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Topic: Interaction Design

  • Good Help is Hard to Find

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    Help content gets no respect. For one thing, it is content, and our horse-before-cart industry is only now beginning to seriously tackle content strategy. For another, we assume that our site is so usable, nobody will ever need the help content anyway. Typically, no one is in charge of the help content and no strategy exists to keep it up to date. On most sites, help content is hard to find, poorly written, blames the user, and turns a mildly frustrating experience into a lousy one. It's time to rethink how we approach this part of our site. Done well, help content offers tremendous potential to earn customer loyalty. By learning to plan for and create useful help content, we can turn frustrated users into our company's biggest fans.

  • Quick and Dirty Remote User Testing

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    User research doesn’t have to be expensive and time-consuming. With online applications, you can test your designs, wireframes, and prototypes over the phone and your computer with ease and aplomb. Nate Bolt shows the way.

  • Responsive Web Design

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    Designers have coveted print for its precision layouts, lamenting the varying user contexts on the web that compromise their designs. Ethan Marcotte advocates we shift our design thinking to appropriate these constraints: using fluid grids, flexible images, and media queries, he shows us how to embrace the “ebb and flow of things” with responsive web design.

  • Design Patterns: Faceted Navigation

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    Faceted navigation may be the most significant search innovation of the past decade. It features an integrated, incremental search and browse experience that lets users begin with a classic keyword search and then scan a list of results. It also serves up a custom map that provides insights into the content and its organization and offers a variety of useful next steps. In keeping with the principles of progressive disclosure and incremental construction, it lets users formulate the equivalent of a sophisticated Boolean query by taking a series of small, simple steps. Learn how it works, why it has become ubiquitous in e-commerce, and why it’s not for every site.

  • Flash and Standards: The Cold War of the Web

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    You’ve probably heard that Apple recently announced the iPad. The absence of Flash Player on the device seems to have awakened the HTML5 vs. Flash debate. Apparently, it’s the final nail in the coffin for Flash. Either that, or the HTML5 community is overhyping its still nascent markup language update. The arguments run wide, strong, and legitimate on both sides. Yet both sides might also be wrong. Designer/developer Dan Mall is equally adept at web standards and Flash; what matters, he says, isn't technology, but people.

  • Accent Folding for Auto-Complete

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    Another generation of technology has passed and Unicode support is almost everywhere. The next step is to write software that is not just "internationalized" but truly multilingual. In this article we will skip through a bit of history and theory, then illustrate a neat hack called accent-folding. Accent-folding has its limitations but it can help make some important yet overlooked user interactions work better.

  • Can You Say That in English? Explaining UX Research to Clients

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    It's hard for clients to understand the true value of user experience research. As much as you'd like to tell your clients to go read The Elements of User Experience and call you back when they're done, that won't cut it in a professional services environment. David Sherwin creates a cheat sheet to help you pitch UX research using plain, client-friendly language that focuses on the business value of each exercise.

  • Inline Validation in Web Forms

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    Web forms don’t have to be irritating, and your inline validation choices don't have to be based on wild guesses. In his examination of inline form validation options, Luke Wroblewski offers that rarest of beasts: actual data about which things make people smile and which make them want to stab your website with a fork.

  • Visual Decision Making

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    If it takes only 50 milliseconds for users to form an aesthetic opinion of your site’s credibility and trustworthiness, are designers who create visually compelling sites simply wasting time and treasure on graphic indulgences? Patrick Lynch doesn't think so.

  • Taking the Guesswork Out of Design

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    Clients, like other humans, often fear what they don't understand. Daniel Ritzenthaler explains how sound goal-setting, documentation, and communication strategies can bridge the gap between a designer's intuition and a client's need for proof.

  • The Elegance of Imperfection

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    Asymmetry, asperity, simplicity, modesty, intimacy, and the suggestion of a natural process: these attributes of elegant design may seem relevant only to a project's aesthetics. But the most successful web designs reflect these considerations at every stage, from idea to finished product. Bring heart to the experiences you create by infusing them with intelligence that transcends aesthetics and reflects the imperfection of the natural world.

  • The Elements of Social Architecture

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    While our designs can never control people, they can encourage good behavior and discourage bad. In this excerpt from Information Architecture: Blueprints for the Web 2nd Edition, Christina Wodtke tells us how to make products that delight people and change their lives by remembering the social in social architecture.

  • Deafness and the User Experience

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    Because of limited awareness around Deafness and accessibility in the web community, it seems plausible to many of us that good captioning will fix it all. It won’t. Before we can enhance the user experience for all deaf people, we must understand that the needs of deaf, hard of hearing, and big-D Deaf users are often very different.

  • Writing an Interface Style Guide

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    Ever designed or developed a beautiful interface only to find your hard work ruined months later by gaudy graphics or invalid markup? With proper documentation you'll have a better chance at seeing your interface stay beautiful. Jina Bolton guides us through the process of developing an interface style guide.

  • Sign Up Forms Must Die

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    You load a new web service, eager to dive in and start engaging, and what’s the first thing that greets you? A sign-up form. We can do better, says Luke Wroblewski, author of Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks. Via a technique of "gradual engagment," we can get people using and caring about our web services instead of frustrating them (or sending them to a competitor's site) by forcing them to fill out a sign-up form first.

  • Designing For Flow

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    Ask a web designer what makes a site great, and you're likely to hear "ease of use." Jim Ramsey begs to differ. Web applications in particular, he tells us, work best and engage most profoundly when they challenge users to overcome difficulties.

  • Understanding Web Design

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    We'll have better web design when we stop asking it to be something it's not, and start appreciating it for what it is. It's not print, not video, not a poster—and that's not a problem. Find out why cultural and business leaders misunderstand web design, and learn which other forms it most usefully resembles.

  • Put Your Content in my Pocket, Part II

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    Screen size matters. And now that Apple is embedding mobile Safari in more iPods than the iPhone alone, it matters even more. Concluding his remarkable two-part series, Craig Hockenberry covers the down and dirty details of designing and coding with the iPhone (and its brethren) in mind.

  • Put Your Content in My Pocket

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    In this first of two articles on bringing your content to the iPhone, the Iconfactory's Craig Hockenberry offers detailed guidance on tuning your site for the hot new phone, and making changes that can enhance even non-iPhone-users’ experience. Hotcha!

  • Never Use a Warning When you Mean Undo

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    Are our web apps as smart as they should be? By failing to account for habituation (the tendency, when presented with a string of repetitive tasks, to keep clicking OK), do our designs cause people to lose their work? Raskin's simple, foolproof rule solves the problem.