This is what happens when you ignore user experience design

Wired have published the results of an extreme makeover design-off between NYTimes, SimpleScott, Studio8 Design and Pentagram. All were asked to redesign the craigslist homepage (it’s currently a awful dog’s breakfast, but they aren’t interested in redesigning it – gawd knows why not!).

The good, the OK and the shocking
So the results of the design-off are more than a little interesting. The redesign by NYTimes and Studio8 Design show real thought and consideration for users has gone into the design. SimpleScott’s redesign is a good improvement, but lacks the sophistication of the others. Pentagram’s on the other hand made my jaw drop. This is their redesign.

Image from wired.com

Where's the...
This is what happens when graphic design dominates the user experience. The redesign looks nice, but it’s far from usable! Where’s the hierarchy (of information and visual elements)? Where’s the information scent? Where’s the interaction design, for Pete’s sake! Pentagram said they "decided to do something about the cult of Craig". Why?

Don't ignore user experience
This design perfectly demonstrates the importance of user experience design. Pentagram’s design shows the end result when the information architecture, user research, interaction design, usability aspects of user experience design are ignored. This is like design101 to me. I thought everybody "got" this.

Big hit tip, gold star and employee of the month award for my esteemed colleague @kalsop who passed Wired's article on to me. Thanks @kalsop!





About Suze Ingram


I'm a User Experience consultant from Sydney, Australia. I'm passionate about designing better user experiences that engage customers, empower employees and bring real benefits for businesses. If you'd like to get in touch, drop me a line at suze.ingram@gmail.com.


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Sketches don't have to be pretty, you know (here's the proof)

I read Bill Buxton's Sketching User Experiences earlier this year. I loved the book and the value Bill puts on sketching as the foundation of user experience design.

Scared to sketch?
I've always been a sketcher. I doodle and draw a lot so I'm pretty comfortable doing it. But I know others aren't. Some people I know feel really intimidated by sketching. They prefer to go straight to Axure or Visio to start their designs. When I ask them why, their response is always something along the lines of "I'm not a good drawer". Which is so disappointing. Using sketches to design user interfaces (UIs) is never about how good a drawer you are! It's about getting ideas down. Seeing how they work on paper. Scubbing things out and trying again. Cutting things up and sticking them back together in different ways.

Take a look at my sketching
To prove just how unimportant *drawing* skills are when it comes to sketching early ideas for a UI, here's a sketch of mine. I did this sketch on the whiteboard in a meeting with 3 clients. They ended up taking the marker from me and adding their own bits to the sketch. It was such a great, energetic exchange.


See. It's not a pretty sketch by any stretch. But it worked. The people I was working with were able to see what I was thinking. And then we all collaborated and made improvements together.

Relax! It's just a sketch
Sketching is so powerful. If you aren't a great drawer, it doesn't matter. Just sketch. Don't worry about how "good" it is. Sketching will always help you clarify your thoughts and ideas to others...and yourself!





About Suze Ingram


I'm a User Experience consultant from Sydney, Australia. I'm passionate about designing better user experiences that engage customers, empower employees and bring real benefits for businesses. If you'd like to get in touch, drop me a line at suze.ingram@gmail.com.


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Inspiration and words of wisdom from UX idols

New York's School of Visual Arts recently asked a bunch of UX luminaries to pass on their advice to aspiring designers. The result is a bunch of 30 second videos each with a tiny, golden nugget of advice.

It's a really inspirational collection, some of my favourites are:
  • “You have to be empathetic to your users, toward your clients, to the people you’re working with on your team” - Jennifer Bove from Kicker Studio.
  • “Fully understand the problem before you attempt to solve it” - Whitney Hess.
  • “Having a camera, taking it everywhere, and taking pictures” - Michael Mandiberg from Eyebeam.
  • “Seek and out embrace different perspectives from your own and to solve for those perspectives” - Steve Portigal from Portigal Consulting.
And more from the comments section of the blog post:
  • "Don’t forget a designer can do anything. Your skill is solving problems, and there are trillions of them in thousands of industries" - Jeff Ferzoco.
  • "Don’t use the word user, or client. You are designing for people" - Michael
  • "Eat it, Do it, And Love It As Part Of Your Life!" - Edward.
Mine would be:
  • "Try to avoid thinking about the solution for as long as possible. Learn as much about the problem from as many different angles as you can" - Suze Ingram.
What would you words of advice be?

You can see all the Video Notes from the Field blog post.






About Suze Ingram


I'm a User Experience consultant from Sydney, Australia. I'm passionate about designing better user experiences that engage customers, empower employees and bring real benefits for businesses. If you'd like to know more, drop me a line at suze.ingram@gmail.com.


Want more?