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The AYCL Blog

Learn about what’s new, what’s coming, and find blasts from the past.

Create Graphics with Meaning

March 31, 2018
by Adam Churchill

Graphics are such an important part of any design, but too often they don’t seem to have any real purpose and are just put there to look pretty and take up space. So how do you create graphics that are actually useful to your users? Here are some tips from Patrick Hofmann.

  • Before you even start to draw, have a plan. Know what it is you are trying to accomplish. This not only helps you create a better graphic, it saves you time.
  • Provide a focus of attention to allow your users process your graphic faster and easier.
  • Determine the message your users need to receive from the graphic. This helps you figure out what you want to include in the graphic and, equally important, what you want to exclude.
  • Test your graphic by looking at it and verbalizing what you see. Is the graphic you created fulfilling its purpose, or is it confusing?

When your users see that your images are useful and meaningful, they’ll rely on them to learn, so keep these steps in mind when you create graphics.

For more tips about graphics, watch Essentials of Effective Visual Design with Patrick Hofmann.

Design Better Features by Solving Better Problems

March 29, 2018
by Adam Churchill

Wren Lanier shows you in this recording, how uncovering and understanding problems creates better design, why focusing on solutions can lead to missed opportunities, and why problem discovery is a valuable process that can lead to big payoffs.

  • Learn the benefits of embracing the problem, not the solution
  • Find out how to mine user feedback to understand critical needs
  • Discover how to align user needs with business goals

Focus on Problems

Animating Experiences

March 16, 2018
by Adam Churchill

Animation is a great tool to use to direct the user’s attention toward something specific in the interface. Val Head shares examples of how companies like Fitbit animate design elements to draw the user’s attention toward specific data.

Other successful uses of animation include the way interfaces mimic natural gestures, like a form that shakes when the user tries to submit it before it is completed. The action is similar to the way we shake our heads non-verbally when something is incorrect.

Quality animation can guide users and help them see a preview of an action they want to make. For example, the way drag and drop animations will show how a layout will rearrange when you move something. Val explains that these interactions are so common we forget how complicated they are to create.

Explore the elements of successful animated interfaces and learn how to better animate your designs in the virtual seminar, UX in Motion: Principles for Creating Meaningful Animation in Interfaces with Val Head.

Empowerment in an Era of Self-Validating Facts

March 8, 2018
by Adam Churchill

In Empowerment in an Era of Self-Validating Facts, brand and content strategist Margot Bloomstein digs into the challenges of cultural predisposition. With some of the biggest brands, she’s uncovering new connections in how we design for empowerment—and they’ll change the way you support, guide, and engage your users.

Watch this seminar to discover how to design for empowerment, consider timing, and embrace opposing perspectives in your content all so you can help your audience embrace the courage of their convictions, on your behalf.

  • Explore the problems caused when internal truths trump external data.
  • Meet your audience where they are with your unique voice.
  • Gain your audience’s trust by delivering the right volume and types of content.
  • Reflect and rebuild trust by empowering your audience with vulnerability.

Empower Your Audience

Typography on the Web: 13 Golden Rules

March 1, 2018
by Adam Churchill

When our words look good, our readers feel good.

Designers have a lot of tools available to them to achieve that standard. They also have partners in their efforts: the devices readers use and the readers themselves. By understanding how readers view words, how devices transmit them, and how the brain processes them, designers are better able to adapt to and adjust for optimal readability and engagement. You’ll understand:

  • The social and emotional impact of typography choices.
  • When to trust yourself and when to rely on the default.
  • How to harness technology to optimize your typography and design.

Get the Golden Rules of Typography

Roadmaps Relaunched

February 22, 2018
by Adam Churchill

Product roadmaps offer something unique that investors, stakeholders, and even customers like to see: a clear articulation of the product’s purpose, strategy, and goals.

In Roadmaps Relaunched, Bruce McCarthy shares a brand new breed of product roadmap that focuses on results.

  • Review the components of successful product roadmaps, from a clear product vision to business objectives, themes, disclaimers, and the use of broad timeframes.
  • Establish a product vision using best practices, and learn methods for accurately prioritizing goals and features in your roadmap.
  • Hear tips for how to obtain buy-in for your roadmap, presenting and sharing it with teams and stakeholders.
  • Learn the dos and don’ts for developing your roadmap and see examples of the many forms that roadmaps can take, from Kanban boards to a slide deck.
  • Get access to a free roadmap health assessment checklist, and tips for getting started on your new and improved roadmap.

Develop a Successful Product Roadmap

Designing A Better Way To Meet

February 16, 2018
by Adam Churchill

The way we meet for group workshops, project check-ins, brainstorms, and all other forms of information sharing and gathering, can be comically ineffective. By designing better ways for groups to meet, we can address some of the classic challenges that undermine group gatherings, such as:

  • People talking too much, or holding back
  • People staying in their comfort zone by keeping comments at a surface level
  • False consensus: people going along to get along
  • Debate mode, when conversations have winners and losers

Marc Rettig explores patterns of participation, dialogue theory, and the elements of good gatherings in his virtual seminar.

Watch: Good Gathering.

Service Design for the Public Sector: A Case Study

February 8, 2018
by Adam Churchill

Service Design is about the design of services, from end-to-end communication materials, paper forms, call center scripts, to back and front-office software, and more. It’s a lot more complicated and bigger than a deliverable.

In this seminar, Chris details the challenges he and his team faced when trying to overhaul the system to book prison visits in the United Kingdom. It was a project fraught with complexity and not as easy to solve as getting people to agree on the research, or the problem.

  • Hear a real world application of service design principles that improved a public service
  • Learn how process and user-centered practices focused a team to find the right solution across a web of connected dependencies
  • Find out how a big legacy system challenge was solved by a low-tech solution
  • Explore creative ways to apply service design practices to big problems within a system

Watch this Case Study on Service Design

Qualities of Good Animation

February 2, 2018
by Adam Churchill

Most of us feel relatively confident in our ability to spot examples of bad animation. But what are the qualities of good animation? We might say animation is good when it doesn’t distract or take away from the user experience. What kind of animation should you be creating?

Val Head tells us that there are two things that great user interface animation has in common: purpose and style. Animation can augment an experience by creating context for users and showing them different ways of completing a goal. How can you get started?

  • Defining Principles: Find a meaningful space in your design for animation
  • Creating Continuity: Reinforce mental models in the interface to show how content is related

Watch: UX in Motion: Principles for Creating Meaningful Animation in Interfaces with Val Head.

Variable Fonts & the Future of Typography

January 31, 2018
by Adam Churchill

In this seminar, Jason Pamental guides us through the history and importance of typography and how the evolution of technology can bring us to a new design Renaissance that will satisfy style guides and content management systems, and delight users.

As the Internet has evolved, what was once difficult about executing typography well has fallen by the wayside. Now, the difference between having good typography and bad typography is based on choosing and setting up the proper systems and tooling to execute effectively.

Typography is design and a way of communication. It requires intention.

  • The communication value of intentional typography and its online evolution
  • The impact of variable fonts on good design
  • How designers can play a role in the spread of variable fonts and good typography

Execute Your Typography Well

The Name Game: Immersive Tech

January 20, 2018
by Adam Churchill

British designer Alex McDowell coined the phrase “immersive design” in 2007 to describe experiential storytelling, which is at the heart of user experience design. Today’s emerging technologies are allowing designers to create experiences that build a narrative into their work and design a world that feels tangible and immediate. Let’s define terms.

  • Virtual Reality (VR): We co-exist in virtual environments with digital constructs
  • Augmented Reality (AR): Information is overlaid on the world
  • Mixed Reality (MR): A merging of real and digital worlds

Adapted from: Explore the future of immersive technologies with designer Preston McCauley in his virtual seminar, “Entering the Immersive Design Revolution.”

Affordance 101: From Things to Screens to Things

January 17, 2018
by Adam Churchill

We're adding Andrew Hinton's Affordance 101: From Things to Screens to Things to UIE's All You Can Learn Library. This seminar recording is 40 minutes long.

 

Affordance is a key to understanding how your users make sense of every interaction you design in a product or service. Whenever your users don’t understand an interaction the way you assumed they would, chances are affordance is part of the underlying problem.

Just understanding what affordance is can be a challenge. The word “affordance” has come to mean different things to different people, causing a bit of confusion. Thankfully, Andrew Hinton can return us to the true meaning of affordance and demonstrate how it differs from signifiers.

In Affordance 101, Andrew uses everyday examples to explain the concept of affordance, its background, and how it applies to your design work.

  • Effectively define affordance and its importance
  • Distinguish between affordance and signifiers
  • Recognize how technology affects affordances and signifiers
  • Use signifiers to clarify your design for your users

Provide Context to Your Users