In addition to the misuse, misunderstanding, and bad implementations of perfectly good UX design patterns, we’ve long understood the concept of anti-patterns. These are things that we know don’t work well for users. We’ve clearly defined and documented them so we can avoid using them.
However, as much as I’ve studied the concept of pattern languages and libraries, as cynical as I am about how businesses use and abuse product design, I simply didn’t expect the rise of dark patterns. Dark patterns are design patterns that are effective, but evil. When they succeed, they drive users to make accidental or uninformed decisions against their best interests.
During the creation of dark patterns, there’s typically much argument that they are positive for the business, that they expose ideas and encourage behaviors that the average person would do. I don’t think I need to convince you that businesses often place their own success above that of users and that it is the job of UX professionals to remind everyone that user-centric design must also be moral, ethical, and unambiguously legal design. Read More
Editor’s note: Since writing this column, Steven has done additional user research and has updated his design guidelines for mobile phones accordingly. Read his latest column on this topic: “Design for Fingers, Touch, and People, Part 1.”
As UX professionals, we all pay a lot of attention to users’ needs. When designing for mobile devices, we’re aware that there are some additional things that we must consider—such as how the context in which users employ their devices changes their interactions or usage patterns.  However, some time ago, I noticed a gap in our understanding: How do people actually carry and hold their mobile devices? These devices are not like computers that sit on people’s tables or desks. Instead, people can use mobile devices when they’re standing, walking, riding a bus, or doing just about anything. Users have to hold a device in a way that lets them view its screen, while providing input.
In the past year or so, there have been many discussions about how users hold their mobile devices—most notably Josh Clark’s.  But I suspect that some of what we’ve been reading may not be on track. First, we see a lot of assumptions—for example, that all people hold mobile devices with one hand because they’re the right size for that—well, at least the iPhone is.  Many of these discussions have assumed that people are all the same and do not adapt to different situations, which is not my experience in any area involving real people—much less with the unexpected ways in which people use mobile devices. Read More
I have a very expansive view of the role of User Experience in developing products. While I’m deeply of the opinion that designers should not code, that’s mostly because there are very few people who can code on many platforms and at many levels. I used to be a Web developer, database administrator (DBA), and system administrator. But I was never great at fulfilling all of these roles—much less all of them at once—while also being a Web designer.
As new technologies arrived, I had to stop and learn them—or learn to collaborate with others who knew them. So, instead of learning more and more technologies, I decided to focus on design and usability.
As UX designers, we should avoid becoming too deeply engaged in any one technology, but we do need to know a little about most technologies. This lets us consider the entire scope of users’ needs and suggest solutions that leverage the whole range of technology options—choosing whatever platforms, technologies, and methods best meet both users’ needs and organizational capabilities. Read More