User Experience Architecture
A golden rectangle, based on mathematical proportions called the golden ratio or golden mean, is approximately the proportions of a credit card, and these same proportions are reflected in classical Greek temples, columns, and in Nautilus seashells. One of the ways to create designs that are these proportions or have key elements in the golden proportions is to copy an image of a temple, a Nautilus Seashell (cut open to show the interior) or a simple object like a credit card into a Photoshop layer, set the transparency to 50% - 70% and lay out your site design over the underlying image. Of course another way is to do the math and lay out designs based on those proportions.
I have used the "copy an ancient Greek temple and paste it on it's own Photoshop layer" technique myself in designing user interfaces for Microsoft to be more pleasant.
Really good web design facilitates site use, by directing customer's eyes to where they want and need to look to flow onto their next decision.
Used well an underlying design plan which includes proportions and how they are used, gives visual cues to end users and aids intuitive understanding both in navigation and context. By context I mean look and feel as it is applied to the end user's needs and the company or organizations' site design. In this way it helps the design speak!
On the ecommerce Crate and Barrel site for example, the design team is using the exact proportions of the golden ratio to make an inspirational website that just makes visual magic even more exciting, harmonious, and pleasing.. It's low key, clean and has that special something. When such proportions are not there, end users may not find the site as useful and helpful; such sites do not look beautiful, they don't flow, they don't look unified.
As soon as I can I'll create and post some images that show exactly what I mean. The most well designed sites use CSS to control and display text, using fonts, background colors, and placement AND the golden ratio. It's not just color, not just images, it's the whole information architecture package as well.
Experienced, trained or intuitive artists use golden proportions to augment their designs, until they became completely natural design feature. Using the golden mean as a style and design tool - skilled artists also know how and when to break the "golden" rule.
I am not advocating a too cold matchie - matchie kind of design which looks like it was generated by a computer with no human qualities - but when demonstrating these proportations to another Microsoft manager, he was amazed where he could find that golden number. He was especially surprised to see where the corners of the proportions came together in key places to emphasize the important decisions, and how designers address the human eye and love for certain proportions -- humanistic design. It's not cold, it's vibrant from within, in part because of the intention of the designer sings through in an inspired design. What do you think?
Lessig's four modalities 1st ammendment analysis
free speech and the Web - Law, Norms,
And now we break for a Pizza backend design for Google Checkout embedded!
My goals in accepting an assistant teaching
role at the University of Washington shows just how oblivious
I was to teachers time commitments: class preparation, presentation, and
evaluation. It takes far longer to prepare for a class than I could have
While reviewing the former teacher’s existing presentation materials I realized that an overview related to the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) was more critical to sound user interface design than previously I was aware of. As a senior program manager at Microsoft and other high tech companies I generally manage both the working process in software development environments as well as contribute to the user interface design and user experience. I know how important the entire lifecycle of software is to user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design components and ongoing design needs from my actual experience.
Designers obtain information from the business on what is wanted for the interface. They have some access to end users in the best cases, or at least possess a baseline of end users needs. Designers and product manager write personas, scenarios, use cases, draw wire frames, design, try out rendered designs, perform user interface tests, and iterate these designs. Commonly developers just develop interfaces as described to them through the functional and design specifications.
More rarely they may even design and develop completely original interface tools, or use them in new ways that become part of the standard web lexicon of human computer interaction. They work together in groups to synthesize designs and that should be reflected in our learning environment.
Occasionally I hear about projects which failed often because the specification or the technical solution did not fit the required need. This is a result often of little or no communication in the SDLC process, probably due to a number of communication issues, a lack of emotional maturity, and brought about by not asking enough questions, out of fear, lack of engagement, or cultural norms.
Designers, product managers, and developers can be brought in during any part of a functional, design, or technical specification project and they need to know when to speak up to clarify such things as user interactivity issues, or articulate why something specified won’t work. It’s not enough to just say something won’t work in results focused companies, workers need to propose new solutions, and be prepared to defend their ideas and reasoning. These are the things I wanted the students to learn.
Learning group dynamics in a safe learning environment helps to develop professional skills as critical assets before one’s job is on the line. Team structures and managers may either reward or condemn such initiative, and it’s pretty clear that rewards bring better results, often immediately. Being afraid of failure is not the same as being invested in success.
Emotional maturity is one of the human values I discussed with the class, which is important to understand working in this field both subjectively and objectively, in order to be successful. Even when a UI/UX expert’s ideas are correct or better -- their designs may not be selected for use -- it can be frustrating. The example I gave was:
“I witnessed an independent consultant from a widely used user interface firm become emotionally upset during a presentation, because a manager decided not to accept the recommendation to standardize the interface. In this case the person was not even aware of how emotionally involved they were, and how that reflected poorly on their consultancy.”
The other side of that example is that the expert was engaged for all the right reasons, in defense of the end user, but not in the right manner, which is a detached business sense, because such business decisions need to be viewed as not personal, even if they are.
UI design is a process. It requires an investment as an advocate of end users. It requires knowledge, passion, and courage; in that way it is a lot like teaching a class.
By doing some in depth thinking, reviewing some of the available materials, from the point of view of needing to prepare to teach a class in UI design, I reflected that it is not just who the users are and what they need, what is possible technically, or the physical UI components in terms of specific selection items: buttons and checkboxes, or aesthetic design choices such as colors; but more importantly is also an understanding an overview of the whole iterative process -- how UI design interacts highly with the design and development methodology in place, and where the designer / product manager / developer is within that SDLC framework timeline.
Considering the high level of knowledge of the class
and the wealth of reference materials on user interface design, I decided
to first focus on issues that are more process oriented and human based
than the typical UI class might be.