Archives For December 2009

Here’s my talk from Dec 11 at the Adobe Austin Users Group. This is a beginners introduction to designing for Flex, although there are some goodies for experienced designers too.

If you are looking to stock your library, you can’t go wrong with this list of books. These are the books that are literally on my desk, listed in order from top of the stack to the bottom.

The Visual Miscellaneum: A Colorful Guide to the World’s Most Consequential Trivia

By David Mccandless

If you are a fan of Edward Tufte, you need this book. If you don’t know who Tufte is, you need this book, and all of Tufte’s books. It is chock full of ideas for visualizing data in more meaningful ways. This is on the top of the stack because I just got it- it is quite lovely.

Prototyping: A Practitioner’s Guide

By Todd Warfel. Rosenfeld Media, November 2009.

These concepts completely changed the way we do business. Full of real examples of how to use different popular tools for prototyping. this is # 2 in my stack because I had to look up some information about prototyping with Fireworks this morning.

Smashing Book

The book is available exclusively from Smashing Magazine. This book looks at Web design rules of thumb, color theory, usability guidelines, user interface design, best coding and optimization practices, as well as typography, marketing, branding and exclusive insights from top designers across the globe. Oh, and one of my applications, OtherInbox, is in the first chapter!

Designing Web Interfaces: Principles and Patterns for Rich Interactions

By Bill Scott and Theresa Neil. O’Reilly Media, January 2009.

Yeah, I know this is our book, but it really is on my desk. I use it for reference at least once a week. I had to look up ZUIs, zoomable user interfaces, earlier this week for a project.

Designing for the Social Web

By Joshua Porter. New Riders 2008.

Great, great read. Worth every penny because it is full of practical advice. Make sure you also look at Joshua’s talk on SlideShare: Designing for Social Interaction. I don’t necessarily refer to this book every day, but I recommend it to at least five start-ups a week.

Designing Social Interfaces: Principles, Patterns, and Practices for Improving the User Experience

By Christian Crumlish, Erin Malone. O’Reilly Media, September 2009.

“This book is a fairly exhaustive catalog of most UI patterns in place today with sites that integrate social networking. There are some very interesting discussions about each pattern, when to use it and who uses it. ” from an Amazon review. I need to pull this book out of the stack and take it with me on the plane next week.

Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks

By Luke Wroblewski. Rosenfeld Media, May 2008.

Anyone who designs anything for the web needs a copy of this. It makes it so nice to not have to think about designing forms. I can spend my time on more interesting design challenges. This book doesn’t leave my desk.

Defensive Design for the Web: How to improve error messages, help, forms, and other crisis points

by Matthew Linderman and Jason Fried

Let the 37signals team show you the best way to prevent your customers from making mistakes, and help them recover for errors if a mistake does occur. This book doesn’t leave my desk either.

About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design

By Alan Cooper. Wiley 2007.

Learn the rules before you break them. Please. Pretty please with a cherry on top? Get this book and read it if you are responsible for designing anything more than a simple web site. Good for Flex developers and Ajax developers as well. Lots of patterns that can be extrapolated for Rich Internet Applications.

Balsamiq Mockups new export to PDF feature opens up a whole range of possibilities for prototyping. Not only can you use the PDF with click through links for usability testing, you can also create a protocast of your designs for your clients, end users or the development team. A protocast is a prototype delivered as a screencast.

What I like to do is create a storyboard for each of the major workflows, then wireframe the screens. Link them together and then create a screencast of the happy path, narrating while clicking through the screens. My protocasts are different depending on the audience. If the audience is developers I walk through the application and discuss the flow and features, if the audience is the client or their end users, I stick to the story in the storyboard. Thanks to Robert Hoekman, Jr for this contribution in Todd Warfel’s new book Prototyping: A Practitioners Guide to Prototyping, Rosenfeld Media.

I used to do this in OmniGraffle- see example below for a reference application we designed for PayPal X. But now I can do the same thing quicker with Balsamiq!

Storyboard

The storyboard helped us nail down the two primary workflows we wanted to design for.

Protocast

This protocast was created for the developers who were coding the simulation.

Finished Product

The finished product is on PayPal X.com, although you have to login to PayPal to try the reference applications.

Look for the upcoming post (Thursday, Dec 10) in InsideRIA.com about 28 Rich Data Visualization Tools. I’ve included the first three to whet your appetite.

Ajax.org

Ajax.org Platform is a pure javascript application framework for creating real-time collaborative applications that run in the browser.

AjaxOrg.png

AnyChart

AnyChart is a flexible Flash based solution that allows you to create interactive and great looking flash charts.

Axiis

Axiis is a Data Visualization Framework for Flex. It has been designed to be a concise, expressive, and modular framework that let developers and designers create compelling data visualization solutions.

Also, take a look at the nice window-in-window design on the saturnboy blog.

Check out Design GalleRIA- A design gallery and showcase of the best Rich Internet Applications. I add a couple of new ones each week. Please comment with your favorite RIAs (Ajax, Flex, Silverlight, Laszlo…). My goal is 100+ by the end of 2009!