MicroPersonas – 41% Off

June 17th, 2013

Hey All. Just a quick announcement that I’ve been running a discount on the MicroPersonas icon set that is about to expire today. Instead of $29, it’s $17 for another 15 hours or so. Just wanted to share in here as well. Cheers. :)

Update: just realized that MightyDeals has extended the deal by another week.

InVisionApp: Now With Sketch Commenting

June 11th, 2013

InVisionApp Sketching
What do you get when you merge a pretty cool web based prototyping tool with some sketching capability? You got it – InVisionApp. These guys from NY have just launched a Sketch Commenting feature in their latest build. This now allows designers to express themselves more easily as words and pictures are more powerful together. They’re already awesome so no need to write anything else … “design on my friends” as they say. :)

Sign up for an account and give this tool a try (1 project always free).

Fries

June 10th, 2013

Fries
Fries (github) is a prototyping tool for Android devices. I think it allows you to spit out Android styled UIs just using HTML, JavaScript and CSS. Yes, it apparently plays nice with PhoneGap …

Description pulled from Github:

Fries is an awesome mobile development framework (yes, not just for prototyping!) for Android apps using just HTML, CSS, and Javascript and was inspired by Ratchet. We all know that you can find loads of iOS development tools out there, so this time let’s give some love to Android.

Credits: Jaune Sarmiento

Skeu It!

May 23rd, 2013

Skeu It!
Skeu It! – and perhaps here is the reason why people went flat with their design styles. :) It’s a parody tumblr collection of some weird looking interfaces with coffee switches, jean pockets and lots of wooden clipboards. The site is now closed off, but definitely proved a point of how ridiculous (or skewed) a UI can get when pushed to the other extreme.

Credits: Justin Maxwell (@303)

SIX UX

May 13th, 2013

SIX UX
SixUX.com is a collection of six second long Vine snippets of all sorts of transitions and animations (yup recorded by hand). Some inspiring short videos if you’re into moving pixel patterns. :) Overall I think transitions can be great if used wisely. Often they can lower the cognitive strain by helping people to understand what happens between two distinct UI states.

Anyhow, if you’re browser starts choking from so much video running all at once, there is also a tumblr blog as well. Nice work Andreas!

Credits: Andreas (@ThisisSIXUX)

Calling Bull$#!%: On Flat Design

May 1st, 2013

Calling BS
As the flat design trend has been recently surfacing in popularity it made enemies with a few good old friends of mine, some of which include: shadows, gradients, and textures. Taken literally, under the flimsy banner of honesty, flat design has ventured out against interfaces which resemble anything three dimensional or portray depth on a two dimensional screen. I’m calling bullshit on this for a number of reasons.

Please Don’t Steal My Design Elements

Back to basics from the time when I was still a graphic design student, I remember there were some fundamental design elements given to us to make use of. Armed with such primal elements as color, line and shape, we were one step closer on the road to respecting human perception above following ephemeral styles. We were learning how people see so that we could setup good visual hierarchies and differentiate between the more important and less important things on a page or screen. By not making everything look equal, but instead by making things larger or smaller, closer or farther, we could begin to guide the eye while grabbing people’s attention in different degrees.

Come today, two of these elements that are being attacked by flat design are texture and space (or depth). If this new awesome trend is now taking them away, then it’s ripping pages out of my graphic design text book and actually making me poorer as a designer. Not cool. As visual communicators we are stronger with more tools and techniques at our disposal, not less. I therefore respect the fact that human beings can see depth and there is nothing wrong with making a primary call to action large, shiny, and three dimensional. I am placing my bets that an embossed depth loaded button will be noticed more often than some ideologically restricted flat blob. From a business stand point, my clients will also be happier with a stronger conversion rate and a better ROI. From a usability standpoint, people will sweat less while trying to determine what is clickable and what is not (Bokardo seems to agree).

How Memorable is Flat?

One last other undesirable side effect of flat design (and any other minimalist, modernist, reductionist, clean or simple styles which have come and gone) is its potential to undermine human memory. Some time ago, in the context of charts and bar graphs, we were taught that chart junk is bad and we should keep our data-ink ratios in check while not succumbing to evil décor. But is this so? We have been warned that a purely simple and clean approach comes at the cost of making it harder to recall the information later on. Let this be a warning that extreme simplicity might not be the silver bullet after all if we’re striving for higher memory recall rates.

The fundamental thing about flat design is that it is a restrictive trend that ought to be questioned. Perhaps it’s cheaper to develop, design or maintain, but if taken in its literal interpretation it could result in a lower quality user interface. I believe that being respectful of people’s perception, attention, memory and the human ability to register depth, wins at the end of the day over following any stylistic fad. The answer probably lies within a more balanced approach and therefore – I choose not to design with one of my hands tied behind my back.

Credits: Jakub Linowski (@jlinowski)

Since more and more bullshit has been surfacing to the top lately, I’ve created a new bullshit tag to keep track of it. :)

Blackberry 10 Templates for Keynote and PowerPoint

April 17th, 2013

Blackberry 10 Templates
Blackberry 10 Templates has recently gone live as a sibling product to Windows 8 Templates by Jordan Gurrieri. As the name suggests, the templates contain some high quality customizable vector components themed in the new BlackBerry 10 UI style. The template is loaded with: a home screen, 80 royalty free icons, menus, forms, grids, activity bars, progress indicators, media player controls, sliders, drop downs, and the new BlackBerry 10 keyboard … you get the picture.

Why choose the BlackBerry 10 Templates? Jordan writes:

Quality and Attention to Detail.

BlackBerry 10 Templates was built by Jordan Gurrieri, lead designer and front-end developer at Blue Label Labs, as a tool to help our team quickly and easily mockup high quality app designs for client proposals, user demos, and developer requirements.

At Blue Label Labs we live and breathe app development, so you can be sure our templates are designed to detail specifications of the UI guidelines set out by BlackBerry. Your developers will love you when it is time to turn your mockup into design resources for development!

Finally, as this new platform evolves, we will be adding more commonly used design patterns and components which you get as part of the life-time free updates.

Grab them right here.

Credits: Jordan Gurrieri (Twitter)

GoodUI.org

April 10th, 2013

GoodUI
Good User Interface is my latest project with the intention of collecting and sharing UI design ideas in the form of a newsletter. It is also a running list of tactical tips for making a UI easier to use as well as increasing conversion rates. The project will reflect that a good UI is nice to both the business side as well as the people using it. As an experimental piece to the GoodUI project, I’ve also setup a Quora tag in case it stirs up any question-answer style discussions (started debating Prompts vs. Undos a few weeks back already).

As always, any feedback is more than welcome. Particularly, if anyone has any conversion ideas which they’d like to share, I’d love to have a look. Please reach out to me. Even better yet, if you could provide any metrics from A/B tests.

So would you like to receive ideas for making your UI better sent directly to your inbox? Sign up for the monthly GoodUI Newsletter today. :)

Credits: Jakub Linowski (Twitter)

InVision 2.0 – Present. Engage. Collaborate. Iterate.

April 3rd, 2013


InVision 2.0 is now out. Clark and his team have been hard at work redesigning and redeveloping the next iteration of this awesome web based prototyping tool. At the time of writing, this smooth thing has 77k active projects going on strong and some good reasons for picking up on its popularity recently.

Very Strong Team Focus

With 4.4 million comments left since its beginning, InVision takes design collaboration pretty seriously. This is definitely seen in version 2.0 and the team really understands that no one designs in a vacuum. Take the new project pulse view for example. This project dashboard so to say, gives collaborators a way to understand who has commented, what new screens were changed, what screens were added, and who viewed what recently. This awesome project glimpse can be contextualized in a flexible time scale of today, the recent 7 days, 30 days, 90 days or since the beginning. For those who prefer to understand when a project has been the most active, the same data can be viewed as a time graph under the project stats tab. The visibility of team behavior here, definitely helps to build a collaborative feel.

Each project also very clearly shows its team members in the top right. The faces of the people you are working with on a given project are now visible which humanizes the sometimes distant remote design process. Each person also has a dedicated profile view with their project and a corresponding activity stream. Score!

Care about comments? The new comments tab lists a chronological discussion view of all the things that have been discussed, with the comments contextualized nearby little visual snippets – context is king and a picture is worth a thousand words. What’s more is that these comments are also keyword searchable and actionable. The comment-email integration is thought through giving users the ability to reply to them (and interact with the team) directly from within their email clients.

Smooth Performance

Although I haven’t noticed a difference, the InVision team claims that everything on the front end has been rewritten with the intention of speeding things up. I always thought it was pretty quick anyways and never had any delays with it. 2.0 is smooth as smooth can be.

Other 2.0 Goodies

The change-log of the latest version also indicates that a few extra hot things have made it through as well. These new features include: bulk actions, device staging, anonymous sharing, user testing mode, dev notes for hand off, and real time pushing. Overall a solid release in my view!

Have some work that needs to be shared with a team, or need to build an awesome web prototype mockup? Then give InVision 2.0 a shot. Yup, the first project is always free!

Get It Now

PowerStory 2.0: Wireframe Storyboards Using PowerPoint

March 19th, 2013


PowerStory 2.0 for Powerpoint has just come out. For those of you not familiar with PowerStory, it is a plugin for PowerPoint that merges use cases, wireframes and storyboards into what is called a “Use Case Storyboard”. The interesting approach to the tool is its intent to bring agility to these traditional deliverables by combining them into one integrated deliverable, which also looks like it improves requirements communication and collaboration. Oh and one cool feature is that it also generates test cases which not only saves you some testing budget, but would support iterative and agile development teams.

The main advancement with PowerStory 2.0 over 1.0 (which I reviewed here) is the addition of a UI Library of 250 standard controls that cover the web, mobile and desktop applications. This new library is also extendible allowing you to create your own custom controls along with import and exporting sharing capabilities. This means you are not limited in the UI/UX look and feel you are after, and could also create a standard library of UI Controls for your project if needed. The move should now make it a much easier for UI designers when making Wireframes using PowerPoint. The nice thing about using PowerPoint is that everyone knows how to use it and it is good for walkthroughs. There are some nice features within PowerStory that make it easier to walkthrough your storyboards by giving you context of where you are. You could use this tool to create traditional linear presentations or take advantage of its “use case” based storyboards which essentially allow you to create alternate flows. This should help reduce the duplication of UI Wireframes across storyboards.

In terms of the test case generation, this is rather unique and a great time saver. The test cases generated can be exported into MS Word, MS Excel and MS Team Foundation Server.

Are you a BA, UI, or UX designer? Give PowerStory 2.0 a try.

Get It Now

Credits: Martin Crisp