Do users change their settings?
Jared Spool has a new post about UIE’s research around default settings. They found that users rarely change settings. I’d known this was true a while ago, but have recently wondered whether this is still true, since some users are more sophisticated now, and use multiple devices. Nope. Jared says:
…one category of people who almost always changed their settings: programmers and designers. They often had changed more than 40% (and some had changed as much as 80%) of the options in the program.
It seems programmers and designers like to customize their environment. Who would’ve guessed? Could that be why they chose their profession?
(Big takeaway: If you’re a programmer or designer, then you’re not like most people. Just because you change your settings in apps you use doesn’t mean that your users will, unless they are also programmers and designers.)
There are never enough reminders that designers are not their users.
Scott Berkun’s post hits all the right points. As an ex-googler, I can relate, although I was a post-ipo employee, hired when the big G really was already the big G. Scott points out that Google doesn’t sound like a startup anymore – it sounds mature:
But what is telling from the short announcement posted today, is how mature Google has become. We have on our hands a very straightforward, positively spun, corporate press release, that reads much like what Microsoft or Procter & Gamble might say.
But he really sums it all up later:
The question is whether the people working at the old company are the right ones to keep working at the new company formed by success of the old. And when the path for how ideas get out the door changes, for better or worse, all the wise creatives ask “where is it exactly that I’m working?”
That is most certainly the question.
Genius presentation by Austin Kleon.
An artist is a collector. Not a hoarder, mind you, there’s a difference: hoarders collect indiscriminately, the artist collects selectively. They only collect things that they really love. There’s an economic theory out there that if you take the incomes of your five closest friends and average them, the resulting number will be pretty close to your own income. I think the same thing is true of our idea incomes. You’re only going to be as good as the stuff you surround yourself with.
From Christian Annyas’ blog comes a great collection of logo designs – showing how well Saul Bass’s work has stood the test of time.
15 years after Bass’ death 13 of the 23 logos displayed above still remain the same (this also includes refreshed logos), 6 logos ‘died’ when companies went bankrupt or merged with others. Only 4 logos were replaced by completely redesigned versions. Most significant proof of a job well done is the longevity of Bass’ logos. The average lifespan of the 23 logos on this page is 34 years.
The only thing I can say is, wow.
Great post by Dr. Susan Weinschenk about The Four Types of Creativity.
Creativity can be either emotionally or cognitively based, and it can also be spontaneous or deliberate. That gives you the four quadrants.
Its fascinating, especially because I can point to specific times where I’ve had moments in all quadrants.
Dan Saffer of Kicker Studio written a great blog post about what separates a good designer from a great one, and I want to jump on the bandwagon (and get there myself.) Especially for innies, I think we compromise because we are supposed to collaborate, and do whats best for every team, balancing user needs against business needs. And really, whats good for the user should be the business need, but I digress.
Dan lists six characteristics that make a great designers, and one sticks out for me:
Discernment. Knowing what is tasteful, and what isn’t. Knowing what is usable and what isn’t. Knowing what is beautiful, and what isn’t. These are subjective, but great design requires a point of view. If you don’t know what a great product looks or feels like, how can you design one?
There is something to be said for our own innate talent as designers. Sometimes we just know…
Phil Edelstein and Chris Fernandez (client and designer) have written a sharp article explaining how they made their relationship work. They divide their process into stages, and I especially appreciate Chris describing how he built the relationship even before he got the project.
“Even before the project went to RFP (request for proposal), I used Twitter to maintain a connection and begin sending Phil relevant articles with ecommerce best practices and examples, understanding visual hierarchy and user interface design, and the all-important, if not terribly sexy, checkout flow design. Happily, he seemed to accept them rapturously.”
You can even do this to build credibility within your organization (if you’re an innie.) I used to send around emails to the UX team at eBay, and not only did we engage in great discussions but it helped the other teams respect my team and our opinions.
Mike Monteiro from Mule Design has written a killer piece about critiquing work.
“Good feedback relates back to goals and user needs. Bad feedback is subjective and prescriptive…Avoid personal preferences: “I hate green.” There is absolutely nothing I can do with that statement other than feel sorry for you because there are some very nice green things in the world. Like money—which you’re now wasting by giving me bad feedback.”
I’m all over this – design reviews are my thing! A few years back I gave a preso at the IA Summit (with Lucas Pettinati) that also touches on how to talk about designs. We talk about the difference between giving your personal opinion and giving constructive (and actionable) feedback.
Scott Berkun also has a great post about design critiques where he talks about rules and goals.
“Start with clarifying questions…Listen before speaking…
Avoid statements that refer to absolutes. Instead, make points referent to the goals of the design. Example: bad: “This sucks and it’s ugly” good: “Well, if the goal is to make this feel friendly, black and flaming red doesn’t convey that to me.”
Finally, copying Mary Poppins, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. So start with something nice ok? I like to sandwich the feedback: positive, then critical, then positive. Trust me – it helps.