UI – User Interface Design

ansleyuser2User Interface design requires a good understanding of user needs. There are several phases and processes in the user interface design and depend on the project whether it is for websites, applications or devices.

The first phase focuses on requirements gathering – assembling a list of the functionality required by the project to accomplish the goals of the project and the potential needs of the users.

Field research is the analysis of the potential users of the system by studying how they perform the tasks that the design must support and conducting real tests. Typical questions involve:

  • What would the user want the system to do?
  • How would the system fit in with the user’s normal workflow or daily activities?
  • How technically savvy is the user and what similar systems does the user already use?
  • What interface look and feel styles appeal to the user?

Information architecture – development of the hierarchy of the process and information flow.

Prototyping – development of wire-frames that concentrate on the interface’s hierarchy of content.

Usability inspection – letting an evaluator inspect a user interface, or conduct usability testing which should be used early on in the development process.

Heuristic evaluation (established usability principles) – is a usability inspection method that identifies usability problems. It specifically involves evaluators examining the interface and judging its compliance with these principles. These evaluation methods are now widely taught and practiced in the new media sector, where UIs are often designed in a short space of time on a budget that may restrict other types of testing. The main goal of heuristic evaluations is to identify any problems with the design of the user interface. Usually, the problems discovered are categorized – often on a numerical scale- according to their estimated impact on user performance and acceptance. The evaluation is conducted focuses on user tasks to provide feedback to the developers on the extent to which the interface is likely to be compatible with the intended users’ needs and preferences.

Heuristic evaluation is usually done by one person which reduces cost and time. Most heuristic evaluations can be accomplished quickly, but depends on the size of the project, its complexity, the purpose of the review, the nature of the usability issues that arise in the review, and the competence of the reviewers. This cuts down on design errors. Jakob Nielsen’s hueristics are probably the most-used heuristics for user interface design. His published book Usability Engineering are as follows:

  • Visibility of system status – The system should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within reasonable time.
  • Match between system and the real world – The system should speak the user’s language, with words, phrases and concepts familiar to the user, rather than system-oriented terms. Follow real-world conventions, making information appear in a natural and logical order.
  • User control and freedom – Users often choose system functions by mistake and will need a clearly marked “emergency exit” to leave the unwanted state without having to go through an extended dialogue. Support undo and redo.
  • Consistency and standards – Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing. Follow platform conventions.
  • Error prevention – Even better than good error messages is a careful design which prevents a problem from occurring in the first place. Either eliminate error-prone conditions or check for them and present users with a confirmation option before they commit to the action.
  • Recognition rather than recall – Minimize the user’s memory load by making objects, actions, and options visible. The user should not have to remember information from one pat of the dialogue to another. Instructions for use of the system should be visible or easily retrievable whenever appropriate.
  • Flexibility and efficiency of use – Accelerators – unseen by the novice user – may often speed up the interaction for the expert user such that the system can cater to both inexperienced and experienced users. Allow users to tailor frequent actions.
  • Aesthetic and minimalistic design – Dialogues should not contain information which is irrelevant or rarely needed. Every extra unit of information in a dialogue competes with the relevant units of information and diminishes their relative visibility.
  • Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors – Error messages should be expressed in plain language (no codes), precisely indicate the problem, and constructively suggest a solution.
  • Help and documentation – Any such information should be easy to search, focused on the user’s task, list concrete steps to be carried out, and not be large.

Another set of categorized heuristics from Susan Weinschenk and Dean Barker provide the following twenty types:

  1. User Control – heuristics that check whether the user has enough control of the interface.
  2. Human limitations – the design takes into account human limitations, cognitive and sensorial, to avoid overloading them.
  3. Modal integrity – the interface uses the most suitable modality for each task: auditory, visual, or motor/kinesthetic.
  4. Accommodation – the design is adequate to fulfill the needs and behavior of each targeted user group.
  5. Linguistic Clarity – the language used to communicate is efficient and adequate to the audience.
  6. Aesthetic Integrity – the design is visually attractive and tailored to appeal to the target population.
  7. Simplicity – the design will not use unnecessary complexity.
  8. Predictability – users will be able to form a mental model of how the system will behave in response to actions.
  9. Interpretation – there are codified rules that try to guess the user intentions and anticipate the actions needed.
  10. Accuracy – there are no errors, i.e. the result of user actions correspond to their goals.
  11. Technical Clarity – the concepts represented in the interface have the highest possible correspondence to the domain they are modeling.
  12. Flexibility – the design can be adjusted to the needs and behavior of each particular user.
  13. Fulfillment – the user experience is adequate.
  14. Cultural Propriety – user’s cultural and social expectations are met.
  15. Suitable Tempo – the pace at which users works with the system is adequate.
  16. Consistency – different parts of the system have the same style, so that there are no different ways to represent the same information or behavior.
  17. User Support – the design will support learning and provide the required assistance to usage.
  18. Precision – the steps and results of a task will be what the user wants.
  19. Forgiveness – the user will be able to recover to an adequate state after an error.
  20. Responsiveness – the interface provides enough feedback information about the system status and the task completion.

ansleyuserUser Interface design (UI) or user interface engineering is the design of the user interface for machines and software, such as computers, home appliances, mobile devices, and other electronic devices, with the focus on maximizing the user experience. The goal of the user interface design is to make the user’s interactions as simple and efficient as possible.

Good user interface facilitates finishing the task at hand without drawing unnecessary attention to itself. Graphic design and typography are utilized to support its usability, influencing how the user performs certain interactions and improving the aesthetic appeal of the design; design aesthetics may enhance or detract from the ability of users to use the functions of the interface. The design process must balance technical functionality and visual elements to create a system that is not only operational but also usable and adaptable to changing user needs.

Interface design is involved in a wide range of projects from computer systems, to cars, to commercial planes; all of these projects involve much of the same basic human interactions yet also require some unique skills and knowledge. As a result designers tend to specialize in certain types of projects and have skills centered on their expertise, whether that be software design, user research, web design, or industrial design.







What is box-sizing: border-box;?


box-sizingThe “box model” in CSS looks like this:

width + padding + border = actual visible/rendered width of box height + padding + border = actual visible/rendered height of box.

The border and padding values go inwards into the width/height of the box rather than expand it. Expansion of an element is always mind bending.

Block level elements – a div inside a div – the child div defaults to 100% size of the parent, without any CSS styling. If you add padding or border and declare the child to be 100% width, it will blow out of the parent from adding those values to the original width amount (default).

So that’s where the border box value (as opposed to the content-box default), which keeps the styling inside the box.

html {
box-sizing: border-box;
*, *before, *:after {
box-sizing: inherit;

According to Paul Irish, the need to state prefixes for Webkit or Moz is no longer necessary, and most browsers and devices are totally onboard.  The universal (*) selector works great, too, and is a great CSS tool.

article reference: http://css-tricks.com/box-sizing/

related article on Box-Sizing as explained by Paul Irish: www.paulirish.com/2012/box-sizing-border-fox-ftw

List of media queries on device displays by pixel density

Target device displays using media queries:

different devices

320 x 480

iPhone 4
640 x 960

iPad 1 & 2
768 x 1024

iPad 3
1536 x 2048

Amazon Kindle Fire
1024 x 600

Media Queries – setting the max-device-width of any screen size. Here’s a few:

/* #### Mobile Phones Portrait #### */
@media screen and (max-device-width: 480px) and (orientation: portrait) {
/* some CSS here */

/* #### Mobile Phones Landscape #### */
@media screen and (max-device-width: 640px) and (orientation: landscape) {
/* some CSS here */

/* #### Mobile Phones Portrait or Landscape #### */
@media screen and (max-device-width: 640px) {
/* some CSS here */

/* #### iPhone 4+ Portrait or Landscape #### */
@media screen and (max-device-width: 480px) and (-webkit-min-device-pixel-ratio: 2) {
/* some CSS here */

/* #### Tablets Portrait or Landscape #### */
@media screen and (min-device-width: 768px) and (max-device-width: 1024px) {
/* some CSS here */

/* #### Desktops #### */
@media screen and (min-width: 1024px){
/* some CSS here */

/*#### iPhone 6 plus phablet ####*/
@media screen and (min-device-width: 414px) {
/* some CSS here */

/*#### iPhone 6#### */
@media screen and (min-device-width: 375px) {

/*#### iPhone ####*/
@media screen and (max-device-width: 320px) {



Creating Modern, Responsive Websites With Web Standards

Website Standards and Clean Code

It isn’t that difficult to create a modern website based on current web standards. If your website was built using the latest technology, your site will be super-fast, modern, clean and responsive.

Everyone wants their website to cost less, work better, and reach more people in today’s browsers, screen readers, and wireless devices. The inescapable technological advancements that are happening as we speak are breaking websites all over the internet. A modern website built using the latest coding practices ensures that your website will function properly across all devices and help individuals with disabilities who are using special devices to access and interact with the internet – and stand the test of time.

You don’t have to spend money on trendy, short-sighted, proprietary solutions that will end in disaster. No one can afford to piecemeal a website that will ultimately break sooner than later.

Coding several different stylesheets might have seemed like a great idea at the time, but it is not a rational solution to problems that are continuing to plague site owners and builders.


WaSP (www.webstandards.org) advocates standards that reduce the cost and complexity of site creation and ensure simple, affordable access for all. Today, every browser supports web standards as a matter of course. They work with the designers of development tools such as Dreamweaver. You can find a myriad of web standards educational tools and this information can be found in most languages today.

Apple’s latest WebKit based Safari browser, which powers the iPhone’s web browser, Mozilla powered Firefox, Opera, the WebKit based Google Chrome, and Microsoft Internet Explorer 7+ understand and correctly support XHTML, CSS3, JavaScript, and the DOM.
*Internet Explorer 6 does not support many of the latest web standards, and we can only hope that everyone has moved passed this version of IE. Developers know that we can fix IE6 to some degree, but there comes a time when you have to move forward and not look back. We’ve stopped overkill fixes because newer phones are equipped with the latest browsers and it just doesn’t warrant the extra time and expense anymore to work out ALL the fixes needed for IE6 to view properly.



JavaScript creates action.  JavaScript is the bomb. This language has given us the ability to create action!
In a perfect world, browsers perfect their support for every single standard. Considering that most software doesn’t come out bug-free, and standards are sophisticated and complex, cross-browser support is actually pretty solid enough that we do develop using the latest standards. HTML5, more accessibility, CSS3, structured markup and deeper DOM and JavaScript function calls are becoming the progressive-enhancement that is pushing the internet into the future. All the big companies such as Apple, MSN, Wikipedia, and WordPress have embraced web standards. Of course, they don’t always achieve perfect validation or pure semantic markup, but a trained developer can make these markup fixes very quickly, and let’s face it, modern browsers are lenient.




More than 90% of all websites are obsolete. They might look good on desktop browsers, but outside of that, the symptoms of decay are starting to appear. Carefully constructed layouts have begun to fall apart, and expensively engineered behaviors have stopped working. As browsers evolve, site performance continues to deteriorate.

Modern browsers are not merely newer versions of the same old thing. They differ fundamentally from their predecessors, and in many cases, they’ve been rebuilt from the ground up. They have a new job: to comply as well as possible with the web standards. As the newer browsers comply with web standards, they are becoming increasingly intolerant of broken code and markup.



We believe in “write once, publish everywhere”. It isn’t wishful thinking. We are proud of the fact that our mission statement is “Because it matters”. Our mission follows some basic rules:

Control layout, placement, and typography in desktop browsers while allowing users to modify the presentation to suit their needs.
Develop and support sophisticated behaviors that work across multiple browsers and platforms.
Comply with accessibility laws and guidelines without sacrificing beauty, performance, or sophistication.
Redesign quickly – reducing costs and eliminating unnecessary work.
Support emerging devices from wireless gadgets and smart phones to Braille output devices and screen readers used by those with disabilities with one website.
Offer sophisticated printed versions of any web page.
Stay educated and ahead of the curve to always use real semantic markup.



SEO and Analytics go hand-in-hand.  Believe it or not, companies do not have to spend a lot of money for SEO or Analytics. Well thought out SEO makes your website findable. Content is king. Focus on lean, keyword-rich, buzzword-free content that’s relevant to your customers, and use semantic markup. Copy, CSS layout and HTML5’s latest coding practices are the golden keys to findability.



Accessibility makes sure your content can be read and your site can be used by everyone, no matter what device they browse with, and regardless of physical ability. Innovation is the soul of accessibility. Accessibility is legal standard for judging and enforcing the accessibility of sites. This is great news because the world is being pushed into one single standard.

If you use standards-based designing principles, you not only make your content easy for search engines to find, it will also enable visually disabled people who use screen readers to navigate your websites content.

Screen reader users navigate web pages by tabbing from h2 to h2 and from section to section, just like sighted users navigate by visually scanning. When structuring your site semantically, pay particular attention to forms and tables. Provide keyboard access for those who are unable to use a mouse. Keyboards and assistive devices are the gateway to online user experience.


Google web crawlers look for relevancy of content when a user types in an inquiry.
Think of web crawlers as blind users – Google is the biggest blind user on the web. Dish out appropriate content, well written and well structured, and you not only serve the blind folks in your audience, you also attract millions of sighted ones.

It wouldn’t be smart to exclude disabled Americans. This demographic would take up a city the size of Los Angeles or New York City. Millions!

If you think blind people don’t buy products online is missing the point and the boat. Don’t be blind yourself to the true nature of the audience you reject – you are still reaching the non-disabled populace this way by conforming to access guidelines and many others who would have ordered your products over the phone if only your site let them.

Section 508

Section 508 requires all websites under its jurisdiction to provide “equal or equivalent access to everyone” to accommodate the visually impaired, the hearing impaired, the physically disabled, and people who have photosensitive epilepsy and it spells out what accessibility really means. This law covers computers, fax machines, copiers, telephones, transaction machines, and kiosks, as well as other equipment used for transmitting, receiving, or storing information. It also covers many websites. Section 508 became U.S. law in 2001 and applies to the following:

  • Federal departments and agencies (including the U.S. Postal Service)
  • Deliverables from contractors who serve them
  • Activities sponsored or funded by the Federal government
  • Activities sponsored by states that have adopted the regulations
  • This is just skimming the surface and you can find plenty of resources to explain what the exact standards are and how to apply them along with specific things to do to make your site 508 compliant.

The bottom line is that if you design with web standards and follow the guidelines, your site should be accessible to screen readers, Lynx, mobile devices, and old browsers as it is to modern, compliant browsers. Standards and accessibility converge in agreeing that one web document should serve all readers and users. Even Flash and PDF’s can now be made accessible.


Most tasks to bring a website to its best take minutes to accomplish. Simple tasks like adding a label to your web form or writing a table summary. Type a brief alt text for each image – which is a no-brainer. High level conformance is going to obviously fall under another category and will cost more. If you want to author closed captions for web videos or to caption live streaming media news feeds in real time see Joe Clark’s “Best Practices in Online Captioning” . (www.joeclark.org/access/captioning/bpoc)

I highly recommend the following cited book for anyone who builds things for the internet. Web Standards is such an exciting concept that ties us all together. Where we go from here who knows, but right now we are accomplishing a great thing using Web Standards, and this book is a must have.

You can find the latest Standards and beta versions of some brilliant new concepts existing on the W3C website. Their HTML5 Validator is a great place to find semantic errors within your page. Go to http://validator.W3.org/ for the latest information.

Jeffrey Zeldman with Ethan Marcotte (2010). Designing with Web Standards, Third Edition. Berkeley, CA. New Riders.

Adobe Photoshop CS6 – Background Eraser Tool

Remove a background with Photoshop Background Eraser Tool


Sometimes you take a photo that is great – minus the background.  The background just ruins your picture.  Photoshop’s Background Eraser Tool is awesome. Here is an image that I would like to do something with, but the background has to go.  Here are the steps I used to fix my awesome cowgirl’s photograph, while keeping her hair realistic:

  1. Cmd or Ctrl J to create a new layer.
  2. Go into the drop down for the Eraser Tool (E), and choose Background Eraser Tool.
  3. Up in the Options Bar, go into the brush presets and bring to brush hardness level to about 95% to soften it just a little.
  4. Choose the second option (out of three) to Once for the Sampling method.  The first one is for Continuous, the third is Background Swatch. The Sampling controls how often Photoshop looks at the color and decides what to erase.  Once makes the erasing color one time and will erase pixels that match it.
  5. The Limits menu default is always set to Contiguous, but we want to choose Discontiguous, which works the best to erase similar color through hair.
  6. Turn on Protect Foreground Color and then Option-click or Alt-click a strand of hair.
  7. Now start to erase the background by moving the mouse’s crosshairs to touch only the pixels you want to erase.  Use a really big brush for soft areas, where the background peeks through strands of hair, and a small brush for hard edges around clothes and shoes.  Of course, use the bracket keys to increase or decrease your brushes size.  Keep Sampling the foreground colors to ensure Photoshop knows what areas of the background you want to erase.
  8. Adjust the Tolerance levels in the Options Bar if you aren’t getting the proper results.  Lower it if it erasing too much.
  9. Release the mouse often.  Cmd or Ctrl Z will undo a spot.
  10. Once you get a clean outline around the subject, just use the Normal Eraser Tool to get rid of the rest of the image, or use a Selection Tool around the subject, Inverse it, and delete what is left of the image.
  11. Have fun adding your subject to another image.

I have always wanted to say, “this isn’t my first rodeo”, however, I have never been to a rodeo, and neither has my little cowgirl, but we can always pretend.

Credit for the background image goes to http://www.flickr.com/photos/mjhusereauxpix/ which I found on Flickr.


The future of design at IxDA Atlanta

The Future of Design

Future of Design

Future of Design

I had the pleasure of listening to experienced designers speak about their thoughts on the future of web design at an IxDA Atlanta meetup held at Georgia Tech Conference Center, showcasing local design thought leaders giving their take on what the future holds for the role of design in business and our daily lives. Each presenter was given five minutes to convey their design future to the crowd.

The speakers were representatives from interaction design, user experience, information architecture and industrial design. Diane DeSeta – User Experience Strategist; Sean Gerety – Senior Engineer – User Experience Integrator; Kevin Shankwiler – Assistant Professor in Industrial Design/Digital Fabrication Lab, Georgia Tech and Vice Chair, IDSA Atlanta; Wengert Klemens – Senior User Experience Architect, Turner Broadcasting; Adam Bloom – Entrepeneur and Software Product Marketer; Joseph Dickson – User Experience Consultant and Author; Chris Livaudais – Senior Industrial Designer and Chair IDSA Atlanta; Ralph Lord – Senior UX Practitioner; Terry Allen – Director, Marketing and Design and UX Consultant.

Understanding how design works and its impact on people will allow you to think outside the box, if you want. Innovation is born there, at the moment you start thinking about making something. We have at our disposal endless feedback information to be used to better the user experience.

The speakers all had 5 minutes to give their opinion about design and the future of design. They covered such topics as:

Understanding people, understand our users
Design for variability (not just displays)
Businesses are designed
Design applies to everything
Self-expressed, artisanship, DIY – ie, the Harlem Shake
Humanization of things
Big Data, Big Feedback
Convergence of Art and Science
Brain Science and Decisioning
“Do not fear mistakes – there are none”, Miles Davis
Design and gratitude
Interaction with computers
We are designing the future
Displays will be everywhere
Bio Printing – Scotland’s stem cell secret and the ability to replicate any cell
How long can we live?
Design for the elderly
What if life was designed so that no one had to work?

It was a quick talk with great insight from professional designers. I hope to see more of this type of get together which allows the experts to offer their thoughts and ideas about the future of web design.

Startup Georgia at Hypepotamus – Jermaine Dupri tells how So So Def got its start…..

Startup Rally 2013

One part startup exposition, one part summer internship fair, and one part launch of Startup Georgia – startup led, statewide initiative to raise the profile of Georgia startups as part of the national network Startup America Partnership.

Featuring – Jermaine Dupri, CEO of So So Def Recordings, Scott Case, co-founder & CTO of Priceline, and over 100 startups exhibiting.

What are the odds that a Georgia street/country kid would use college students from Emory University to start his company?  Although he started his tremendous success story by finding the best party thrower at Emory, he admits it was a lot of hard work, a lot of hit and miss.  The party thrower is now manager to many artists, including, Justin Bieber.

He spoke about his $200,000 website that had a lot of moving parts, but was virtually invisible in search engines.  He started a free blog and received more hits than his official website!  He enjoyed the ability to communicate with his fans, so his new venture, Global 14.com is his personal social networking site.  He is into tech now, and his new site is very nice – another one of his visions.

Jermaine Dupri is celebrating the 20th Anniversary of So So Def Recordings at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in Atlanta.  The All-Star Anniversary concert is on Saturday, February 23, 2013.  Tickets at global14.com.

A number of soon-to-be well known entrepreneurs spoke about their vision.  Students met with startups from multiple sectors and industries to find out about summer internships.  Developers, computer science, designers, business students, and all majors are encouraged to explore the opportunities available to them right here in Atlanta.

Some of these ventures include:

startup-rally_0007_MrArlo startup-rally_0006_TripLingostartup-rally_0033_GoLocalstartup-rally_0028_Keep-Dreaminstartup-rally_0019_Pindrop

Check out the lineup of next generation companies blossoming in Atlanta at Hypepotamus Startup Rally.