UX Designer, Melbourne

Introducing the Ready-made Logo Design Store

I’ve spent the last 4 months working with the talented crew from 99designs.com on what would have to be my proudest professional achievement to date – the Ready-made Logo Design Store. I’m proud because I believe we’ve created a great user experience that delivers exactly what we set out to achieve – a simple, bare bones, focused, and easy-to-use offering. We’ve done this with a small team and in a short period of time. We’ve staged it well, closely collaborating with our design community and managing to collect over 4000 of their unique and stunning logo designs ready to sell to potential buyers.

Screengrab of Ready-made Logo Store Homepage

Ready-made Logo Store Homepage

A lot of the user experience and key interactions are hidden to the general browsing public – they’re behind the designer administration screens (where they upload and manage their logos) and the purchasing and handover processes. Saying that I’d love to hear any thoughts you may have on what you see. I’m expecting the product will not be to some of my colleagues liking but I’m really keen for any feedback you may have.

I think the Ready-made Logo Design store will be a great compliment to the 99designs offering and a big success and I’m looking forward to building on what we’ve achieved to date.

Death to email address re-entry

I hate it when forms like this Oxfam donation form ask me to re-enter or confirm my email address:

Oxfam donation form - email address re-entry fields

I suspected I wasn’t alone so I tweeted to find out what others do when presented with this situation and I have to say I was overwhelmed with the number of responses I received. It seems most people (well I should say most of my online web savvy friends) hate it as well and that they usually copy and paste the email address from the first field into the second. Ctrl A, Ctrl C, Tab, Ctrl V is less keyboard presses than typing an email address and therefore tends to be the preferred approach.

To me the whole idea of re-entering your email address feels like a heavy handed, ill thought out trend that creates more work for the user, doesn’t solve the problem it attempts to, goes against the websites business goals and causes untold pain and wasted time for many *slight exaggeration there perhaps*.

Continue reading…

iPhone weather app – version 2

Given the encouraging feedback and great suggestions I had after publishing my initial iPhone weather app concept it’s full steam ahead with version two. In this version I’ve added more information to the screen yet I’ve tried to reduce the overall visual noise. I’ve mocked up both a sunny and stormy forecast using data from BOM to get a better sense of how it would work with different forecasts.

iPhone weather app screen design - Sunny day forecasted

Sunny day forecasted

iPhone weather app concept showing stormy weather forecast

Storms forecast

The specifics of what I’ve done and the rationale include:

  • Added background photos that represent the overall forecast for the day. They are to instantly communicate what the day is likely to be like for users.
  • Changed the sunrise and sunset text to icons (thanks Brett). Also removed the am and pm from the times, it’s pretty obvious which one is which! Both these changes help to reduce the overall visual noise.
  • I increased the size of the current temperature considerably based on the feedback I received. This is the most important piece of information on the screen for users so make it really pop.
  • I made the forecast maximum temperature bigger, this is because I consider it to be the second most important piece of information on the screen.
  • I aligned the forecast min and max temperatures to the left of the screen with their lines extending full width across. I initially wanted to indicate where the likely peak temperature would be by just having a short line but I feel the projected line as well as the graph are indicators enough. Having them aligned on the left just feels much tidier.
  • For Mr Green I added an umbrella icon which indicates whether you need to pack the wet weather gear or not.
  • I faded out the beginning and end of the graph line as this feels more elegant. Ditto for the hour and noon lines. This again reduces the overall visual noise of the screen.
  • I moved the title bar to the bottom of the screen – the information on it is once off information that once you know becomes insignificant.
  • I added the long version of the forecast on the left-hand side of the screen – I feel this detail is important to have on the screen.
  • Lastly I added the short version of the forecast below the city name in the title bar. Not necessary but it works there.

Love to hear your thoughts and ideas.

iPhone weather app concept

A few thoughts combined today which saw me rapidly put together this initial idea for an iPhone weather app. It’s a hot day here in Melbourne so lots of folks have been checking the weather to see how hot it is and when a change is due. People can get pretty obsessed by the weather, certainly all the users I tested when working on White Pages loved to know what the forecast was and I must admit it’s the first thing I check in the morning so I know what to wear when I hop on the bike and head off to work.

Recently I saw a website that presented the days temperatures on a line graph and I really liked the concept, it’s much nicer to have the days temperature shown on a line graph so you can instantly see how it’s trending. I can’t remember what site I saw it on (I’ll update this post when I find it) but the execution of it wasn’t great. So I thought I’d design something similar for the iPhone (to add to all the weather apps out there) and here is my first draft:

iPhone Weather App Concept

iPhone Weather App Concept

I’ve got a few other ideas I’d like to try incorporating too, like:

  1. Compressing the mornings and elongating the daylight hours – how many people care about the wee hours really. This would make the more relevant information prominent.
  2. Adding the textual forecast information in one of the corners, e.g “Partly cloudy. Winds north to….”
  3. Adding a tiny right-hand side column showing the forecast for the coming few days.

This to me is the ideal home screen for a weather app – all the information I want to know prioritised and presented in an easy to absorb way. What do you think – like it or not? Should I try and develop it? Got any suggestions?

Steve Krug video on usability

This presentation from Steve Krug, author of the wonderful book “Don’t make me think“, is a concise and easy to follow overview of usability testing. Lots of simple, practical things in it for anyone building software/websites who want to create great user experiences. There are some things you would have no doubt heard before but there are a lot of thoughts and approaches that I found were new and valuable for me including:

  • Give up on validity – the usability problems will be so obvious that you won’t need numbers to validate them. Once you give up on validity then you don’t need to worry about questionnaires or surveys. This will save considerable time in the sessions.
  • Just give me one morning a month – I love this idea the most. I’ve often been in the situation where I just can’t seem to convince the client to do user testing so the idea of asking for one morning a month is great – who can refuse that!
  • Only communicate the top 3 problems to stakeholders, if you tell them everything they will be tempted to solve the low hanging fruit and not address the most important usability issues.

Twitter, a network for professional conversation

“The partnership with LinkedIn affirms Twitter’s role as a network for professional conversation.”

This quote from a New York Times article on the partnership between LinkedIn and Twitter stood out for me.

Twitter is often written off (by those who don’t use it) as a personal tool, a way to socialise with friends and mainly for the young kids. I’m 33, married with 2 kids and I use it predominantly as a professional tool. Sure I use it socially as well (who doesn’t want to know where to get the best coffee or a good cheap meal) but I predominantly use it to stay up-to-date on industry news, to ask my colleagues questions and to hear about what they are working on, struggling with etc.

Discount Usability

I’m a huge advocate of user-centered design approaches and techniques and have been ever since I was introduced to them at The Hiser Group. So the recent article Discount Usability by the guru himself Jacob Nielson I think is timely reminder about some of these user centered design approaches and the value they offer. In the article Jacob reflects on the last 20 years in usability and design and how far it has come. Some quotes from it that I find particularly relevant in my day to day work include:

  • “Simple user testing with 5 participants, paper prototyping, and heuristic evaluation offer a cheap, fast, and early focus on usability, as well as many rounds of iterative design.”
  • “Discount usability often gives better results than deluxe usability because its methods drive an emphasis on early and rapid iteration with frequent usability input.”
  • “Most design teams still don’t believe in paper prototyping, preferring instead to spend considerable time creating elaborate design representations before they start collecting user feedback.”
    I can’t emphasise enough how valuable it will be.