Type and trig: Understanding how to scale text for automobile design (with bonus calculator!)

I had a wonderful time talking at the AIGA Seattle’s monthly design meetup last week about user experience in automobiles and how we can effectively balance UI design and driver safety. (You can view the static slides of my presentation or slides with videos to see everything I talked about.) One of the big points I hit on with the attendees was making text elements and graphics too small in the UI. I started the section with a pop quiz.

Pop Quiz! Question: What is the optimal size for text displayed in the car? Answer: 20 arcminutes

And, as expected, I got the collective, “Whaaaa?” But seriously… 20 arcminutes. What the heck does that mean?

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How I write back every Amazon recruiter

I get about one email from an Amazon recruiter a week. This is my new form response back.

Hi {recruiter name}. Seeing that I have had not made it past two phone screens at Amazon, my guess is they are looking for some other type of designer that I will never be (or, more precisely, never want to be). Thanks for the consideration.

Bitchy? Yeah, I guess so.

Now trying the fronts of my Hai-Lo deck

You might have remembered I asked for some help deciding which backs would be best for my hit new game* Hai-Lo. I’m designing the fronts and was digging this concept. Hopefully you like it as well.

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Just make it pretty

From a recruiter through LinkedIn:

We have a specific need for a passionate front end developer who will be focusing on the look and usability of our internal customer facing tools. Our COVE (tools) team has a lot of talented engineers who are great at what they do we just don’t have the “make it look pretty” person.

With that kind of ego-stroking, how could I say no? Recruiting pro tip: if you need quotation marks to describe a candidate’s value to an organization, you’re doing something wrong.

Gotta run. I’m behind in making something pretty.

Is there a quantitative measure for usability?

Someone asked me the other day if there was a quantitative measure for usability. Me, being a person who doesn’t lack an opinion, laid out my philosophy. Thought it would be useful to post this to my blog as well, in case anyone else was interested in my answer.

Usability is measurable. If tested, usability needs to be measurable. It’s about task completion, steps to success, faults in the process, number of clicks/taps to get to success. We can take a design, assess its usability, take a competing design solving same task, assess its usability, and compare. A is more usable than B. It’s pure metrics and HCI.

Where things get tricky is if we talk about measuring user experience. That is not measurable because user experience is through the lens of the person using it and leans heavily on variables like history, perception, and emotion (to name a few). Continue reading

Tips on how to conduct international research

Just finished a few days of focal contextual inquiry down in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Here are a few tips for handling primary research in foreign countries.

1. Speak slowly. So many people here want to engage in English and forego the translator. That means you need to be clear in your questions and deliver them slowly. Continue reading

The Opera Problem

I was bored and dissatisfied with the lack of concept work after a long slog on a project, so I did a design problem and I encourage you to do it as well. You have only three hours to complete this problem from start to finish.

An opera company wants to draw a broader audience and turn newcomers into recurring, passionate patrons. Design a companion screen experience to accompany an opera performance. Consider using either the mobile devices in audience pockets or a tablet built into every armrest.

My solution after the jump.

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