Article: Alan Cooper and the Goal Directed Design Process

This article was published in 2001 by Hugh Dubberly (Cybernetics, Stanford HCI) and is a summary of Alan Cooper’s influential design philosophies as well as a short profile and history of Cooper himself.

Cooper advocates five significant changes to the conventional methods of software development in his goal-directed design process: 

1. Design first; program second.

2. Separate responsibility for design from responsibility for programming.

3. Hold designers responsible for product quality and user satisfaction.

4. Define one specific user for your product; then invent a persona—give that user a name and an environment and derive his or her goals.

5. Work in teams of two: designer and design communicator.

We’ve come far since Cooper originally published his book 15 years ago, but old habits die hard. In the last year, I’ve worked with a number of companies and startups that continue to make mistakes like programming first and designing second.

Again, here’s the link to the full article.

Article: “Designer Duds — Losing our Seat at the Table”

A meditation on what it means to do “design” in light of a number of high-profile, highly “designed” apps that have been turned out to be completely useless and mostly just pretty. The apps in question are Dropbox’s Carousel photo app, Facebook’s Paper app, and Biz Stone’s Jelly app. 

In reference to these apps, the author asks:

Again one wonders: what were they designing for? What outcomes did they hope to catalyze through the software and service? Whose life will be improved, or even affected? How seriously are they even taking this?

This article is another important reminder that “design” ought to be user-oriented, empathetic, and human. Not simply a “beautiful” solution to a nonexistent problem. 

In order to avoid losing its place atop organizations, design must deliver resultsDesigners must also accept that if they don’t, they’re not actually designing well; in technology, at least, the subjective artistry of design is mirrored by the objective finality of use data. A “great” design which produces bad outcomes —low engagement, little utility, few downloads, indifference on the part of the target market— should be regarded as a failure.

"Design must deliver results." Amen. 

Read the full article here at Quora.

Article: “Recruiting a Designer? Here’s What You Should Know”

This article breaks down all the different kinds of designers that someone might be referring to when they say, “I need a designer” in the tech industry.

It goes over the following different kinds of designers:

  • User Experience (UX) Designer
  • User Interface (UI) Designer
  • Visual Designer / Graphic Designer
  • Interaction Designer / Motion Designer
  • User Researcher / UX Researcher
  • Front-End Developer / UI Developer
  • Product Designer

…Yes, they are all different!

This is a great article to send to someone who approaches you for a design job, but might not know exactly what they need or want. :)

Read the full article here.

Article: “From Google Ventures: 5 Rules for Writing Great Interface Copy”

TL;DR:

  1. Clarity is king. (Be specific, avoid jargon/abbreviations, important words in the front, don’t use defaults when you can be more specific.)
  2. Personality doesn’t matter as much as you think. "Personality" can sometimes mean less clarity.
  3. Just tell me. Add headlines and help text.
  4. By the way, people do read. Copy makes you look legitimate, so don’t be afraid of big blocks of text (when appropriate and clear).
  5. Writing is part of the design process. It doesn’t come at the beginning, the middle, or the end. It happens throughout.

Plus: An interesting case study on Blue Bottle Coffee wherein including the founding story on the homepage of their website made them seem more serious and legitimate.

Read the full article here.

Article: Ten CSS One-Liners to Replace Native Apps

Written by the father of CSS himself, Håkon Wium Lie. 

Deferring figures? This is all news to me. O_O

Also, he calls CSS poetry:

To me, this is where CSS code morphs into poetry: one succinct line of code scales from the narrowest phone to the widest TV, from the small print to text for the visually impaired. 

..It’s true. So beautiful and simple and elegant.. *____*

Read the full article here!

Article: “Why Apple’s Swift Language Will Instantly Remake Computer Programming:

TL;DR:

Swift is built specifically for programming iOS devices. Compared to the current language used to program iOS devices, Objective-C, it’s easier and faster for a number of reasons:

  • More regular syntax. Swift features a more regular syntax than Objective-C.
  • Already linked with developer tools. Swift is faster, because it’s already linked with a number of other developer tools, like an IDE and a debugger.
  • Way faster, easier to learn, and easier to find errors. Swift comes with Playground, an interface that allows you to write your code on one side of the screen and instantly see the results on the other side.

Read the full article here.

Google’s “Material Design”

Google recently (relatively..) released their Material Design Guidelines for all Android developers to follow when developing in apps.

In truth, I found the document to be full and rich of overall good design principles. They’ve taken high-level concepts about what good design is and provided very detailed tips and guidelines on how to actually implement them.

They get into the nitty gritty of how to use height, width, depth (down to the level of blur you should use to convey a particular position in z-space!), color, typography, etc. to communicate a clear content hierarchy. 

Love it.

Peruse the guidelines yourself (it’ll take you some time) at http://www.google.com/design/

You can also download their Material Design PDF directly here.

How to Design Good UI: Pretend the User is Drunk

Some great quotes:

  • "One important thing about the drunk is that he is not an idiot. A person with an IQ of 160 who is drunk, still has an IQ of 160. They just get more pedantic and more annoyed."
  • "Don’t lie. Don’t screw up the little things. ‘User friendly’ doesn’t mean over-simplified. Clever, picky users give great feedback."

Article “Designer’s Toolkit: Road Testing Prototype Tools”

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This is a great article from the Cooper Journal exploring various prototyping apps out there. Though it was written a year ago, I still found it immensely helpful in its level of detail in explaining the differences, pros, and cons or each prototyping app out there.

For what I’m looking for at the moment (designing a prototype of a mobile app), it looks like Axure is the best option that I’m familiar with, but proto.io looks pretty robust as well so I’ll check it out. Most of the other prototyping apps won’t work because they either a) don’t allow you to prototype all the interactions you need to prototype, such as gestures, or b) they are made for prototyping websites only.

Read the full report here.