Focus on finding the right design, not the right tool

“I’ve noticed that some attributes are common among the people whose work I admire. The people who are the most effective seem to continue to study their practice, and perfect their craft. After long hours of use, they find the way to flow within any app at their disposal, and become as fast and effective as they can using it. The key is what they do with the app once they’ve become expert at their craft, expert in finding the right design, expert in communicating, and expert in refining… Don’t let anyone tell you that what [tool] you choose is wrong or inappropriate. Find the right design and keep winning.” – Michael Angeles

This quote is from Michael’s article “Have a nice day.” Click on the thumbnail image above to view the full sized quote card.

Top 6 Help Design Patterns for iPhone Apps

Top 6 Help Design Patterns for iPhone Apps

User Experience Designers usually aim to make application interfaces intuitive and easy to use without relying on help or a manual to guide the user through how to use the app.  However, there are times when an interface is most effective and efficient to use once some initial behaviors are learned.  In these cases, designing an application to be completely intuitive upon first-time use can be impractical or detrimental to repetitive use.  There are also times where a quick introduction on how to use an app simply makes the user feel more comfortable interacting with it for the first time, and is not a reflection of a poorly designed interface.

iPhone applications that introduce new, innovative interaction models or that allow the user to access a wide range of information or complete several tasks often use first-time use help screens to help users learn how an app works.  This help can come in a wide variety of styles: demos, tutorials, single screen overlays, walkthroughs, tips, or short screen summaries.  These first-time help screens are often supplemented by a centralized help or FAQ area within the app.  Below is a look at how different apps have leveraged these help patterns to introduce functionality to their users upon first use.

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We should design things to convey whatever personality and emotions are desired

“Everything has a personality: everything sends an emotional signal. Even where this was not the intention of the designer, the people who view the website infer personalities and experience emotions. Bad websites have horrible personalities and instill horrid emotional states in their users, usually unwittingly. We need to design things–products, websites, services–to convey whatever personality and emotions are desired.” – Don Norman

Read more in Don’s interview with Johnny Holland: “Design Research and Innovation.”

Creativity should not be relegated to the creative department; it is a requirement for all

“Fostering a culture based on creativity and collaboration helps bring down the walls that divide people from each other within organizations. Collaboration is not just amongst and within a given team; it needs to filter through and cross teams and departments. Creativity is not relegated to the creative department; it is a requirement for all.” – Cynthia Thomas

Read more in Cynthia’s article “The Importance of Designing an Experience Culture.

Creating great user experiences takes a multidisciplinary team that shares ownership of UX

“Creating truly great products requires an entire product team to place the needs of users foremost when making product decisions—or even better, a user-centered corporate culture… Creating great product user experiences takes a village—a smoothly functioning multidisciplinary product team that shares ownership of UX.” – Pabini Gabriel-Petit

Read more in Pabini’s article “Sharing Ownership of UX.”