Totally Enhanced

Dawn Barber

In the beginning there was the initiate phase…

If this is your first time starting on a project at the beginning of the initiate phase and feel nervous — you are not the alone.

There is a lot to weigh and to keep in focus when developing your strategy. Here is a list of things to keep in mind.

  1. Get a good understanding of the scope from the project manager so that you can see the big picture of what you will be able to do.
  2. You can ask for resources to help if the project has a tight timeline. You may not get all of the help you need if you have a small team. But asking for a business analyst to help you cover interviews for instance will get you closer to beginning the analysis of the data.
  3. Be flexible and learn about all of the techniques in the user experience professional’s toolbox.Know which technique gets the richest data and how long they take. Create a matrix of your list of techniques to quickly see which ones can be executed and/or paired in the given time.

For example: if you have a very short time line then pair phone interviews with help desk data. If your timeline is mediocre then pair task analysis with interviews and observations. If you have plenty of time then reality doesn’t exist for you.

Remember! Your strategy is a critical path and one of the most important pieces of the project the planning.

Lastly you may benefit from creating a project flowchart for your UEX team and PMO. The path will of course have some differences for each project. But keeping a best-case scenario to refer to is a nice solid foundation for you.

Design Documentation — Beyond CSS

I’ve heard it said that documents such as Functional Experience Design and Style Guides are a waste of time. Not always true (especially if you are on an ‘Over-the-Wall’ project).

At a recent party a friend said he only makes wireframes at his new job and doesn’t see any of the resulting visual design (consulting jobs can pigeon-hole you if you aren’t careful). “Gasp, you don’t get to see the visual design”? Our group was obviously stunned.

This is the perfect case for design documentation. Wireframes are not just a bunch of boxes and type. They can be loaded with concepts needing some sort of interpretation. If documentation isn’t part of your job description, then document your concepts anyway. If you don’t, you might be undermining the importance of wireframes.

The other case for careful documentation is the Style Guide. Even though CSS is ever reaching beyond font style and layout there is a need for a style guide. Particularly when sending overseas or even across country.

If you get word your documentation isn’t up-to-snuff, then find out why and fix it. Make it easier to get around the doc with jumps, easy-to-follow bullet lists or provide a quick reference list at the beginning of the doc for developers.

Improve your documentation just as you would your design abilities. I bet your clients will love you for it and the nay say-ers will bend their thoughts to support design documentation.

Tool Tips Can Get in the Way!

Tool tips can be helpful, but watch out for when they are not! Irritating tool tips are appearing in random places.

The image below is of a tool tip with the word, ‘About’ in its little gray button-like balloon. The tool tip displays as I hover on the navigation link called, ‘About’. I am betting this is a minor bug, but it’s a big gripe of mine. This tip is not telling me anything I need to know – I mean, what more can you say, it’s a link! One nice thing about mousing over the link is that it becomes underlined text and that is all that is needed.

Further, this unhelpful tool tip covers up the next row of navigation options. Anyone dealing with usability knows this is taboo. When the navigation is kept from my view I can’t see what else is available. Despite this bug though, IXDA is a great resource for interactive designers. http://www.ixda.org/local/ixda-minneapolis

Next is an example of a tool tip I battle continuously. This is a capture of a folder in Windows 7. Notice that it’s difficult to view the next thumbnail picture in this list? And even more irritating, I can’t move my mouse over to the bottom arrow of the scroll bar because I can’t see it. If I want to scroll to the next file, I have to move my mouse off of the file and wait for the tip to go away. Then I can move my mouse over to the arrow in order to scroll (if I grab the scroll bar itself, it will jump too far when I have a lot of files in a folder).

I have dealt with this particular tool tip long enough. I shut-off the tool tip in my folders and it’s a nice, minor improvement.

Must sleep

I now have my large screen Samsung monitor brightness level down to a 3. The brightness level can scale up to 100. This is a sign my eyes need some rest. I don’t know what it is about staying up late. I think it’s that I have some time to focus on things without interruption.

But I love getting up early in the morning too. Can’t I have the both? Anyone in the same boat?

iPhone or no?

I have been mulling about getting an iPhone. That alone should be a good indicator I need one, right? But I love the phone I have already. It’s the Samsung Memoir. I bought it 2 years ago and has an 8mp camera. Does the iPhone have more megapixels these days?

My Samsung has all the zoom in/out, landscape, lighting capabilities you would expect. The only thing it doesn’t allow is true manipulation of depth of field. But it is just so handy. I’m afraid that if I get the iPhone I will hate it. But then I could be missing out. Any thoughts?

How Sweet It Is

The husband walked into the office around 5:20AM wondering why I am up. After telling him I have been awake since 2AM he brought me herbal tea and breakfast. I know, I know… awww.

But, a little TLC and I’m ready to catch some zzzz-s.

Ciao, buona notte.

Jovial Satire

I think America’s humor takes a different perspective from humor in other parts of the globe. We have a jovial sense of humor. It’s fun-loving with a hint of satire. I like jovial. It makes good use of humor by lightening the mood. Other parts of the globe tend to be little darker… laughing at others’ misfortunes and so forth.

I think our humor is jovial because we work so damn hard and are all pretty much in the same boat. Anyhoo, long live jovial satire.

… people say something is interesting.

The word, ‘interesting’ is one of my least favorite words. When you ask for feedback and get the word, ‘interesting’ . Do you wonder why you bothered asking?

The word is defined as, ‘holding attention’ (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/interesting). I could see saying something like, “I reviewed 10 websites and only two were interesting”.  In this case the word is used well. It means that eight websites are not as likely to hold the attention as the other two.

Okay, I know this is a silly rant. But I just asked my friend to read one of my poems. He said the poem was ‘interesting’.  It was useless feedback…  I mean if I asked him detailed questions then I would be leading him.

Oh well, I will find an interesting person to go through my poem… or I mean I will find a person with a background in writing who just might be an interesting person.

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… 1,2,3,4 years ago. Which is it?

When someone comments about a time when they experienced something, I hate it when they say; 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 years ago. Why can’t they say it was approximately 2 years ago? Why take our time by counting down the number of years with them? Get to the point!

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