In Week 5 of my Principles of UXD course, we moved on to Module 3: A Visual Design Primer. We began the week with a lecture on the topic, learning about principles like visual hierarchy, points lines and planes, balance, rhythm, scale, figure and ground, graming and grids. Together, these principles should create a pleasing harmony and delightful dissonance that help the user easily find the information they are seeking. Each of the principles is important on their own, but they must also work together across a page, across multiple pages, and even from property to property if strategically necessary.
Our assignment this week was to find effective and ineffective examples of designs. For my ineffective examples, I chose wwe.com and a chart from the Iowa CPAs website. The examples were different because wwe.com failed to use many of the design principles and felt flat and littered with random videos. My other example used all of the principles but used them inconsistently, not only across the page but inconsistently within the gridded system itself. My effective examples were airbnb.com and one of the most well-known ads of all time, VW’s 1964 Beetle print ad. Both of these were simple examples, which thinking about it now, I should have tried to find an effective example of a busy site.
Fortunately for me, even though I didn’t find a busy example of effective design, others in the class did. In our discussion, there were countless examples of both simple and busy designs that worked. Everyone did a great job of “noticing” design taking place, and seeing their thoughts alongside the examples was really helpful. The only thing that I’m still struggling to see “in the wild” is the golden ratio. I feel like anything that is off-balance and asymmetric to the rule of thirds can have the Fibonacci spiral placed on it and scaled just enough to make it look like it “works”. Beyond that, all of the principles we learned are simple enough that we can start applying them to work immediately.
As always, notes are here… although with no books this week, they are quite a bit lighter.
This week’s assignment was to create a flowchart for the user process of performing a mortgage insurance inspection. Creating the flow chart itself was difficult because I anticipated a lot of individual steps for the user based on all of the document they need to collect. I’m hoping that I went about it correctly, so we’ll see. To build the flow chart, I actually had to start by drawing out what I imagined the portfolio screen to look like. Based on the needs of the user, they need to be able to move expeditiously throughout the process, but must also be errorless. I used a lot of visual cues to the user to indicate what documents applied to the property, and where there were gaps in documentation. I also “baked in” system checks that would find and highlight those gaps, as well as lock-outs that would prevent submitting the portfolio if notes didn’t exist where a documentation gap existed.
In reviewing this week’s Pinterest shares, I tried to dedicate more time to reading full articles that people shared. In previous weeks I was focused on finding infographics and visuals I could swipe, but I found a few of the articles this week really good. The User Experience Design for Museum Exhibits article was full of cool tips and ideas from someone with 40+ years of experience, like the concept of rapid-prototyping with non-expert staff. I also enjoyed one of the articles shared around creating positive emotions through the experience by removing things like fear. I liked the article, but some experiences can also be heightened by leaving in a little bit of fear, namely games and gamified systems. Scarcity, Unpredictably, and Avoidance are all fear-based motivators that can be used to encourage users to embrace different elements of the design, and deliver even more heightened positive experiences, i.e. nothing wagered, nothing gained.
We also closed out our books for the course. For me, Norman’s book was a little dry through the last two chapters. It was good to read but didn’t lend itself to much note-taking. I will remember though that oftentimes where a safety system is implemented, it often creates another user hurdle and potential safety risk. I also liked his quick delve into innovation. At work, our department is focused almost completely on innovation. What we often treat as radical, is actually incremental. It actually reminded me of another book I read last year, The Creative Curve, which explores where new ideas and innovations come from. Designing with the Mind in Mind was less focused on these topics, and spent its time continuing to explore how our sensory systems work. I especially enjoyed the section on how we make irrational decisions. Since I’m a huge fan of Dan Ariely, I enjoyed exploring how the mind applies in these situations. Now that we’re done with the books, I’m excited to see what’s next!