The Mythical User

Taking the mystery out of User-Centered Design

Book Review: Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

When I am teaching art to kids, they frequently ask me “Is this right?” or “Is it done?” or “How do I know if it’s good?”. My answer to them is always the same – you’re the artist, you tell me. Only the artist can know when art is done, and only the artist’s heart knows when it’s right. The kids usually react one of two ways – they’re either relieved to have complete freedom, or they’re horrified at the lack of judgement.  I can tell a lot about the kids and about their parents, by those reactions.

User experience isn’t quite the same. It isn’t art.  It’s right when it’s easy, it’s never done, and it’s good if the users are delighted at the end, and if the business wins too. I like to say that UX is 50% science and 50% art, but it’s probably more 75/25.  We user experience designers rarely experience artistic freedom because we are not serving ourselves.

At the same time, it is the UX person’s job to become as expert in the field as possible, so that they can make split-second decisions. Companies, especially those who haven’t had a UX person before, are very critical of a UX person who isn’t right with these split-second decisions.

This is where Malcom Gladwell’s Blink comes in.  Blink talks about the difference between conscious deliberation – the gathering of data, weighing and analyzing, and then choosing a course of action – and instinctive judgement.  Gladwell explains that instinctive judgement can be much, much more powerful in the right circumstances and coming from the right person.

As UX designers, when we’re called on to quickly decide whether a form field should be a dropdown or radio buttons (both valid choices for most circumstances) our subconscious processes a million pieces of experience stored in our supercomputer noggins, and spits out an answer.  Gladwell says this is a great use of instinct – it’s that primal reflex built into us since the dawn of time.  We look like we’re pulling it out of thin air, but in reality we have processed this and our split judgement has an answer at the ready.  This is “thinking without thinking” in Gladwell’s world.

However, the business world has taught us not to trust ourselves.  We second-guess, we think everything needs deep analysis, and we don’t know how to explain our instincts.  So we back up and question our experience, and this leads us to either 1) go with a HiPPO’s snap judgement, which they trust more than we trust ourselves or 2) wind up in analysis paralysis, working on a project for 3 months that should take 2 weeks.

I’ve been there. Gladwell describes a ton of other people who have been there too.  Careers are won or lost on the ability to trust snap judgements. Industries are built around the snap judgements of experts.

In Blink, we are shown through anecdotes and real-world examples just how amazing the instincts of experts can be. There’s a strong distinction there:  Gladwell is clear that you must be an expert in your field before your instincts are to be trusted. No one would ever ask me to make an intuitive diagnosis of a car problem, and I would never ask a sign language interpreter to choose the best interface for building engagement.

Gladwell also goes into the need for deeper analysis and examination of data.  He says that instinctive judgement should not be the only thing relied on.  It should be a data point. His contention is that, unlike what we have all been trained to believe, instinct is as strong a data point as data is.

I recommend this book for anyone who has ever questioned their instincts, and that’s all of us.  It’s good at reinforcing the lost confidence in our mind’s subconscious processing power.  And it will reinforce to you that it’s ok to put that problem down, walk away, and do something else while you let the wetware in your head work out the solution for you.

Blink was published in 2005 and is available on Amazon in just about every format.


Today’s Interesting Link:

CSS3 Animation Cheat Sheet – I love this, it’s so clear and beautiful and it’s fun at the same time.  It’s the perfect example of what a cheat sheet should be.  It shows you examples of all of the CSS3 animations and if you like it, you can just add their stylesheet to your work and boom! You can call them by name.  Saves time if you want it to, or gives you inspiration.  You choose.  😀

 Today’s Usability Quote:

The key to good decision making its not knowledge. It is understanding. We are swimming in the former. We are desperately lacking in the latter. – Malcolm Gladwell

Today’s Music To Design To:

Vicious Delicious by the Infected Mushrooms.  I’m pretty sure this is good for just about everything, because the Infected Mushrooms are energetic, electronic, melodic and evocative. it makes you want to dance, so don’t blame me if you find yourself swaying and bopping in your chair.

 

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Tool Review: Pixelapse

Every designer has, at some point, had someone say “Hey, you know how you had it before?  I liked that better.  Can you change back?”  We all have different workflows for managing this.  Saving numbered versions of psds, having folders, keeping backup layer groups… we do it all. And it’s a pain in the butt.

Photoshop plays nicely with SVN, but you have to remember to check out and check in.  No good there, we have enough to remember.  So, when I saw Pixelapse pimped on one blog or another, I started drooling.  I begged until they gave me a beta invitation, and I’ve now been using it for about a week.

Pixelapse login page

Pixelapse login page

First off, their UI is very pretty.  Clean, good use of white space, simple, and responsive.  Signup is quick and it’s obvious how to download the app.

I was surprised to see that Pixelapse is a standalone app, rather than a Photoshop plugin.  This was fine – but somehow I’d gotten a different expectation.  Once installed, Pixelapse creates its own folder on your hard drive.  Then, every time you save a change to any file that’s in that folder, it auto-uploads the change to your pixelapse account.

Here’s where I encountered my first issue – ideally I would have been able to point Pixelapse to my project folders, and have it track them from where they already live.  I was initially anxious about the Pixelapse folder, because there’s no assurance in the interface that subfoldering is supported.  So, I dragged one of my project folders in and was pleasantly surprised – I can nest folders as deep as I like in the Pixelapse folder and it’ll reflect that hierarchy on the website.

Folders are supported

Folders are supported

So far, so good.  One minor workflow change, no big deal.  However, I quickly discovered a second issue:  I only cared about versions of my psds and ai files, but Pixelapse industriously tracks every graphics file in the folders you give it.  While this might be fantastic for some designers, it caused huge amounts of clutter for me.  I would love it if, for future versions, Pixelapse would give me a setting and let me specify which file types to pay attention to.

…Because the clutter reveals what I feel is Pixelapse’s only real FLAW – I can’t tell what the organization scheme is for the files inside the folders.  There are hundreds, and I can’t figure out if they’re sorted by date.  They are certainly not sorted by name.  I’d love to be able to sort them, so that I can swap between name and most recently modified.

I decided to partially mitigate this by keeping only psd files in the Pixelapse folder, and keeping all final artwork, comp exports and supporting documents in my old folder system, which now mirrors Pixelapse.  Slightly inconvenient at first, but I was used to it after a day.

My last complaint: it’s not instantly obvious how I would pull down a certain revision.  If I wanted to download version 1 of a psd, could I do it?  I think so, and there’s a link in the upper right hand corner that looks like I could, but when I clicked the link I got an error page.

Bummer, but I didn’t feel like it was a huge deal.  This is beta software, after all, and I’m certain they’ll work the kinks out.

However, that said, I will tell you that the Pixelapse team is ridiculously responsive.  I have sent them two pieces of feedback, and they’ve been wonderful about responding within hours.  They’re courteous and earnest, and they really seem devoted to making a great product.

The verdict:  I hope I never have to live without Pixelapse again.  I’ve already used it to roll back and show someone previous versions of a file.  I envision it becoming a must-have piece in my design toolbox.


Today’s Interesting Link:
www.pixelapse.com of course.  These guys deserve to be successful, because they found a problem I didn’t know I wanted solved.

Today’s Usability Quote:
“Innovation springs from constraints” – David Blakely, Director of Technology Strategy at IDEO

Today’s Music To Design To:
Because I’m listening to it at this very moment – Poe’s concept album, Haunted, is delicious.  It’s old, but beautiful and poignant.  You’ve got Poe’s haunting, sexy vocals interspersed with real recordings of her father, who is passed.  It’s written as a companion to her brother’s book, House of Leaves.  I haven’t read the book, but I’m told it’s excellent.

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What Not To Do: UPS.com

A lot of times, when I’m designing something that doesn’t have a clear standard I will look at what other sites do.  It’s important to know what the competition is up to, it’s important to know what your users are seeing in other places, and it’s sometimes inspirational.

However, I’ve been in companies where that competitive benchmarking is taken too far.  Whenever there’s something to be designed, these companies look to the big players, and copy what they do.  The problem is, the big players aren’t always USABLE.  Sometimes they get away with bad usability because they’re so big, and sometimes because their offering is so unique that users have nowhere else to go.  But just because they are big does not mean they are good.

Case in point: ups.com.

Don’t get me wrong, these guys do a lot of things right.  They’re a good and useful website.

However, they miss on a very key point:  they do not make me successful in my #1 task on their website.

I ordered some T-shirts that I designed to wear to a midnight movie premiere.  (yes, I’m that kind of geek)  I wanted to know if they’d be here in time, so I clicked the tracking link provided to me by the vendor (good usability, Cafepress!) and went to the ups website.

Win:  My tracking number was embedded in the link so my package came up without my needing to hunt for a number to paste into a field.
Win:  The info about my package is front and center on the screen, with a colored background to draw my eye.

Fail:  Number one question a customer has when checking status of their order: when will it get to me?  This answer is nowhere to be found on the screen.

Win:  there’s a status.  It says “in Transit” and has a hyperlink.  When I mouse over this, I get an instant help flyout.  Hooray for contextual help!  However…

Fail:  The help flyout tells me that “In transit” means my package will be there on my Scheduled Delivery Date.  It even caps Scheduled Delivery Date.  Which tells me there should be a field on this screen that tells me what my Scheduled Delivery Date is.  But there isn’t.
Fail:  There are tabs across the top of my colored area with my info in it.  Everyone knows that tabs are for different display of the same data, right?  So clearly, these tabs marked “Quantum View” and “Flex Global View” must be different views of my order, one of which might have my Scheduled Delivery Date.  Wrong.  They are upsells.  Not only are they upsells, they’re texty, vaguely written upsells that are obviously not aimed at the casual shipping recipient.

Epic Fail:  As I realize that these are not for me and try to click back to my order, I am taken to a generic “Track Packages and Freight” page with a field where I can enter my tracking number.

Dear readers, do not use tabs for upsells.
Do not use tabs for navigation unless you can’t avoid it.
Do not use tabs for decoration.
Do not use tabs for emphasis.
Do not use tabs to make your managers happy.

Please be gentle with your users.  Use tabs to display different views of the same data.  Or if you must, closely related data.

Please also let your users get back to where they came from without making them close a browser tab and return to the original email they clicked on.  It’s just nice.

And please make sure that every page of your site answers the #1 question that your user comes there to answer.  At the very minimum.

Thank you for being kind to your users.  :>


Today’s Glossary Term:
CPC: This stands for Cost Per Click, which is an advertising business model.  Advertising is how a lot of websites pay their bills and keep the awesome content coming to you.  If you’re running a blog or a content site, CPC might be a very interesting term for you.  However, I’d advise you to diversify – advertising alone won’t necessarily do the job unless you have some really impressive traffic.

Today’s Interesting Link:
http://www.thereisnopagefold.com/ – ‘Nuff said.
Shout out to the awesome Eric Ritchey for sharing that link with me.

Today’s Usability Quote:
“The computer culture has learned from human interface research that the most supreme form of interaction is the lack of it; less is more” – Nicholas Negroponte

Today’s Music To Design To:
I’m not feeling very musical today.  What are you listening to lately?

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Best Firefox Plugins for Web-based Design

Way back when Firefox was first released, I remember riding on a train and listening to my friends rave about it.  I asked them “Why should I switch to Firefox?  It’s not widely supported and if I design for Firefox I’ll still have to test in IE and Netscape.”  (Yes, this was that long ago.)

My friend responded with a two-word sentence that would change my life:  “It’s extensible.”

I downloaded Firefox that very night, and I was giddy within minutes.  It was like the good old days, when we were running BBS’es out of our houses using our phone lines and 2400 baud modems, and RipTERM came along.  It was like the clouds opened up and god rays shot down with celestial voices.  “Aaaaaaahhhhhh, web design will be so much easier nowwwwww”, they sang.

Several years later, I’m still using Firefox.  I’ve become very attached to some of the plugins, and they’re invaluable in doing my job.  I’m sharing with you a list of my favorites, so you can hear celestial choirs too.

#1:  HTML Validator + accessibility option

HTML Validator does exactly what it sounds like: it checks your HTML and Javascript to make sure it’s all correct.  You can choose the standard and control how strictly it checks.  It’ll give you warnings as well as errors, and best of all, it comes with an accessibility option.

The accessibility option lets you set levels and it’ll validate your site against the ISO standards.  This is fantastic if you care about accessibility, and you should.

The interface for HTML Validator isn’t the best, but the functionality is so awesome that I forgive it for not being the most usable plugin.

#2:  Window Resizer

Many designers work on large monitors set at high resolution.  It’s great for productivity, efficiency and artistic freedom, but it sometimes leads us to forget how the rest of the world sees things.

Window Resizer lets you view your designs in whatever size you like with the click of a button.  You should never release a new design without looking at every possible permutation as your lowest-resolution customer sees it.

#3:  Screengrab

We often have to take something that exists and rather than redesigning it, make incremental improvements on it.  Or, we just have to add something to it and the engineers flinch when we start talking about redesigning the rest of the page.

If you don’t have the original design files, Screengrab is the place to start.  You can copy the visible screen or the entire page to your clipboard, or you can save to a file.  I strongly recommend PNG, as the JPG image quality is really crappy.

#4:  Palette Grabber

Likewise, it’s sometimes inconvenient to reverse-engineer a color palette with the color picker tool in Photoshop.   Maybe you were browsing around and saw a site with such a brilliant color palette you absolutely must use that for your next design.

Palette Grabber gives you an icon in your status bar – one click and it creates an Adobe color palette for you based on the current page.

#5:  DownThemAll

Oh DTA, how I love you.  You’ve saved me so much time when I need to grab all the images off of a client’s site, or pull everything out of a folder!  DTA allows you to download the result of every link on a page, or download every image on the page.  You can filter by file type, and you can pick and choose or just grab the whole lot.  It’s brilliant.

#6:  Firebug

I don’t know how I lived before Firebug.  I use it for everything – QA’ing developers’ work, finding code errors in my own work, tweaking code, identifying classes for use elsewhere.  I could write a whole post just on Firebug.

The most useful feature of Firebug, for me, is the Inspect option.  You open up Firebug on every page and it uses HTML Tidy (the same engine that HTML Validator uses) to show you the document object model in a very easy, navigable way.  Then, you click inspect and as you move your mouse around elements on the page, it’ll put a little outline around each one, and in the lower panel it’ll show you the specific code that affects that element.  It’s magnificent.  You can figure out what class a div uses, why it’s not as wide or narrow as it should be, why the inheritance isn’t working like you expect it to, more and more.

I think that Firebug can answer existential questions, too, like why the sky is blue and what is outside the Universe.

#7:  FireFTP

If you’re uploading using FTP, FireFTP is a great option.  It’s an in-browser FTP client.  It’s easy to use and full-featured.  I don’t use FTP much anymore, but when I do this is my tool.

#8:  MeasureIt

Sometimes you just need to know how wide a column is, how many pixels separate that image from that other one, or what the viewable area of a div is.  And that’s where measure it comes in.  You get a little measuring tape on your status bar, and you can click it to measure anything visible.

#No-more:  ColorChecker

Color Checker isn’t compatible with the most recent Firefox versions, and Check My Colors doesn’t seem to be available anymore for any version.  My toolbox is sadly bereft of anything that will show me what my design looks like for people with color vision impairments.

Thank goodness I keep a color-blind tester on hand!

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Now that I’ve shown you my toolbox, tell me – what are your favorite Firefox plugins for web development and web design?



Today’s Glossary Term:

Data-driven design – there are a lot of connotations for this phrase, but at its most literal level, it means designing based on metrics and research, rather than on instinct or preference.  A data-driven method involves research before the design is created, and strenuous research afterwards to measure every aspect and let science speak for efficiency and speed.  You can’t always have a perfectly data-driven approach, but you should always try to let metrics inform your design where possible.

Today’s Interesting Link:
http://aviary.com/ – This site is hard to pin down.  At its most simple, I’d call it a free, web-based image editor.  It’s so much more than that, though.  It’s collaborative, powerful and full of unlimited potential.  However, it’s a bit like Google Wave in that new users feel overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of functionality.  It’s in its infancy, as far as I’m concerned, but it’s also well worth the investment of time and energy to learn.  It’s a powerful tool.

Today’s Usability Quote:
“Innovation is creation that comes from experimentation and study” – David Blakely, Director of Technology Strategy at IDEO

Today’s Music To Design To:
I think of VNV Nation as “baby goth” even though they’ve been around for 14 years now.  Their sound is heavily influenced by the industrial stuff I listened to during my “rebel years” but with a positive tilt to it.  Some of it is very atmospheric, lending very well to dramatic designs, artistic designs and enormous, daunting projects.  My favorite of their albums is Empires – it’s easy to feel energetic and inspired while listening to it.
Buy the CD
or Download the MP3s

P6WDVN98WWED

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Review: Facebook App – GroupCard

About the app:

GroupCard (www.groupcard.com) is a Facebook app that allows you to create an e-card, sign it, and then send it around to all your friends so that they can sign before the scheduled delivery date.

What you can learn from this review:

What to do for fun, flexible personalization interfaces.
What not to do for signup workflow.
What not to do for post-task workflow.
What not to do for primary page information architecture.

The workflow:

After the typical (clunky) Facebook app installation flow, you are presented with a list of card designs.  There is a dire warning at the top in bright yellow that tells you they don’t have your email address, and to fix the problem.  I suspect that this would worry some, and it would distract them from the main task flow.

If the user does get distracted and clicks that link, there’s an intimidating popup that asks you to authorize GroupCards to email you.  It says that you can receive GroupCards in Facebook, but not via email.  If you cancel out, it actually shows you a JavaScript alert that says you CANNOT receive GroupCards.  Not very friendly at all!  You have to acknowledge this to close the alert.

Once you refocus your attention on the card designs, there are a lot of great designs.  They’re laid out in a grid that feels a little overwhelming, but also makes it very clear there are plenty of options.  You can use an easy-to-find dropdown at the top to choose occasion, to narrow down your selection.

Text instructs you to “click a cover to view it”, but when you do so, you actually can only see half the cover.  The other half is obscured and there’s nothing to click to see it.  The left side of the page, which could be used to show the card, is dominated by what I call the “give us money screen” – you choose your option of free, basic, premium or ridiculously overpriced.

There’s an interesting contrast between a Free Card, which expires 7 days after creation, and a Freebie GroupCard, which expires 10 days after creation.  Having gone through both flows, I can’t tell what the difference is, and nothing on the page indicates this.

After you choose your pricing option, you’re asked to enter the card information – who to send it to, when to send it, and whether or not to share it.  This was pretty easy and user-friendly, though I very much wanted to pick and choose the peopel to send the card to for signing, rather than just email-blasting all of my friend’s friends.

The button for this step is called “Sign the Card”, which leaves me with a brief question of “Is this me signing the card, or am I about to be taken to the sign the card step?”  However, clicking it plays a neat animation that slides the card cover left, and shows you the inside of the card.  There’s a great splat graphic which follows your mouse around, and wherever you click, it inserts your picture and a blank message.

This is GroupCards’ a-ha moment.  This is the piece of interface that makes their entire app worthwhile.  This is the one piece of their entire interface that they got right.  However, it was buried behind “give us money” and “fill out forms” and a lot of other steps that were way less exciting.

You see a help bubble right above the blank message that tells you you can drag your text around.  Indeed, you can type to edit the text, you can drag it anywhere you like, you can change the font, change the color and even rotate it left or right.  Fantastic!  Discovery of features was great, and although it’s slightly buggy, it was honestly fun to use.

After this step, you are nagged about your email.  I dismissed the nag, and was immediately presented with my entire list of facebook friends, and urged to share the card with them.  I would have liked to have this pick-and-choose functionality earlier, and now that I’ve shared the card I’m kind of done with it.  I’m unlikely to share it with people who don’t know my recipient.  I skipped the step.

Then you are presented with a “share this card on your profile”.  You’ve been through so many screens at this point, that you’re starting to feel fatigued, and I had no interest in sharing the card on my profile.  It would just ruin the surprise for my recipient.  I closed that window and was immediately presented with another.

This one is GroupCards’ shame-on-you moment.  It showed me a card for Daniel X.  It looked like it was a design that someone had chosen.  It said at the top “sign Daniel X’s GroupCard”.  Everything about the screen made it look like my friends already used GroupCards and that someone had already created this GroupCard for Daniel.  I signed it.

The next screen presented me with another one, for Stephanie Y.  I signed it.

The next screen presented me with someone I don’t know, who just friended me randomly.  I bailed out of the endless screens, by closing the window.

Curious to explore their interface further, I clicked the My Cards tab at the top of the page.  You are shown a list of upcoming GroupCards, but no information about who created them.  Clicking on a card shows you the full-size cover of the card (for the first time!) and information about who created it.  the information and action links are all combined in one clump of data on the left hand side, dominated by two buttons of equal prominence that urge you to sign again and print the card.  Sign again allows you to edit your signature, but Print This Card is an upsell.  Overall, this page shows no cohesive information architecture thought.

This is the first point where a user can  learn that they were tricked into creating cards for their friends.  I had a moment of panic, worried that my friends would get spammed by something I was just exploring.  I wasn’t able to find any way to cancel a card, so I emailed them feedback.  At the end of feedback, you are presented with a link to help.  Clicking this shows an FAQ, and in the FAQ I was able to uncover the steps for cancelling a card.

To cancel a card, you have to go into Edit This Card’s Information, a link buried in the paragraph of links under the dominant buttons on the left hand side of the page.  Then you have to scroll down and click what looks like an input field, which then gives you a confirmation screen – are you sure you want to cancel?  You click the very easy to find Cancel button on this screen, and it refreshes to show you a message that your card has been cancelled.

There is a “undo this cancellation” link that is buried in a long sentence of text – it looks like that’s what you’re supposed to do next.  It even uses the text “clicking here” to hide what it will do.  In reality what you want to do next is Close the window.  Then the page refreshes, with a light text message very low on the page that says Card Cancelled.  It has no icon to draw the eye, and no background color or border, and it’s the exact same as all the other text on the page, so I suspect some users will be worried their card wasn’t actually cancelled.

Summary and recommendations:

GroupCard buries its a-ha moment behind a long workflow, and then follows it up with a long workflow.  This is probably fantastic for viral spread in theory, but can’t do much for user retention.   The bait-and-switch of the followup is unacceptable from a privacy standpoint, and will lose them a lot of users after the fact.

  • GroupCard should switch their flow – ask for less info upfront and get users to the a-ha moment sooner.
  • Ask users to choose a pricing option after the card is created and sent out, not before.
  • DON’T ever trick users into creating cards.  Sure, present them with the option.  The way it’s done is clever, simple and works fantastically with the flow.  But make it clear that the user is creating a card for someone, not signing an already-created card.
  • The My Cards page is fine, but the Card Details page seriously needs some information architecture work.  This is a page where a lot of info and actions are presented, but there’s no hierarchy, no guidance and a common action like Cancel is buried behind a link that doesn’t give any scent of cancellation.
  • Speaking of guidance, there should be far more topical help, on just about every page.
  • Add a progress bar to the creation process, so users aren’t constantly wondering what will happen next.
  • Allow users to preview the entire card before sending.  Few people are willing to send a card they haven’t seen yet.
  • Skip the viral step of  “share on your profile”.  Instead, make this a checkbox somewhere, or let them do it when they’re viewing the card after it has been sent.  It’s unlikely to be something many people do.
My review of GroupCard does not in any way reflect my opinion about whether or not you should use this app/website.  I was not paid by this company, nor am I affiliated with them in any way.  Please learn from the mistakes and successes of this app/website and use these learnings to make your own apps/websites more usable.
If you would like me to review your app/website, feel free to email me at krys at swankster dot com.  Reviews are at my discretion and are not subject to editing or moderation.
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Rapid Prototyping: Slideshows

First of all, let me express to you how important rapid prototyping is.

You absolutely ought to do requirements gathering first, then come up with a theory of what your users want, then build a quick-and-dirty prototype and take it back to users – both the ones you gathered requirements with, and others. This can take you a few days and cost a few hundred dollars, and it can save you hundreds of thousands in development, materials, or man hours.

So now that we’ve established that you all agree and will employ rapid prototyping before you build anything big, let’s get into the meat. There are a lot of ways to do make a prototype. Depending on your medium, you can build a cork-board model, draw pictures on a piece of paper, or whip out wireframes and screenshots. Regardless, you shouldn’t spend too much time on them – depending on the size of the project, we’re talking an hour to 2 days, no more. They don’t have to be perfect, fancy, interactive, or anything along those lines. They are nothing more than a tangible representation of an idea or concept. Nothing more.

One way, particularly useful for an experience (like a tour), or an application (web-based or desktop) is to use a slideshow.

Irfanview is a free, easy to use downloadable application. It has lots of features, but the only one I ever use is the slideshow builder. You can drag screenshots in, and then set controls on each for mouse click, arrow, etc. This enables you to get on the phone with a remote user, and bring up the screenshots in any order you want, without opening gifs from a folder. It can completely fake user interaction, as far as clicking goes – click with the mouse and it can take you to a next screenshot that shows a list expanded or a field filled in.

It saves out to an .exe file, so you can then send the “prototype” to anyone you want. You can make it go from slide to slide automatically, or control each slide individually. File sizes are reasonable. I also use it for training, and believe it or not – I have a version of my portfolio in an executable slideshow. Many possibilities for a little free gem!

Irfanview’s interface isn’t the prettiest or simplest, but the basic functionality only took me a few minutes to figure out. It’s incredibly powerful, when you’ve got a test you need to keep running smoothly.

Enjoy this tool, and if you find others like it, please comment and let everyone know!


Today’s Glossary Term:
AEIOU – A research method focused on Actions, Environments, Interactions, Objects, and Users. It’s primarily used for ethnography (studying people and making a mental model of how they see the world) but can also be a good mnemonic to spread throughout your team. It helps to get everyone thinking of the world from the user’s point of view.

Today’s Interesting Link:
http://www.csszengarden.com/ – Is one of the places I go when I’m feeling boxed in by a design. It’s a great resource for inspiration, or if you’re looking to improve your CSS skills. If you don’t already have Zen Garden bookmarked, you really ought to.

Today’s Usability Quote:
“The greater danger for most of us is not that
our aim is too high and we miss it, but
that it is too low and we reach it.”
– Michelangelo

Today’s Music To Design To:
Getting away from the edgy electronica, it’s time for a Jazz recommendation. However, Jenna Mammina is not “just” jazz. She uses her voice like an instrument, switching between belted lyrics and then lilting back into a soft, sultry croon.
Download the MP3s or Buy the CD

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