©2020 Built with love by Nick Howland.

information architecture : reading : responses

information architecture : reading : responses
January 31, 2014 nick howland

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[what screens want] 

“the average person’s conception of a computer is the screen.”

It’s interesting to note that, as time and technology progresses, the tech that we have been using for so long is essentially becoming screens themselves (phones are largely touch screen now, computers are mostly housed in the screen). The term “designing for screen” almost seems like a redundancy now. 

“The padding isn’t around the screens. It’s in them.”

Designers and software engineers can come up with some brilliant technological innovations, but they are useless if people do not have some kind of grasp on how they function. As designers we must simplify the graphic element that houses the functionality so that it can be functional.

“Choosing the proper amount of abstraction is tricky, because each user comes to what you’re making with their own amount of experience.”

Software no longer look like an imitation. It looks sleek and clean and functional but we’re still stuck in between flat and skeuomorphic design.

Two tribes of designers: flat designers and the skeuomorph designers. BOTH tribes are wrong, according to Chimero, because both are strictly based on aesthetics. A screen displays any form of imagery, regardless of it’s dimension. To understand the grain of the screen is to understand how to design for it. But to understand the grain, you must understand the history of the screen.

Design is about managing time, movement, and change. Designing for screen is managing the change. 

Flux is the capacity for change. It can make things easier to understand, simplify things. Movement comes into use when you are paying attention.

Three different kinds of Flux:

Small : These are really small mutations we take for granted when it comes to computing, like the ability to sort a table row on your spreadsheet.

High : These are the immersive interactive pieces you think of when I say “Flash website.” High flux is great in physical spaces.

Medium : Medium level flux is assistive and descriptive animation, and restructuring content based on sensors. It clarifies interactivity by allowing elements to respond to that interaction and other, measured conditions.

Medium flux has a viewable reaction / action BUT it does not resemble the physical action / reaction. It preserves context. 

consolidate space while inferring a relationship between data.

sticky labels help keep metadata present and visible.

progressive disclosure, when combined with simple animations, allow UI to be hidden until needed, cleaning up what is visually displayed and making the interaction easier to understand.

“Designing how things change and move is enough for us to understand what they are and the relationships between them. You don’t need the heavy-handed metaphor, because the information is baked into the element’s behavior, not its aesthetics.”

Clear wording with consistent meaning reduces the number of prototypes you need to build, because a simple word will do.”

We need to work as as community to develop a language of interaction we can all understand.

Abstractions make tasks easier but one should remember that they are still abstractions.

Abstractions can misinform and  confuse someone with needs other than what that abstraction is providing

WE NEED MORE MAPS. We can continue exploring, we aren’t just stuck in the internet as people view it.

We don’t need to build tools that require constant use; they can be put down and that can be part of the process. Build to serve, not serve to build.

“There’s a capacity for change in what we’ve made, who we are, and what we believe. Everything was made, and if we want, we can remake it how we see fit. We only need to want it. And then we have to build it.”

Ending Note: What we build or design shouldn’t necessarily follow what has been done or what can be done. It should be pushed and should be designed because of our needs, not the computer’s needs. We’ve lost sight of people and have concentrated on the internet, the machine (the map). We design for people, not for machines. We have to remember that.


[web design is 95% typography]

Typography’s one duty is to convey information in writing. Websites are very similar in that they are created to convey information—not for bells and whistles.

We must always, ALWAYS keep in mind our audience.


[what the ny times redesign got right]

page layout is all on one page, which resembles the printed matter and takes away clunky pagination.

comments are side by side with article, which allows users to be more accurate and doesn’t take them out of context.

navigation is influenced by the NYT app, so the site is much more responsive. But the site’s mobile navigation is also paired with normal navigation, which proves to be clunky and redundant.

“The redesign reasonably gives the best of both worlds–a faster, responsive digital experience combined with a more “newspaper” like reading experience that maintains the New York Times feel.”

the site is very much informed by the physical newspaper, this can further be seen in the changing of the title links from blue to black.