UX thoughts on a friday

March 6, 2009

Settle down, class… I know the weekend is only hours away but we still have stuff to get through…

I thought I’d just use the newly launched (or rather, beta-launched) “Den Store Danske”, the Great Danish Encyclopedia online as a case study – so let’s go ahead and take a look at this picture:

storedanske

You can see the first problem with the user experience quite well, can’t you? This does not look like an encyclopedia.
It looks like a site for something called “Villahjælpen”.

You see, the site is advertisement funded, and that top banner ad is a tricky bastard – if done right, it’ll be OK, if not it will steal the thunder from the site’s own headline. This doesn’t begin well, because the site’s own header simply is too inconspicuous, compared to that banner ad space.
(Also, one has to apply some form of do’s-and-dont’s to website ads, to avoid massive clashing, but that’s a different article)

What you can’t se in that pic up there, however, is that both the top banner and right sidebar ads are flash animated out the wazoo (go visit the site, I’ll wait), and this brings us to the next UX issue at work here:
“Den Store Danske”, being an encyclopedia, is a knowledge harvesting site – it’s a place you’re supposed to go when you’re studying and need specific information, data, facts.

An encyclopedia is a no-nonsense thing, and the design here doesn’t reflect that – all those animations are quite distracting, actually, escpecially if you’re hunkered down over something serious and just need to quickly establish some facts.

Sure, people will sometimes just sort-of browse for interesting stuff in such a place, but it should not be designed for it, any more than an actual encyclopedia (the book – you remember that, right?) should have a wee comic and some entertaining short-stories thrown in every 10 pages.

Finally, there’s the encyclopedia itself – the part where you search for, and hopefully get, information.
This is the primary function, and should take up the primary space, visually. In stead, we have here a case where the log-in entry fields at right are just as prominent at the search field, whereas the filters are just text strings, basically sitting there as if they were any kind of text.
– and those are weird, by the way, with stuff like “cars & motorcycles”, “food”, “travel” making it look like an eBay subsite menu…

Now, DSD is supposed to become a kind of official wikipedia of Danish scholarship (you can log in and submit things, which – unlike a wiki and with the intent of lending greater trustworthiness – will then be verified by a board of editors).
Therefore, it should come across as a wiki: – it should be open and inviting, and the searching should be at the very center of your first impression. Basically, a search control panel with some supporting stuff surrounding it, impression-wise.

This design is not open, in my opinion, and it doesn’t communicate very clearly that this is a search site.
I would have gone about this very differently.

A final thought: – should knowledge sites like this ever have ads?
I mean, isn’t there a risk that, on a subconcious level, the proximity of ad material (animating its way into your attention wether you want it or not) to supposedly un-biased data will compromise our trust in the latter…?

Have a good one!

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I told ya!

March 3, 2009

Remember how, back in an earlier post, I sort-of casually mentioned how easy it would be to add a sign-up for a newsletter at my shiny new website?

emailbow

Here you go – still did it myself, promise, using only what I could find on the internet in terms of guidance.

Now, all I have to do is pepper my soon-to-be-enormous fan base with creative wisdom.

And trust me, I will – irregular, sure, but wise it will be, creative it will be. Or, at the very least, funny.

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Hoops and plastics

February 28, 2009

This… well this is a classic of mine – must be at least a lot of years old I guess.

Actually it is really simple, some metal hoop and then a sort-of hammock for your tushy – the original version had a leather seat, trimmed to look as if you were sitting in the palm of a glove.

And then I moved on to this, the indoor/outdoor version:

by JWcph

The cutaways, aside from looking cool and providing flexibility, also let water drain from the seat – if you’ve left it out or, say, happen to sit in it wearing wet swimwear (and I certainly prefer imagining it at the beach or pool in the sun, over standing out in the rain at night).

Another edition would have a soft rubber seat with air pockets – mainly because it looked rather wicked I thought:

by JWcph

This was before I went all ACD, you might say – but make no mistake, I still want things to look wicked!

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Brand name dropping: So last week…!

February 22, 2009

Hunter boots, Gucci bags, Blah-blah-blah-niks, and whatever those huge watches are supposed to be, and on and on… you know it and, admit it, you’re tired of it.

Well, dispair not, for JW of Cph is here with a remedy:

The No-Brand Brand

 

generic

Get them while they’re not – over at the shop don’t you know.

– it’s a hobby…

🙂

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Huzzah, the new website!

February 18, 2009

This may not be very comme il faut but I feel like congratulating myself just a tiny bit – the new site at jesperwille.com is up as of today! Yay!

I’m particularly happy about this one because this time, not only did I design it (of course, the previous one was of my own design too) but I also programmed it all myself.

Actually, I mention this for a reason (as you may have guessed) – this was, and is, a project…

This internet thingy, well, let’s just say it’s keeping JW on his toes, being an experience nerd – I don’t think a single day goes by that I don’t, in some way, have thoughts about how this medium is used. Some do it this way, others that and the other, but in my opinion, far too many websites (considering how long we’ve had for practice) succumb to the scourge of technology:

Discordance between purpose and the underlying tech & mechanics

omgwtfwebsite

(you thought I was going to say “feature overload”, didn’t you?)

So what I did was set out to define for myself how I wanted my website to look and feel, and what I wanted it to do – and then get my own hands dirty and see if I could indeed do this, without having to become some kinda professor and without forcing the hand of my users, or annoying them (technically speaking – if you’re annoyed at my style, that’s entirely allowed).

I didn’t think it had to be that bad, since a site such as this has very few functions – no databases or sign-ups (although I could have added a newsletter real easy – maybe I’ll do that one of these days), just pure presentation, which is all a lot of sites do, so I decided part of it would be doing it myself (if a non-coder can, it’s a strong argument against technological difficulty as a reason for not-too-well-done websites, right?)

I also don’t like flash sites very much (no offense intended, my previous site was flash) – I think it breaks the conventions of navigating the net, but not in a good way in and of itself.
It’s all down to the flash programmer, and that can mean too much freedom, because the function of this type of site has to be rather simple – and doing simple things should never be complicated just for the hell of it (even if it looks good in flash).

So the mission was to find out how close I could get to my initial vision, using only basic code, no embedded flash or any such stuff, and getting all my info off the web (did the weirdest google searches I’ve ever done).

Well, I got pretty close – the new site looks like I want and does what I want it to, so: Mission accomplished.

Until I change my mind.

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360 Winnett

February 14, 2009

This may be a little late, but anyway…

Here’s an interesting project I’ve been following almost since it started – some people are building a house and sharing every step of the way with us, the internet people:

360 Winnett

It’s fun to be able to see a home being created somewhere across the world – also, interesting to see how things are done in Canada.

– and Jeremy takes some pretty good pictures, too.

Looking forward to see it all done…!

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3D, the super-tool – and fun, too

February 14, 2009

You may have noticed, if indeed you’ve been around at my site and this blog at all, that I render stuff in virtual 3D a lot.

I find this is, well, a great deal of fun to work with, but also a great tool, both in the design process and when it comes to presenting stuff to other people.

For example, I was charged with designing and building a wall of shelves for a private home – now, this is not the kind of project where you’ll normally see a lot of previz going on but I have a fast 3D pipeline, you see.
So in short order I took some measurements off the room and rendered out some proposals, of which this one was chosen:

wall render
notice the clever use of set dressing!

Of course, with my well-done 3D model, it was rather a simple matter of ordering the materials and building the actual wall of shelves in their actual living room – see:

wall IRL
– and notice the even cleverer set dressing now!

The doors, in case you’re wondering, are push-to-open.

Built to last, too – I’m told the children of the house use it as a climbing wall…

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Voluptuous form – the Merry M.

February 14, 2009

Some time ago now, I worked for a while as an external design consultant for a furniture factory in Poland called Yask – you’ll (not) know them for building some very hefty oak tables for ILVA, maybe.

But none as hefty as this one…

Merry Monroe by JWcph

At the time I would come up with ideas for furniture lines, designs and design changes – mostly those would go through further alterations and either enter the line… or not.

This was different however, as the Merry Monroe went straight from my drawings to the factory floor, and it’s still in production – although not for every home; the legs alone measure some 24 by 24 centimeters, and it’s about as heavy as a piano.

Get yours now – and remember, they may deliver it to your house, but they probably won’t carry it up the stairs…

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Good Lord, how time flies…!

February 13, 2009

Have you ever been away from home for a loooong time, then returned and proceeded to remove the white sheets from the furniture, wipe away the dust and cobwebs and re-inserting yourself into your own space – feeling comfy and I’ve-come-home-ish all the while?

I never have – but I assume it must feel a bit like this.

The Channel has been somewhat dormant for a while, for several reasons – more about that in a moment – but it is now time that I want to reinsert myself into this, my quasi-professional blog space, and resume blogging about creativity.

Mostly my own, but I’m sure there will be due references to others as well.

Since last I’ve been working as chief of communications for Mekavi, where I’ve created a communicative identity virtually from scratch – it was, and is, a sound company with a good agenda: Bringing designer lighting to all, but without much history of, or ideas about, telling anybody that.

 


had a serious hand in making it look this good, too

 
This is where I came in.

Mekavi is now featured regularly in every design magazine in Denmark (as well as many a blog, including Modern Urban Living and Copenhagen Collage) and has a steady growing following in the creative communities, as well as beginning (these things take time) to blaze into the minds of the general public – a job well begun, still lots to do though…

I also had a lot to do with how the website looks and works at present, not to mention the upgrade we’re currently working on – just you wait and see…

(in other duties, I am a lighting consultant, design advisor – in-house and out – and also do general sales. Many caps)

Obviously, I’ve had a full day of writing stuff then (there’s also a company blog, and one at Decorate), and on top of that I’ve been doing a bit of communications-related blogging at Kforum – and for all this, The Channel has suffered.

But no more.

I’m back baby!

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BigBagel is finally home

September 16, 2007

I am deeply pleased to be able to officially announce this – the once estranged, homeless, allbut orphaned BigBagels have finally ended their days of roaming aimlessly about the countryside…

That is because they have found a loving home – a spacious place where their opulent size is nay longer an impairment, but rather a cool feature. Surrounded by (reasonably) happy party people they’ve sunken into their own at the great culture & event location Docken, and as you can see I’m very relieved:

 

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Photo by Jesper Friis // cphmass


– and this is what it looks like at event time – comfy eh?

bbdockensten-01bsml.jpg
Snapshot courtesy of Sten Lundager


So bottom line: after a lot of getting around, premiering in Bella Center a couple years ago, then taking a trip to TEKO, then some events, such as “Routes” in Øksnehallen and some afterparty-thingy following NMA, plus a short stop-over at Coach Partner, the social furniture eventually, and by obscure routes, came to their rights as such.

(to anyone who’s envious of these, I fully understand because they’re unbelievably cool – get in touch with me to buy your very own, custom sizes & color schemes available)

Thanks to Michael Friis and everybody at Docken for adopting my babies.

– and JW is a happy camper…

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Photo by Jesper Friis // cphmass

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