Nordic Design

Design, Music and Life, by Alex Lillo

A bit of music – Poliça

According to the blog’s tagline this is also about music, so here’s one of my favourite bands of the last 6 months, Poliça.

 

It’s not me, it’s you Feedburner

I still use feedburner to serve my blog’s feed, but given that Google stopped supporting it like 2 years ago, it’s time to move on. I will delete the feedburner feed soon, so please update whatever you use to read me to the new url:

http://www.nordic-design.net/feed/

BTW, you probably already use it but I recommend Feedly, a great free feed reader.

On lean and documentation

Andi Plantenberg from Neo writes about using lean UX on secret project where you can’t get out of the building to validate your hypothesis. There’s a paragraph I particularly like about fidelity and documentation:

Work low-fi. It’s important to acknowledge that the starting vision is wrong, wrong, wrong. It will need to change as you’re building. So we work fast, low-fi and towards a common goal. We think aloud as a group, favor white-boarding to wireframes, favor hacking up screenshots rather than maintaining PSD masters. We favor the product over design artifacts and documentation. Get over it. Your product is the documentation.

Unfortunately not everybody understands this reality, and we have to educate a few clients overcome their fears about the lack of documentation. Good progress is being made though, and I expect that in a few years those that understand and embrace digital will prevail over their more traditional, documentation-heavy colleagues.

MailChimp Pattern Library

MailChimp’s pattern library is public and if you want inspiration about how to use one, or maybe you need to create one, you should definitely check it.

The MailChimp Pattern Library is a byproduct of our move to a responsive, nimble, and intuitive app. Constant iteration requires both an efficient workflow and a well defined collection of atomic elements that can assemble new UIs quickly without accruing new technical or design debt.

 

 

pattern_library_mailchimp

A More Robust Design Process with Use Cases

Digital projects vary in shape and size. Some allow you to keep a lean and simple process, whilst others require a more robust approach. Those normally involve hordes of Business Analysts, so I thought it would be a good idea to study their process and see if I can reuse something.

There are times when it’s difficult to draw a line between BA and UX. Business Analysts define a system’s behaviour and thus they’re designing it. We do that too, but we approach it from a very different angle. Nonetheless some of their tools could be useful in complex UX projects, and there’s one that interests me especially: the use case.

Use cases in the design process

Use cases come in many flavours, but normally have a combination of: plain English descriptions of what a page or functionality should do, flowcharts, data formats, user stories explaining the actor, narrative and goal, and basic and alternative flows.

Use cases are goal-oriented, and that’s great because the majority of our work as designers is too. We specialise in solving problems, and many times that involves designing tasks so users can fulfill their goals. Describing what happens in a task step by step, considering not only your Sunny Day cases but also the infrequent ones, exceptions, etc., can only help your design process.

I like to list the key functionality of a system with all the imaginable scenarios, and then check whether the experience of use is correct or not for all of them. I consider things like: accessing via google, session time-out, logged-in and out status, first-time or recurrent visit, no network, etc.

It’s incredibly useful to define those scenarios and subsequent workflows with your client, and then sketch some quick solutions. Having a common understanding of how a task can be solved will bring you two benefits:

  • Your process is more transparent, and you won’t be seen as a magician
  • Your will get client buy-in, as you defined the solution together

In some circumstances I use user stories, as they are easy to understand from a developer to a senior stakeholder. User stories normally look like this:

  • As a…
  • I want to achieve …
  • So I do …

And example could be:

As a logged-in customer, I want review my previous orders, so I can reorder them.

As you can see, there’s a clear goal your user want to achieve, to reorder past orders, and you write the story around it. The story should obviously be aligned with your requirements, and based on the user needs and goals identified during the research phase.

Tell me how big you are…

Your project’s scale should dictate how deep you want to get into the use cases. For a simple redesign user stories will bring focus and help convey the important messages or functionality. It will also help you make less mistakes.

Bigger projects will benefit of a more expanded approach with user flows and document maps, turning vague wireframes into more structured and documents that can more easily be digested by developers.

Large-scale ones will inevitably require the involvement of BA’s, so in this case you’ll need to sit together and decide who can bring what, separate responsibilities and clearly define:

  • How your design and analysis processes are going to work together
  • What your final deliverables are going to look like.

And remember, these are just suggestions. There are no clear rules for each case. You’ll always have to analyse the project and audience, adapting your design process with the best weapons of your toolbox.

Fun at the races

Sometimes what happens around Formula 1 is more interesting that the actual races. In case you haven’t followed last week’s Indian GP, there was a heated incident in the Lotus team. This happened later:

We bumped into Eric Boullier at the airport and could not stop ourselves saying: “Get out of the f@*king way!”, which raised a resigned smile from the Lotus team principal.

Via the always interesting Joe Saward.

Some photographs of St Albans

I finally spent some time processing the pictures I’ve taken during the last 2 months, since we moved to St Albans. Only 4 passed the pre-selection, but I’m quite happy with them. Hope you like them as well.

 

That time of the day

 

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Responsive inspector for Chrome

A pretty cool extension for Chrome, that allows you to view what media queries a website is using, quickly view the specific CSS code for a particular breakpoint, resize your browser and take screenshots of the whole page at a particular size. Great for testing and for documenting!

Check the video for the features or download the extension on the Chrome Store.

Via Talentopoly.

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