Book Review: Designing the Moment

Robert Hoekman Jr. second book, Designing the Moment, focuses on improving the online user experience. His approach is a practical one: design interfaces that respect users and allow them to feel in control.

Robert’s goal is to inspire the web professional to “improve the moment” for users. His storytelling method of explaining strategies makes the 220 page book a quick and fun read. The book contains 30 stories, based on his own experiences, of real-world applications and the step-by-step approach taken toward resolving design interaction issues.

The stories are concise, and offer a critique of each phase as changes are made to interfaces. Robert has a “think out loud” method which allows the reader to better understand the decision making process. Question steps along the way and don’t hesitate to make decisions you might change in the future. Designing interfaces is an iterative process.

Designing the Moment assumes the reader has knowledge of web design and development; it does not provide the specific code to implement the recommendations. As Robert mentions in the book,

This book is meant as a conversation starter. It’s meant to get you thinking.

The book is divided into seven parts:

  • Part 1: Getting Oriented – give a good first impression to the user
  • Part 2: Learning – make it easier for users to find their way around
  • Part 3: Searching – improve the search interface
  • Part 4: Diving In – great tips on improving forms and video controls
  • Part 5: Participating – focus on social media
  • Part 6: Managing Information – how to manage lots of information
  • Part 7: Moving On – the sign out process

My favorite story in the book is in Chapter 7, where Robert discusses the simplicity of clear labels. Make it simple for users to to use our applications, provide users with simple, easy to understand labels and instructions. On forms or applications, rather than displaying an error message that the user didn’t enter information in a valid format, add informative text that explain what is acceptable.

Designing the Moment is a wonderful resource for information architects, usability experts, interaction designers and developers. I highly recommend it!

March 19, 2008 – Refreshing SnagIt: A Case Study for Focusing on the User Experience

Where: Ann Arbor District Library, 343 South Fifth Avenue, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104 (map). Parking is available in the library parking lot. We’re meeting in the conference room on the third floor. At the third floor stairs lobby, go through the double doors, turn right, and look for the first door on the right to enter the conference room.

When: Wednesday, March 19, 2008 6:30PM-8PM

Speaker: Barb Hernandez, User Experience Manager at TechSmith, Lansing, Michigan

Abstract

What can you do when conversion rate is flat? TechSmith is a trialware company by nature, so measuring how many people download, try and actually purchase our software is the best measure of conversion and success.

We know that the thousands – dare I say millions of users who own SnagIt can’t live without it and tell us how it has changed the way they communicate with people. So what were we missing, why were we not getting the conversion rate we wanted? Learn about how we focused on the user experience, what we did, and how the changes impacted the conversion rate.

Barb Hernandez Biography

Ms. Hernandez specializes in using User Centered Design techniques to drive the user experience for technology products. She has led the user centered design efforts for cross-functional teams and has been involved in all stages of product development, including investigation and analysis, defining detailed requirements, creating prototypes, running usability tests and conducting usability evaluations.

She has worked on the design and usability testing of graphical user interfaces, content Web sites, Web-based applications, and interfaces for hand-held devices including cells phones and PDAs. At TechSmith, Barb focuses on helping teams make design decisions grounded in user intelligence.

Internet User Experience 2008 – March 31 – April 3, 2008

Join us at the fourth annual Internet User Experience (IUE 2008) at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Michigan the week of March 31, 2008-April 3, 2008. Organized by the Michigan Usabiity Professionals Association in collaboration with Washtenaw Community College’s Internet Professional Program, the User Experience Network (UXnet), Refresh Detroit, and other sponsors, the conference promises four days of presentations, panels, training sessions, and workshops on optimizing web sites so they are effective, compelling, and profitable for businesses.

I attended the event the first two years and can tell you I had a great time! Wonderful sessions, excellent panels, and the opportunity to network with other web professionals involved in designing and improving the user experience was, in the words of MasterCard, “priceless”.

The conference is invaluable for

  • company web site managers and stakeholders
  • product managers
  • marketing professionals
  • advertising professionals
  • web developers
  • user experience professionals
  • information architects
  • professional communicators
  • students in any of the programs

Experts in search engine optimization, online communities, and user experience management will lead sessions at the conference. Tutorials and training are also available to attendees with 1/2 day and full-day workshops before and after the main conference days.

Discounts are available for Usability Professionals Association members and several other organizations, as well as full-time non-working students.

The event will be held at the Morris Lawrence Auditorium at Washtenaw Community Colllege (map).

For more information and details on registration, visit Michigan Usability Professionals Association or the conference website.