CS 4634 – Design of Information


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Homework assignments



Design Heuristics and Best Practices
We use design heuristics to guide us, but not to govern us.

"The best is the enemy of the good" (sometimes: "Perfection is the enemy of good enough".) arguing for "good enough"   Voltaire
"Seven, plus or minus one" the ideal number of things in a list to choose from   useful misapplication of cognitive psychology study of memorization
"One, two, three, many" the way people characterize scale in collections of things    
"Methods are like toothbrushes: everybody has one, but nobody wants to use anybody else's." Design method selection   John Zimmerman - CMU
"The internet is where people who have a life take advantage of those who don't" reason to expect that anything can be found on the internet   Harrison's Theory of the Internet
"Problems are narrow, solutions are wide" Reminder that most problem-solving results in more problems.   Rich Gold
Ideation :      
When brainstorming ideas, come up with at least 10. 10 forces you to really explore different approaches.   Sketching the User Experience: The Workbook by Saul Greenberg, Sheelagh Carpendale, Nicolai Marquardt, and Bill Buxton
The client pays you. If you cannot abide that, find a different client. design is the hand-maiden of capital.    
You are only as good as your next client -- and your current client is your most likely source of your next client. try to keep the clients you have happy in order to generate future business    
"Never show a client an idea that you are not willing to carry out." coming up with acceptable alternatives    
Have single point of contact between client and company. Limit client contact to reduce confusion    
80% of success is just showing up getting/keeping a project   Woody Allen
"When you look at any reasonably complex human artifact, you are looking at the organizational structure that created it." analyzing structure   Mel Conway
"When you find sub-systems that do not fit well together and disorderly fixes in products, you see the poor communication among and between organizational elements. " analyzing structure (corollary to above)   Mel Conway
"Looks like the art director designed it." describes dazzling design that has little to do with audience or subject [negative criticism]   often associated with advertising
"Looks like the client designed it." describes design that is peculiar to client. (e.g. "Chock-Full-O'Nuts Coffee sung by wife of client) [negative criticism]   often associated with advertising
Good design balances "commodity, firmness and delight" Design must serve its intended function, be well engineered (and look it), and delight the senses.   Vitruvius, IA's interpretation
The first 20% of effort yields 80% of the result. estimating work, selecting design and implementation strategies   Pareto's Law
Implementation is at least 50% of the project labor. Estimating amount of time to deliver working code.   Jim Vogt/NCM
When working with more introverted team members, arrange in advance to talk about issues rather than out-of-the-blue questions. Dealing with different work styles.   Jim Vogt/NCM
80% of success is just showing up being part of a team   Woody Allen
"Take chances! Make mistakes!" Learn through risk-taking   Ms. Frizzle, Magic School Bus books and videos
"Product engineers are like Vulcans -- they cannot tell a lie." Finding out about a tool or system's capabilities   Dilbert via the IA Book: 367
"What would 100 people say is the correct label?" Harrison's "Family Feud" labelling heuristic    
Narrow scope whenever possible Designing labels IA Book: 99
Use contextual labels when context clearly sets expectation. Labelling   IA Book: 99
Use contextual labels when structure clearly sets expectation. Labelling   IA Book: 99
Use contextual labels when regularity and repitition clearly sets expectation. Labelling IA Book: 99
In search results, show user: how many; small number on one screen; if 0 or lots, provide refinement, browsing and tips. Search tool IA Book: 163, niso.og
When diagramming:
1. provide mulitple views
2. develop views for specific audiences
diagramming   IA Book: 292
Affect precedes cogntion The effect of emotion on understanding 4.A  
Familiarity breeds fondness The associative effects of emotion on on-going understanding 4.A  
Brand, Content, Function What will people remember? What do people want to know? What do people want to do? 6.A Dan Roam's Back of The Napkin
Some of the best sources are people who answer questions all day, like receptionists. Establishing primary info requirements   Jim Vogt, NCM
Orient maps with north at the top, unless the audience is Japanese (in which case any direction is OK). Map convention   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Map
Information is stacked in time (and space.) Conceptual layout of quantitative data Ed Tufte
Always enforce data comparisons layout of quantitative data   Ed Tufte
Use small multiples Use particulars of quantitative phenomena to highlight global behavior   Ed Tufte
Search boxes should be: one only, clearly placed, hide features, integrated Searching tools IA Book: 163, niso.og
Put most important information in upper left corner bibliographic ("book reading") layout starting point    
Put most important information in center epigraphic ("wall reading") layout starting point    
Establish limited number of colors and fonts for consistency basic graphic design    
Establish consistent layout throughout establish expectation of placement and meaning   IA Book: 99
Put hot triggers in the path of motivated users. Behavior change   BJ Fogg's Captology Lab
Design activities, not objects. Design approach   M. McCullough's Digital Ground
Minimize astonishment, maximize intuitive accessibility. Cognitive ergonomics   M. McCullough's Digital Ground
Provide affordances from history; use enduringly legible elements; leave footsteps. Collective memory   M. McCullough's Digital Ground
Expect physical location to provide protocols and constraints. Using context   M. McCullough's Digital Ground
Versatility and satisfaction increase when actions involve tightly synchronized acts & multi-modal reinforcement. Using coordination, flow   M. McCullough's Digital Ground
Prevent errors; don’t reprimand users. Error handling   M. McCullough's Digital Ground
Satisfaction emerges when abilities are fully engaged toward objectives that are just about manageable. Flow   M. McCullough's Digital Ground
Most satisfying designs tap latent ability. Building on the known   M. McCullough's Digital Ground
Meanings change as scale changes -- especially, relative to the human body. Scale   M. McCullough's Digital Ground
Help people take part in sharing disbelief, but do not expect them to confuse it for reality. Suspension of disbelief   M. McCullough's Digital Ground
Do not predict the state of complex systems. Tuning   M. McCullough's Digital Ground
Expect appropriation; unexpected uses and readings will happen. Unintended consequences   M. McCullough's Digital Ground
Tasks are part of the stream of experience, much of which is organized into activities: representing as much of the whole experience is essential to designing Work practice   M. McCullough's Digital Ground
The system should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within reasonable time. Visibility of system status   Jakob Nielsen
The system should speak the users' language, with words, phrases and concepts familiar to the user, rather than system-oriented terms. Follow real-world conventions, making information appear in a natural and logical order. Match between system and the real world   Jakob Nielsen
Users often choose system functions by mistake and will need a clearly marked "emergency exit" to leave the unwanted state without having to go through an extended dialogue. Support undo and redo. User control and freedom   Jakob Nielsen
Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing. Follow platform conventions. Consistency and standards   Jakob Nielsen
Even better than good error messages is a careful design which prevents a problem from occurring in the first place. Error prevention   Jakob Nielsen
Make objects, actions, and options visible. The user should not have to remember information from one part of the dialogue to another. Instructions for use of the system should be visible or easily retrievable whenever appropriate. Recognition rather than recall   Jakob Nielsen
Accelerators -- unseen by the novice user -- may often speed up the interaction for the expert user such that the system can cater to both inexperienced and experienced users. Allow users to tailor frequent actions. Flexibility and efficiency of use   Jakob Nielsen
Dialogues should not contain information which is irrelevant or rarely needed. Every extra unit of information in a dialogue competes with the relevant units of information and diminishes their relative visibility. Aesthetic and minimalist design   Jakob Nielsen
Error messages should be expressed in plain language (no codes), precisely indicate the problem, and constructively suggest a solution. Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors   Jakob Nielsen
Even though it is better if the system can be used without documentation, it may be necessary to provide help and documentation. Any such information should be easy to search, focused on the user's task, list concrete steps to be carried out, and not be too large. Help and documentation   Jakob Nielsen
Use personal stories and idiosyncratic structures to organize information and users' experience. People naturally weave stories together in a multi-linear or poly-linear manner, but in school they learn to organize things linearly in a very top down fashion. Once you have the linear flow, free things up. story telling   Abbe Don
Use characters to represent multiple points of view. The most effective use of characters in the interface is to use them to represent information from multiple points of view especially in domains such as history, news, or storytelling. In addition, characters can be used to help users find information from a particular point of view rather than requiring users to struggle with a more traditional query interface. linking to information in stories   Abbe Don
Work with people who can engage in simultaneous top down and bottom up design. In other words, balance a user-centered perspective based on user scenarios with a functionality and system perspective based on the limitations of hardware, software or bandwidth. developing narrative for directed purpose   Abbe Don
Provide experiences in which the user co-creates and transforms the content not just branches through shovelware consuming randomly accessible data. strategies for reader engagement   Abbe Don
Keep your sense of humor, passion, and patience especially when collaborating. writerly advice   Abbe Don
Tie community directly to content and vice-versa structure of community web sites used in conjunction with information sources   Powazek, D. Design for Community
Create a back-story tying structure and users together   Powazek, D. Design for Community
"Bury the post button" (i.e. make submission of rants/raves difficult -- encourage reflection) strategies for managing flaming   Powazek, D. Design for Community
Plan on moderators. project development   Powazek, D. Design for Community
Create barriers to membership in on-line communities developing and maintaining sense of community   Powazek, D. Design for Community
Give up control maintaining sense of community, improving quality   Powazek, D. Design for Community
Create clearly defined levels of membership developing and maintaining sense of community, increasing participation, sense of community ownership   Powazek, D. Design for Community
Start with a summary of previous presentations locating work in relation to previous work and decisions    
25% of presentation should be review, 75% new content ratio of previous work and decisions to new in presentation    
Tell the audience what you are going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you told them reinforcing message    


rev 2015.08.31

Copyright © 2015 Steve Harrison