Archive for the ‘Design principles’ Category

Six Circles – An experience design framework

Monday, January 30th, 2012


This ebook has taken far too long to write but at last it is finally finished. The beauty of self-publishing is also the major problem with it – nobody pushes you, you aren’t paid and for all you know nobody will read it once it’s published. I wanted to see how the many different aspects of the book may develop conversations within the user experience community.

Elements of the book have already aged, but the principles continue, even though the examples may not! However, I hope you enjoy the read and I am really interested to know your thoughts, either here or on twitter. Currently it is only an ePub available for mobile devices but if the demand is there, other versions will be made available.

Download Six Circles for Epub readers
(See the comments section below for browser-based ePub readers)

Download Six Circles as a PDF

Some accompanying thoughts

In the last year I have seen how the different elements of the Six Circles transcend user experience, into the fields of brand strategy, service design and customer experience. It is my view that in ten years time we will be talking about what we do today in very different terms due to the contexts that we have to design for, using technology that is only beginning to become pervasive in our physical environment. I predict that UX and Service Design will cease to be differentiated, as they will be so entwined it would be too difficult, and potentially inefficient to separate into different disciplines.

I have seen enough of touch and tablet usage, mobile devices, ‘Everyware’ (and even Microsoft’s shift of it’s Windows 8 platform towards the touch paradigm) to feel that we are in for an exciting decade ahead.

Call it the legacy of Steve Jobs, but what he has left us with is a global population who are more instantly engaged with technology than we could have imagined ten years ago. To allow the very young and very old to interact with content through the same device is a stunning achievement, and for the interface and interaction designers to be able to support a richer experience is truly exciting.

Unfortunately companies are still catching up, fearful of failure and what they perceive as risk. Watching their competitors to see who makes the first move but the time for businesses to be brave and bold is now. There is not much time remaining for some businesses to make use of the power of meaningful, rich experiences delivered by brands that satisfy the culture and contextual uses of the users. Those companies that achieve this will simply dominate at a rate that is faster due to the networked society.

But all the talk of technology misses the point. It is the human needs, desires and emotions and their interactions with each other that create our insights that in turn drive innovation and success for companies. These experiences make the difference. It is the quality of experience that is the differentiator for any company in a crowded market.

Solving people problems will inevitably solve business problems. The challenge is to get businesses to believe in it, and trust those to deliver on the promise of user centred design. But with a process that is understood and a philosophy that appeals to many, there is alot we can do to ensure the business world adopts a path to greater product development, that builds on the needs and wants of people at its core.

A UX design framework to address contextual needs

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010
Photo courtesy of Brandon Shigeta
User flow (user pathways) have become so important to the experience of a site that they go beyond standard best practices.

Their difficulty to architect for, gives rise to the post’s purpose – to form the basis of a contextually based design framework that can be used in UX design problems.

This framework defines the work we do as user experience professionals and the effectiveness of the designs we produce.


UX Design Framework – Persuasion

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Previously I have written about Content, Behaviour, Visual Design and Interaction. The fifth element – Persuasion, is a part of the UX design framework that has many darker, or manipulative connotations. Some would say that persuasion does not align itself well with the ethics of designing for the user.

But as BJ Fogg in his book, Persuasive Technology, says:

The answer to the question – Is persuasion unethical? Is neither yes or no. It depends upon how persuasion is used…The designers intent, method of persuasion and outcomes help to determine the ethics of persuasive technology…If a human were using this strategy to persuade would it be ethical? We expect ethical persuasion to include elements of empathy and reciprocity but with interactive technology there is no emotional reciprocity.

Which is why we sometimes feel cheated when technology fails to deliver an experience that is empathetic, and why as designers we need to be more aware of these potential pitfalls.

Here persuasion is explored in terms of design principles that influence people and factors of motivation – competition, cooperation and recognition. These characteristics also give products that are connected (from social networks to mobile applications) the power to persuade.


UX design framework – Interaction

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010


I have already covered content, visual design and behaviour as part of the UX design framework but now for the important topic of interaction…

A major element of UX, it has been described as

“the design of behavior, positioned as dialogue between a person and an artifact. A person commonly doesn’t talk to an object; they use it, touch it, manipulate it, and control it. Usage, touching, manipulation and control are all dialogical acts, unspoken but conversational.” – Jon Kolko

and also…

“a design discipline dedicated to defining the behavior of artifacts, environments, and systems (i.e., products)”. – Robert Reimann

Undoubtedly interaction design is a design discipline that has become a defining element of UX. Though the preceding two quotes assert the alignment with a user’s behaviour they do so here in relation to their interaction (the person and the artifact).


UX design framework – Behaviour

Friday, February 5th, 2010


The earlier posts regarding the UX design framework were concerning content and visual design. Here I explore a few principles that focus on a person’s behaviour and how we design for those feelings in what we produce.

Regardless of what you think about user experience design, as designers we need to pay more attention to how and why we behave in the manner we do . These principles derive from observations and disciplines beyond design. Psychology and sociology are as important within this list, which is of course not exhaustive.


UX Design Framework – Visual Design

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Previously I introduced a UX framework and wrote about the first element – content.  This post is about visual design, perhaps the most immediately emotive ingredient to user experience. Seeing is believing, and what our eyes see immediately tells us if we either like or dislike what they are receiving. It has a sway on the other 5 elements of the UX framework as it is something that is very tangible and creates instant feeling in a person. As UX designers we need to be aware of the importance of visual design as a doorway to incorporate the other equally important facets in our work. Visual design, like it or not, is still king when it comes to the first few seconds that a user interacts with a product or service.

3524670137_80dd4cfc58 Saul Bass, the legendary graphic designer and film maker, described design as ‘thinking made visual’. In many ways visual design should communicate the more complex considerations of a solution in an immediately accessible way.Aesthetic usability
Think about a website that you like and there will probably be a good deal of visual design that helps you in understanding its content better, what it offers and how easy it is for you to use.

Aesthetic usability is a quality that arguably Apple have made very much part of their product offering. Consider their most successful devices, (iMac,iPod and iPhone) and there is an immediate attraction to getting to know the product, even before you really know what it can do.

As there is an emotive connection (one of delight or intrigue) it affords the product a level of forgiveness within the user when the product or system fails.


A UX design framework to address contextual needs

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009
Photo courtesy of Brandon Shigeta
User flow (user pathways) have become so important to the experience of a site that they go beyond standard best practices.

Their difficulty to architect for, gives rise to the post’s purpose – to form the basis of a contextually based design framework that can be used in UX design problems.

This framework defines the work we do as user experience professionals and the effectiveness of the designs we produce.


Design principles for building user engagement

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

luke   Luke Wroblewski – Content Page Design Best Practices
One of the talks at the IA Summit was by Luke Wroblewski, author of two books and various resources published on his site. If you can see/hear the presentation at this location, I would urge you to do so. There will be something in there I have missed! The content he shared, was an insightful window into how we design pages and how the business requirements of a page may actually work against it. It really reminded me about the mechanics of persuasion, and he highlighted some insights explicitly. The following observations were made by Wroblewski. (more…)