I’m sure you’ve heard the expression 'Never work with children or animals' right? Well, after you’ve read this lot, I reckon you’ll want to add participants, facilitators and even clients to this list.
You see, since my last blog I’ve spent a few weeks “playing journalist” sourcing weird, wonderful and downright bizarre stories from the UX (User Experience) Community.
The idea came to me while I was telling a friend how I had to sit throughout a whole study earlier this year in Norway, trying not to crack up every time a participant had to fill in his name on a form. Thing is, he was doing it with such a straight face that for a long time I thought it really was his name. Which it obviously couldn’t have been.
So it got me thinking that there must be other amusing or even downright weird experiences that my fellow UX practitioners might like to share with me... and share they did! OK, some took a little cajoling but I got there in the end.
They’re all anonymous and I hope you at least find them interesting, even if they might not tickle you as much as they tickled me.
Some of the best web and mobile app designs have a very limited colour range. Two or three colours can be more than enough, and I find that a restrained approach to colour works especially well on de-cluttered interfaces.
The use of colour in design is a bit like great music, where balance, contrast, restraint and dissonance all come into play. I picked out monochrome and hypercolour as two of my 18 web design trends for 2014, but perhaps trichromatic design is where it's really at?
For trichromatic design it is often the case that there is a 'main' colour, an 'active' colour, and a 'highlight' colour. A limited palette goes further when you reverse out the colours in certain areas (menus, or buttons, for example).
I wanted to highlight some examples of mobile interfaces that primarily focus on two or three colours, along with plenty of white (or otherwise neutral) space, and a lack of unnecessary clutter. In other words: minimal design. Less is more.
So let's take a look at a few examples. I don't claim to have used all of these apps and sites, and one or two are concepts, so the focus here is on the look and feel, rather than the user experience. Click on the images to see more in-depth or full size screenshots.
As the cinema experience continues to improve with technological advancements in Imax, 3D and fully immersive sound, so too does the aesthetic experience of the web with its glorious HTML5, parallax scrolling and super-slick CSS3 coding.
It's as if they're competing directly for our attention!
Thankfully the home experience will never match the cinema experience no matter how cutting edge your home cinema set-up may be.
Just think of the sheer visceral horror of watching Sandra Bullock spinning out of control in the depths of space and how muted it will seem while watching it in bed on your tablet.
These films still need to be marketed through these less than cinematic desktops and portable devices in order to drag us out of our homes and into the theatres.
Luckily the fast pace of change in web design trends has meant that the large scale experience of cinema can be substituted online in brilliant alternative and innovative ways.
Here is a list of movie websites that either feature captivating visuals, grand technological achievements, innovative UX or highly interactive fun, whilst also perfectly capturing the essence of the movie online.
Responsive design posts are always popular on the Econsultancy blog. That's because people enjoy looking at beautiful things.
We've previously rounded up some of the best sites of 2013. We've also looked at the ins and outs of RWD and at some examples of responsive email.
I thought I'd add to our roundups and look at a brief selection of agencies with responsive sites.
Do have a play around with them by resizing your browser or accessing on mobile. There's a few screenshots for each and you can click through from the desktop images.
iWonder is the evocative name for the BBC’s new interactive guides. The name conjures childlike enquiry (I wonder!), ‘90s crisps (Golden Wonder) and fits nicely with the Beeb’s and Apple’s use of the stunted ‘iProductname’ format.
The guides are the BBC’s new content format, described as 'sit forward', allowing the user to learn by doing.
They organise video and audio, infographics, text and activities into stories.
I’ve been having a play with the guides and given some brief thoughts below. Do go and check them out, they’re a powerful tool for schoolchildren or older autodidacts.
A satisfying mixture of cutting edge web design, charming images and delightful usability makes the Visit Suffolk website a joy to get lost in, as much as the county itself.
Did I sound too much like an actual tourist board there?
Possibly, but it’s genuinely difficult not to be charmed by this site. Offering an experience that is not unlike exploring any attractive UK destination. In my experience I’ve certainly not found a tourism website quite so captivating.
Come with me and let’s take a little wander around the east coast…
Sports Direct is brilliant. Ok, it had some problems last year as its reputation took a blow thanks to the retailer’s use of zero hour contracts, but on the sales front, it’s flying along.
New stores are opening, other sports retailers are being battered into submission and 2,000 staff members are to receive a cool £100k bonus after profits climbed by 40% to £200m last year.
With 12 languages and 10 currency options, the Sports Direct website should continue to aid the company's growing profits.
The website has been praised in many quarters. It’s certainly easy to use and strongly conveys the brand’s identity.
Visiting the site I was struck by just how good its calls to action are, and how easy it is to get around (unlike their stores). I thought I’d round up a few of the best bits.
Enjoy them in all their enormous garish glory. I think they’re part of a growing lust for simplicity that is driving web design forward.
What web design trends do you think we'll see in 2014? I'm betting on more simplicity, more cleanliness, and more focus on smaller screen sizes, among other things.
This collection is largely based on observation, vaguely educated guesswork, waving a finger in the air, and a bunch of other posts I've compiled in recent months. As such, some of these predictions may be more accurate than others!
No doubt I have missed all manner of trends, so do share your own thoughts and predictions in the comments section below.
Mobile is now more important than desktop (I posit). You only have to look at Google’s recent changes to see that change is irrevocably afoot.
Tom Loosemore, Deputy Director at GDS, pondered yesterday whether a significant landmark, mobile devices bringing more traffic than laptops and PCs, is near.
There’s some great stuff in his blog and I thought I’d have a look around to find some additional evidence and perhaps even make the bold claim that mobile traffic is already in the majority!
See what you think and I’d love you to add some stats from your own site to the comments below, allowing us to make a more reasoned evaluation still.
When it comes to website navigation, I'm a traditionalist. I don't think it's something that should be messed around with, unless there's a very good reason for doing so.
The fundamentals of web navigation haven't changed at all. Obvious labels, clear scent trails, a lack of clutter, and good usability are all essential. Navigation should be obvious, prominent, persistent, and not obfuscated in any way. And as with most things, fancy design should be stomped on if the user experience is compromised.
However, I love innovation, experimentation and evolution, and it is perhaps an opportune time to rethink our ideas about web navigation, given the rise of smartphones and tablets, as well as better tools, such as HTML5, CSS3 and jQuery.
In the past year or so I've noticed that more and more websites that have unusual forms of navigation, and I thought I'd collect a bunch of examples to show you the art of the possible.
It's worth pointing out that I don't think all of these work brilliantly. I'm including examples that are different and distinct, or that are very much in keeping with the rest of the web experience, whether good or bad. You can decide for yourself.
Some of these might be filed under 'trying too hard'. As with everything, I think it's about finding the right fit for your site, your content, and your audience.
So then, let's prepare to navigate! Click on the screenshots to visit the websites, so you can see how they work.