Tips, Tricks, and Techniques

22 Oct 2008 - 9:20am
6 years ago
6 replies
472 reads
Dan Brown
2004

[Originally appeared on IAI's mailing list. A couple people suggested I post
this here, to IxDA's discussion list, and provide a little more context.]
<context type="more">
If you didn't see Jared Spool's keynote at the IA Summit earlier this year,
you missed an interesting perspective on "user-centered design". One of my
main take-aways was that the key ingredient to a successful design team is
not a solid, formal methodology. Instead, it's that the design team shares a
common vision and the designers have a set of good tips and tricks to draw
from.
</context>

Ever since Jared's keynote in Miami, I've been thinking about the tips,
tricks, and techniques for information architects.
For me, the exercise is about excluding (a) rules of thumb (which generally
don't account for context) and (b) techniques pertaining to interface design
rather than internal structures (because there are already a lot of UI tips
& tricks).
I've compiled eight (a good number!) of them. I'm using these as the first
"chapter" in my revised Intro to IA class, so if you've got good (or bad or
contrary) examples of these techniques, I'd love to see them!

Paradox of choice: It is more difficult for users to choose from many
options.
Context through content: Exemplars can clarify categories.
Plain language: Jargon-free language tends to have the longest reach.
Multiple front doors: Any page on the site may be a "home" page.
Scale and growth: Expect content to grow and create navigation systems that
accommodate growth.
Multiple wayfinding systems: Give users more than one way of finding
information.
Abstraction, templating, modularization: Sites are composed of templates and
components.
Progressive disclosure: Reveal bits of information at a time to create a
strong scent.

I'm less interested in discussing the merits of Jared's findings. Whether or
not you're a strong proponent of formal methodology or not, having a set of
design principles (to borrow a term from Leah Buley's talk) seems important
in any situation. While these can vary from project to project (accounting
for specific contexts), I do have a core "platform" that drives most of my
thinking.

Looking forward to your thoughts!
-- Dan

--

Dan Brown, Principal • (301) 801-4850
EightShapes, LLC • eightshapes.com
Also at: communicatingdesign.com • greenonions.com

--

Dan Brown, Principal • (301) 801-4850
EightShapes, LLC • eightshapes.com
Also at: communicatingdesign.com • greenonions.com

Comments

22 Oct 2008 - 9:48am
SemanticWill
2007

I think of tips and tricks as in, "when confronted with X situation, do Y,"
and that those are very different than heuristics, guiding principals,
mantras, best practices - which some of these really sound like.

Tips and Tricks:

*1. Paradox of choice: It is more difficult for users to choose from many
options.*

This doesn't feel like a tip or a trick - it seems like an aphorism -
"measure twice, cut once" is a tip, "haste makes waste" is an aphorism - no?
*
2. Context through content: Exemplars can clarify categories.*
Again - this doesn't quite feel like a tip or trick - be honest, am I just
not getting you?

*3. Plain language: Jargon-free language tends to have the longest reach.*
Good tip, and also good guiding principle
*
4. Multiple front doors: Any page on the site may be a "home" page.*
Good tip and principle
*
5. Scale and growth: Expect content to grow and create navigation systems
that
accommodate growth.*
"Build to scale" would be a better tip. Maybe its just phrasing which, like
semantics, I suppose - is either critically important or as ephemeral and
useful as a fart in the wind (which Jared says actually can be very useful -
if it is well placed).

*6.Multiple wayfinding systems: Give users more than one way of finding
information.*
Good tip and guiding principle

*7. Abstraction, templating, modularization: Sites are composed of templates
and
components.*
To what end? To make the site more efficiently built? Is this for the user
or the developer? Who benefits from this? Is it a design principle or tip?
Not sure.

*8. Progressive disclosure: Reveal bits of information at a time to create a
strong scent.*
Yeah - I don't know if I feel the love here - sometimes people don't want
the UI to be coquettish - give me the whole enchilada so I can see if it's
worth it - and I think the wayfinding systems accounts for scent - not
progressive disclosure, no?

just some thoughts - I think you done good here, and no doubt people will
agree with you and eviscerate me - but all for a good cause.

Peace.

On Wed, Oct 22, 2008 at 10:20 AM, Dan Brown <brownorama at gmail.com> wrote:

> [Originally appeared on IAI's mailing list. A couple people suggested I
> post
> this here, to IxDA's discussion list, and provide a little more context.]
> <context type="more">
> If you didn't see Jared Spool's keynote at the IA Summit earlier this year,
> you missed an interesting perspective on "user-centered design". One of my
> main take-aways was that the key ingredient to a successful design team is
> not a solid, formal methodology. Instead, it's that the design team shares
> a
> common vision and the designers have a set of good tips and tricks to draw
> from.
> </context>
>
> Ever since Jared's keynote in Miami, I've been thinking about the tips,
> tricks, and techniques for information architects.
> For me, the exercise is about excluding (a) rules of thumb (which generally
> don't account for context) and (b) techniques pertaining to interface
> design
> rather than internal structures (because there are already a lot of UI tips
> & tricks).
> I've compiled eight (a good number!) of them. I'm using these as the first
> "chapter" in my revised Intro to IA class, so if you've got good (or bad or
> contrary) examples of these techniques, I'd love to see them!
>
> Paradox of choice: It is more difficult for users to choose from many
> options.
> Context through content: Exemplars can clarify categories.
> Plain language: Jargon-free language tends to have the longest reach.
> Multiple front doors: Any page on the site may be a "home" page.
> Scale and growth: Expect content to grow and create navigation systems that
> accommodate growth.
> Multiple wayfinding systems: Give users more than one way of finding
> information.
> Abstraction, templating, modularization: Sites are composed of templates
> and
> components.
> Progressive disclosure: Reveal bits of information at a time to create a
> strong scent.
>
> I'm less interested in discussing the merits of Jared's findings. Whether
> or
> not you're a strong proponent of formal methodology or not, having a set of
> design principles (to borrow a term from Leah Buley's talk) seems important
> in any situation. While these can vary from project to project (accounting
> for specific contexts), I do have a core "platform" that drives most of my
> thinking.
>
> Looking forward to your thoughts!
> -- Dan
>
>
> --
>
> Dan Brown, Principal • (301) 801-4850
> EightShapes, LLC • eightshapes.com
> Also at: communicatingdesign.com • greenonions.com
>
>
>
> --
>
> Dan Brown, Principal • (301) 801-4850
> EightShapes, LLC • eightshapes.com
> Also at: communicatingdesign.com • greenonions.com
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
~ will

"Where you innovate, how you innovate,
and what you innovate are design problems"

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Will Evans | User Experience Architect
tel: +1.617.281.1281 | will at semanticfoundry.com
aim: semanticwill | gtalk: wkevans4
twitter: semanticwill | skype: semanticwill
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

22 Oct 2008 - 11:28am
kimbieler
2007

Dan,

I haven't explored this idea rigorously, but something I'm always
thinking about is funneling. Or maybe a better way of putting it is,
setting & fulfilling expectations. Is this the same thing as
progressive disclosure? It's certainly related to the paradox of choice.

I'm talking about building pages so there are clear indicators for
what to do next and what I should expect when I get there. An obvious
example is a shopping cart or well-designed signup funnel. But even in
information sites, you can lead users through the content in a way
that builds commitment or engagement. Slideshows accompanying
newspaper articles, for example. Suggestions for further reading based
on what the user has already viewed. Feedback, ratings, and comments.

Like I said, not very well thought out. But I would suggest "What
next?" as a design principle, if not an IA principle.

-- Kim

22 Oct 2008 - 11:35am
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

Don't 1. 'Paradox of choice' and 6. 'Multiple wayfinding systems' contradict
each other?

--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is design of time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

On Wed, Oct 22, 2008 at 9:20 AM, Dan Brown <brownorama at gmail.com> wrote:

> [Originally appeared on IAI's mailing list. A couple people suggested I
> post
> this here, to IxDA's discussion list, and provide a little more context.]
> <context type="more">
> If you didn't see Jared Spool's keynote at the IA Summit earlier this year,
> you missed an interesting perspective on "user-centered design". One of my
> main take-aways was that the key ingredient to a successful design team is
> not a solid, formal methodology. Instead, it's that the design team shares
> a
> common vision and the designers have a set of good tips and tricks to draw
> from.
> </context>
>
> Ever since Jared's keynote in Miami, I've been thinking about the tips,
> tricks, and techniques for information architects.
> For me, the exercise is about excluding (a) rules of thumb (which generally
> don't account for context) and (b) techniques pertaining to interface
> design
> rather than internal structures (because there are already a lot of UI tips
> & tricks).
> I've compiled eight (a good number!) of them. I'm using these as the first
> "chapter" in my revised Intro to IA class, so if you've got good (or bad or
> contrary) examples of these techniques, I'd love to see them!
>
> Paradox of choice: It is more difficult for users to choose from many
> options.
> Context through content: Exemplars can clarify categories.
> Plain language: Jargon-free language tends to have the longest reach.
> Multiple front doors: Any page on the site may be a "home" page.
> Scale and growth: Expect content to grow and create navigation systems that
> accommodate growth.
> Multiple wayfinding systems: Give users more than one way of finding
> information.
> Abstraction, templating, modularization: Sites are composed of templates
> and
> components.
> Progressive disclosure: Reveal bits of information at a time to create a
> strong scent.
>
> I'm less interested in discussing the merits of Jared's findings. Whether
> or
> not you're a strong proponent of formal methodology or not, having a set of
> design principles (to borrow a term from Leah Buley's talk) seems important
> in any situation. While these can vary from project to project (accounting
> for specific contexts), I do have a core "platform" that drives most of my
> thinking.
>
> Looking forward to your thoughts!
> -- Dan
>
>
> --
>
> Dan Brown, Principal • (301) 801-4850
> EightShapes, LLC • eightshapes.com
> Also at: communicatingdesign.com • greenonions.com
>
>
>
> --
>
> Dan Brown, Principal • (301) 801-4850
> EightShapes, LLC • eightshapes.com
> Also at: communicatingdesign.com • greenonions.com
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

22 Oct 2008 - 11:41am
Carrie Ritch
2003

Shoot, forgot about the reply issue... my post below...

---------- Forwarded message ----------

Thanks Dan for posting these! (I was one of those people who requested
you re-post here.)

On my office wall I have a set of cards from Cooper that I picked up
at Interaction08 that fit in well with your items above. These are:

- Don't inflict your implementation model on your users.
[picture of a remote that just shows the circuit board]

- Don't interrupt.
[picture of driving down the road and an "Are you sure you want to
continue driving?" dialog pops up]

- Be helpful.
[picture of a waiter with a water pitcher and a dialog asking "Would
you like me to refill your water glass?"]

- If you can't say something useful, don't say anything at all.
[picture of a stop sign explaining what asphalt is]

- Don't set people up for failure.
[picture of an opened door and a brick wall behind it with a dialog
saying "Error! You should not have opened this door. There is nothing
here."]

- Dress appropriately.
[picture of a hideous looking dress in a closet]

Carrie

On Wed, Oct 22, 2008 at 10:20 AM, Dan Brown <brownorama at gmail.com> wrote:
> I've compiled eight (a good number!) of them. I'm using these as the first
> "chapter" in my revised Intro to IA class, so if you've got good (or bad or
> contrary) examples of these techniques, I'd love to see them!
>
> Looking forward to your thoughts!
> -- Dan
>
>
> --
>
> Dan Brown, Principal • (301) 801-4850
> EightShapes, LLC • eightshapes.com
> Also at: communicatingdesign.com • greenonions.com

22 Oct 2008 - 11:42am
SemanticWill
2007

Yo Kim:
re: "Suggestions for further reading based on what the user has already
viewed. Feedback, ratings, and comments."

I heard Vignette's Social Search presents results to users based to some
extent on user's context (what they have read/seen/clicked-through). Not
sure if this is true - but it seemed like that is what Vingette is selling
their social search as. My thoughts about contextual predictive disclosure
is that to the extent that you know, at least within a walled community -
the user's behavior, reading, friends, comments, ugc - that you could
predict what they might be interested in and present not just search results
- but other forms of content - similar to some degree to the recommended
merchandizing based on dimensional wayfinding in Endeca's engine.

On Wed, Oct 22, 2008 at 12:28 PM, Kim Bieler <kimbieler at mindspring.com>wrote:

> Dan,
>
> I haven't explored this idea rigorously, but something I'm always thinking
> about is funneling. Or maybe a better way of putting it is, setting &
> fulfilling expectations. Is this the same thing as progressive disclosure?
> It's certainly related to the paradox of choice.
>
> I'm talking about building pages so there are clear indicators for what to
> do next and what I should expect when I get there. An obvious example is a
> shopping cart or well-designed signup funnel. But even in information sites,
> you can lead users through the content in a way that builds commitment or
> engagement. Slideshows accompanying newspaper articles, for example.
> Suggestions for further reading based on what the user has already viewed.
> Feedback, ratings, and comments.
>
> Like I said, not very well thought out. But I would suggest "What next?" as
> a design principle, if not an IA principle.
>
>
> -- Kim
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
~ will

"Where you innovate, how you innovate,
and what you innovate are design problems"

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Will Evans | User Experience Architect
tel: +1.617.281.1281 | will at semanticfoundry.com
aim: semanticwill | gtalk: wkevans4
twitter: semanticwill | skype: semanticwill
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

22 Oct 2008 - 6:25pm
Steve Baty
2009

I read this more as "things my grandpa would tell me if he were a UX
designer..." In that context these all work for me. It seems I can't work
the reply/reply all buttons either as I sent the following direct to Dan:

*Meaning through context*: the context of information supplies and changes
its meaning, relevance, and usefulness.

Steve

2008/10/23 Will Evans <will at semanticfoundry.com>

> I think of tips and tricks as in, "when confronted with X situation, do Y,"
> and that those are very different than heuristics, guiding principals,
> mantras, best practices - which some of these really sound like.
>
> Tips and Tricks:
>
> *1. Paradox of choice: It is more difficult for users to choose from many
> options.*
>
> This doesn't feel like a tip or a trick - it seems like an aphorism -
> "measure twice, cut once" is a tip, "haste makes waste" is an aphorism -
> no?
> *
> 2. Context through content: Exemplars can clarify categories.*
> Again - this doesn't quite feel like a tip or trick - be honest, am I just
> not getting you?
>
>
> *3. Plain language: Jargon-free language tends to have the longest reach.*
> Good tip, and also good guiding principle
> *
> 4. Multiple front doors: Any page on the site may be a "home" page.*
> Good tip and principle
> *
> 5. Scale and growth: Expect content to grow and create navigation systems
> that
> accommodate growth.*
> "Build to scale" would be a better tip. Maybe its just phrasing which, like
> semantics, I suppose - is either critically important or as ephemeral and
> useful as a fart in the wind (which Jared says actually can be very useful
> -
> if it is well placed).
>
>
> *6.Multiple wayfinding systems: Give users more than one way of finding
> information.*
> Good tip and guiding principle
>
> *7. Abstraction, templating, modularization: Sites are composed of
> templates
> and
> components.*
> To what end? To make the site more efficiently built? Is this for the user
> or the developer? Who benefits from this? Is it a design principle or tip?
> Not sure.
>
> *8. Progressive disclosure: Reveal bits of information at a time to create
> a
> strong scent.*
> Yeah - I don't know if I feel the love here - sometimes people don't want
> the UI to be coquettish - give me the whole enchilada so I can see if it's
> worth it - and I think the wayfinding systems accounts for scent - not
> progressive disclosure, no?
>
> just some thoughts - I think you done good here, and no doubt people will
> agree with you and eviscerate me - but all for a good cause.
>
> Peace.
>
>
>
> On Wed, Oct 22, 2008 at 10:20 AM, Dan Brown <brownorama at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > [Originally appeared on IAI's mailing list. A couple people suggested I
> > post
> > this here, to IxDA's discussion list, and provide a little more context.]
> > <context type="more">
> > If you didn't see Jared Spool's keynote at the IA Summit earlier this
> year,
> > you missed an interesting perspective on "user-centered design". One of
> my
> > main take-aways was that the key ingredient to a successful design team
> is
> > not a solid, formal methodology. Instead, it's that the design team
> shares
> > a
> > common vision and the designers have a set of good tips and tricks to
> draw
> > from.
> > </context>
> >
> > Ever since Jared's keynote in Miami, I've been thinking about the tips,
> > tricks, and techniques for information architects.
> > For me, the exercise is about excluding (a) rules of thumb (which
> generally
> > don't account for context) and (b) techniques pertaining to interface
> > design
> > rather than internal structures (because there are already a lot of UI
> tips
> > & tricks).
> > I've compiled eight (a good number!) of them. I'm using these as the
> first
> > "chapter" in my revised Intro to IA class, so if you've got good (or bad
> or
> > contrary) examples of these techniques, I'd love to see them!
> >
> > Paradox of choice: It is more difficult for users to choose from many
> > options.
> > Context through content: Exemplars can clarify categories.
> > Plain language: Jargon-free language tends to have the longest reach.
> > Multiple front doors: Any page on the site may be a "home" page.
> > Scale and growth: Expect content to grow and create navigation systems
> that
> > accommodate growth.
> > Multiple wayfinding systems: Give users more than one way of finding
> > information.
> > Abstraction, templating, modularization: Sites are composed of templates
> > and
> > components.
> > Progressive disclosure: Reveal bits of information at a time to create a
> > strong scent.
> >
> > I'm less interested in discussing the merits of Jared's findings. Whether
> > or
> > not you're a strong proponent of formal methodology or not, having a set
> of
> > design principles (to borrow a term from Leah Buley's talk) seems
> important
> > in any situation. While these can vary from project to project
> (accounting
> > for specific contexts), I do have a core "platform" that drives most of
> my
> > thinking.
> >
> > Looking forward to your thoughts!
> > -- Dan
> >
> >
> > --
> >
> > Dan Brown, Principal • (301) 801-4850
> > EightShapes, LLC • eightshapes.com
> > Also at: communicatingdesign.com • greenonions.com
> >
> >
> >
> > --
> >
> > Dan Brown, Principal • (301) 801-4850
> > EightShapes, LLC • eightshapes.com
> > Also at: communicatingdesign.com • greenonions.com
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> > List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> > List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
> >
>
>
>
> --
> ~ will
>
> "Where you innovate, how you innovate,
> and what you innovate are design problems"
>
>
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Will Evans | User Experience Architect
> tel: +1.617.281.1281 | will at semanticfoundry.com
> aim: semanticwill | gtalk: wkevans4
> twitter: semanticwill | skype: semanticwill
>
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
----------------------------------------------
Steve 'Doc' Baty B.Sc (Maths), M.EC, MBA
Principal Consultant
Meld Consulting
M: +61 417 061 292
E: stevebaty at meld.com.au

Blog: http://docholdsfourth.blogspot.com

Member, UPA - www.upassoc.org
Member, IA Institute - www.iainstitute.org
Member, IxDA - www.ixda.org
Contributor - UXMatters - www.uxmatters.com

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