Friday, August 17, 2007

Minding Your Vocabulary Leads to Superior Design

The words you choose change the design ...

"Why can’t people just get along? And even more importantly, why can’t everyone just see things MY way?

Of course I jest (no, really) — but in the Web world, disagreements in the enterprise often arise from subjective intuition; that is, one’s visceral reaction to that not-so-lovely green on the homepage, or to serif fonts, for example.

But it’s not really about the color or the typeface, is it? It’s all about the words, the context, and “experience keywords.”

“Experience keywords,” which seem to carry the same money-generating mystique associated with “spirit fingers,” is a term used by Nick Myers, a visual designer at consulting firm Cooper, in his article “Using Research to End Visual Design Debates.” The phrase refers to descriptive words or concepts mentioned repeatedly during stakeholder and user interviews.

These words help to define and govern the visual strategy for a website. According to Myers, “Experience keywords represent the ‘initial five-second’ emotional reaction that personas should feel when viewing the interface.”

Once keywords have been grouped appropriately and agreed-upon, the words will suggest strong directions for the visual design, perhaps reflecting the need for an interface that uses soft colors and shapes or one with more contrast and decisive lines.

A fully developed and designed website has a funny way of taking on the characteristics of a person - and, in turn, develops its own personality. In an ideal world, its personality matches its interface. Myers encourages designers to ask stakeholders:

* If the interface were a person, what would he or she be like?
* What celebrity (or car, movie, etc.) is the product most like? Least like? Why?"    (Continued via CMS Wire)    [Usability Resources]

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