Has your boss or a client ever asked you to review a user interface for a Web or desktop application? Perhaps the request went something like this: Can you just look over these new screens for us? Oh, and can you check the error messages, too? It won’t take long! And, by the way, we ship next month. Whether you are an interaction designer, usability professional, technical communicator, quality assurance engineer, or developer, reviewing a user interface typically means identifying
usability problems related to the layout, logical flow, and structure of the interface and inconsistencies in the design
non-compliance with standards
ambiguous wording in labels, dialog boxes, error messages, and onscreen user assistance
My last column, “Specifying Behavior,” focused on the importance of interaction designers’ taking full responsibility for designing and clearly communicating the behavior of product user interfaces. At the conclusion of the Design Phase for a product release, interaction designers’ provide key design deliverables that play a crucial role in ensuring their solutions to design problems actually get built. These deliverables might take the form of high-fidelity, interactive prototypes; detailed storyboards that show every state of a user interface in sequence; detailed, comprehensive interaction design specifications; or some combination of these. Whatever form they take, producing these interaction design deliverables is a fundamental part of a successful product design process.
In this installment of On Good Behavior, I’ll provide an overview of a product design process, then discuss some indispensable activities that are part of an effective design process, with a particular focus on those activities that are essential for good interaction design. Although this column focuses primarily on activities that are typically the responsibility of interaction designers, this discussion of the product design process applies to all aspects of UX design. Read More
In my previous columns, I’ve framed my discussions around the practice of information architecture. To recap, the DSIA Research Initiative—of which I am the curator—defines the practice of information architecture as “the effort of organizing and relating information in a way that simplifies how people navigate and use content on the Web.” While the practice of information architecture can surely extend beyond the Web and its content, this IA practice definition eschews theoretical language to resonate with businesses looking for concrete Web solutions and practitioners who want to make a living off something tangible.
In the end, business clients don’t pay practitioners to practice information architecture; they pay professionals to produce IA work products that help them to meet their business objectives. So, of the many professional interests that come together to create a digital experience, what work products make the practice of information architecture unique? Read More