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How to build a successful design company

UX Movement has published an eight step guide on how to build a multi-billion dollar design company.

1. Make design everything. Everything!
2. Let design report to Steve Jobs
3. Let a very small elite team design all major products
4. Let designers make the design decisions
5. Make pixel-perfect mock-ups
6. Make designers and engineers work closely together
7. Don't do market research. Trust your own taste.
8. Don't let anything that isn't perfect go out

P.S. If you don't have a Steve Jobs, a Jonathon Ive might do.


  • 8 Things You Didn't Know About Apple's Design Culture Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - November 04, 2010

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See also: Implementing user-centred design (9)  The design process (24) 



Design conservatively to fit peoples' mental models

According to Jakob Nielsen, many usability problems stem from a mismatch between users' mental models and the application they use. That is, a mismatch between how users expect an interface to work and how it actually works.

Since users tend to stick to their mental models, Jakob suggest that we stay conservative in our design of user interfaces unless some new interaction style is vastly superior to the to the well-known ones.


  • Mental Models Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - October 21, 2010

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Tips on how to design forms

To find out how to design user-friendly forms, cxpartner have tested four registrations forms at Yahoo! Mail, Googlemail, Hotmail and eBay.

Here are their recommendations based on the study:
- Use a simple vertical layout and vertical aligned labels where possible
- If vertical aligned labels are not possible, use bold left-aligned labels
- When more than one field is placed on a line, ensure that they are designed to look like a single piece of information
- Emphasize the headers if you want users to read them
- If optional fields are needed, make them clear instead of using asterisks for mandatory fields
- Use single field for numbers or postcodes, allow input in various forms
- Let users focus on their task and avoid distractions
- Use real time feedback carefully
- If possible, place tips at the side of the relevant fields
- Provide users with a progress indicator showing them the steps involved to complete the form


  • Web form design guidelines: an eyetracking study Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - June 02, 2009

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See also: Forms (30)  Research (129) 



iPhone usability research

Bill Westerman from Create With Context has posted a slide deck covering their research on iPhone usability.

In their research, they found that "take-up of interactions - even when these were consistent across applications - was often quite slow. And even 'expert' users were not aware of the ins-and-outs of every interaction - for example, our 'expert' participants didn't know the two-finger single tap to zoom out on Google Maps."

In the slide deck, Bill Westerman walks through their findings and gives eight rules of thumb for designing better iPhone apps.


Henrik Olsen - November 12, 2008

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See also: Usability testing (68)  Research (129) 



How to use arrows together with links

Sometimes an arrow character or icon is used together with a link. According to Dmitry from Usability Post, we can use such arrows to mean two things.

1. An arrow placed after a link, pointing somewhere else, is saying "hey, click here to go there." It can be used to direct users to an article page or the next page of some content.

2. An arrow placed before a link is advertising the link itself saying "hey, click this link." It can be used for other types of links that we need to draw peoples' attention to.


  • Should Arrows be Placed Before Link Text or After? Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - October 28, 2008

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See also: Links (19) 



Spell out whether form fields are required or not

In a comparative test, Erin Walsh learned that spelling out that a form field is optional works significant better than indicating it with some visual means.


  • Erin Walsh's post on the IxDA discussion list Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - September 06, 2008 - via Luke Wroblewski's Web Form Design blog

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See also: Forms (30)  Research (129) 



How to design search result pages

In this two-part article, Jared Spool shares some tips on how to design search results pages:

- Prevent that people have to jump back and forth between the search result page and the individual result pages (pogosticking), by providing the information people need to make qualified choices between the results

- Keep the most relevant results at the top as people will loose momentum as they encounter results that don't seem relevant. Providing sorting and filtering tools can help people find the results that are most relevant to them.

- Eliminate 'wacko' results that are irrelevant as they reduce peoples confidence in the search

- Put more results on each result page. Limiting each page to ten results doesn't seem to be for the benefit of the users as they tend not to look beyond the first page and don't mind search results pages containing many results

- Handle "No Results" gracefully by telling people that you don't have what they are looking for.


  • Producing Great Search Results: Harder than It Looks, Part 1 Open link in new window
  • Producing Great Search Results: Harder than It Looks, Part 2 Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - August 04, 2008

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See also: Search (27) 



Left-justify vertical lists and menus

According to Jakob Nielsen, eyetracking studies show that users tend to rapidly move their eyes down the left-hand side of lists (e.g. vertical menus). In order to design vertical list that are easy to scan, Jakob recommend that we should:

- Left-justify the list items so that the user's eyes can move in a straight line. Items that are right-aligned make scanning more difficult.

- Start each list item with the one or two most information-carrying words. People will only read a item if something catches their eyes in the left-most one or two words.

- Avoid using the same few words to start list items, because doing so makes them harder to scan.


  • Right-Justified Navigation Menus Impede Scannability Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - April 29, 2008

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See also: Navigation (63)  Research (129) 



Account sign-in - 8 more design mistakes to avoid

Jared Spool shares 8 more design mistakes with account sign-in:

9. Not telling users the requirements for username and password up front

10. Requiring stricter password requirements than the NSA

11. Using challenge questions people won't remember

12. Not returning users to their desired objective after they have signed in

13. Not explaining users it's the username or password they got wrong

14. Not putting a register link when the sign-in is an error

15. Not giving the user a non-email solution to recover their password

16. Requiring more than one element when recovering passwords


Henrik Olsen - January 16, 2008

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See also: Forms (30) 



Account sign-in - 8 design mistakes to avoid

Jared Spool has watched users struggle with online accounts and sign-in procedures. From his observations, he has compiled a list of 8 common design mistakes:

1. Requiring users to crate an account when it really isn't necessary (e.g. when buying a product or downloading a white paper)

2. Requiring users to sign in before they are ready to do so (e.g. before they can see the products they can buy)

3. Not stating the benefits to creating an account (such as the option to change flight reservations after they are made)

4. Hiding the sign-in button

5. Not making "Create New Account" or "Forgot Your Password" a button or link

6. Not providing sign-in opportunities when people need them (e.g. at the checkout where it can save people for re-entering their billing information)

7. Asking for too much information when registering

8. Not telling users how their information will be used (e.g. not giving a reason for asking people for their phone number)


  • Account Sign-in: 8 Design Mistakes to Avoid Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - January 06, 2008

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See also: Shopping Carts (9)  Forms (30) 

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