Back in the shop, the interactive team revisits some of this season's “stickiest” User Experience topics from An Event Apart
It’s been a busy few months for User Experience events, with UXWeek out in San Francisco in August and several recent iterations of An Event Apart. While big conferences are great for building excitement around new ideas, the real challenge is always translating this energy back to project work. We find it’s useful to rehash event learning a while after the fact to see what’s been most memorable in practice. Here are a few practical highlights looking back on An Event Apart DC.
In case you forgot: Content First!
For those who couldn’t attend, An Event Apart is a three-day conference for “people who make websites.” Daily sessions focused on content, design, usability, and code. One of the most coherent themes at this year’s events was content strategy, with many sessions either relating to how to craft effective content, design for it, and make it work on multiple devices.
LESSON WORTH REVISITING: Mobile is the New Normal
Mobile statistics show that a growing number of Americans (31% of those with cellphones) are becoming mobile-only internet users. And organizations, particularly government agencies, are preparing to focus on the responsibility to get ALL of their content available on mobile devices. But content poses a design problem for both mobile and the web.
- Stop “dumbing down” content for mobile – particularly government agencies. For many Americans, mobile is their only access to the web.
- Treat content as a service. Use the process for going mobile as a filter for what your content should look like: concise and focused.
- Rethink the back button. Now that mobile is the new normal, designers need to expanding thinking beyond standard interaction conventions. For example, the latest iOS allows web browsers to “slide” the screen back in place of having to click on a back button. Passwords could be gestures on a touch screen vs typing in characters. And Windows 8 for desktop is actually inspired by mobile, not the other way around.
Photo Credit: Ashley Bush
LESSON WORTH REVISITING: Dive Deep to Understand Your Content
Content should be at the core of the entire web design process. Developing content requires an effective strategy that includes processes or systems that enable content creators to produce “good” content for designers to use when designing. This requires getting to know your content at a much deeper level than previously.
- Know Your Artifacts. Understand the artifacts the systems intend to produce, and gain
an intimate knowledge of them.
- Spend time understanding the stakeholders, the content management systems, and
the processes they use. Use content audits as a way to understand the
individual elements of content.
- Employ people with knowledge. Young people are not a guaranteed avenue of
innovation. Tap into wells of knowledge to produce rich content.
LESSON WORTH REVISITING: How to Design for Content First
Good design starts with good content, and content precedes design. Everyone agrees that content should drive experiences, but pulling this off is easier said than done. Many of the speakers this year covered how the rules have changed when it comes to crafting and designing for content.
- Design without content is just decoration.
- Beware patterns. Design that does not serve people does not serve business. When you do things that are anti-user, you are designing anti-user patterns.
- Designers must say ‘no’ tactfully with data and examples to design requests that are bad for users. This means not bombarding pages with links, irrelevant content, navigation, and more.
And More Great Stuff to Recollect...
There was lots of additional, practical advice for designers coming out of the talks that is worth recalling, on topics like iterative design, effective use of meetings, and working with clients. For more details, you can check out Ashley's complete notes on the ICF Ironworks Facebook Album.
We hope you enjoyed this review. Now back to work making stuff.
Idea Forge is a series from the ICF Ironworks’ Interactive Group that highlights practical uses for big ideas in User Experience design. For the latest thoughts hot off the forge, follow our blog at fitandfinish.ironworks.com