At Atomic, we currently have 4 designers. Our small (but mighty) team is working to continually evolve and improve our team practices and rituals. We’re in the process of evaluating and possibly revamping some of our design rituals, in fact. As of right now, we have a few things that we’re practicing:
Show n’ Tell
Once a week we reserve an hour to share work. This can be used for formal critique, but is also a time to simply share what we’ve been working on. An hour normally gives us time to review 2-3 pieces of work, depending on how complicated the work is. Previously, this time block was used purely as critique, but we altered the time to be more of a come share with the team time. Read more on Design Rituals at Atomic…
There’s a very small number of apps on my Macbook, but Frank Deloupe has made the cut. It’s a beautifully simple color picker that integrates with Adobe Photoshop and offers a number of very useful features. So far, it’s been well worth the $0.99 price tag.
Read more on App Review: Frank Deloupe Color Picker…
Also posted in UX/Design Tools
Due to the form factor and software constraints of personal devices such as phones and tablets, giving demos and observing user testing on platforms other than desktop and laptop computers has historically been complicated. Crowding around the device so that everyone can see is awkward, resulting in uncomfortable demos and self-conscious user testers.
Recently, my colleague and I wanted to perform a lightweight usability test on a mobile web app. We were interested in gauging users’ ability to perform an end-to-end workflow within the application, as well as identifying any particular pain points that could be mitigated. We took an afternoon and tested with 6 volunteers, and we used our new Ziggi HD USB Camera as a way to comfortably observe while the user completed the test. It worked great! Read more on For Product Demos and Lightweight Usability Testing on Mobile, Give Ziggi-HD a Try…
Also posted in UX/Design Tools
One of the exploratory testing techniques I use is a ‘Follow The Data’ tour. For this test I follow a piece of data through the system from where it’s first introduced to where it’s stored, wherever it’s used, and where it’s displayed.
As well as checking that the data is actually used (there are times when input that is carefully validated is never actually used by the system) this technique can also lead to further test ideas.
If you find that the data is printed out, this can give you a test about whether non-printable characters can form part of the data. And if so, what happens to them? How long can the data be? What happens to the printout when the maximum length of data is used? will it wrap or print off the page or obscure other parts of the printout? Read more on Follow the Data…
Designing a responsive HTML email presents many of the same challenges as designing a responsive website. However, far fewer businesses bother to create mobile-friendly email templates. Despite the prevalence of mobile device usage, only 25% of businesses are creating mobile-optimized marketing emails. According to estimates from InMobi, 60% of Internet users are using a mobile device to browse, and Litmus estimates that just over half (51%) of all emails are opened on mobile devices.
Tips for Developing an Email Template
In order to capture the attention of mobile email viewers, an email must be easily readable and designed to engage mobile viewers. If you’re thinking of creating your own responsive email, here are five things to keep in mind when designing and developing your email template. Read more on Creating Responsive Email Templates – Tips & Tools…
I recently read about what might be one of the worst movies ever made and clicked through to read some reviews and find out why it was so bad. Doing so, I discovered a list of bloopers appearing the film.
Reading about these bloopers was really useful and reminded me about some of the test techniques I use. Read more on Lights, Camera, Action, Bugs!…
Imagine that an application just like the one you’re scheduled to start developing was released in the App store today. This scenario happened to me recently. I was perusing a website when an article caught my attention. As I started reading, I thought to myself, “This description sure sounds familiar.” And it was familiar because it had nearly identical features to an application we’re scheduled to start building in the next few days. This brought me to an interesting infection point — do I look at the competing application, or not?
It seemed like there were three rational answers: look at the released application and marketing materials now, not look at them until our application is complete, or wait until we are into the development of the application to look. Read more on When To Compare Features of a Competing App…
It’s a well-known fact that many people in the older generation has been struggling with new technologies.
For those of us that work in the software or design industries, it’s easy to take technology for granted. Most of us are “digital natives” — we grew up with electronics, and it can be difficult to set those assumptions aside and design for senior “digital immigrants” who spent most of their lives without any type of digital device.
How Seniors Use Technology
Despite being late adopters of technology, seniors have unique day-to-day needs that modern technology helps them solve. Digital devices help seniors with staying active, keeping in touch with friends and family, and daily medical needs. 76% of all seniors own a desktop computer, and use technology for emailing, social media, keeping track of photos, online shopping, and even gaming. Read more on Creating Accessible Interface Designs for Seniors…
Driving decisions about aesthetics and visual design direction with project stakeholders is a delicate process that can be fraught with frustration on all sides. You can increase the likelihood of success and happiness by using targeted artifacts in your decision-making process, but the real secret for success lies in good communication and guidance.
Style Tiles – Between a Mood Board & a Wireframe
Atomic Object has been using style tiles to help guide the visual design direction of software products. If you’re not familiar with style tiles and how they work, here’s a brief overview.
Early, high-fidelity visual design direction has historically been critiqued by reviewing two types of artifacts:
- Mood Boards – A mood board is collage that generally consists of images, text, and objects that reflect an aesthetic direction.
- Wireframes – A wireframe shows a fully-defined user interface.
However, both mood boards and wireframes can be dangerous to use when critiquing visual design. Read more on Facilitating Visual Design Direction with Style Tiles…
Visual Design: Visual treatment of text, graphic page elements and navigational components.
Visual Design Reinforces Decision-Making
Often I hear the term ‘visual design’ referred to as a layer that can be dealt with later on in the design process. To de-couple visual design like this is a mistake I see made often, especially when designers are dealing with constraints above and beyond their control. As Jesse James Garrett illustrates it, visual design should support all decisions made previous in the design process. If another designer is working on the aesthetics of your app, be sure to communicate intent and hierarchy of information architecture, information and navigation design decisions. Read more on Retrain the Way You Think About Visual Design…