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Useful information clutters designs

Here's a great Dilbert on how narrow minded graphic designers tend to sacrifice the communicative and functional aspects of design on the alter of eye candy.


  • Dilbert, February 6, 2011 Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - February 28, 2011 - via

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Testing visual designs

Over at UX Matters, Michael Hawley writes about a quite interesting take on how to measure the viability of an visual design: Ask people to describe their experience of a design by selecting adjectives such as "busy", "fresh", "clear" and "trustworthy" from a predefined list. Then asses how these adjectives align with the goals you have set for the design.


  • Rapid Desirability Testing: A Case Study Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - February 22, 2010

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Graphics on websites - helpful or harmful?

According to Jared Spool, research by his company UIE shows that well-done navigation and content graphics help users. Ornamental graphics, on the other side, doesn't prove to benefit the user experinece. In their research, they can't find any evidence that they help users trust a site or make it seem more professional or friendly. On the contratry, ornamental graphics can be distracting and annoying to users.

Jared recommends that teams focus on delivering helpful navigation and content graphics and resist the temptation for ornamental graphics.


  • Deciding When Graphics Will Help (and When They Won't) Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - December 06, 2009

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See also: Research (130) 



Current trends in web design

Ellyssa Kroski has compiled a nice overview of current trends in web design. Besides rounded corners, pastel colors, 3D embossed shiny buttons, floor reflections and large text captions, the latest craze is intuitive, legible, usable, social and rich interfaces that are continuously evolving in response to user needs. It's Jakob Nielsen 2.0.


  • Information Design Principles For Web 2.0 Design: Simple & Social Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - December 12, 2007 - via Usability In The News

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See also: Site design (14) 



Interview with Luke Wroblewski about visual design and usability

UIE has published an interview with Luke Wroblewski, author of the book Site-Seeing: A Visual Approach to Web Usability. In the interview, Luke talks about how visual design can improve a site's usability.

"When properly applied, visual design is all about communication. The better at communicating we are, the easier it is for our users to use and appreciate the web sites we design."


  • Where Visual Design Meets Usability - An Interview with Luke Wroblewski , Part I Open link in new window
  • Where Visual Design Meets Usability - An Interview with Luke Wroblewski , Part II Open link in new window
  • Luke's book at Open link in new window
  • Luke's book at Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - July 02, 2006

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See also: Interviews (30)  Emotional design (10) 



Are ugly sites more trustworthy?

Josh Lehman has published a summary of the discussion about whether users trust a site more if it looks ugly. There seem to be an agreement among designers that it's not the ugliness of the sites that make them successful, but rather their usefulness and ability to provide the features the users want.

Josh concludes:

"I'm sorta relying on a consistant market need for design work in order to feed my family and pay the bills."

"But all that aside... I agree with the overall point that a site's function should always trump it's visual design."


  • The Ugly Conversation Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - March 30, 2006

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Web users judge sites in the blink of an eye

A study has shown that users judge sites within the first twentieth of a second and that their decision has a lasting impact.

The lasting effect of first impressions is known to psychologists as the "halo effect". If you can snare people with an attractive design, they are more likely to rate the site more favourably. According to the researcher Gitte Lindgaard of Carleton University in Ottawa, this is because of "cognitive bias". People enjoy being right, so continuing to use a website that gave a good first impression helps to prove to them that they made a good initial decision.

The study is published in the journal Behaviour and Information Technology vol. 25.


  • The article Web users judge sites in the blink of an eye Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - January 18, 2006

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See also: Research (130)  Credibility, Trust and Privacy (6) 



Usability is more important that aesthetics in the long run

The October 2005 newsletter from HFI is a discussion of how beauty can influence users' overall impression of a product and how to measure the product-emotion relationship.

The newsletter mentions a study by M. Hassenzahl where a MP3 application was evaluated with a variety of different visual designs. They study showed that:
- When participants only looked at the MP3 player, the overall rating of the product was based on its perceived beauty and anticipated usability
- When participants were allowed to use the player, the overall rating of the product was more influenced by participants' experience of using the product

The study suggests that the emotional aspects of a design are important in attracting customers in the first place. However, when the product is judged through usage over time, usability is what matters most.


  • Is Beauty the new usability attribute? Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - November 16, 2005

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See also: Emotional design (10)  Usability testing (71)  Research (130) 



Principles of visual design

Joshua David McClurg-Genevese takes a look at the principles of balance, rhythm, proportion, dominance and unity that guide the arrangement of objects within a visual design.


  • The Principles of Design Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - June 15, 2005

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The core principles of visual communication

According to Luke Wroblewski, visual communication is a key component of interface design and unfortunately often under-represented in interaction design methodologies.

A well thought-out visual organization "can greatly enhance usability by grouping information into meaningful page elements and sequences. Such a system relies on an understanding of how people use visual relationships to distinguish objects and what those relationships reveal to viewers..."

In a presentation, Luke Wroblewski introduces the core principles of visual communication and how they can be put to use in the design of web applications.


  • Visual Communication & Web Application Design Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - May 01, 2005 - via InfoDesign

Permanent link Comments (1)

See also: Talks and presentations (18) 

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