Archives For design patterns

RIA Screen Layouts

February 11, 2010 — Leave a comment

Last year I posted an article on 12 Standard Screen Patterns. It has been incredibly popular so I updated it for 2010. The full article is at UX Magazine. Check out the article and take a look at the 15 standard layouts and examples from more than 80 current RIAs:

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.

My co-author Bill Scott is sharing his newly rewritten talk on Designing for Interesting Moments. Given at Microsoft in Redmond, Ruby Meetup Group at CMU/Moffett Field & The Ajax Experience 2009.

Overview: Did you know that there are at least 16 different moments of interaction during drag and drop? And that there are at least a half-dozen elements on the page that conspire with these points in time to form a drag and drop interaction? With almost all user interactions there are lots of interesting moments that you can use to enhance the user experience — or worse to create confusion in the user’s mind.

In this talk, Bill slows down time and puts dozens of interactions under the microscope to study what works and what doesn’t work when creating interactive applications. Nuances from 80+ examples illustrate both what should be emulated (design patterns and best practice tips) as well as what should be avoided (design anti-patterns).

These are conveniently summarized in six over-arching design principles.

* Input where you output.
* Require a light footprint.
* Maintain flow.
* Invite interaction.
* Show transitions
* Be reactive.

This talk goes hand-in-hand with our book, Designing Web Interfaces and will provide you with dozens of clear take-aways for designing rich interactions on the web.

Fluency and Rosenfeld Media sponsored the first DelveUI, A 2 Day Masterclass on Designing User (Web) Interfaces last week at the NYU Poly Campus in Brooklyn.

I had an opportunity to speak about my favorite topic: design patterns and principles for rich applications. The talk is titled Designing Rich Applications– and illustrates the need for richness at four levels:

  • application structure
  • screen layout
  • selecting rich UI controls
  • interactions


I’m working on a nifty little flip book that has all of the application patterns, screen patterns, rich UI controls and interaction patterns. All the patterns are on index cards and you can carry it into design sessions- and flip through it for inspiration- or to find a certain pattern. tangible-ria-patterns

ria-flip-book1

Let me know if you think this would be useful.

Since our new book focuses on rich interactions, I want to spend some time on Adobe Flex/AIR.

These tips are based on the best Flex resources I have found, and how you can use them to craft a great user experience. This is part 3 of 6:

Learn from the Rest: 10 Great RIAs

Take a look at some of the best RIAs on the web. How did I decide these are the best? I reviewed numerous applications, basing the evaluations on Jakob Nielsen’s 10 Principles for User Interface Design:

Feedback — Metaphor — Navigation — Consistency — Prevention — Recognition — Efficiency — Design — Recovery — Help

I realize these guidelines are a bit old (from 1990!)- but all applications should meet these guidelines at a minimum. The applications listed below also embody our 6 Principles for Rich Interaction:

Make it Direct — Keep it Lightweight — Stay on the Page — Provide an Invitation — Use Transitions — React Immediately

01. CrazyEgg

crazyeggcrazyegg_confetti

Fantastic application which adheres to every one of the principles. At first, I thought the confetti feature was going to ruin the evaluation, but it is a perfect balance of innovation and usability. Look at how they use common checkboxes for selection, and wiggle the confetti when a source is added- very rich, very nice.

Interactive demo is available

02. Mint

mintmint_saver

Mint’s user experience only gets better and better. You may want more features in the product (money market support…), but the features they offer are perfectly executed. Primarily developed with HTML, CSS, JS and Ajax, they chose to incorporate Flex in the Trends section.

The new Ways to Save section is completely dynamic, updating as you adjust amounts, scores and preferences.

Free registration is available

03. Wufoo

wufoowufoostatistics

Wufoo is an extremely well designed tool that has more than meets the eyes. Play with the templates and report creator for inspiration in keeping it simple, and look at they way they use Blank Slate and Help Tips to keep you moving towards your goal. It is almost even fun!

A nice product tour and free plan is available

04. 280 Slides

280slides280slides_toolbar

One word- slick. If only all of my projects could be this perfect. Yes, it seems like Keynote (or PowerPoint) on the web, but take a closer look at some of the features. Instead of the maddening Inspector and Format menu, the common formatting functions are in the toolbar. Everything is there when I need it, they even incorporated Adobe Kuler in the color palette!

Free trial available

05. Action Method

actionmethodactionmethod_dialog

Another very well implemented product. It is easy to get started with the Blank Slate screens providing tips and directions, and even easier to get comfortable using the product because it uses a standard screen patterns and common controls.

Every detail has been accounted for. Notice the visual design that makes it clear that the tasks can be dragged around and reordered.

Trial version available

06. Fidelity Labs

fidelitymyplanfidelitylabs_mortage

In 2006 Fidelity Labs started cranking out some very nice RIAs, one of them being Fidelity MyPlan. The Mortgage Search and Homes Sold were also very nice, but have been retired. Unfortunately, their newest 3D Portfolio Analyzer, is not up to par with their earlier beta products.

The direct interactions and what-if scenarios in MyPlan seem to have inspired Discovers Paydown Planner and other direct manipulation financial planning tools.

Fidelity MyPlan is publicly available

07. Pandora

pandorapandora_tip

Pandora has been around since 2005 and has finally gained popularity. It has a very simple, intuitive interface, which makes it easy to get started. The menu offers direct interaction for rating the song ‘up’ or ‘down’, while also providing advanced options such as “don’t play this song again for a month”. And the help tips, shown at just the right time in the workflow, provide a glimpse into advanced features.

Pandora is publicly available

08. Wave Maker

wavemakerwavemaker_model

Wavemaker is a great example of how a complicated product with many features can be clarified with good interface design. They use a logical page flow from left to right- matching the developer workflow of adding a control to the canvas (LEFT) , physically manipulating it (CENTER), then entering tweaking the details in the properties and style panel (RIGHT).

A Cloud Edition is available

09. SugarSync

sugarsync_grid

sugarsync

Another great product that relies upon standard screen patterns and common controls to create an intuitive efficient experience. Awarded Top 10 User Interfaces of 2008 by Jakob Nielsen. Report available for purchase.

A 45 day trial is available

10. clickshirt

clickshirtclick_hoverclick_click

clickshirt keeps it simple and fun with integrated demos and lively interactions. Event the checkout is rich, hover to see more details about the t-shirt type, click to specify the size and quantity. No gratuitous paging in this application.

clickshirt is publicly available

More Good RIAs

These products have good examples of rich usable components, although they may not have met the 10 basic principles for usability throughout the whole application.

NetVibes

netvibes1

Trulia Snapshot

truiasnapshot1

37signals products like Highrise

highrise

Wesabe

wesabe

Keep an Eye on These

iWork.com Publishing Tool

iworkcom-comments

Atlas

atlas

Bespin

bespin

OtherInbox

otherinbox

Comment with your favorite RIA

I realize I have only skimmed the surface here, please comment with a link to the best RIA you use.

Thanks to Rob Jones and Greg Leppert for helping me pull together this list.

Since our new book focuses on rich interactions, I wanted to spend some time on Adobe Flex/AIR.

After designing several large enterprise applications for diverse clients and industries, I’ve noticed some barriers to crafting a great experience in Flex. I think these barriers arise from the relative newness of the technology (and RIAs in general), the initial focus on development over design, and the confidence that Flex can provide a great UX out of the box. But it takes a bit more to make a Flex app really shine. Fortunately, the Flex community is chock full of talented and motivated developers who contribute amazing resources.

These tips are based on the best Flex resources I have found, and how you can use them to craft a great Flex UX. This is part 1 of 6:

  • Play With It: 10 Flex Explorers
  • Learn From the Best: 10 Great Flex Apps
  • Learn From the Rest: 10 Great RIAs
  • Stock Your Toolbox: The Essential Controls
  • Review Best Practices for Designing a RIA
  • Avoid Common Mistakes: 10 Anti-Patterns

Play With It: 10 Flex Explorers

I can’t think of a better way to get your feet wet than to play with these explorers.

01. Tour de Flex

tourdeflex

02. Component Explorer

flexcomponentexplorer

03. Style Explorer

flexstyleexplorer

04. Regular Expression Explorer

regularexpressionexplorer
By Ryan Swanson

05. Charts Explorer

chartexplorer
By Ely Greenfield

06. Efflex Effects Explorer

effectsexplorer
By Stephen Downs

07. Filter Explorer

filterexplorer

08. Primitive Objects Explorer

primitiveexplorer

09. Data Visualization Explorer

quvisexplorer

10. Button Skin Explorer

buttonskinexplorer

Comment with your favorite Flex explorer

I realize I have only skimmed the surface here, please comment with a link to your favorite explorer or gallery for Flex 3.