Jared Spool, founder of User Interface Engineering, spoke about the different basic models of Web design. Using humor, Spool had audiences roaring with laughter while learning how to talk about how designers make decisions every day.
"Without the language to talk about design you can't communicate, and in design we are missing a lot of words."
There are five types of design
Self design - you design for yourself
Can work as long as two conditions exist:
There are a lot of users just like you
1) When you're designing for yourself, you’re in essence designing for them.
2) You yourself have to use the product everyday.
"It's something called dog-fooding. You have to eat your own dog food as disgusting as it sounds. If something bugs you it's going to bug the users unless you change it."
Two conditions must exist for this to work:
1) Users will put up with whatever we give them
2) They will only use it on or twice and be done with it
"How to get from unintentional design to self design is by useing the product ever day."
Genius design (coined by Dan Saffer)
David Poteet of Newcitymedia, a company that makes websites for universities, uses this type of design. You get really good at doing something if you do it all the time by learning from your experiences.
How this happens:
1) Use own internal genius
2) Use what you already know from knowledge of previous experience
This can only get us so far. The activities that must occur on the site drive the design of the site. Example: a map of Six flags Magic Mountain shows all 48 of the rides while a map of Disneyland shows a map of the park without any of the rides named on it.
"At Six Flags what do you do? You get in line, get on a ride, throw up somewhere, and then you get on another one. That's the focus of Six Flags - the activities. Compare that to the Disney map. The focus of Disney is the experience you have while at the park."
("Character breakfast is a great time to bring your small kid to some creepy guy in an animal suit and they love it.")
"Six Flags thinks about the activities and Disney thinks about the experience."
Thinks about the space between the activities
"Design style guides and guidelines never work because those are rule-based decisions not informed decisions. The problem is they prevent thinking."
"When you get to the edge cases that don't follow the rules, the people who only know how to follow the rules, fall apart because they don't know what to do."
"The process is the building blocks of how we get things done. If we got something done we must have a process because we got it done."
What people confuse process with is methodology.
Dogma is faith that certain things that have to just work.
"Techniques are the building blocks of every step of the process. Like making a rue, it's not the hardest thing you'll ever do, but it's difficult to learn. Techniques all have to be practiced."
"Tricks are techniques that aren't quite used the right way."
"Every time (good not great companies) had a failed project they said well obviously we aren't following it closely enough, so they just do it more. But the ones who were the best used techniques and tricks."
"It's all about getting what's best out there one pixel at a time."
Spool shared the knowledge his company has gathered from their research:
-Every style has a purpose
-Great designers know what style they're using at all times
Good designers don't know what they're doing, they do them but they don't know they doing them.
-Great designers use the same style for the entire project
-Great teams ensure everyone uses the same style
-The more advance the style, the more expensive
Agencies can't go beyond genius design.
Activity F and experience F must be done in house.
-The more advanced the design, the better.
"This is not rocket science and in know this because NASA is one of our clients and they have a very strict definition of what rocket science and that's not it. So we thought brain surgery so we asked our medical friends, and nope that's not it. It’s more like pool cleaning... with robots"
WHAT I LEARNED
To get better, spend two hours every week watching people use the design. Learn from practice and experience, don't just stick to a pre-defined set of rules, because in design, rules don't work. When designing you must never lose thought of the audience for whom the site is being designed.