Rocket Surgery Made Easy – Looking back

Today is the day I had to finish Krug’s “Rocket Surgery Made Easy” by, but if you follow my blog you know I finished it months ago. In the spirit of being knowledgeable and well prepared I am going to look back at the book this morning. As mentioned by Joe Seeber, each time you look at a book you are a different person that will take away new things…

By the end of the first chapter when I initially read the book I wrote down, “I am a bit weary of the journey I am about to take; how will it change me and my approaches toward developing sites? I feel like I need to take this book “with a grain of sand” so to speak. ” Now however I swear by the book, and could not recommend enough that you read it! It is certainty the goto guide to user experience testing, capitalizing on simplicity and use of  accessible tools.

Early in the book there is a link to a demo video of a UX test being done and throughout the rest of the book it is broken apart into modular parts. It becomes clear watching the video that UX is easy, and if a handful of rules are followed there is no way to really mess things up!

That being said, the first rule given was to simply do the testing and not make a big deal of it, “A morning a month, that’s all we ask” was the Krug left to embody this concept. Before the book ever said how to test it said test, test, test, and test some more!

I was excited both the first and second time reading the book to get to the actual testing. We of course started with the basics by looking at who we would be testing with and what we would be testing for. It turns out that about 3 people (any 3) and a few specific goals of the site should be used each testing cycle, embracing a broad range of people as well as web site goals.

At this point the book provided an amazing resource, a check list to help you prepare for testing and be sure it runs smoothly. A whole chapter was dedicated to this subject, rightfully so.

On the note of check-lists the book worked its way into performing the actual test which was recommended to have just as much (more!) structure as our prep. Each test participant should feel welcome and encouraged to share during testing, getting them to and keeping them in that state of being is the administrator’s job.  These responsibilities were best summed up by Krug in 4 bullet points

  1. You’re trying to get them to externalize their thought process
  2. You’re trying to not influence them
  3. You will say the same few things over and over
  4. You have ethical responsibilities (respect them, and know there limits)

On top of testing there comes a responsibility to make a difference by fixing what you learned was not working. Before this comes you need  the support and collaboration from your team.  This means you need to get them in and see the test, understand what should be taken away from it and then…

Do the least you can do.

Fix things, but don’t kill yourself by making it a huge project. Just get it done! This is the whole approach that the book took to every aspect of UX, embrace it!

The book ends by looking at how to ensure your work does not go to waste, basic management of goals, tasks, and coworkers mostly…

 

I am excited to do some really UX testing in the next few weeks and share how it goes with you!

*if you made it through this whole post and find yourself wanting the book, I would be happy to lend it out too you!

 

 

If you want to know what its like – Paragliding

It felt great to bring in a little more personal content in the last week here, particularly when I posted about speed flying. So today I would like to share a bit more about paragliding. It is one of the singular greatest things I have brought into my life, and I could talk about it endlessly. Today however I will not leave you subject to a paragliding rant but will instead share with you a video. No words can express what paragliding is like, nor could any picture or video… but this one comes about as close as it gets!

If you would like to get to know more about my paragliding ventures, please check out my other blog PxParaglider!

UX – Putting it all to use!

You have seen me blogging endlessly about user experience design, today you get to see some of what that all goes toward!

I’m very excited to share with every one a project I am working on! I am fortunate enough to be a part of an extremely involved web development program at Clark College. Not only is my user experience class taught by Robert Hughes, the director of my program, but many of my other classes are taught by people who are truly working in the industry. I am taught WordPress by Lorelle VanFossen,  who helped develop WordPress itself! I learned all of my coding skills from Bruce Elgort, who owns a software company called Elguji among many other successes (to say the least). The project I am working on now has so much support that we have had the library staff and even the president of Clark College come into class and see what we are up to.

So what are we working on?

Our class is working with the library to rework their search page! A seemingly simple task that much is going into. We are not only changing the look but doing so is correlation with the movement toward  a new way of connecting users with the material they are looking for. What we do will be the face of a the libraries’ next big step to accommodate changing times and technologies. There is an article on Clark’s site covering what we are doing if your interested!

Here is what we are working with…

clark library site (looks rough)

Here is what our group envisions to be best…

our mock up of what the site should look like
*This is of course a mock-up, to be developed much further

Amongst a group of me and three other students ( including Jesse Byars) this is what we came up with. Later this week we will Continue reading

Designing in the moment – Ch1

This chapter started out by reiterating the simple fact that,

A first impression lasts a life time

Every one knows that a first impression is important, and this holds especially true in regard to a website. I have heard many numbers in attempting to figure out how long users take to decide if they are going stay on your site. Who cares if its ten seconds or less than one second, the fact of the matter is that its important. So that being said let’s jump into looking at the books first few tips that will work to keep users on your site.

First and foremost the layout of the site comes into play. Every one knows that layout makes a huge difference in experience and that cluttered of confusing layouts are dreadful. In the book we start by looking at a sites layout and critiquing it so that important fields were properly sized for their content. The most important parts of the site were then capitalized on, every site has something its trying to promote, from products to site subscription; these are the calls to action. We can accent those by doing many things, namely making them large, repetitive, and/or having a accenting color. On top of those ideas there was one last concept introduced… that our eyes naturally work through the site from the top to the bottom and left to right simultaneously. A layout that compliments all of these aspects is sure to bring good results.

Conductive

Fascinated with conductive materials found in every day things Daan Spanjers took on the task of giving function to these un-utilized materials.

Conductive is a combination of a several lights with prongs and a special table. The table has copper wiring running just beneath its surface as electricity runs about it. The prongs on the light can be matched up with the copper lines to make the light work. It is a very unique and clean looking deal.

I love this idea, the first thing it reminded me of was the charger for macbook’s. They primarily use a magnet to stay connected, minimizing the amount of moving parts. This really embraces the rule of KISS and works to ensure things work well. This product brings the beauty of apple charges to desk lighting.

Its ok to be excited about a neat way to light a desk, but thats really just looking at the small picture. Looking at the big picture in my mind I am imagining cool new house outlets, innovative ways to run power from place to place, and most importantly a way to get rid of my cell phone charger! If it became standard to use this form of energy transfer, things could get very interesting.

the light in question

Measuring less to feel more

This is a device used to check the blood sugar levels in diabetic patients.

This product is used to check blood sugar levels, but in a different way. It is argued by its creator that the stress experienced when using standard devices causes almost as much harm as good. In an effort to combat the intimidating number displays and utilitarian design of standard instruments, this product has a welcoming and functional feel. Feed back is given by a change in colors, and the instrument looks more like a piece of art than anything else.

I believe that this would be a very useful product. There was little to back the claims of sugar being released during standard testing, but regardless the concept holds water. Things of this nature need to come about, it just simply makes life more pleasant. I would argue that most medical devices are utilitarian in design. If this product is the first step toward medical instruments becoming more user friendly then I support it!

This may actually be the best candidate for our class to be looking at. I can only imagine   in what ways a full class could apply the idea that this product does. The medical field holds a huge amount of power and importance in society. One of the key elements in my vision of the future surely includes amazing forms of medical tecnology.

blood sugar tester

Donald Norman – How design makes us happy

Watched an interesting video in class, it’s an other Donald Norman video.  In this piece he was doing a TED talk about three ways good design makes us happy. These things consisted of the following…

Visceral

Things that make connection with reactions that are programmed within you. Such as colors that we find appealing.

Behavior

Things that do something functional, such as the teapot that given its position is not only brewing tea but also reflecting wether the tea pot is full or not.

Reflective

Things like owning a fancy or cool car that  reflects on yourself. A status or a statement is portrayed through ownership.