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The Basics of Usability

 

Having lived through the transition from dialup to wi-fi, this reading was especially interesting for me. It helped me see how the websites from my childhood, with basic text boxes and confusing prompts, to the smooth user experience we enjoy today were the result of meticulous work by professional writers and designers.

The readings start off with User Experience Basics, which introduces the idea of User Experience (UX) as a means of tailoring a product to its users. The core requirements, as explained by Peter Morville’s ‘User Experience Honeycomb’ are that information should be useful, usable, credible, findable, desirable and accessible. There are also many aspects of UX that are still being built on, such as User Research and Visual Design.

The User Centered Design Basics go into the process of creating UX and provides a starting point for how to incorporate it in our own work. It goes through four steps, which are to be iterated over many models. These steps are: understanding the users need, considering what may be required from the standpoint of business expectations, finding the solutions and building a design using them and lastly, evaluation of these solutions by both the designer, and especially the user/users of the product. This process does not need to be done in any rigid or specific way. It can be changed and improved upon to fit the needs of the user and the product itself.

The next page had to do with Visual Design Basics. This is a part of design that is often underestimated, since most people know what looks good and therefore assume they can produce it as well. The article spoke about how various things, from the font (typography) to the lines in a visual design can lend themselves to it. It also touched upon the broader elements, such as balance and Gestalt, which is the overall design of a page that is created by its elements. Proper execution of these basics can create a highly successful and effective visual design experience for a user. If it is not done properly, however, a site can end up looking confusing or unpleasant, affecting the user experience.

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A poorly designed web page

The last assigned reading was on accessibility, which is much easier to achieve with all the tools found in our computers today. The disabled have a right to access to every resource that is available online and elsewhere, and therefore design aspects need to address this. Anything from having transcripts and subtitles, to making sure that color and text are not the sole ways to navigate the site. This also requires integration of all these aspects into all the pages on the site, rather than just one specific page.

Reading about User Interface Basics helped me understand that the best interface is one that the user doesn’t notice. As I have seen in my own experience, with products like the iPhone or Facebook, the interface is designed in a way that is intuitive and easy to navigate. This is done so well in these and some other cases that it is easily taken for granted, unless it is contrasted with a poor user interface, which makes the distinction clear. This can include buttons, icons, list boxes and is present in everything from the font to the layout of a page.

The Information Architecture Basics article went a step further to explain how information interacts with other information in a page. This needs to be seen through the lens of the user as well, so that it can follow a linear pattern and be easy for the user to access. If done improperly, it can lead to confusion overall. To carry this out, the designer needs an understanding of how the information is structured and how it is likely to be accessed. If done successfully, it makes the information easy to retrieve and interact with, so that the user does not have any problems accessing what they need.

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Facebook’s mobile app, a well designed and easy user experience

Questions:

  1. This post mentions specific experiences. Are there any specific experiences that came to mind while reading the main articles? How did they inform your understanding of the articles?
  2. How does the accessibility page expand on our previous readings? Could anything be added to it?
  3. The article on Visual Design Basics mentions typography (fonts, size, alignment, color, spacing), how does this relate to your experience in professional writing so far?
  4. What additions would you suggest to the User-Centered Design Process, drawing from processes you may have used or still use?
  5. The User Experience Honeycomb lays out the main aspects of information that make it valuable. Would you add to it? Were there aspects you didn’t fully agree with? If so, why?

 

 

 

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