Falling Whistles

Instead of crappy corporate xmas gifts this year my companies donating time and money to creating a new website for the New Zealand Child Cancer Foundation. I’m on the project as UX designer, so working through the requirements, the wish list with the UX lead, PM and the amazing team at CCF.. then doing the IA and interaction design, working closely with our Visual Designer b/c it’s a site with such a strong message..

The research for the site has been pretty hard on the heart strings, and I’ve come across some pretty sad stories. The most recent is this one, the story of the Falling Whistles:


Captured by Nkunda’s rebel army, the boys not big enough to hold a gun are given merely a whistle and put on the front lines of battle.

Captured by Nkunda’s rebel army, the boys not big enough to hold a gun are given merely a whistle and put on the front lines of battle.

The world is changed by those who speak out. Whistleblowers. Rarely understood in their time, history looks back and calls them courageous.

Be a whistleblower for peace.

Buy the whistle and the proceeds go to support and advocate for war-affected kids. Wear the whistle, share the story, and speak up for them. Together, we’ll become the voice of a growing coalition to end our world’s biggest war.

Buy the whistle and the proceeds go to support and advocate for war-affected kids. Wear the whistle, share the story, and speak up for them. Together, we’ll become the voice of a growing coalition to end our world’s biggest war.


Quick user research

On the project I’m working on at the moment I have the usual barrier of no money or time for proper user research, however there is the opportunity after the first release to start interviewing users adding features and tweaking the design for the future phases, so a more iterative approach which is exciting!

The focus of the first phase/release is to get the content onto a CMS so it can be edited, owned, quickly created and culled without having to go through the barrier of their website provider. Also to get the login and search sorted out, so nice small defined goals for phase one.

In taking the site to the new CMS we’ll be creating a new Info Architecture to help the users find the content they need and expose some they didn’t even realise was available to them. This is where we’ve managed to wrangle a little time with real users… I get to talk to about 3 real users for 2 hrs tomorrow and then about 5 “proxy” users a day after. (A proxy user being the people within the organisation who have the most contact with the users.)

I’ve put together my questions and come up with an approach which includes people filling in questionnaires and then one on one interviews so I can extract the most from each person. Mainly based around what follows:

  • what content do the users find the most important?
  • how do the users find out about it?
  • what drives them to the site?
  • what are common complaints?
  • what do they see as pain points?
  • what triggers the users to get in touch or to ask for help?
  • what sort of content do they expect to see on the site?
  • do they have any positive feedback?

In putting together the approach I came across the following resources that really helped direct and reinforce what I was planning. I really like the Guerrilla User and Design Research presentation from Ruth Ellison it deeply reflects how I feel about the subject!

Bite-Sized UX Research
By Steve Baty Published: May 7, 2008 – An article from UX Matters
Affinity Diagrams
Organizing Ideas Into Common Themes – An article about using post-its to group ideas.

Guerrilla User and Design Research A Slideshare presentation by Ruth Ellison.

Data Driven Design Research Persona A Slideshare presentation by Todd ZakiWarfel.

Analytic Tools

I’m working on a sort of UX snapshot for the beginning of a project. It will be used (hopefully) to engage clients with metrics and other tangible things that will inspire them to spend a bit to make a bit. Today I looked at analytic tools and these were the notes I wrote to remember what I learnt. First I had to set the scene so I knew what I was looking for in the online apps, and then I listed out the best in class.

My prerequisites were: they had to be easy to use, create lovely looking reports and graphs that would be presentable for clients and they had to be hosted online.

“As part of the UX snapshot/current state if the client doesn’t already have any analytics information, an analytics tool would be placed on the client’s site for at least 1 week to measure their current state. We’ll also use a combination of other online tools to measure their market data, search rankings and performance in comparison to their competitors (load time, page ranking), as well as the state of their front end code.

The most important information from an IA usability point of view is to know is what pages visitors are going to, how long their staying and what pages their entering and leaving from. Once the most used pages are established though using an analytics tool a heat mapping program should be applied to them to see what the users are clicking on, and what their not clicking on. To get even more in depth you can record their movements on a page (like a screen cast) and see how many are making it all the way through a page or a task.

Other good info from the analytics tools are is where do they come from, search terms they use to get there and what their browser/os set up and geo location.

The tools that best do this and are free or have low cost entry (so for a 1mnth trial) are as follows.

General Analytics

For a quick analysis you want one that’s hosted and free/very low cost. You should be aware that some analytics tools will use the code you put on your site to launch advertising pop ups. You want on that tells you about your visitor’s movements through your site, your most popular pages and trends over time. Also where they came from search terms and where they left, and how long they spent.

http://www.w3counter.com Free covers all the bases with pro features for larger visitor numbers

“You shouldn’t need training to figure out your web stats program. W3Counter is your free, hosted website analytics solution for answering the key questions about your website: who’s your audience, how they find your site, and what interests them. There’s no installation, no configuration, and tracking starts as soon as you copy-and-paste a snippet of code into your website.”

http://www.google.com/analytics/index.html Free easy to use, focus on adwords and conversions
“Google Analytics is the enterprise-class web analytics solution that gives you rich insights into your website traffic and marketing effectiveness. Powerful, flexible and easy-to-use features now let you see and analyze your traffic data in an entirely new way. With Google Analytics, you’re more prepared to write better-targeted ads, strengthen your marketing initiatives and create higher converting websites.”

http://www.getclicky.com/ Comprehensive (includes twitter analytics), and delivers a white label API $9.99 US a month

“Clicky blows all other analytics packages out of the water. Hands down the easiest and fastest way to keep a pulse on your website activity.” — Sam Zaid, gazaro.com (it really does)

http://www.histats.com/ Free and comprehensive

Market research data and site rankings:

popuri.us – A tool to check your ranking and popularity on a variety of sites including Alexa, Google PageRank and more. A sort of snapshot.

– Free web traffic metrics, top sites lists, site demographics, hot urls, and more. Another snapshot.

socialmeter – Check your website’s social popularity on sites like Digg Furl, Jots, and more.

Compare the site against competitors

Webslub – Compare your site’s load time performance to any other site.

Rate the front end code.


IA and Usability tracking

http://crazyegg.com/ $9.00US for a month for up to 10,000 users (requires code to be pasted into site)
Find out: Where are ppl clicking? Where are ppl from certain sites clicking? Find out more about the elements on screen

Free trial of 1 page for free for 30days otherwise £2.50 month for 10,000 visitors
More basic version of crazy egg, but has the free trail.

MochiBot.com – Flash content analytics.

Video Users movements through the site

http://www.clicktale.com/ (good for e-commerce)”

is UCD sufficient?

Interesting article on the Core77 design blog site.

tools of engagement

“…. do we need to shift the conventional notion of User-Centered Design (UCD) and rethink the very foundation of contemporary design practice?

This may sound like blasphemy, particularly at times like these. With people struggling in so many areas of society it would seem to be more important than ever to focus our efforts as designers on addressing specific, observed human needs. And I am not advocating that we abandon the methods of UCD wholesale. But is UCD sufficient? Is it the right compass to guide us toward the larger scale social changes that we need?

Over and over, I have seen how a UCD process will tend to emphasize certain benefits of an experience like ‘convenience’ over other, more meaningful sources of social value.”

D&AD President’s Lectures – Matt Pyke


“Matt Pyke founded Universal Everything in 2004 as a multidisciplinary creative studio. It operates worldwide with an ever expanding modular team of designers, programmers, animators and musicians.

Pyke works with art, music, fashion, architecture, automotive and technology clients including Apple, Audi, Nike, London 2012 Olympics, Manhattan Loft Corporation, MTV, Nokia, Wolff Olins and Channel Four.

Date: 23 October 2008

Location: St George’s Hall,


From the D&AD site http://www.dandad.co.uk/membership/lectures/pyke/

TED Talk: Don Norman on 3 ways good design makes you happy | Video on TED.com

Design and emotion – control and beauty

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The best guide to UXD

Whitney Hess is an independent user experience designer, writer and consultant based in New York City. She wrote this kick ass article for Mashable.

“Really, a user experience designer could help to improve a person’s experience with just about anything — a doorknob, a faucet, a shopping cart. We just don’t typically refer to the people using those things as “users,” but they are.”

“As user experience designers we have to find the sweet spot between the user’s needs and the business goals, and furthermore ensure that the design is on brand.”

“If you make assumptions about the people you expect to use your product or service — who they are, how they behave, what makes them tick — you’ll probably always be wrong. But take the time to get to know them, and hire the appropriate person to facilitate the process, and you can ensure you’ll get it right.”

You can read it here: http://mashable.com/2009/01/09/user-experience-design/

You can read about her experience here: http://whitneyhess.com/blog/2009/01/10-most-common-misconceptions-about-user-experience-design/


Psyop for Nokia

Psyop for Nokia

Innovation of the day – The Hippo Roller

The Problem

The Problem

“In many countries, traditional water collection involves carrying a 5-gallon (20-liter) bucket on the head. This practice puts a great burden on the body and can damage the spine, neck and knees over time. A full Hippo Water Roller only feels like 22 pounds (10 kg) when rolled over level ground, making it possible for almost anyone to transport 24 gallons (90 liters) of water in much less time and with greater ease.”

The Solution

The Solution

“The Hippo Water Roller Project aims to improve global access to water by making it possible to collect 24 gallons (90 liters) of water- five times the amount possible using traditional methods – in less time and much more easily. The Hippo’s innovative design allows water to be placed inside its “wheel,” transforming 200 pounds (90 kg) of water to an effective weight of just 22 pounds (10 kg). This means that almost anyone can easily manage a full roller over most types of terrain.”

Unlimited Creativity – BOOTB the pitching engine

BootB platform is built to run Pitches. You can start your own Pitch and get Solutions from an unlimited number of Creators from anywhere on the entire planet. In this case we will call you a Brand Builder. Or you can participate in any Pitch you like and publish your Solutions that will be received directly by a Brand. Then we will call you a Creator.

As a result – instant access to Unlimited Creativity for everyone on the planet!”

Unlimited Creativity

Unlimited Creativity

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