The Best UX Design Articles of April 2016

A catalogue of some of my favourite and insightful UX articles published in April 2016.

A Checklist For Planning A UX Benchmark Study
An insightful article on the basics of benchmarking the UX of a website, app, or product, to support the health of the user-experience of your product.

Design Sprints for Branding
A lesson in product development from Google Venture’s (GV) design sprints, and why it makes great sense for the branding of the product itself.

Less Is Still More: The Importance Of The Minimalist Approach To Web Design
This article explains the importance of minimalism on websites, and how visual complexity affects a user’s perception of the site in milliseconds. It’s a great piece for creating a good first impression for your visitors.

The Product Design of IoT
Joe Johnston (VP, Experience Innovation at Universal Mind) talks about devising a holistic user experience for ‘Internet of things’ products in this amazing article.

Apple, The Original Human
Daniel Eckler outlines Apple’s legendary philosophy of incorporating human and emotional aspects in its product design with examples.

What the Past Five Years Have Taught Me About UX Design, Part 1
A first in a series of articles, Bob Hotard (Senior User Experience Designer at AT&T Digital Design & User Experience), reflects upon the UX trends relevant in 2020.

Keeping Life Meaningful: Designing the Senior Residence Experience
This article focuses on designing a better experience at senior residences.

What I Learned From the World’s Greatest Product Designers
InVision’s co-founder and CEO, Clark Varberg, shares the views of product designers from innovative companies in this insightful article.

Moving to a UX-Critical Culture
Baruch Sachs (Senior Director, User Experience, Pegasystems) provides his views on building a robust UX culture within project teams.

Articulating Design Decisions
A sample chapter from Tom Greever’s book Articulating Design Decisions published by O’Reilly Media.

Create a UX Measurement Plan
An insightful article on developing a user experience measurement plan, to advance the maturity of your UX practice.

Merging User Experience and Systems Engineering
In pursuit of ensuring a collaborative structure, an expert panel discusses the process of merging UX into a large company that usually approaches projects from a systems-engineering point of view.

Good Learning Design: Five Unique Challenges and Their Solutions
This article unravels the potential of developing a good learning experience in MOOCs and other learning resources, through examples of best practices.


Featured Image – by courtesy of ebayink / Tablet use 1 (Some Rights Reserved)

Managing Passwords With LastPass

A technology makes strident progress, managing online security — particularly account passwords becomes a clumsy job. Generating safer, stronger passwords is a different ball game altogether and has become somewhat of a norm. Till about a decade ago, social networks were spawning at a slower pace than today — there weren’t many, to be quite honest, and it was pretty easy managing account details (most importantly passwords). Then came the mobile revolution where startups generated ideas to revolutionize the industry, some of which metamorphosised into apps, and it became much tougher to choose stronger passwords which can be memorized. Creating an account and memorizing a password wasn’t such a tedious task but the past few years have seen a haphazard growth in the app accounts being created and it’s harder than ever to memorize anything in this information overload era. With online hacking becoming so rampantly brutal today, your accounts could be compromised within minutes. Losing your personal identity and be crestfallen for the rest of your lives is a terrible reality of our times.

Welcome password managers, and let’s stop making a fuss about password management. There are several options around, including LastPass which is a secure cloud-based password management platform. There are some features that make LastPass my preferred password management tools.

Auto-fill Password Fields
The LastPass autofill has several obvious benefits, most importantly, if the website was phishing information using another domain — remember that phished sites replicate the content and the design, not the domain name to trap unwary visitors, the autofill option does not work. That should sound an alarm bell to check the domain information. If your computer is infected with a malware that records keystrokes, having an autofill option negates any risk of information theft. The passwords are secured in an online vault and accessed through the browser extension or application.

Secure Password Vault
LastPass uses a secure online vault on the cloud to store personal data and allows access only through its extension/application installed in your browser. LastPass is generally available only when connected to the Internet but you can also access your data offline through the available extensions on desktop or mobile. Offline data can also be accessed through a stand-alone application called LastPass Pocket. If you are inclined to learn more about the technology behind how LastPass secures your data, here’s a nice article from the website to get you started.

Generate and Audit Password Security
LastPass has a nifty feature to rank your password security and it’s called the LastPass Security Challenge. It warns the user of a potential security breach if you have reused your password on multiple sites or if a website has been hacked and your credentials may have been compromised, it asks you to change your password urgently. Also, it’s a great tool to assess the overall health of your online security vis-a-vis passwords. As you comply with the suggested changes you can improve your security challenge score over a period of time. But ensure that you take this challenge periodically.

Auto-Change Passwords
LastPass can also auto change the password for any website which is listed in the security challenge. When you select this option, LastPass would launch the website, login into the account for you and change the password of the account for you. And the newly generated password is automatically saved in the vault. It’s that simple.

Secure Notes
Think of LastPass Secure Notes as a password-protected, digital notepad with access from anywhere. You can save sensitive information such as credit cards, bank account numbers, social security, other passwords, etc. It’s a great way to safely store information which you’d regularly use in your work or personal life.

And remember that a slew of 2FA features makes LastPass more secure than ever. And with its extensive support via extensions for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari, and through apps for Android and iOS, it makes LastPass one of the better password management tools around. It’s good enough to get you going on online security and password management! Give it a try.


Featured Image by courtesy of Christiaan Colen / Windows login screen (Some Rights Reserved)
UX, Mobile, iPad, Tablet, HCI

The Best UX Design Articles of March 2016

A catalogue of some of my favourite and insightful UX articles published in March 2016.

UX is Not Design
The ‘design’ in ‘UX Design’ is not related to visual aesthetics. This article reveals the true meaning of user-experience design.

How everything we design will in turn design us back
Entrepreneur and Creative Director, Jones Virtanen, writes on the interesting notion of ‘ontological design’, which says, everything that we design in this world, will in turn design us back.

Smart UX: Designing For The Future
A list of valuable future-oriented UX design questions for your next application or website design project.

How We Made Our Client’s Site Accessible by Law
Vince Sevilla presents a case-study about a California-based disability centre, and how his agency redesigned an “accessible” website.

Usability testing of Mobile Applications: A Step-By-Step Guide
Justin Mifsud, presents a structured view of testing mobile applications in this very insightful article.

7 Remarkably Simple Methods To Boost Checkout Conversion Rates
In this article, co-founder and CEO of Invest Consulting Khalid Saleh, speaks at length about ‘shopping cart abandonment’, and the checkout process conversion rates. And how to improve the analytics and the experience.

Microinteractions: The Secret of Great App Design
As a mobile app designer, you just can’t ignore the power of microinteractions for providing a delightful feedback. This article outlines the why, what and hows of dealing with microinteractions to design better apps.

How to Make Your Site Senior-Friendly
Declining eyesight and motor abilities create tremendous usability challenges when designing for senior persons. This is an insightful article which speaks about the sensitivity of building websites for seniors with key UX recommendations.

Five Best Practices for Becoming a Data-Driven Design Organization, Part 2
Michelle Bacigalupi (Experience Design Management & Strategy for WebEx Online at Cisco) lists a set of best practices for developing a data-driven design organization. You can also read Part 1 of the article as well.

Product Pages: UX Tips to Boost Conversions
As more products flood the shopping market, the competition to get stuff sold online will intensify. An article that broadly outlines the UX elements to make your product page stand out.

Best UI design principles to develop strong mobile apps
A comprehensive list of details that could make or break your mobile app.

Probability: A UX Designer’s Second-Best Friend
Probability is about making educated guesses about the future. Even without research, we all have an innate sense of probability, that makes us judge a bad idea from a good one. A very good article on the effects of using probability in UX design.


Featured Image – by courtesy of ebayink / Tablet use 2 (Some Rights Reserved)

The Monuments Men (2014)

I just found The Monuments Men appealing on several aspects. It’s just a great WWII movie. As an art school alumni and an art lover, I could accept the sensitivity around nurturing art, not just as an artifact, but as a document of a culture reflective of human traditions and lifestyle of that era. In Frank Stokes words (played by the ever-so-elegant George Clooney!):

You can wipe out an entire generation, you can burn their homes to the ground and somehow they’ll still find their way back. But if you destroy their history, you destroy their achievements and it’s as if they never existed. That’s what Hitler wants and that’s exactly what we are fighting for.

And my mind goes back to what Hitler was thinking when he wanted all the artworks to be housed in his ambitious Führermuseum (which never happened), later ordering his men to destroy it all because they lost the war. Not even sure how many pieces of artwork were destroyed by his men, but that’s a different discussion.

Directed by George Clooney and based on a true story non-fiction book (The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter), while the Allied army is fighting the Nazis, a group of men – basically artists and architects, from the  Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program are in search of precious artworks which have been looted by Hitler’s men when they occupy parts of Europe. Barring this team of fervent art lovers, the generals of the Allied force care less about canvases and colors. They’d rather focus on winning the war in Europe. In a thrilling turn of events, the group leads a heroic effort in finding most of the paintings, important among which is the Ghent Altarpiece. The paintings and other pieces of work are found safe in copper mines which prompts Frank Stokes to note – “It seems the Nazis took better care of art than they did people.”

I would highly recommend The Monuments Men, even if you are not a WWII/war movie fan.

UX, Keyboard, Computer

The Best UX Design Articles of February 2016

A catalogue of some of my favourite and insightful UX articles published in February 2016.

User-Centered Design Artifacts
An expert panel comprising UX professionals discuss artifacts a UX team should create during a design project to best enable the team to understand the design problem.

Mobile-First eCommerce: What Customers Expect and Value in Mobile Shopping Experiences
Senior Omni-Channel Commerce Consultant, Afshan Kirmani talks about best practices for increasing conversion rates for eCommerce mobile experiences.

Designers shouldn’t code. They should study business.
Designer Joshua Taylor weighs in with his opinion about how designers must focus on their craft, and the business.

The Three Views of (Information) Architecture
Information Architect, Dan Klyn speaks about designing a sitemap experience, by drawing an analogy with a real building architecture process.

3 Keys To Creating a Frictionless Experience
Elements in “anticipatory” design principles for creating a seamless experience. An article by Joe Johnston (you can’t miss the amazing hand drawings from @hellokevinwhite).

5 Steps To Conducting An Effective Expert Review
A write-up on the process for an effective expert review with examples and suggestions by Jeff Sauro.

What Assembling Ikea Furniture Taught Me About User Experience
BodeTree.com CEO and co-founder Chris Myers describes his experience with IKEA furniture and compares it with a traditional user-experience design process.

15 SEO Best Practices for Structuring URLs
A drill-down of the best practices to improve site structure and search engine ranking.

Beyond Usability: Designing with Persuasive Patterns
When products suffer from higher bounce rates, users miss out on the chance to experience what the product has to offer. Building persuasive user experiences is imperative. Anders Toxboe lists a set of persuasive patterns in this interesting article.

10 Most Common Web Design Mistakes Small Businesses Make
Tech blogger, Alan Smith presents his list of must-have design principles for small businesses who are struggling to make a compelling website.

Featured Image – by courtesy of N i c o l a / Microsoft Type Cover 2 – IMG_4252 (Some Rights Reserved)