User Experience News

Here’s a collection of user interface news, as aggregated by AllTop. I take no responsibility for the content, but it’s usually very good.

Show Your Work: Demonstrating Progress on Your Projects

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how actual progress on a project doesn’t always match the impression of progress—sometimes a lot of code has changed but nothing looks very different, while other times a small change in code gives the sense that the whole project has moved leaps and bounds.

This came up recently because of how my team had been prioritizing bug fixes on a responsive redesign project. Our normal process is that after sharing an early version of a responsive prototype with the client or internal stakeholder, we create a ton of bug reports (GitHub issues, in our case) that act as to-dos as we move through the project. Depending on the project, the issues are usually grouped by content type (“all the variations of portfolio styles”) or by section (“all the sidebars”). The highest priority issues are any that block other people from doing their work, and after that, order of fixing is largely left to the discretion of the developer.

On this particular project, lots of fixes were being committed and pushed out to the development site, but when I reloaded the pages nothing looked very different. Two weeks passed and everything still looked pretty much the same. I knew work was being done, but I couldn’t see where.

Finally, exasperated at what seemed like a lack of progress, I asked the team why they hadn’t fixed what felt like a huge, obvious bug to me: images were being scaled to larger than their actual image size at some breakpoints and looked pixelated and crappy. “Oh,” one developer said, “that’s a popcorn task: super easy and fast, and I like to leave those fixes to the end. I start with the complicated issues first so I have the most time to work on them.” Another developer explained that the display bugs in the header and main navigation weren’t slated to be addressed until she had finished styling the news archives.

When it comes to front-end development, many of the trickiest issues are subtle—the way a table resizes at a middle breakpoint, or line heights adjust as the viewport size changes. On this site, the glaring issues that were clearest to a non-developer—the ratio of column widths, wonky margins, and broken images—kept getting shoved to the back of the queue, where it looked to me (and our client) like no one was paying attention to them. And of course an ugly and broken header is going to stay that way as long as the team is focused on styling the news section instead.

For the next few weeks of the project, we tried something new and tagged some of the issues as “visually important.” Those issues got addressed early even if they were simple or not part of the section in focus, based on our judgment that fixing them would add to the impression of progress on the development site. Each week when I reviewed the site, I saw headers now properly aligned, new snazzy CSS transitions, and trendy border-radiused circular profile images.

By the end of the phase, we had fixed all the same bugs that we normally would have. But by strategically addressing the visually obvious issues, we created an external sense of progress for our stakeholders that was a more accurate reflection of the amount of work going into the code.

Iteration is a hot topic right now, and many of us are moving toward sharing earlier and messier versions of a site with our stakeholders. We put a lot of care and attention on crafting a great user experience, but the end user isn’t the only one who needs to be pleased with the site. It’s worth adjusting the processes around how we present and work with rough prototypes in a way that provides a good client experience as well.

Tiga: Bugatti

Since it's Friday, why not take a look at Tiga's music video for Bugatti (produced in collaboration DIVISION)? As Vice says, "it's like a Wes Anderson movie on techno and acid".

Warning: Potentially NSFW, depending on where you W.

Apple Watch to iPhone home screen prototype

Inspired by an article on 9to5Mac, Lucas Menge has built a working replica of the upcoming Apple Watch UI on the iPhone. Looks slick, but we're not convinced that it's usable (yet). (Grab the sourcecode here)

Painting with fire

A video portrait (produced byPatrick Peris) of Steve Spazuk and his unique painting techniques:

Need More than Automatic R2V for AutoCAD?

Need More than Automatic R2V for AutoCAD?

Designing and coordinating in CAD applications usually requires that you print and share information in analog form. But, paper documents can be disruptive to your digital workflow, often requiring you to redraw the technical plans to accommodate late design changes or changes made on-site.  Scanning the marked-up paper originals makes it easier to integrate your project into CAD, letting you save significant amount of time by not having to redraw.

If you’re an AutoCAD® user, AutoCAD® Raster Design lets you convert raster images into DWG™ objects using powerful vectorization tools.  When you have just a few drawings to convert, you can easily edit, enhance, and maintain scanned drawings and plans in a familiar AutoCAD environment. This lets you make the most of raster images, maps, aerial photos, satellite imagery, and digital elevation models.

The AutoCAD® website lists the following features in Raster Design:

Timesaving image display features - Use a wide range of image data with raster-to-vector conversion software. Embed images, insert and export images, and display image subsets with a polygonal mask boundary.

  • Image editing and cleanup - Despeckle, bias, mirror, and touch up your images.
  • Raster Entity Manipulation (REM) -  Use standard AutoCAD commands on raster regions and primitives. Easily erase raster images, lines, arcs, and circles.
  • Vectorization tools -  Create lines and polylines from raster images, and convert raster files into vector drawings.
  • Image transformation functionality -  Display and analyze geo-referenced images when AutoCAD Raster Design is used with AutoCAD Civil 3D civil engineering design software and AutoCAD Map 3D mapping software.

Bowling Script

“Mute” for Bowling ScriptI’m not sure I completely understand what “Mute” is, but it appears to be a kind of promotion for the typeface Bowling Script by Alejandro Paul of Argentina’s Sudtipos type foundry. “Mute” describes itself as “a visual essay conceived from the design of a phone case whose function is not to protect it but silence…

Serial’s True Detectives

Adnan SyedToday is Thursday, which means another episode of my favorite new weekly show: “Serial,” a podcast spinoff from public radio institution “This American Life.” The premise of “Serial,” now on its sixth episode, is the examination of a single, true story for twelve episodes, with each installment shedding more and more light on its events…

Can Technology Change the Experience of Writing?

October 30, 2014

My life as a writer began on paper. Some of my earliest memories are of writing short stories on worksheets in elementary school. By the time I was in high school, I was filling marbled composition books with obscure confessional poetry (none of it embarrassing to revisit now). In college, I started modeling my behavior after downtrodden lions like Henry Miller and Charles Bukowski, drinking beer and scribbling in notebooks with worn down pencils late into the night.

I was studying journalism and had the good fortune to take classes from a grizzled old newsman who pounded into our heads the notion that newswriting was a trade, not some ego trip. Plumbers have their tools and reporters have theirs. Both jobs rely on understanding the how systems work. The plumber knows how to route water and the newsman can dig up facts and fit them into the inverted more
By Josh Tyson | UX Magazine


Global Social Media Impact Study

gsmisThe Global Social Media Impact Study based at the UCL Department of Anthropology (London, UK) is dedicated to understanding the implications of social networking sites for global humankind and society, and explaining their significance for the future of the social sciences. Nine simultaneous ethnographies take place in eight different countries around the world – Brazil, […]

Graphic novel explains our role in the world of Big Data

Terms-of-Service-350x307Big Data powers the modern world. What do we gain from Big Data? What do we lose? Al Jazeera America examines the role of technology and the implications of sharing personal information in the network’s first graphic novella, Terms of Service: Understanding Our Role in the World of Big Data. The new comic novella, available […]