the web audio API, webGL, and all the rest, and explains why we need web animation—and web animators.

  • Designing for Easy Interaction

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    Whether you contribute to the user experience, development, or strategy of your website, you have a business, ethical, and (in many cases) legal responsibility to make your site accessible. And an equally compelling duty to your stakeholders, creativity, and career to achieve accessibility without sacrificing one whit of design or innovation. So what’s a site and application maker to do? For starters, read this book! We are thrilled to present an exclusive excerpt from Chapter 5 of A Web for Everyone: Designing Accessible User Experiences by Sarah Horton and Whitney Quesenbery, available now from Rosenfeld Media—and with a 20 percent discount for ALA readers, even.

  • The REAL Real Problem with Facebook

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    The Facebook news feed: featuring the perfect lives and perfect kids of people you barely know, and sometimes glimpses of weird opinions from friends you thought you knew perfectly. Maybe our understanding of identity has outgrown the design of our virtual interaction spaces.

  • The Monster Within Us

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    There’s a monster within you and me—we all have it. It’s driven by primitive needs and it’s relentless, but—plot twist—it’s trying to save your life. Only it doesn’t understand what’s going on and it can hijack your thinking and actions in an instant, making you a menace, or at least a jackass, to everyone around you. Scared yet? Fortunately, there’s a great technique for keeping the monster at bay.

  • Does Our Industry Have a Drinking Problem?

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    The social events surrounding conferences are an integral part of the experience—and they mostly involve getting together over drinks. But as the industry becomes more inclusive, we gain more people for whom drinking isn’t a good option. It’s time to add more ways to party and meet up that give us a chance to network with all of our peers—and maybe even leave us feeling up for that second-day morning workshop.

  • Flat UI and Forms

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    Though some decry flat user interfaces as pure fashion, or as the obvious response to skeuomorphic trends, many designers have embraced the flat approach because the reduction in visual styling (such as gradients, drop shadows, and borders) creates interfaces that feel simpler and cleaner. Trouble is, most flat UIs are built with a focus on the provision of content, with transactional components (i.e., forms) receiving very little attention. So what happens when flat UIs and forms collide? User experiences can, and often do, suffer. Keep your flat forms from failing by using controlled redundancy to communicate difference.

  • Seeing the Elephant: Defragmenting User Research

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    Silos: good for grain, awful for understanding customer behavior. Just as we favor the research tools that we find familiar and comfortable, large organizations often use research methods that reflect their own internal selection biases. As a result, they miss out on detecting (and confirming) interesting patterns that emerge concurrently from different research silos. And they likely won’t learn something new and important. IA thought leader Lou Rosenfeld explains how balance, cadence, conversation, and perspective provide a framework enabling your research teams to think across silos and achieve powerful insights even senior leadership can understand.

  • Shades of Discoverability

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    Many modern digital products enable complex, emergent behavior, not just pure task completion. We’re building habitats, not just tools; yet we often think of discoverability only in terms of task execution.

  • Douglas Engelbart and the Means to an End

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    ENIAC, the world’s first programmable digital computer, was completed in 1944. Today, more people have access to mobile phones than have access to toilets. There are more mobile internet users in the developing world than in the developed world. It took just seventy years to get from a device the size of a two-story building to a device that fits in your pocket.

  • Summer Reading Issue

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    Presenting the second annual ALA Summer Reading Issue—a deep pool of editor’s picks from the recent archives of A List Apart, sprinkled with some of our favorite outside links. This summer’s picks are arranged in clusters that echo the design process, and like all good summer reading, they travel light. (This issue is also available as a Readlist, suitable for reading on Kindle, iPhone, iPad, Readmill, or other ebook reader.) Dive in!