Smashing Magazine’s Vitaly Friedman

Vitaly Friedman is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Smashing Magazine, an online magazine for professional web designers and developers.

Vitaly Friedman - Smashing MagazineWhat direction will UX go in the next 5 years? Will it fragment into different areas or stay as is?

It’s a very good question. I feel that we see a lot of diversification right now. At this point today, it’s not enough to be good—many sites and apps out there are good. You have to be great, and it means diving deeper into psychology, the magic of delight, and potentially gamification.

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Design Hangout with Tom Greever, UX Director at Bitovi

This blog post chronicles an interview with Tom Greever, UX Director at Bitovi—a company that designs and develops web applications for all different kinds of companies. Tom just published Articulating Design Decisions, both as a book and video series with O’Reilly Media.


Can you tell us about your book and what you’re working on?

The the basic gist is that we, as designers, need to be better at explaining our decisions to other people (e.g. executives and managers), because, if we don’t, well, things don’t go as well. I’d argue that an articulate designer is more valuable than a super talented one who can’t talk his way out of a box. Or a room, or whatever that is. I’m currently designing a public facing web app for a non-profit that allows under resourced communities to access free legal aid

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Can People with Disabilities Use Your Website?

How do you feel when you have trouble using a website or application? When you can’t find the information you need because navigation is inconsistent or unclear? When you click a link and it doesn’t go where you expected? When you fill out a form and lose all of your data when you submit due to a minor error?

What if you clicked on that big BUY NOW button and nothing happened? In fact, what if clicking your mouse on all of the links and buttons and other interactive elements on a site didn’t work? Pretty bad website, huh? Chances are the company that wants you to BUY NOW would be all over it and a fix would come quickly.

Now imagine you are blind…or paralyzed…or imagine you broke your wrist and can’t use your mouse. People who rely on a screen reader or who can only navigate a site using the keyboard often face these challenges because many sites aren’t designed and coded to be fully accessible.

So what does it mean to have an accessible website? How do you know? Why should you care?

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How to Run an Effective True Intent Study

An effective way to assess the user experience your website offers is to understand who your users are and what tasks or goals they are trying to accomplish there. A True Intent Study helps you do just that.

What’s a true intent study?

As the name suggests, a true intent study aims at understanding a user’s objective as they browse your site. What are they there to do? And are they able to achieve it?

A true intent study helps you to:

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Get the Usability Test Results You Need

Are your usability testing responses actually giving you the actionable information you need?

Not if you haven’t designed the right test!

In order to get the information you’re after, you need to determine:

1.  What you want to know

2.  What questions to ask to get the right answers

Figure Out the Usability Info You Need

Have you already identified problems with your platform? Are users routinely aborting at a specific point, or do you get a lot of queries about the same functions or processes? Then this first job is easy—you need to figure out what users are finding difficult, and possibly to test different options for making things easier.

If you’re beta testing or still in the early development phase, the information you’re after might be more general—how are various processes perceived, how quickly can users find what they need and accomplish specific tasks, what design elements are enhancing or inhibiting usability?

Get as specific as possible in identifying the information you need from your usability test, and you’ll make designing your test much easier while making the test far more effective, too.

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Improve Your Emails for Better Usability Test Responses

Conducting usability tests requires usability testers—a group of people that matches your ideal user as closely as possible in terms of demographics and knowledge level.

Identifying those potential testers can be tough (and we’ll have some tips on how to do that coming out shortly), but even after you know who they are there’s still an additional challenge: getting them to respond.

Here are a few tips for improving your usability test request emails, getting you a better response rate and more accurate, actionable results.

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Why you should always prototype & user test multiple designs

5,127. That’s the number of prototypes that James Dyson claims to have created trying to perfect his bagless vacuum cleaner. Five thousand, one hundred and twenty seven. You see designing stuff is a messy business. Some ideas work out, some don’t. It’s only through a certain amount of trial and error (or in James Dyson’s case, a lot of trial and error), that you end up with a great design. This is why it’s so important to always, always prototype and user test multiple designs.

Why prototype and user test multiple designs?

Here are 10 (yes 10!) good reasons why you can’t afford not to prototype and user test multiple designs.

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Demographics are Key to Unlocking Usability Test Returns

As explained in a previous post, finding usability testers who best represent the target users of your software or app is an essential first step in making sure your usability test delivers useful results. Finding testers with the right knowledge level and experience gives you far more accurate results, and the more specialized your target niche is the more important a well-matched group becomes.

Expertise is just one element of your usability group that needs to match your target audience, though. Demographics—age, culture, and in some cases gender and more—are also important considerations.

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