Hiring renaissance talent

· Design

In response to a thread on the IxDA mailing list about how job ads seeking “Leonardo da Vinci” (that is, someone who can design, do illustrations, and write code) may be trying to pack too many requirements into a single req, Dave Rogers posted a link to an article her wrote nearly a year ago for gotomedia,
The User Advocate: One Size Fits None?, in which he writes:

I also recognize that the “one size fits all” designer is how the Web was won. Because the visual nature of the early Web was transformative, it was natural for visual designers to take the lead. Already savvy users of computer design tools, they added some straightforward HTML skills to their palettes and hung out their shingles. Pioneers are always generalists.
But those days are long past. The settlers have moved in, cities are rising. As business leapt into the Web with its show-no-mercy requirements, the gaps in the early Web designers’ skills-notably in interaction design (IxD), usability engineering and information architecture-became increasingly evident.
Specialists began to emerge. Requirements analysts. Usability specialists. Interaction designers. And information architects.

We’re hiring like mad right now and I’m wrestling with some of these same issues. I gave up trying to find an IA who was also good at functional requirements, specs, and use cases (although “back in my day” we did all those things while walking uphill in the snow against the wind both ways) and now I’m looking for separate individuals: an IA/user experience expert and a tech writer / spec writer.

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Jared Spool on 'embraceable change'

· Design

Last year, Jared Spool wrote an essay about a disruptive intranet redesign in which he used the analogy of finding your well lived-in home entirely changed on waking up one morning (Designing Embraceable Change). In it, he discusses how to make it easier for people to embrace changes in their information spaces:

To design for embraceable change, the design team has to be well aware of the existing Current and Target Knowledge points, as well as the new points. Field studies are the ideal technique for learning the existing points, whereas usability testing will give a detailed understanding as to whether the new design has an acceptable knowledge gap. These two techniques are essential for any team who needs to tackle this difficult problem.

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Designing urls and other text strings

· Design

Thomas Vander Wal explores the design implications of text strings (Domain of Digital Design Includes Strings). I used to think I was the only one who cared about the text in a file name or a url, but actually of course a lot of people do. Unfortunately, most CMS’s still produce butt-ugly urls, and I have to admit that I don’t have a well defined process in our user experience practice for defining the url structure for a site. Sometimes we specify the url paths in our content matrices, but not always. Now that people are more aware of the SEO implications of their urls (and the interesting but strange fact that Google views a hyphen but not an underscore as a word delimiter), there’s more attention to this level of the user experience. And that’s a Good Thing.

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