You cannot not communicate.

Seven years ago Joshua Porter and Joshua Brewer launched a massive web project called 52 Weeks of UX. For the next year they delivered weekly missives on the art and science of user-interface design. Today it stands like an encyclopedia on the process of designing for real people.

If you have anything to do with how your organization’s audience touches your product, service, or communications, please bookmark and use this website. The world will be a better place for it.

From Week 01:

“You cannot not communicate. Every behaviour is a kind of communication. Because behaviour does not have a counterpart (there is no anti-behaviour), it is not possible not to communicate.” —Paul Watzlawick’s First Axiom of Communication

This is the first rule of UX. Everything a designer does affects the user experience. From the purposeful addition of a design element to the negligent omission of crucial messaging, every decision is molding the future of the people we design for.

As such, one of the primary goals of any good designer is communicating the intended message … the one that leads to a positive user experience. The copy-writing, the color of your text, the alignment of form labels, using all-caps or going lowercase on those navigation links—even the absence of a design pattern—are all part of this communication…”

The user experience is made up of all the interactions a person has with your brand, company, or organization. This may include interactions with your software, your web site, your call center, an advertisement, with a sticker on someone else’s computer, with a mobile application, with your Twitter account, with you over email, maybe even face-to-face. The sum total of these interactions over time is the user experience.

The interaction designer plans for these moments. Part of their responsibility is to make all interactions positive, and includes aspects of the software, the copy-writing, the graphics, layout, flows, physical experiences. It’s a shame when one part of the experience is top notch and another is dreadful. Cohesion is important…”

From Week 02:

In our attempt to create amazing user experiences, we often want to push the envelope, to create something new, to show  people a bright new future. But too often we fall into the novelty trap. The novelty trap is when, in an attempt to dazzle our clients and our users, we focus too much on the new and not enough on the now.

To create great user experiences we need to focus on the now. In reality the problems of our users are painfully mundane and often obvious. It is our task to ease this pain, and in doing so we might not invent some amazing new thing, but that’s OK. Success is incremental…”

“Good design is problem solving.” – Jeffrey Veen

You could say that actually solving the problem is good design in practice.

This rarely boils down to choosing whether or not to apply that ‘1px inner glow’ or rearranging a few blocks of content. Quite often, it means eliminating one’s own assumptions and applying problem-solving techniques in order to truly identify the problem area…”

Please pass this link. We all need these lessons.


This post first appeared on Here it is Tomorrow Again, a blog I posted between 2009 and 2011.

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