One Week

One week of classes left! I have been busy recently with final projects and papers (some parts of which I may post here in the future), but the end is in sight. Meanwhile, a few articles on usability, user experience, and design:

UX Hierarchy of Needs – The author proposes that there is a “UX hierarchy of needs,” namely (from the bottom up) Functionality, Information, Aesthetics, and Usability. The first two are the basic needs, the latter two are the higher needs. However, I’m inclined to switch usability and aesthetics – as a user, I’d rather a system be easy to use than pretty to look at (although aesthetics is more than just “prettiness” – it also encompasses branding).

9 Rules to Make Your Icons Clear and Intuitive – Much more thought and planning goes into (or should go into) those tiny buttons than you might think. This article (same author and site, UXMovement, as above) covers some good basic rules-of-thumb, such as labeling icons, grouping similar icons, and keeping icon order and placement consistent. However, some established icons that break one or more of these rules still work well because so many people know what to look for – the chain link representing the hyperlink, for example, or the ABC for strikethrough. (The author recommends a blue underlined L for the first, and a struck-through S instead of ABC for the latter.)

14 Guidelines for Web Site Tabs Usability – Many sites use tabs for navigation; they are good real-world metaphors (most people are familiar with filing cabinets or binders), they improve content organization, and they are “visually pleasing.” The author outlines some guidelines, illustrating many of his points with appropriate screenshots (remember when Amazon used tabs?). Among these guidelines: tab labels should be 1-2 words, in plain language; tags should be organized in an order that makes sense to users, and related tags can be grouped; and the active and inactive tabs should be clearly indicated so the user can tell what section of the website they are currently in.

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