design thoughts by rohan sandeep



UX Design Skills ladder

Category : Career Tips Apr 30th, 2011

While collecting data about the type of interview questions raised by interviewers i came across an interesting link on UX Design edge about the Designer ladder – how the skillsets of a designer changes as he grows. Below is the summary of an advanced designer,

Level 3—Advanced designers

  • Can identify subtle interaction and visual design problems. Has a strong appreciation for good design.
  • Thinks of designs in term of scenarios and personas.
  • Always works with many solutions before making a choice. Proposed solutions include standard approaches, simple solutions, and innovative alternatives that others would miss.
  • Makes decisions using a decision making framework and a holistic product vision. Often uses data to make decisions, but is willing and able to go beyond the data.
  • Offers specific, constructive, actionable feedback at the appropriate level in terms of design principles, guidelines, branding.
  • Can convince a team that a design idea is good. Experts can convince a team that a radical design idea is good.
  • Is completely in tune with what they don’t know.

Interview Questions for Interaction designers

Category : Career Tips Apr 30th, 2011

How do the interviewers try to gain insight into skills of an interaction design and his/her problem solving skills. I have collected a few links from searches highlighting the type of questions that are raised in interviews,

Data-ink Ratio (Dashboard Design)

Category : Blog Apr 27th, 2011

Data-ink ratio is an interesting concept pioneered by Edward Tufte, in his book  ‘The visual display of Quantitative information’. According to the concept when quantitative data is displayed in printed form, some of the ink that appear represent data and some represent visual content that is not data.

In his words “Maximize the data-ink ration, within reason. Every bit on ink on a graphic requires a reason. And nearly always that reason should be that the ink presents new information”.

Stephen Few in his book Information dashboard design applies it to dashboard design. Some of the useful points are,

  1. Remove graphics that serve merely as decoration
  2. Reduce or remove borders when white space will do
  3. Remove distracting backgrounds when white space will do
  4. Remove or make subtle grid lines in graphs and tables
  5. 3D graphs when the 3rd dimension does not convey any information
  6. Make grid lines, lines and borders subtle compared to actual quantitative information

More information,

Thirteen common mistakes in dashboard design

Category : Blog Apr 27th, 2011

Recently reading the book on information dashboard design i came across Thirteen common mistakes in dashboard design. Listing these out here.

  1. Exceeding the boundaries of a single screen
  2. Supplying inadequate context for the data
  3. Displaying excessive detail or precision
  4. choosing a deficient measure
  5. Choosing inappropriate display media
  6. Introducing meaningless variety
  7. Using poorly designed display media
  8. Encoding quantitative data inaccurately
  9. Arranging the data poorly
  10. Highlighting important data ineffectively or not at all
  11. Cluttering the display with useless decoration
  12. Misusing or overusing color
  13. Designing an unattractive visual display

How many users to test?

Category : Blog Apr 23rd, 2011

While conducting a usability test we may face the question of how many users should be ideally included for a usability test of an interface. The guiding answer is provided by research done by Laura Faulkner in per paper – ‘Beyond the five-user assumption: Benefits of increased sample sizes in usability testing’. Some of the highlights of the paper are,

  • 5 participants can help uncover between 85 and 55 percentage of problems in an interface   
  • 10 participants on an average can help uncover 95% of the problems in an interface
  • As we increase the study sample the results are confirmatory but do not increase in number (law of diminishing return)

 Link to the paper

Why We Buy

Category : Blog Apr 22nd, 2011

I came across ten costly cognitive biases on PSYBLOG that lead to errors while shopping. Knowing how you think goes a long way in preventing pitfalls. I have taken most of the points and summarized them below.

  1. Status quo bias – Our tendency to stick to age old preferred items.
  2. Post purchase rationalization -  After we buy something that’s not right, we convince ourselves it is right.
  3. Relativity trap -
  4. Ownership effect
  5. Present bias – In general humans prefer to get the pleasure right now, and leave the pain for later. Economists call this hyperbolic discounting
  6. Fear of losses – People tend to sell things when they go up in price, but hold on to them when they go down
  7. Familiarity bias – Advertising works partly because we like what we know, even if we only vaguely know it. We even choose familiar things when there are clear signals that it’s not the best option
  8. Rosy retrospection – We tend to remember our decisions as better than they really were.
  9. Free – We sometimes take a worse deal overall just to get something for free. Watch out if you are offered something for ‘free’ as sometimes the deal is not that good.
  10. Restraint bias – Many mistakes with money result from a lack of self-control

User Experience and Experience Design by Marc Hassenzahl

Category : Blog Apr 9th, 2011

Marc Hassenzahl’s commentary on experience design through a four part video and a chapter on Interaction-design.org. Am still reading and getting enlightened by how usability or usage centered design is different from experience design. What to keep in mind while designing experiences for people.

Interesting video!

Category : Blog Apr 7th, 2011

Chicago Service Jam 2011 Submission – Swoop from Jennifer Wittman on Vimeo.

Dealing with Baby Duck Syndrome

Category : Blog Apr 7th, 2011

One of the situations i have had to deal with on projects is the one where the stakeholders claim the software has been in the market for twenty years and users are already familiar with the system and hence we don’t need new thinking or usability features. Can this be true? Can users get used to a bad system to a level where they may not prefer a more usable system. I wonder. This brings me to the baby duck syndrome.

Whats Baby Duck Syndrome?

Baby Duck Syndrome denotes the tendency for computer users to “imprint” on the first system they learn, then judge other systems by their similarity to that first system. The result is that “users generally prefer systems similar to those they learned on and dislike unfamiliar systems.” The term may have been inspired by popular understanding of the work, experiences, and observations of Konrad Lorenz.

Based on reference provided on wisegeek.com

“This technical term is a reference to the work of Konrad Lorenz, a psychologist who actually studied geese, not ducks, although his work could be generalized to ducks. He learned that when baby birds hatch, they “imprint” on whatever moving thing they first see, whether or not that thing is a parent. Lorenz famously got several clutches of goslings to imprint on him, and there are some charming photographs of Lorenz teaching the young geese how to swim, eat, and perform other tasks.

Much like baby birds, humans apparently imprint on whatever technology they are exposed to first. Someone who learns to use a Linux operating system, for example, will typically reject alternative operating systems, sometimes including other versions of Linux. Likewise, someone who learned to type with Microsoft Word might struggle with WordPerfect, a very similar program, and people used to the QWERTY keyboard dislike the DVORAK layout.”

I for one haven’t tried a mac or linux yet thanks to my familiarity with windows (i can hear grunts).   So the next time somebody claims to like a system a little too much to try anything else – watch our for the syndrome.

But how do you deal with a situation like this, when it comes to redesigning an existing interface?

Interesting links