Back to the Floor In the late 90s, there was a reality TV show on BBC2 called Back to the Floor. In the show, a senior manager would spend a few days working in a more regular role in their company. A typical episode might feature the boss of Sainsbury's stacking shelves, working on a… Continue reading What can user researchers learn from reality TV?
Standardisation Standardisation makes many administrative processes better. If people are submitting forms, it's easier to process those forms when they follow a standard design. If students want to find out the time and place of their lectures, they want that information in a standard way. Technology has a bias towards the pursuit of standardisation, partly… Continue reading Standards: sometimes good, sometimes bad
Sometimes I write instructions for software; generally this is just a series of steps with screenshots showing where to click. I'm a big fan of screenshots for this sort of thing. Way better to show an image of a red button than just describe it in words. Here's how I do my screenshots these days: All of the… Continue reading Dimmed screenshots
Car design Henry Ford famously dismissed listening to his customers, saying that if he'd bothered asking them, they'd have asked for faster horses. An early episode of The Simpsons riffed on this idea: Homer was brought into his brother's car company as a man of the people and asked to design exactly the kind of… Continue reading On listening
Self checkout machines, once an amusing novelty, are now just another mundane fact of life. A harried clerk rushes between impatient, sighing customers. The customers put unexpected items in the bagging area. The machine sits stupidly, admonishing us, eating our money, spitting out change, and, in the meantime, taking our jobs. These machines obviously raise questions about human labour.… Continue reading How to make self checkouts better, in 4 easy steps
I wrote a while ago about dominant design, whereby one design becomes the standard way of doing things. In that post, I gave examples of play/stop/pause icons on media players, qwerty keyboards and traffic lights, though there are plenty of other examples out there. One thing I didn't mention was the distinction between these two:… Continue reading De facto standards for search engines, and why it doesn’t hurt to follow them
I happened across the (now defunct) website of Brooklyn-based designer Frank Chimero the other day. It's a nice site, pleasing to look at, easy to navigate and so on. But what interested me most was this, on the about page: "This site is an attempt to produce a contemporary personal website. I tried to avoid simplification and… Continue reading Learning from the Eames about information design