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A few years back, I found the University Minnesota Deluth Web Design References below. The reference is well organized and provides quick access to best practice when it comes to usability. For more helpful references visit http://www.d.umn.edu/itss/support/Training/Online/webdesign/sitemap.html.

– Enjoy

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I recently attended a sketch boarding workshop with Leah Buley from Adaptive Path. Sketch boarding is a collaborative design technique developed to capture concepts, iterate through lo-fidelity comps and work toward more detailed interfaces. A sketch-boarding sprint could be as short as 5 days which works well with agile development teams.

Sketchboarding combines…

  • Agility and creative exploration of paper prototyping
  • Structured IA, content inventory, and user flows
  • A dash of UCD with persona integration
  • Group collaboration with a twist of affinity diagramming

You will need some tools:

  • Sharpie markers (no pencils here imperfection allowed)
  • Grey markers (emphasize elements of our concepts)
  • Highlighters (highlight important ideas of course)
  • lots of paper (start over as needed)
  • drafting dots (get those ideas an a wall and take a look)

The method is agile and collaborative. At first you warm up with illustrating ideas using a technique that can best be described as a mashup of Pictionary and Telephone. Then you move on to lof-fi line and shape drawing exercises.

Once the group has become comfortable with the tools and the materials you are ready to iterate.
The goal is to capture as many ideas as possible for the product or interface you are designing for. Ideally, you are all working from he same playbook which might be some foundational idea of a product and target audience.

In our workshop, we outlined a list of ideas and developed a lo-fi persona to keep us on track. There were many ideas developed but utilizing large sheets of craft paper and many sticky notes, we were able to quickly organize those concepts into main functional areas.

We moved to the critique phase where criticisms were welcome and well documented with more stickies and from that we identified problem themes that brought us back to reality without hurting anyone’s feelings.

The process was surprisingly simple, effective and cathartic. If your company is agile and is not sketch boarding, you’re not getting the most from your designers, product managers, and engineers.

Listen to an interview with Leah : Good Design Faster with Leah Buley

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Great Presentation from Kansas State University’s Dr. Michael Wesch, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology.

Presented at the 2009 Personal Democracy Forum at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Dr. Wesch explains the effects of social media and digital technology on global society and culture. Understanding the impact of social media in our culture and the subsequent rise in narcissistic expressions like “what-EVER” underscores the importance of answering the “What’s in it for me” question when engaging your target audience.

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Wired recently asked leading designers to give Craigslist a user-interface lift. Again – why?

Wow, what a problem to have. 7 billion page views per month but your site is aesthetically bland; subjectively “busy”; perceived, by some, as hard to use.

What about the page views? They account for something. I suspect people are getting things done on craigslist and getting things done easily. There are literally thousands of websites that cannot seem to offer even a basic value proposition and deliver on it with simple effective utility.

Usability still eludes major company business year after year. Microsoft continues to sell applications that are unreliable, hard to use, and filled with features the majority of their users will never use and people focus their energy on Craigslist aesthetics. That explains a lot about the current state of usability for the majority of websites and applications today.

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Many Agile organizations often start requirements with the “User Story” assuming the user is whomever they imagine the user to be. The problem with this assumption is that each member of the scrum team is imagining the same person. Here is a great presentation from Alice Toth, Senior User Experience Designer, Pathfinder Development, that walks us through an approach that will ground the scrum with a shared understanding of whom they’re building the software for.

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After I discovered Apple’s Garageband and figured out how to mic my guitar and hook up a keyboard, I started to record melodies and arrangements when I thought of them. The cool thing was having the ability to quickly capture those ideas. Here is a collection of short musical “Rock Ideas”.

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After I discovered Apple’s Garageband and figured out how to mic my guitar and hook up a keyboard, I started to record melodies and arrangements when I thought of them. The cool thing was having the ability to quickly capture those ideas. Here is a collection of short musical “Rock Ideas”.

Read more