All posts tagged “Myths”

10 Most Prevalent Myths in Web Designing

When it comes to aesthetics people have different perceptions and misconceptions. Same is with web designing, as it is a form of art and art certainly comes with misconceptions.

10 Most Prevalent Myths in Web Designing

Perhaps, after quite a lot of analysis web designers have reached to a consensus that the Consumerization of web development is the ‘ne plus ultra’ for success in web design.

We have seen its positive impact on business and it can also be seen in the graph mentioned below.

Impact of Consumerization of IT on business.

This was the upper crust of the web designing with which everyone do agree but speaking of the inner intricacies in web designing there are various misconceptions which still have strong roots. In this article we will discuss them and try to understand the discipline of web designing more clearly.

1. Intermixing designing terms

The biggest myth in the industry is that designers fail to understand the difference between the terms called as user experience, service design and customer experience.

Intermixing designing terms

User Experience

Being into designing from quite sometime, I figured out the difference between the basic designing terms. User experience primarily focuses on the design pattern and implementation of a single customer touch point. The main aim is to make the touch point more intuitive. In a website and mobile app, a touch point means the experiences and they can occur in the form of paper invoice, kiosk or interactive voice responder. There are times when people perceive touch point as channels, such as a website or an in-store, where in a touch point is the single point of interaction. The firms use them to provide their customer an optimal experience with its products and services. It definitely works on user’s behavior with minimizing the time and efforts for a task.

Competency:

In order to create good user experience the users need to have different competencies. User research and analytics, interaction design, information architecture, content strategy, visual design and front-end developers are the requisites of a strong team for creating a good user experience website.

Customer Experience

On the other hand customer experience aims to design and place the touch points aptly throughout the entire journey of the users. However, the customers can not differentiate between a touch point and a channel; all they need is a flawless experience. Thus, in order to accomplish this we need to see that how they hop form one touch point to another. So, you need to craft brilliantly what each of the touch point do. Thus, omni-channel experiences can allow customers to help them to sway through the website using their preferred path.

Be consistent!

All your earnest efforts in creating a good user experience will be futile if you break your consistency at any point. Any misleading advertisement or communication can be very dangerous.

2. Understanding Service design

Like customer experience, service design also aims to improve and innovate new online service experience. It is a multidisciplinary approach which amalgamates the user experience, design methodologies and operational model design tools and techniques. It aims to connect the journey across all the touch points and channels and not only for the customers but also for the organizations perspective.

This process seeks the organization to break into the information silos in order to enhance their business model, operations and strategies. It functions like a backstage support staff which help to deliver optimal front stage performance.

Understanding Service design

Skill Sets

A service designer has to don a bigger hat which can cover up the strategy, research and design. It is not just it because at times he needs to connect the engineering and architecture.

3. User Experience is not is not a user interface design

The founder and principal at Kicker Studio, feels that it is very common to consider the design being merely an ornament. Dan Saffer says, “I’ve had clients tell me not to worry about what their strategy is,” he adds, “because why would a designer care about that? UX is more than just skin deep.”

Mixing up the “user experience” with “user interface” seem to be a very common. This is because it has a major contribution in generating a good user experience while going through the products and services online. I know it can be quite a riddle at times, but one can easily solve it if he gets to understand the clue. So, you need to understand these different terms.

“Interface is a component of user experience, but there’s much more,” said Peter Merholz, founding partner and president of Adaptive Path. Christian Crumlish, curator of the Yahoo! Design Pattern Library. Furthermore, he elucidates design as, “isn’t about cosmetics, pixel-pushing, and button placement. It’s holistic and it’s everyone’s concern, not just the realm of ‘artistic’ types.”

4. User Experience is not a step in the process

The most lingering myth about user experience is that it is merely a step in the complete process. However, we need to understand that the complete essence of the project is the user experience and it is the only thing which helps the user to distinguish among the websites. And in order to do this we need to keep on regulating and refreshing our process. To do that we need a flexible module where something new can be easily accommodated.

According to Dan Brown, co-founder and principal at EightShapes , “Most [clients] expect experience design to be a discrete activity, solving all their problems with a single functional specification or a single research study. It must be an ongoing effort, a process of continually learning about users, responding to their behaviors, and evolving the product or service.”

“User experience design isn’t a checkbox,” adds Liz Danzico, an leading user experience consultant and chairperson of the new MFA in Interaction Design program at the School of Visual Arts. “You don’t do it and then move on. It needs to be integrated into everything you do.”

5. User Experience is not about technology

User experience is not remotely related to technology. Categorizing user experience on the basis of technological skill set would be very unfair as in this tech savvy time period where we can find erudite work force very easily. So, creating a good user experience is something independent from the technology. In the words of says Mario Bourque, manager of information architecture and content management at Trapeze Group, “It’s about how we live. It’s about everything we do; it surrounds us.”

“User experience design is not limited to the confines of the computer. It doesn’t even need a screen,” contends Bill DeRouchey, director of interaction design at Ziba Design. “User experience is any interaction with any product, any artifact, any system.”

6. Usability is not just a synecdoche for user experience

Now, in this time we need to go beyond just providing the usability and user engagement. In order to get to people change their perceptions we should generate a need for the stuff which we are selling.”People often think that [UX design] is a way to make products that suck into products that don’t suck by dedicating resources to the product’s design,” articulates Chris Fahey, founding partner and principal of Behavior.

We know that usability is imperative, but while focusing much on competence the designers tend to lose the importance of user experience. This also comprises of various behavioral responses of the user towards your online store. Simple things are easy to use but are not all the time appealing enough to attract the users. However, it can also be taken that users might not interact with the appealing things. Usability is not just a synecdoche for user experience. A smooth user experience is something which is required, available, reliable, findable, and extremely valuable.

7. Page size defines user experience

Web page size has been a great discussion in terms of user experience. Designers have this perception that lengthy web pages decreases the bounce rate. They might think that a long web page will make the users stick to the website and this argument sounds quite different to the latest parallax web page trend. However, it can be seen that the web page sizes are growing with the passage of time.

Page size defines user experience

So, the long and short of this is that people propose different argument based on their encountered experience. However, as a business developer it is your duty to find out which argument suits your business requirement.

Another biggest misconception of user experience is that it is “U” centric. We all know that there is a business motive which needs to be fulfilled while designing our business website. Although, it is designed for the users, but it is not always that we can put forth users of our business motives. Thus, we need to satiate the needs of the users and simultaneously not to forget our business motives. As a user experience designer you need to balance between both the business needs efficiently. Providing a good user experience and not sideling the business needs is what we need to do.

8. It all means the same

You will certainly go to an ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist and not to an orthopaedic in case of an ear problem. Similarly, you need to know that there are also different specialist for your user interface design. Well in order to suffice this we have renowned publisher of books on designing user experience, Louis Rosenfeld, publisher at Rosenfeld Media and also the co-author of the book Information Architecture for the World Wide Web who also opines the same.

Web designing in today’s world is a challenge and it needs synthesis of varied design proficiency. Modern web designing needs inputs from people from different expertise who have hands on experience in building good web designs. Even after the rise of the technology, various companies are still oblivious of the fact that terms like user experience architect, information architect, usability engineer, design analyst, interaction designer and many more such designations do not means the same. These are merely nebulous titles for them which means the same to them.

However, in order to edge out the competing we have different post for people who specialize in different process in the designing. Some focus on mental models such as Indi Young, web forms, usability testing or focused activity.

9. You just need to know your business

Designing is not just as easy as we think it is. This might sound easier as you might be knowing your business thoroughly, but this doesn’t makes the complete process a cake walk. Running with this notion that there is only one single way to craft a successful website and that is to understand the business; is just a sheer misconception among the designers and clients.

Another major trap which engulfs a lot of companies is that they are also the end users. According to Erin Malone, principal at Tangible UX, programmers and managers run with the view that they will create the experience after they build the project. The UX designers are struck in the middle position where they try to explain the developers and the business executives that why do they follow the practices and how positively it will helps in their business gains.

You just need to know your business

Making random assumptions about people such as their behaviors and what they expect will not give you the finest results. You need to spend some time to derive a conclusion out of the big data analysis and then speculate about users and their needs. After this you need to draft the complete strategy which can make them tick and then certainly all these efforts will culminate into something fruitful.

10. Reading articles will help sway through

If you think that reading articles about developing a good user experience can help you to develop an optimal web design then you are highly mistaken. You might not drastically fail but success on a larger scale is impossible, though. So, start your analysis now.

In this cut throat competitive world where users bank on web solutions creating a highly reliable and engaging solution for them is certainly what is required. A good designing experience can certainly help out in developing some of the sublime solutions which users actually need. We also need to keep in mind that we do not have to confuse or irritate the users with a complex design, after all we are building the solution for a problem, not a problem itself.

Please do share your valuable comments.

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Six Common Freelancing Myths


Just as the freelance industry is exploding with undiscovered, talented (and some not so talented) people, the myths that come with it are thriving as well. It’s funny how I even get to hear opposite views about this profession. While Nancy believes freelancers make tons of money in no time, Drew says that they are barely able to pay their bills and taxes. Jennifer claims that you have all the time on your hands, but then Ross said that the work and stress never ends. Who to believe?

Well, as an experienced freelancer, I believe I have the ability to put those myths to rest once and for all. First, imagine yourself on a stranded island with zero people. Will you die and become a tasty meatloaf for the animals in the jungle? Or, will you have that Robinson Crusoe survival instinct that will allow you to go through every thick and thin to make your way to your destination?


Image Source: The Word Freelance on Wood Stamp via Shutterstock.

You’ll Make Tons Of Money — Fast

True! You may be able to make tons of money fast in any job, but usually that’s not-so-legal (Hush!) work. Freelance won’t give you the big bucks immediately. You have to invest in a lot of your time and effort before that can be happened. Like any other profession you have to build a portfolio.

That means you’ll need plenty of experience, immense skill-set, and some negotiation skills to deal with clients before you start making the big bucks. There is no easy way to go up the ladder. How long it takes you to climb, is entirely up to your determination and the amount of effort and time you invest.

You Get To Be Your Own Boss

While it’s not advisable to have an “employee” mindset when you’re a freelancer, there will definitely be someone you will be working for (and in fact be their employee). The client, who is paying you, will get to make certain choices of his own that you’ll have to adhere to if you’re in the game. Freelancing is a two-way relationship. In order to get the reviews and feedback you want, you’ll have to listen to care for — your clients.

That doesn’t have to mean you are their boss or that they are yours. It just means that there will always be someone you are working with whose requests will have to be taken care of.


Image Source: Creative Man Dreaming via Shutterstock.

However, in the beginning I mentioned that having that “employee” mindset is not advisable. The old-fashioned autocratic style where one says “You do this!” and the other says “Ok, boss”, is the wrong approach. Think creatively and innovatively, and give yourself the freedom to present your own ideas whenever you can. Also, make sure you set limits to how much someone can ask from you. Maybe, the compensation they offer doesn’t worth your time and effort.

I Am An Introvert And I Only Get To Embrace My Loneliness

Agreed, this is a field that attracts most introverts and they love it! However, just like any other job, you have to attain a certain amount of work-social life balance to climb up the ladder. I don’t mean hanging out with your family or your significant-other (unless of course they know a lot of useful people). I mean, you have to network a little to open more windows of opportunities.

Whether you are connecting with prospective clients or just hanging out with someone having experience and expertise, being out there in the world is necessary for any kind of profession.

They’ll Be Paying You Pennies For The Work You Do

This contradicts with the first myth. Neither the first and nor this myth is true. Again, this is something that depends on your own intellect and negotiation skills.

Now, go back to the island and try to imagine where you’ll find food. The coconut tree will be a great option and an easy one. You can just keep batting the branches and a few will drop. It will certainly be a good start, but what about later on when you get bored and it eventually fails to quench your hunger for other nutrients? You’ll need to go hunting for a meatier prize that lasts longer. Sure, it will take some time to develop the hunting skills before you go bustling through the leaves for that animal. But when you’re finally ready, you can strike the bow without worrying about being eaten first.

The initial $ 2.5 is good to build a profile. However, in time when you have built your own value and reputation, you’ll be able to get clients that are willing to pay you more for what you do with bigger projects and more time before they finish.

It Is A Stress-Free Job, Unlike Others

Oh no, this one definitely isn’t true. Just because you have some flexibility doesn’t mean you’ll live a stress-free life. In fact, freelancing involves many other stressors that other job’s don’t have. For example, although you get to choose the job you want to do and get hired or fired without a worry about finding more projects, fishing through tons of JDs and applying is stressful on its own.


Image Source: Under Pressure via Shutterstock.

Or, the fact that you have flexible timings doesn’t help to reduce the stress when you have to submit a design project without an excuse about “not being at the office”. The communication gap between a client on the other side of the world can be a cause of stress too, at times, which other 9-5-ers don’t have to deal with.

Freelancing Is For Those Who Can’t Find A Job

Not true! Many freelancers are in for the gig by choice. Some of them have a passion to “write” unlike the traditional journalism style and just want to put that passion to action. Work-life balance is another major reason why freelancers jump into this field. Moreover, there are some really successful people in the field who possess a horde of talent and manage their freelance projects or consultancies along with a 9-5 job.

Concluding

So, next time you hear a Nancy, or Drew, or Jennifer, or Ross talk about freelance, be forewarned! They don’t know what they are talking about. It’s not until you become a freelancer yourself that you can make judgments and give advice on it. What you use and how you use it, to make the best of what’s on that island, is entirely up to you!


The post Six Common Freelancing Myths appeared first on Speckyboy Web Design Magazine.


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Common SEO Myths & Misconceptions


There isn’t a day that goes by that I hear from a client something they have heard about SEO that isn’t even close to the truth. It seems there are more stories about SEO than Chuck Norris. A quote by George Bernard Shaw comes to mind:

Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.

In the SEO world this quote rings true every day. Whether it’s an business owner that is wasting what little extra time they have on incorrect optimization, or someone in the industry making unfounded statements and making their agency (and themselves) look inept, false SEO knowledge is everywhere.

seo myths

The ever-changing search algorithms from various search engines may be to blame, but just as guilty are the snake oil salesmen and one-man SEO agencies spreading the myths faster than Paul Revere. Google’s webmaster blog does their best to debunk myths repeatedly. For example, they posted last year a reminder about selling links that pass PageRank, something they have been writing about since 2007. Despite their best efforts our clients still call us when a door-to-door SEO salesman comes to them about having a BOGOF deal on thousands of links.

Every ‘white-hat’ SEO provider should still do their part to make the Internet and their industry a better place so I’ll do my part here and try to banish some of the SEO bull-jive going around (and now I can check off using bull-jive from my bucket list).

1. Ranking No. 1 is all that matters

If ya ain’t first, yer last.” – Ricky Bobby

There is obviously a correlation between search results placement and click-through rates, but that doesn’t mean that it is the holy grail it used to be. Even in the past,having the best rankings didn’t guarantee success and high click-through rates, but were at least a good start.

Now, with search results being appended with enhancements such as author tags and rich text/snippets, the click-through rates for the top three slots have skyrocketed. The truth is relevant information and user-friendly listings every websites goal. A high-quality No. 4 can theoretically out-perform the No. 1 when it comes down to it.

2. SEO is Something Any Techie Can Do.

Fact: SEO is technical.
Fiction: Any technical person can take care of it.

SEO takes more than just being a technical person. Ask anyone in the industry how many clients come into their offices giving stories about how they entrusted their SEO to their IT guy or Web Designer or similar and have not had any results. They may be of assistance during the course of optimizing your site, and are valuable resources in the process when setting up XML site maps, redirects, and robots.txt files, but do not expect them to be your SEO go-to ‘guy’. That’s like expecting your electrician to fix your AC.

3. SEO is a One-Time Activity and You Are Done.

Too many times I have heard from other business owners that they just finished SEOing their site. This delusion is extremely rampant among the IT community, and it’s easy to see why. IT workers are given multiple “fix-it” tickets all day, so they treat SEO like every other assignment and tend to close the “ticket” and move on. SEO is an on-going process that requires a time investment on a periodic basis.

4. SEO & Social Media are Not Related at All

It’s a common misconception that SEO and Social Media are completely unrelated. In actuality, they are like kissing cousins. Search engines put value on content that has an element of social authority. This fact has spawned the term Social Search has become a common term because SEO and Social Media have been ‘going steady’ for years. Google has been working hard on this with Google+ and Google Authorship, but if you think about it, it’s only natural. Trusted and relevant content can drive your SEO and highly social content is easier to trust.

5. More Links > More Content.

YES, even with the changing link landscape in the search algorithms, inbound links are important; however, if SEO is your party than Content is your alcohol. Links are important, but if you focus purely on link building you are digging yourself a hole. The quantity of links might increase, but not necessarily the quality.

The problem here is that link building is no longer a numbers game. Investing in content, which can take form of a web page, blog article, and guest articles on other sites will often attract higher quality and more inbound links in the long run. On the other hand, please don’t think that having a blog is enough. It’s more complicated than that. You need to write with purpose, cater to your target audience, analyze traffic sources and performance of post types, and the list goes on and on.

6. SEO is NOT a Usability Issue.

I have heard this one with more frequency recently than ever before, and it’s not even close to being correct. SEO, at one point, was just getting found on the Internet but over the years this has changed forms more times than Goku. Now, true SEO includes how users of your website engage with your content. Yes, technically SEO stands for search engine optimization, but if they don’t click around on your highly ranked site, or even leave after clicking, the SEO serves no purpose.

To keep visitors on your site, ensure your content is personalized, relevant, intuitive and easy to browse through. If you have the usability of DOS, you wont convert. In the end that’s what SEO is all about.

7. <h1> is the Key to Great SEO.

This one is older than Larry King, and doesn’t seem to go away. The content structure on your site is an outline to presenting the content to search engines and of course users. The <h1> tag was extremely important at one point, but Google learns too. The old-guard of Black-Hat SEO spammed <h1> to death, so now it no longer really matters. Presenting your information towards the top of the page is a lot more relevant.

8. The Larger Your Sites Footprint the Better the Results.

If you think about it without insider knowledge, it would stand to reason that the more pages you have indexed by the search engine the better you would do. But you would be wrong. Just because you have more pages than the Twilight book series, doesn’t mean your pages are quality, just like Twilight. In fact, its more likely that the quality of the content was overlooked, and realistically, it is difficult to strive for both. Aim to publish relevant, quality content.

9. Since Search Engines Have Personalized Results, There is No Such Thing as Being Ranked #1.

You are absolutely correct that Google and Bing do have search results personalized to the user’s search history, even if the user is not logged in. On the other hand, the difference in results between personalized and non-personalized are extremely minor. In fact, check for yourself. Re-run your search terms by adding &PWS=0 to your SERP URL, or just go incognito (if you use chrome), and see how much (read: how little) the results shift around.

10. SEO is a Mysterious Dark Art.

Many people think of SEO being done by some rogue SEO employee that works in a closed office away from the rest of the company going about his experiments without involvement of clients or management. If this was true my life would read like a Jason Bourne novel. SEO is not a set of steps that can be applied to any site in any niche.

It is important to understand the industry, competitors, and a cooperative strategy to increase conversions for your company continually and consistently.

Concluding

Now, the future of SEO is in your hands, reader. Do your part. It takes a village to kill a myth. If there is only one thing you take away from this post, it is that SEO is about the overall experience of the user. From the initial search to leaving your site, the better the experience of the user from your results listing, to the quality and relevancy of the content, to the usability – the better your SEO will be too.


The post Common SEO Myths & Misconceptions appeared first on Speckyboy Web Design Magazine.


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Easy Keys Creation Myths: The Story of Beer: A distrubingly wild fictional adventure of animals, revelry and consumption

Easy Keys Creation Myths: The Story of Beer


Easy Keys’ new book “The Story of Beer” is a rollicking tale in which readers will find a giant banjo-playing bear clad in white briefs and sporting deer antlers….

Continue Reading…


Cool Hunting

Learn to paint myths and legends with the new ImagineFX

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Learn to paint myths and legends in the latest issue of ImagineFX – on sale now! 




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SEO expert debunks 5 of the biggest SEO myths

Read more about SEO expert debunks 5 of the biggest SEO myths at CreativeBloq.com


SEO has always been one of those online marketing channels with a reputation for being as much witchcraft as technical wizardry and it can therefore be very difficult to decipher what is and isn’t true.
    




Creative Bloq

Responsive Web Design Myths: Separating Fact from Fiction

Responsive design is not without its share of myths; some born of genuine lack of understanding and others perpetuated out of sheer ignorance. The question is – would you like to hold on to these misconceptions or allow facts to show you the way?
Template Monster Blog

Adobe busts myths with stylised typography

The software giant’s latest social campaign seeks to bury common myths about marketing. These stylish designs by typographer and illustrator Jordan Metcalf help get the message across.

    


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8 Myths About How Blind People Use the Internet

As a frontend developer of course I’d heard about accessibility. I’d always followed best practices when creating web content that shouldn’t have any problems being read by a screenreader. Like so many other developers in my position though I’d never actually tried a screenreader myself. It always seemed like a difficult thing to do, and I’d heard it was expensive. A few months ago I spent a week pretending to be blind for a week, using a screenreader to navigate websites, attempting to understand how a blind user will hear a site. I learned quite a few things that I didn’t expect that have changed the way I write HTML. There’s lots of rumours and misinformation about accessibility best practices. Here are some myths that are definitely not true:

Using a screenreader blindfolded to test websites

Myth: Screenreaders Read Link Title Text

This is not true, and surprised me greatly! For a long time I was under the impression that title text added to a link was intended to describe the destination of the link for screenreaders. I’ve learned now that title text is actually NEVER read aloud by a screenreader, meaning adding information intended for screenreader users is completely pointless. If this information is essential it can actually make your page less accessible. I asked HTML expert Jeffrey Zeldman whether we should be using title text in links, here’s his answer:

We're researching link title text, & how it's not used by screen readers. Is there any reason to use it you can think of?

@silktide says: We’re researching link title text, & how it’s not used by screen readers. Is there any reason to use it you can think of?

@Zeldman says: No! Do not use.

I wrote more about how I mistakenly thought title text improved accessibility here.

Myth: Blind Users Use a Text-Only Browser

Don’t get confused between a screenreader and a browser, they aren’t the same. A screenreader reads the entire desktop, not just the web browser. A screenreader isn’t a special type of browser, it’s just something that reads text from the software you’re already using. That means blind users will use the same browsers as everyone else. I was mistakenly told by a fellow web developer that the best way to test a blind user’s experience is to use an obscure text-only browser like Lynx or w3m.

According to a study by WebAIM the majority of screenreader users use Internet Explorer and Firefox on Windows. Testing your site in anything other than the common browsers might not be giving a true experience of a blind user. Users of the free screenreader NVDA are most likely to use Firefox, which is recommended. You might be surprised to know that Chrome, the web developer’s browser of choice, is only used by a small percentage of blind users.

Myth: Blind Users Don’t Have JavaScript Enabled

How many users of any kind actually disable JavaScript? A long time ago I heard it was something like 1 in 10, but that was long long ago. JavaScript is not only pretty useful these days, but for many sites it’s necessary to get the intended experience. As blind users will use common browsers, it’s mostly safe to assume they’ll have JavaScript enabled too. It’s completely possible to make JavaScript interfaces accessible by screenreaders, using ARIA roles to enhance keyboard navigation.

Myth: Dynamically Loading Content is Bad for Accessibility

Sites like Twitter load content dynamically, for example when scrolling down the page Twitter will automatically load new tweets so you don’t have to click “more”. I originally thought this would be an accessibility nightmare for screenreader users, but after speaking to some blind people I learned that it’s actually preferable to pagination. Sure, there’s an awkward pause in the content that’s read aloud as the page is spoken, but this is preferable to going to a second page where you’ve again got to navigate through the headings and menu to the content.

This is still a bit of a hot topic though. I’ve read comments from some blind users who find auto loading content incredibly irritating. It probably isn’t flawless in all occasions, but my advice is don’t dismiss it as inaccessible; if you’re developing a site that loads content dynamically, have a blind user test it first.

Myth: Blind Users Have CSS Turned Off

We’ve already established above that blind users use exactly the same browsers as sighted users. It’s unlikely screenreader users will disable CSS, and in many cases the CSS will affect how the screenreader reads content. For example did you know that any page elements with the CSS property display:none won’t be read by a screenreader? Many people think they’re helping screenreader users by providing a “skip to content” link at the top of the page, hiding to visual users with display:none. Actually screenreaders obey this and don’t read it aloud.

Myth: All Images Need alt Text

One of the very first things you might have learned about creating accessible webpages is to specify alt text on every image. This is still an important lesson, and giving appropriate alt text is essential to blind users using a screenreader, especially if the image contains text or conveys meaning. However, not all images on your page require alt text. If the purpose of the image is for decoration only, alt text will be irrelevant and might confuse a screenreader user. In these cases, you don’t need to specify any alt text at all. If this is the case, it’s best practise to show you intended to leave it blank by specifying an empty alt=”” attribute.

Myth: Everything Needs a Tabindex

No it doesn’t, leave it alone! Tabindex is intended to solve the problem that the order a screenreader reads content might not be the best order for the content (it’s actually called “focus order” in WCAG 2.0). If this is the case, you need to do some serious thinking about your content order, and not put tabindex in as a quick fit. Most of the time tabindex just makes things more confusing and can bounce users around the page in a non-logical way.

I tried to use a comments form on a blog last week, tabbing through each input box when I noticed the captcha box wasn’t included in the focus order. After some checking with Chrome’s developer tools I found that the tabindex had been specified for each element except the captcha, pushing it way way down somewhere in the order of things making it very difficult to submit the comment using the keyboard. Changing the focus order often causes more problems than it fixes. Put your content in a sensible order and leave it at that.

Myth: Blind Users Navigate Using Landmark Roles and HTML5 Structural Elements

You’ve probably seen the new HTML5 structural elements like <aside> and <nav> which are intended to make more sense of our page content. Also there’s ARIA landmark roles like role="main" and role="navigation" that we can add to our elements to indicate their purpose. This is definitely going a long way to making our content easier to navigate, but adoption of these new technologies still has a long way to go.

The WebAIM survey shows that almost 35% of people seldom or never use landmarks. It’s not a bad percentage, but each screenreader and browser combination does something different, and not all websites make use of landmark roles, so it’s not a reliable method to use. The largest percentage of screenreader users use page headings to navigate, skipping from one to the next using a keyboard shortcut.
When trying this out myself however I realised how easy it is to skip an important piece of content, especially if the website author hadn’t used headings correctly. This myth’s debatable. In the future I believe users will navigate using structural elements and ARIA roles a lot more than they currently do as it becomes more reliable, but remember this isn’t the only way screenreader users navigate.

Summary

Like so many others, I learn by doing. There’s been loads written about creating accessible websites, but much of it is boring and theoretical. Simply by using a screenreader myself I was able to learn so much more about how a blind user navigates a webpage, and how to create better websites. Obviously though, blindfolding yourself can’t give a true experience of being blind, so what I really recommend is get a blind person to check your sites, or at least teach you how to use a screenreader properly. I’ve had some great conversations with blind users recently after publishing my first article about accessibility, and there’s a lot you can learn by just asking. If you’re a practical hands-on kind of guy like me, trying it out yourself is a valuable experience!


Speckyboy Design Magazine

Journey to The Heart of UX Design: Debunking Myths

What makes a truly great car? Beauty? If that were the case, then every millionaire in the world would drive a gaudy, two-hundred-thousand dollar sports car. While they are often undeniably beautiful, many sports cars leave much to be desired: they lack storage; they are bad for the environment; they are uneconomical… the list goes on and on.

On the flip side, there are some remarkably reliable cars that can get a person from here to there for a very reasonable amount of money. But how many people want to show up at a business meeting in a Ford Focus?

Many of the world’s most successful car companies share something in common: they don’t just settle for making great cars; they offer something more. BMW, Mercedes, and Volkswagen sell an experience – a vision of driving. As an owner, they make you feel as though you’re part of something larger.

Do you remember Volkswagon’s Fahrvergnügen campaign?

The road less travelled

Fahrvergnügen, directly translated, means driving pleasure. This is what Volkswagen drivers want: something beyond the “everyday” experience of getting to and from work; something better. At the end of the day that’s what good UX design is all about: giving people a product or service that amplifies (or transcends) their experience.

It sounds simple but, along the way, we often forget. People often confuse “good design” with “good looks” and while looks are certainly part of it, actual design is more than just skin deep. Recently deceased Apple CEO and user experience genius Steve Jobs summed this up perfectly when he said: “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

Good design doesn’t showcase a company’s vision so much as it enables that company’s users to tell a story. User experience design, then, encompasses everything from the initial idea to the last pixel on a page. It is about performance and efficiency, intellect and emotion. It is about solving problems and finding the optimal way to affect users with a sense of purpose.

Assuming you have a great designer – a true expert who understands form, functionality, and emotion – it’s easy enough for them to offer a relevant experience… but is it exceptional?

The danger zone

Yet another common misconception regarding design is that any designer will be fine for basic user testing. While the expert designer’s review can certainly be useful in finding obvious usability issues, it is never a substitute for good, wholesome user testing.

It’s probably apparent by now that there are many misconceptions about what constitutes good user experience design. Talking about it is easy, but defining it is difficult. The best way to avoid (almost all) of the common traps is to never forget that good design centers around serving content – be that a message or an idea.

If you are interested in learning more there are plenty of great resources:

  • First and foremost, you’re reading this blog which is an incredible source of information and always shedding new light on the world of UX and many of the obstacles we have to overcome as a young and highly misunderstood field.
  • Box and Arrows features podcasts, cutting edge articles, and a job listing board.
  • What more, UX myths helps dispel many of misconceptions about design and user experience in general.

Regardless of how you choose to look at it, we are in the midst of a user experience boom. There’s information and misinformation around every corner. Hopefully, though, armed with this knowledge and a few good resources, you can begin to differentiate for yourself.

To theyself, be true

User experience design enables us to effect a sense of purpose. It facilitates a conversation between the audience, the designer, and the object being designed. To that end, start by learning what your users really want. Then use design to exceed it: form and function, intellect and emotion. It is, as cheesy as it sounds, not only about creating a great product but also delivering something more: a real, exceptional experience.


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