Avoiding the “user guide” or “help system”

A primer on user assistance for startups.

I think two design choices can help a user learn new software without requiring her to read “documents.” They are:

  • Self-explanatory user interfaces.
  • Video demonstrations.

Self-Explanatory UI

I see many software interfaces that a few minor tweaks could make more self-explanatory. For example:

  • Carefully written labels.
Posted January 4, 2013 . . . 0

Animation: beyond entertainment

Animation is often just “eye candy.” Sometimes it’s an effort to increase retention through engagement. But motion graphics — beyond the screencast — can actually improve comprehension of complex information when added to diagrams, charts and graphs, narratives, and technical illustrations.

This is the thesis of my “explanimation” services and my presentations to professional communicators.… MORE

Posted November 8, 2012 . . . 0

Visualize your identity

A primer for entrepreneurs.

A logo is so much more than a name and/or an icon. It’s the central component of a larger idea, your “visual identity.”

Wikidpedia has an interesting section on the cultural aspects of a visual identity.

Organizations with more than one person who communicates with the outside (and isn’t that any organization with more than one staffer?) need to ensure consistency in what they send out. … MORE

Posted October 12, 2012 . . . 0

A bad feature choice by Prezi

Prezi is lacking one feature… a feature that would allow “slide decks” to be shared after the presentation, with references to specific slides.

Someone just shared a Prezi “deck” with me, wanting to discuss a particular section. In the absence of slide numbers, she was unable to pinpoint the section to discuss.… MORE

Posted October 1, 2012 . . . 3

Icon designers are dealers in cliché

For writers, a cliché is something to be avoided. It’s a phrase that’s so overused that it’s lost it meaning.

But in visual terms, an image that has been seen a zillion times may well grow in meaning. Why do we think of athletes when we see the Nike swoosh? Because their marketing has created, then reinforced, the association of the symbol with the meaning.… MORE

Posted September 3, 2012 . . . 0

At the crossroads of information and visuals

Let’s untangle three trends: data visualization, visual thinking, and infographics.

  • Data Visualization. Scientists and data analysts use visualization tools to view information lots of ways. Today, regular folks are getting their hands on these tools, too. This is the “big data” meme.
  • Visual thinking, sometimes called “mind mapping.”Visuals can also help in the thinking process, like a user experience team using a journey map.
Posted August 13, 2012 . . . 0

How does an infographics designer work?

An infographics designer creates a visual presentation of information so people can use it effectively — the right visuals communicate more clearly than text alone. The designer usually:

  • collaborates with content experts or does research to get the information,
  • analyzes the information to reduce unnecessary detail and define key points,
  • visualizes how to present the information graphically,
  • writes or edits the annotations, and
  • renders the image, using design principles to encourage cognitive and emotional engagement.
Posted July 24, 2012 . . . 0

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