Category Archives: Resources

Link

A very useful site for everyone who has tried to close an account and can’t find the link or tires of the 15 questions and clicks required to do it. There are, as of today, 280 links to get out of the soup easily: Just Delete Me.

The ability to get off each site is categorized from easy ( Artsy, Blue Apron, Dropbox) to impossible (Evernote, Gawker, GoDaddy).

Also includes a Chrome extension so you can use Chrome directly.

Link

Gratisography Park Benches

High resolution photographs from Gratisocraphy by Ryan McGuire of Bells Design. Easy download links in the corner. Look like stock photography but are free of all copyright restrictions and a nice give back.

Website Design Research: What Works and What Doesn’t

Nielsen Norman LogoJakob Nielsen, of the Nielsen Norman Group, has been conducting website design research since 1995, essentially since there were websites. He is the world expert on what works and what doesn’t. Instead of marketing, he focuses on the user experience. Ultimately that helps market information, services, and products, but his focus is not on how to trick the reader into believing you are saying something when you are saying nothing, you will provide services they can’t live without, or you are selling a product they don’t want or need at a price they can’t pass up. His focus is user-friendly websites.

Conclusions Based on Research

Nielsen wants to know how people use websites and what frustrates them.

  • Why do employees of companies only find what they want on their own websites 74% of the time? These are sites about a subject they know well and are highly motivated to pursue.
  • Why do teenagers, those masters of technology, have an average success rate of 72%, less than corporate users?
  • Why do e-commerce users only find what they want 64% of the time? This means e-commerce sites are designed to frustrate 35% of the customers who have already “walked into their store.”

To find out NNg does Evidence-Based User Experience Research, Training, and Consulting. The NNg website contains dozens and dozens of well-written research reports of the studies his firm has conducted. This is the kind of information that costs thousands of dollars, and all you have to do is read it.

Nielsen is not afraid of detail and he is not afraid to share what he discovers. And he does it in plain English (mostly). He is not afraid to give examples of sites that don’t work. And he doesn’t favor glitz and glamor over clean simple text and readable photographs.

Research Topics

These are just a few of the topics on which you can find reports:

My favorite individual reports —and I haven’t come close to reading all of them or even implementing everything I have learned from the ones I’ve read:

113 Design Guidelines for Homepage Usability

Top 10 Information Architecture (IA) Mistakes

A free downloadable Report: PR on Websites

Another free downloadable Report if  you like social media: Social Media User Experience.

There are dozens more. Or if you like books Nielsen has done several classics. The reason they are classics is that they are the authority and things like human-user interface don’t change very much because humans don’t change very much very fast. We still look around with the same eyes and type with the same fingers and forget which page we were on with the same brain.

Mobile Usability by Jakob Nielsen and Raluca Budiu. 2012.

Prioritizing Web Usability by Jakob Nielsen. 2006

Designing Web Usability by Jakob Nielsen. 1999, and still relevant. I use this one frequently.

Nielsen’s books are thick and detailed but like websites are easily browsable. You take them in one page at a time or sit down and read them cover to cover.

If you have any interest in web design, Don’t miss Nielsen’s work.Nielsen Norman Logo

Book Design

Joel's SignatureThe Book Designer is another wonderful resource available on the web, free to everyone. I was referred to it by Jackie Urbanovic when I asked about alternatives to Adobe’s InDesign. The new edition is only available via the “Cloud” and is very expensive for those of us who do not use it everyday. Something like $50 a month.

Her short answer on InDesign was no, but she referred me to The Book Designer by Joel Friedlander, a very useful website for anyone considering publishing a book or designing text. The site also has a free 24 page booklet on self-publishing, 10 Things You Need to Know About Self-Publishing.

Tons of resources here. Many links to other well-selected sites on design and publishing. Topics include writing, book design, planning a book, understanding fonts and typography, print choices, ebooks and ebook readers, and marketing.

Best Book Designer Posts Include:

Understanding Fonts & Typography with nine links to specific topics, including elements of a book page, what goes on the title page with two examples, 5 layout mistakes, and book page layout. One of the nice things about the site is that Friedlander doesn’t overwhelm you with information. He gives from 2-10 examples and moves on. But you can trust those examples.

Five Favorite Fonts for Interior Book Design takes the guessing out of which font to use to make work look professional.

3 Great Typeface Combinations You Can Use in Your Book will help you avoid looking like you designed your book yourself, or your neighbor did it for you. The one who has a computer and never read a book. Type is about readability and appropriateness.

The site also has great comments—don’t miss them.

And don’t miss this site if you are planning on self-publishing anything.

I used his signature as an image because his header is rather undistinguished. The design of the site doesn’t match the quality of the information or the examples given.

Choosing Colors: Color Schemer

 

Color Schemer Application Start Page

Color Schemer Start Page

If you love choosing colors or you hate it because you never get it right,  I highly recommend an inexpensive software program called Color Schemer.  It is both useful and captivating. It recommends and allows you to create color samples and save them in palettes, collections of colors—without wasting any paint.

Sample and Match Colors

Color Schemer Sampler Tool measuring the color of an orange lily.

Color Schemer Sampler Tool

You can also sample and match color with any photograph or other image on the screen. Love the colors in that landscape by Vincent van Gogh or that Martha Stewart Living interior? Choose Tools > Color Screen Picker and save the color. You can sample a whole photograph to create a full palette of colors based on a field of wild flowers.

Even more fabulous is the quality of color. On a computer, screen color is instant and luminous. It doesn’t take hours of mixing and 45 coats of thin glazes to get a rich pale blue.

Automatically Generate Palettes

ColorSchemer Sample Palettes

ColorSchemer Sample Palettes

The program will also create analogous splits, angled accents, complements, smooth gradients, shades, soft blends, rectangle shades, semi-circle blends, mono comps, and tetrad blends. I have not a clue what an angled accent or tetrad blend is but my original palette was transformed into 20 or so radiant prisms of perfectly calibrated colors. Fabulous.

Once you have a palette of colors you like, you can name it and save it. As a graphic or website designer this is fabulously helpful because you can save by project. if you are doing website design, you can print out the html # codes for each color. You can also check your color to see how they work for those who are color blind.

Share Color Palettes & Get Ideas

Color Schemer Themed Palette

Color Schemer Themed Palette

Color Schemer also has a website where people upload their palettes so you can scan through tens of thousands of examples, and even rate them. They are all named: A Rose, A Walk in the Park, Angel in the Moonlight. Even Baby Poop and Windows XP. Wedding names are common and get a lot of stars: Winter Wedding, My Wedding, Silver Wedding, Tiffany’s Berry Wedding, Sunny Wedding Day. You get the idea.remixed colors, you have to mix them every time you want to use them. With Color Schemer, you just enter the color number or drag and drop to your new palette or graphics program. Some artists keep records of 2 drops this and 4 drops that, but many painters and designers are intuitives. Intuitives think differently—we do it the hard way and recreate.

And avoid Taxes

I spend hours there, particularly instead of doing my taxes, like today when I’ve received my last deferral and have four days to finish them. I have a whole folder of palettes, my own and others. Totally useless. Complete waste of time. So I recommend Color Schemer if you care about color, or even if you don’t. You might grow to love it since you don’t even have to mix the paint.

Color Schemer Website

This entry  is Part II of a two part post on Color. In case you didn’t take my advice the first time, you  may enjoy  Part I: Colorist Painting that might contribute to your appreciation of color and thus of this program.