New Look for the Website

I finally got around to uploading my custom WordPress theme.  I doubt it will ever be “complete”, but it’s definitely at a point where it looks better than the current theme and the bugs are acceptable enough to throw in front of people.

I plan on writing a high level article reviewing the design process I went through.  In the meantime, I only have time to post that the theme is now up and doing it’s thing.  Feel free to poke around and list off the millions of holes that are most definitely present.

I was going to title this post “The Emperor’s New Clothes” but resisted.

Timezone Choices…Inuvik?

I’ve been trying to become a better member of the Interaction Design Association (IxDA).  They recently reworked their site, so I re-registered for it.  The confirmation email went right to my spam mailbox, which I didn’t see right away.  I just assumed the site was broken.  However I did notice that I started receiving 10+ emails a day from IxDA topics / forums, so I dug around my inbox and finally found my login link.

On the account settings page, I was shown this:

IxDA - Settings Page

Comcast: How to Make a Bad First Impression

I try my best to appreciate usability outside the world of web technology.  One of my frequent fascinations is the lack of thought applied to entrances.

Comcast - Confusing Doors

The visual affordance of the door says to me “pull”.  Handles are meant to be grabbed.  Yet one of the doors can only be pushed.  What’s worse is that it’s the right door, which is usually the one people go to first to enter a building (due to the US driving preference).  So I have to imagine it catches a number of people off-guard everyday.

Please don’t follow this example.  Make your customers and users feel smart by not upsetting their world view, even at this level.

Case Study:

I hate Nick Finck.  Or, more appropriately I hate Things That Are Brown.  And by “hate” I of course mean “envy”.

I find competitive analysis to be an essential tool for design.  In my quest to design a more appropriate layout and theme for my blog, I did my due diligence and searched the web high and low for portfolio sites from which to get ideas from.  This analysis not only grounds you with a firm baseline of what is expected of your design, but often yields a nice list of action items that can be used to outdo your competitors.

I’m a big fan of simple and direct.  I believe that if you can take something away from a design and it still works, do it.  Which is why I immediately envied Nick Finck’s website.  The scribbles on my quad-ruled pad and my chosen color palette to that point were very similar to what he already had decided to place in front of me.  What’s more is that he’s also in the same field as I am, so it would be bad taste to copy him.  Instead I’ll use his website as a case study.

Put Your Best Foot Forward…

Because you’ll fall flat on your face if you try putting both feet out at once.  Let me elaborate by asking some related questions:

  • Is it easier to find fault in your best 5 examples, or your most recent 100?
  • Is it easier to find fault in your best 1-2 examples of each category type, or letting me choose a category and then seeing 10 examples of it?
  • Are your best examples presented to me, or are they waiting for me to find them (if I can find them)?