Do Long Scrolling Pages Work?

Super long pages are a growing design trend in higher education. Do they work? Do visitors read the content? Can you measure it? You sure can.

December 21, 2011 — 1 Comment

Difference Between Creativity and Innovation

I once attended a class on innovation and the instructor led with this question: what was the difference between Leonardo da Vinci and Thomas Edison?

November 07, 2011 — 0 Comments

Design Convergence in Higher Ed Websites

There are over 4000 higher ed institutions in the United States. With largely similar audiences (prospective students, current students, parents, faculty, alumni, donors, etc.) and goals (recruitment, retention, donations, etc.) we’re certainly not alone in our challenges. Thus, when faced the same problems we come up with the same solutions. This is what I call design convergence.

September 02, 2011 — 2 Comments

"That Sucks": Negative Feedback after Launch

On July 1, we launched 4.0. This was a new look and feel for the site, as well as a conceptually different approach to the homepage and navigation. But the biggest change was a fundamental shift in who our audiences were. I’ll elaborate on these later, but that’s not the point of this post. The point? Every time we make a major change to the design of the homepage, we get feedback. And it’s overwhelmingly negative.

August 16, 2011 — 5 Comments

Through the Critic's Looking Glass

I spend a lot of time looking at other higher ed websites. Knowing what’s out there is part of our job. Last week, a few colleagues and I spent some time sharing our favorite sites and looking at what others are doing out there. And something strange happened: we became critics. If you have...

April 11, 2011 — 0 Comments

Emergencies and Your Web Design

After a major campus crisis, schools often respond by scrambling to put together a crisis plan. Often this stops with a “business continuity plan,” or how they’ll keep things going despite a crisis. At Notre Dame, my colleague Julie Flory helped establish a Crisis Communications...

November 18, 2010 — 2 Comments

I Was Wrong: UX Myths

In 2009 I wrote about cognitive load and asked the question, “If users have a working memory limit of approximately seven items, how can you justify twelve global navigation options?” I’ve been meaning to revisit this, almost since I wrote it. Because I was wrong. I’ve re...

September 24, 2010 — 2 Comments

Don't Listen to Designers

Yesterday, our team debated the right UX approach to a search field. Should the button say “Search?” Or is it ok to say “Go?” Text in the field or not? A separate label or no? I searched online for definitive study results, but got nothing substantial. What I found, howeve...

September 21, 2010 — 3 Comments

The 6 Speeches Web Professionals Make

The web profession is a client-driven one, even when we don’t technically have clients. We’re always teaching, educating the various stakeholders as to best practices, how to use new technologies, and why they shouldn’t waste their time on the flashy buzzword-du-jour. If youR...

March 09, 2010 — 4 Comments

Ultimate Usability Testing Toolkit

I’ve written and spoken on website usability testing plenty of times. But recently, our team at Notre Dame has begun to seriously investigate other methods, tools, and concepts to improve every part of our projects. Special thanks to Kate Russell, our information architect and usability coo...

August 29, 2009 — 8 Comments

Why Web Projects Take So Damn Long

Client: “I need a website in two months!” It takes our group an average of 5 months to produce a website. Damn… clients get some serious sticker shock when they find that out. So I share our project schedule document, which was supposed to be internal but shows exactly how we ar...

July 01, 2009 — 2 Comments

Smarter IA Naming by Reducing Cognitive Load

One of the frequent debates in web projects is around naming of elements. When our team recommends a label or title we usually do so from an outsider’s perspective. We make a lot of arguments for our position, but sometimes there’s resistance. So we do some user testing. Usually, it&#...

May 19, 2009 — 3 Comments

The Difference Between You and the Design Gods

Why aren’t you invited as a keynote speaker at the top design conferences? Why aren’t the biggest design firms falling all over themselves to hire you at exorbitant prices? Why don’t you charge $500/hour for your time? How many interview requests do you get each week? There̵...

April 14, 2009 — 0 Comments

3 Questions to Avoid in a Usability Test

New to usability testing? Want to get a quick start? Check out my post on how to start a usability testing program over at eduStyle… What you don’t ask during a usability test is just as important as what you do ask. Tests can take a long time and should be considered carefully R...

March 23, 2009 — 0 Comments

Commandments of Design, from Dieter Rams

A must-read for designers and anyone who works with designers: The ten commandments of Dieter Rams. Some favorite quotes: The most important task of design is to optimise the utility of a product. This which are different in order simply to be different are seldom better, but that which is mad...

March 01, 2009 — 0 Comments

Garbage In, Gold Out

This post is dedicated to oAk and Jim. Let’s imagine a white wall in a dimly lit room and a subject standing in front of it (who was recently lying in bed and made it to the photo shoot just in time). Let’s further pretend that this photo will be taken on a cell phone or a point-and-c...

February 18, 2009 — 4 Comments

eduStyle's Higher Ed Design Mistakes

Go read Top 10 Higher-Ed Web Design Mistakes in 140 on eduStyle. While you’re there, go ahead and create a profile and vote for all of my team’s sites.

February 05, 2009 — 1 Comment

Breaking the Law: The 3 Click Rule

Jakob Nielsen has introduced a lot of helpful guidelines and research for the web industry. But as the industry shifts, the many of these guidelines should shift as well. But people remember these slogans. And they repeat them for years, unaware of new research or trends. (See Where the Fold Exis...

January 31, 2009 — 3 Comments

Gardening Your Blog

A garden requires attention: one must carefully consider what will be planted and where, weeds must be pulled, and it will need regular water and fertilizer. A blog is no different. I redesigned my blog a while back. I can’t leave it alone. I tweak it constantly, changing li...

January 03, 2009 — 3 Comments

Finding the Best Event Calendar Interface

I hate calendars. They’re home to some of the worst software I’ve used. One of the worst things about them is the complete disregard for interface and usability. The first, and most obvious, goal of a calendar is for people to find an event. Whether they know of the event or are just ...

December 16, 2008 — 1 Comment

Websites Look Different on Mac and PC

Today, I fought a battle about why our websites look so good on Macs and bad on PCs. My short answer was that Macs make text look prettier. After a diatribe about why we have to start designing to make these look good on PCs, I pointed out that it’s nothing we can change – it’s ...

December 04, 2008 — 0 Comments

A Logo That Will Blow Your Mind

Anyone who’s worked with me probably realizes I don’t mind offending people (and I barely consider graphic designers to be people) in hopes of improving the work. This post will certainly offend. Enjoy. I’ve been meaning to share this gem from Seth Godin for a while, and apparen...

November 20, 2008 — 0 Comments

Where The Fold Exists

The real question is not whether the fold exists, but how people scroll. Click image for full view Percentile Vertical Height Height of percentile 100% 0 146 90% 146 371 80% 517 47 70% 564 17 60% 581 15 50% 596 11 40%...

September 03, 2008 — 0 Comments

Custom Web Design in Large Organizations

A University website isn’t really a single website. It’s actually made up of many sites: Human Resources. Office of the President. Department of Zebra Fish Studies. So the question is this: how important is it for these websites to be look the same? This recently became a topic on several fo...

September 02, 2008 — 2 Comments

When Does Inspiration Become Stealing?

This is a response to the eduStyle question about design diversity in higher ed I’ve thought about this a lot over the last few years and here are some of the factors that swirl in my head. Different is risky Designers have to balance function with style. Making something drastically differ...

August 22, 2008 — 1 Comment