Archive for the 'UI' Category

Books and more books

May 12th, 2011 by Cat

When I was younger, I used to read a lot. I was the nerd who would check out 10+ books at a time from the library. Unfortunately, as I got older, I read less and less until I just stopped reading for fun. There was too much homework and assigned reading from school that I didn’t even enjoy reading anymore.

It wasn’t until recently that I tried to get back into it. I have my on and off phases. Sometimes I spend a lot of time reading and get through a few books quickly, and then some periods I don’t read any books at all. At the moment, these are the books I’m reading or planning to read.

For Fun

  • Last finished: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Stieg Larsson) – The plot seemed really interesting and mysterious, so I finally tried it. I loved it, which is why…
  • Next up: The Girl Who Played With Fire (Stieg Larsson) – …the next book in the series is also next on my reading list. I’ve already bought the 3rd one as well.


  • Last finished: The Photographer’s Eye (Michael Freeman) – A book on composition, which helped me greatly. It made me see my process and photos in a new way.
  • Next up: Mastering Digital Flash Photography (Chris George) – I’m pretty clueless when it comes to flash photography and lighting equipment. So far, this has been a decent introduction to it.

Web Usability

  • Last finished: Don’t Make Me Think (Steve Krug) – A short and easy read, but it brings up a lot of good points. Sometimes common sense doesn’t sink in until someone spells it out for you.
  • Next up: Letting Go of the Words (Janice (Ginny) Redish) – Many people don’t realize that writing for the web should be different than writing for anything else. While I have a general idea, I wanted to learn more.


And I’m always looking for more books to add to the list, so if you have recommends, I’m listening! As for the types I’m most interested in, it’s mystery books, usually crime/murder mysteries. I am also looking for more good informative books related to my hobbies :3

A new view

April 12th, 2011 by Cat

I think even with hobbies that are just for fun, it’s still fun to learn more about them and improve on them. Every time I read a book on website usability, it makes me want to redo all of my sites. It just brings a new perspective and makes you realize what you could have done differently and/or better. It brings a new interest to what could be an old hobby.

I often take photos with my friend Ben, and last week, we met up and he lent me a photography book on composition. I read a bit of it over the weekend, and that already changed how I view things. I suddenly wasn’t happy with a lot of photos I had taken. I realized I could have composed many of them in more interesting ways.

We went out again over the weekend, and I felt much more alert and aware of my surroundings. I kept trying to find ways to apply what I read in the book into my photos. Here’s a few I took with my thought process!

Road Work Ahead
I lined up the building to the left of the frame so there’s stability while the other lines go diagonal. I included the work sign for that contrast in color. The wide angle (10-20mm) lens really helped me get everything in the frame.

A simple shot, but I liked the strong red/green complementary colors. I anchored the fire alarm to the corner to make the wall seem more bare and open.

Play for me
I actually took 2 shots. The other focused on the lock in the front while blurring the hands. I chose to post this one because of the movement. I used the 50mm lens to put focus on the hands.

(More in my Around Austin album.)

I still have to finish reading the book, but I’m already happier with these shots than previous ones I’ve taken :3 There is still so much more to learn! The book is The Photographer’s Eye. Since I mentioned website usability books earlier, Don’t Make Me Think is a good start if you’re interested, and The Design of Everyday Things is a great “classic” on usability in general.

Another look at design

January 27th, 2009 by Cat

I attended a course by Edward Tufte today (which was really good) and decided to type out some of my notes. Though he tends to focus on print and presentations more, I think these could still apply to webdesign.

1. Information overload means it’s a poor design. Don’t blame your audience for being “stupid”. Fix your design.

2. You cannot optimize one element. When you do local optimization, you make it worse globally. For example, if you think something like a menu bar isn’t being seen enough, you shouldn’t focus on making that one element better. You should be looking at the design as a whole.

3. Whenever we make a visual move, it needs to be perfectly clear, but no more. Make a minimal change that is still clear (the smallest effective difference). For example, you don’t need to do SOMETHING LIKE THIS to emphasize when something like this is just as clear.

4. If the strongest visual element is negative space due to clutter or distractive elements, there is a problem. The information should have emphasis instead of optical clutter.

5. Important things should be adjacent in space, not stacked in time. Use the user’s eye span instead of short term memory. Using a book as an example, it’s easier to compare things on adjacent pages (can see both at once), than comparing the front of a page with the back of the same page (have to remember as you flip pages).

6. “No matter how beautiful your interface is, it’d be better if there’s less of it.”

7. Good design needs to give itself up to the content.

8. “A feature that is 6 layers down is not a feature.” (6 is an arbitrary number. The point is that if you have to go through several menus to find something, it might as well not be a feature.)

I find that when studying design or usability, you tend to read/hear something and think, yeah, that totally makes sense. It’s almost… common sense. However, if it’s truly common sense, why are there still so many awful designs out there?

Posted in UI