u.x.

Introduction to User Experience Design

June 20th, 2017

User experience (UX) design is a relatively new field and only came around with the mass adoption of computers and digital technology. It has evolved over the years and is now an essential part of the digital product development cycle. The core mission of UX is to craft digital experiences that not only empower, but also delight users. In this digital era, innovation never stops and with it more and more opportunities for creating user experiences arise.

The question is how does one get into UX design. Is knowledge of coding essential? Or a degree in design? In reality it doesn’t matter, anyone with a keen eye for detail and a passion to make things better can be a UX designer.

But what is UX? UX is both the end result experience a product offers and a set of methods with which to craft experiences. These methods include various user research techniques, crafting user-flows, layout design, and user testing.

In this article I will give a brief overview of a few concepts that will help define the needs of the users, how to work with and adapt to constraints, what it means to create a story that shapes the experience, the innovation aspect of UX and that good UX comes from a lot of testing and being open to input.

Seeing Through the Users’ Eyes

The most important aspect of UX design is to learn that the ways users interact with a product and the experiences they have with it vary wildly depending on their backgrounds and life situations. In order to create a pleasing user experience considerations of the users age, background, physical location, interests, and of course comfort level with technology, need to be considered and designed around.

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flexboxes

CSS Flexboxes

February 26th, 2017

Today I would like to tell you all about this awesome property that CSS got a while back, but is now finally fully supported by all browsers and should be used by all web designers and developers. This property is called Flexbox or display: flex.

Why should you use it, you might ask. The reality of it is, if you have ever tried to centre something vertically and horizontally in CSS, you know the struggle that it is, and you know how after swearing at the screen for 30 minutes, you’d just end up cheating and setting the pixels manually, cause nothing else works. What if I told you that flexboxes allow you to centre an item within a container with 3 lines of code, and it would consistently work across all browsers? Well it can:

display: flex;
align-items: centre;
justify-content: center;

Flexboxes use the concept of a container and items within it, and uses tools like: justify and align to determine the position of the items within the container. Furthermore, you can easily flip the direction (order) of the items using flex-direction, change the direction from row to column and  grow and shrink the items with just a few lines of code. Its that simple.

I have started using flexboxes at work exclusively, and have not even had to write another "margin: 0 auto" in months! Now I am in the process of fixing up the anime club sites with the same stuff, to make them more robust and the code cleaner and more manageable.

If you want to learn more about this, then here is a link to CSS Tricks, a great website for learning about various interesting css properties and selectors.

Also there is a flexbox game, where you can learn how to align elements in various ways. Unfortunately though, they dont show you the code, but you can work it out from the buttons you are pressing on their UI.

And here is an article (with GIFs), that goes over all the flex box selectors and explains how they work.

DuckDuckGo

May 12th, 2015

duckduckgo

A few days ago, my sempai Ruben wrote up this little blog post about DuckDuckGo and it got me wondering wether I should give it another go.

DuckDuckGo is an internet search engine similar to Google or Bing, but has one feature that all the others lack – privacy. With Google, Yahoo, Bing and pretty much all the other big name search engines, you get no privacy… at all. Everything you search is saved in some form to either be used for marketing, add targeting, search predictions, etc. But ultimately these companies called data about you, and then sell this data (sell you) to advertisers. Thats how they make money, thats their business model. With DDG, thats not the case, they don’t track you (well at least they say the don’t). But thats not the only good factors about DDG. The site has customisation options, a region switch, ! lookup operators, and other neat features, which I never knew I wanted, but am used to now.

Back when Apple released OSX10.10 Yosemite and iOS8, they added an option to make DuckDuckGo the default search engine in Safari. Thats when I tried it for the first time. It was a good experience I might say, but ultimately I ended up going back to Google as my primary search engine, when DDG failed to find results for relatively simple searches.

Now though after a good year, I think I will give it another shot. I have moved everything of my Gmail, I have pretty much cleared my Google+ and the only things left in GDrive is collaboration folders for uni group work. I am not quite sure wether I am ready to give up Google Search, but I will definitely give DDG a go for the next few weeks, and if it grows on me, I’ll stick to it.

Of course I don’t recommend that you all go out there and change your search engines to DDG and change your habits, but as an innovative and forward thinking person as I believe myself to be, I will seek the new solutions to the problems that we have been facing for years; the alternatives to established concepts; I will rebel against the norm and embrace that which is new and (arguably) superior. Long live the startups, long live the community.