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Design Tidbits

Updated: October 22, 2013

The Design Tidbits section offers a growing selection of articles centered around UI and graphic design.


Recent Additions

VisualEyes: Introduction and First "Hands-On" Experiences

VisualEyesOctober 16/22, 2013: In this two-part article, our author briefly introduces the Web-based authoring tool VisualEyes, which was developed at the University of Virginia under Bill Ferster's lead. In contrast to other visualization tools, VisualEyes is particularly well suited to visualizing historical processes with multimedia support, and is aimed primarily at students of the humanities. In the second part of his article, he presents and comments on his own first "hands-on" experiences with VisualEyes.

Read part I of the article Read part II of the article

Biomimic Infographics

Biomimic infographSeptember 5, 2013: In this article, our author reports on Pete Denman's presentation on biomimic infographics at the Interaction 2012 conference in Dublin, Ireland. While his new infographic, or infograph for short, is definitely not prototypical, it attracted a great deal of attention at the conference because of its outstanding characteristics. According to Denman, it "takes advantage of biomimic techniques and delivers complex data sets in an easily understood way."

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Error Handling

Warning dialogJuly 18, 2013: There is a saying used by user experience professionals that goes: "There are no user errors, only designer errors". The idea here is that human errors are systematic and predictable based on an understanding of human perceptual, cognitive and motor capabilities and constraints, and can thus usually be "designed out" of a user interface design prior to launching a software application or Website. In this article, Rikke Friis Dam from IDF presents two key aspects of error handling, error prevention and error recovery, and provides 6+1 ways to respond to user errors and aid in error recovery.

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Password Usability: To Protect or Prohibit?

Diolog for entering a passwordMay 3, 2013: We are required to use an increasing number of user names, passwords and PINs in our daily lives. We use them for logging on to computers and networks, specific applications and Websites, bank cards, mobile phones and even entry door systems. In this article, Rikke Friis Dam from IDF explains "What you should take into account when designing password input forms."

How to Increase Online Sales?

Registration dialog fpr prospective customersMay 2, 2013: In this short article, Rikke Friis Dam from IDF explains that "making customers register before they checkout is a barrier to purchase" – and provides some evidence for it.

Progressive Disclosure

Prograssive disclosure in MetroApril 23, 2013: How can you best provide a lot of information without overloading the user? One possible answer to this question is Progressive disclosure. In her article, Rikke Friis Dam not only explains this technique from the very beginnings of graphical users interfaces, she also points out that mobile has breathed new life into it.

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User Experience and Experience Design

From the Why to the What and the How: Three levels to consider when designing technology-mediated experiences.April 9, 2013: The extensive challenge designers and vendors of interactive products face is that "Experience or User Experience" is not about good industrial design, multi-touch, or fancy interfaces. "It is about transcending the material. It is about creating an experience through a device", states Marc Hassenzahl in his book on "User Experience and Experience Design" in the Interaction Design Foundation's (IDF) encyclopedia. Rikke Friis Dam's article is a condensed version of some of Marc's points – focusing on his simple conceptual model of Why, What and How as a starting point for the Experience Designer.

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Responsive (Web) Design

Flexible siteDecember 18, 2012: In this article, our author provides an introduction to "responsive design," or "responsive Web design," which has lately stirred up quite a bit of interest in the design community. When he first encountered this term, he assumed that it denoted design strategies for making software applications and Websites more responsive to user actions. Since he had spent some time on a project investigating perceived performance (PeP), this association appeared only "natural" to him. A closer look, however, revealed to him that the term "responsive design" refers to something quite different. In the article, he gives away what the term "responsive (Web) design" actually means, explains what the goals and ingredients of this design strategy are, shows examples of how it is applied, and finally takes a look at how this strategy is discussed in the design community.

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A Humanistic Framework for Design

Grid of affordancesSeptember 6, 2012: In her book Inventing the Medium – Principles of Interaction Design as a Cultural Practice, Janet H. Murray outlines a new (she calls it "innovative") framework for design, in which she adopts a humanistic instead of a social science or industrial design perspective. In this article, which complements our review of Murray's book, our author wants to briefly outline this approach because it differs considerably from typical HCI-oriented design approaches that currently dominate the UI design field.

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Introduction to Design Thinking

Design Thinking processSeptember 1, 2012: Design Thinking is one of the more recent buzz words in the design community. In this introductory article, our author investigates what Design Thinking is, what its main characteristics are, and takes a look at the process and the methods associated with it. He also takes a brief look at the history of Design Thinking.

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Eurovision Song Contest 2012 and NodeXL: A Second Brief Encounter

ESC 2012 voting dataJuly 3, 2012: Last year, our author wrote a two-part article about this visualization tool and applied it to the European Song Contest (ESC) 2011 voting data. This year, he adds one more article on this topic to his collection, in which he applies the tool to the ESC 2012 voting data. The main goal of this article is to look for some differences and similarities between both years' voting data and to inspire readers to conduct further explorations and comparisons of their own.

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