Sep
26

Antoine Lefeuvre on The Web, Worldwide: The Culinary Model of Web Design

Source: A List Apart

We call ourselves information architects, web designers or content strategists, among other job titles in the industry, including the occasional PHP ninja or SEO rockstar. The web does owe a lot to fields like architecture, industrial design, or marketing. I still haven’t met an interaction cook or maitre d’optimization, though. No web makers turn to chefs for inspiration, one might say.

Well, some do. Let me take you, s’il vous plaît, to Lyon, France, where people think sliced bread is the greatest thing since the internet.

Just a hundred miles from the web’s birthplace at CERN in Geneva lies Lyon, France’s second biggest city. It’s no internet mecca, but that doesn’t mean there are no lessons to be learned from how people make the web there. Unlike many places in the world where the latest new thing is everyone’s obsession, entrepreneurs in Lyon are quite interested in… the nineteenth century! What they’re analyzing is their city’s greatest success, its cuisine.

If Lyon’s food scene today is one the world’s best—even outshining Paris’ according to CNN, this is thanks to the Mères lyonnaises movement. These “mothers” were house cooks for Lyon’s rich people, who decided to emancipate and launch their own start-ups: humble restaurants aiming at top-quality food, not fanciness. The movement begun in the nineteenth century only grew bigger in the twentieth, when the Mères passed on their skills and values to the next generation. Their most famous heir is superstar chef Paul Bocuse, who has held the Michelin three-star rating longer than any other, and who began as the apprentice of Mère Eugénie Brazier, the mother of modern French cooking and one of the very first three-star chefs in 1928. “There’s a real parallel between the ecosystem the Mères started and what we want to achieve,” says Grégory Palayer, president of the aptly named local trade association La Cuisine du Web. To recreate the Mères’ recipe for success, the toqués—the nickname meaning both “chef’s hat” and “crazy” that’s given to La Cuisine du Web members—have identified its ingredients: networking, media support, funding, and transmitting skills and knowledge. Not to mention a secret plus: joie de vivre. “Parisians and Europeans are often surprised to see we can spend two hours having lunch,” says Grégory. “This is how we conduct business here!”

Lyon’s designers too have their nineteenth-century hero in Auguste Escoffier, the celebrity chef of his age. He began his career as a kitchen boy in his uncle’s restaurant and ended up running the kitchens in London’s most luxurious hotels. Renowned as “the Chef of Kings and the King of Chefs,” Escoffier was also a serial designer: his creations include Peach Melba, Crêpe Suzette, and the Cuisine classique style. He even experimented in a culinary form of design under constraint while in the army during the 1870 Franco-Prussian War, using horse meat for ordinary meals to save scarce beef for the wounded, and inventing 1,001 recipes with turnip, the only readily available vegetable on the front lines. Escoffier did much to improve and structure his industry. He was the first head of the WACS, the chefs’ W3C, and revolutionized not only French cooking, but the way restaurants worldwide are run, by championing documentation, standardization, and professionalism.

In his talk “Interaction Béchamel” at the Interaction 14 conference in Amsterdam, Lyon’s IxDA leader Guillaume Berry explained how the life and work of Escoffier could influence web design. Guillaume comes from a family of food lovers and makers. Himself a visual designer and an amateur cook, he is greatly inspired in his daily work by cuisine. “It’s all about quality ingredients and preparing them. I’ve realized this while chopping vegetables—a task often neglected or disliked.” The web’s raw ingredients are copy, images, videos: “Even a starred chef won’t be able to cook a proper dish with low-quality ingredients. Don’t expect a web designer to do wonders without great content.”

Just as Escoffier took Ritz customers on a kitchen tour, Guillaume recommends explaining to your clients how their site or app has been cooked. The more open and understood our design processes are, the more their value will be recognized. Have you ever been running late and prepared dinner in a rush? I have and it was, unsurprisingly, a disaster. So tell your clients their website is nothing but a good meal; it takes time to make it a memorable experience.

Looking back at other industries helps us see what’s ahead in ours. What could be the web’s answer to slow food, organic farming, or rawism? “How many interactions a day is it healthy for us to have?” asks Guillaume. He adds, “Cooks have a huge responsibility because depending on how they prepare the food they can make people sick.” Are we designers that powerful? Oh yes, and more—we destroyed the world, after all.

No, the web industry isn’t free of junk food. When we create apps that make a smartphone obsolete after two years: junk food. When we believe email is dead and Facebook is the new communication standard: junk food. When we design only for the latest browsers and fastest connections: junk food.

If we’re ready to move from “more” to “better,” let’s remember these simple rules from Eugénie Brazier: 1. Pick your ingredients very carefully; 2. Home-made first; 3. A flashy presentation won’t save a poor dish.


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Sep
25

This week’s sponsor: Hack Reactor

Source: A List Apart

Hack Reactor is now Online or Onsite. Take our 12-week immersive JavaScript program from home with Hack Reactor Online.


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Sep
25

Shellshock: A Bigger Threat than Heartbleed?

Source: A List Apart

Time to update those Linux servers again. A newly-discovered Linux flaw may be more pervasive, and more dangerous, than last spring’s Heartbleed.

A newly discovered security bug in a widely used piece of Linux software, known as “Bash,” could pose a bigger threat to computer users than the “Heartbleed” bug that surfaced in April, cyber experts warned on Wednesday.

Hackers can exploit a bug in Bash to take complete control of a targeted system, security experts said. The “Heartbleed” bug allowed hackers to spy on computers, but not take control of them.

“Bash” Software Bug May Pose Bigger Threat Than “Heartbleed”, Re/code

This new vulnerability, being called Shellshock, has been found in use on public servers, meaning the threat is not theoretical. A patch has been released, but according to Ars Technica, it’s unfortunately incomplete.


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Sep
24

It Was Just A Thing

Source: A List Apart

A little less than two months ago, I wrote about the most dangerous word in software development: just. A lot of assumptions hide behind that seemingly harmless word, but there’s another side to it.

“It was just a thing we built to deploy our work to staging.”

“It was just a little plugin we built to handle responsive tab sets.”

“It was just a way to text a bunch of our friends at the same time.”

Some of the best and most useful things we build have humble beginnings. Small side projects start with a sapling of an idea—something that can be built in a weekend, but will make our work a little easier, our lives a little better.

We focus on solving a very specific problem, or fulfilling a very specific need. Once we start using the thing we’ve built, we realize its full potential. We refine our creation until it becomes something bigger and better. By building, using, and refining, we avoid the pitfalls of assumptions made by the harmful use of the word “just” that I warned about:

Things change when something moves from concept to reality. As Dave Wiskus said on a recent episode of Debug, “everything changes when fingers hit glass.”

But the people who build something shouldn’t be the only ones who shape its future. When Twitter was founded, it was just a way to text a bunch of friends at once. The way that people used Twitter in the early days helped determine its future. Retweets, @username mentions, and hashtags became official parts of Twitter because of those early usage patterns.

Embrace the small, simple, focused start, and get something into people’s hands. Let usage patterns inform refinements, validate assumptions, and guide you to future success. It’s more than okay to start by building “just a thing”—in fact, I suggest it.


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Sep
22

Environmental Communications: How Understanding Experiences in Virtual Space Can Influence the Design of Experiences in Physical Space

Source: UXMatters – By Laura Keller
Published: September 22, 2014
“Numerous similarities also exist between designing physical and virtual spaces. … I want to share what some of these similarities are—in the hope that UX professionals who … aspire to expand their skillset to designing physical spaces will be able to understand how relevant their existing expertise is to designing them.”

UX professionals are accustomed to thinking about how people interact with digital user interfaces. Whether we’re designing a mobile application or a marketing Web site, it’s in our DNA to consider what would be the optimal experience for people. But digital user interfaces are not the only elements of an experience with which people interact. In services, people may also interact with each other, with processes, with communications, and with physical spaces, and it’s the responsibility of the service designer to understand their needs and create an optimal experience that considers all of these diverse elements. Plus, while the goal of a service designer is to think holistically about how these elements work together in a service experience, each element has its own discreet set of design considerations.
Environmental Communications: How Understanding Experiences in Virtual Space Can Influence the Design of Experiences in Physical Space

Sep
22

User Experience and Accessibility | Working with Visual Designers

Source: UXMatters – By Janet M. Six
Published: September 22, 2014
Send your questions to Ask UXmatters and get answers from some of the top professionals in UX.

In this edition of Ask UXmatters, our panel of UX experts answers questions about two issues that confront UX professionals:

Should accessibility be a UX team’s responsibility?
What is the best way to work with a visual designer?

Should user experience and accessibility be the responsibility of the same team? Should accessibility be part of a UX team’s purview? When should designers think about the accessibility of a design? What types of disabilities may impact people’s ability to use your products?
User Experience and Accessibility | Working with Visual Designers

Sep
22

User Experience, Entrepreneurship, and Redesigning Democracy: An Interview with Dirk Knemeyer

Source: UXMatters – By Pabini Gabriel-Petit
Published: September 22, 2014
“Reflections on the state of democracy in the United States and how we can use design thinking to imagine a more participatory form of democratic government.”

Dirk Knemeyer, shown in Figure 1, is a UX thought leader, an entrepreneur, a game designer, and a former UXmatters columnist. Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Dirk about his experiences as a UX professional and entrepreneur, as well as his reflections on the state of democracy in the United States and how we can use design thinking to imagine a more participatory form of democratic government.
Perspectives on User Experience and Entrepreneurship
Dirk shared some thoughts on working in agencies, as well as his various pursuits as an entrepreneur, including starting up Involution Studios, Facio, and Conquistador Games.
User Experience, Entrepreneurship, and Redesigning Democracy: An Interview with Dirk Knemeyer

Sep
22

“Sigh… That’s Gonna Be a Hard Job.”

Source: UXMatters – By Baruch Sachs
Published: September 22, 2014
“Effective planning … differentiates a truly successful UX consultant from one who is merely busy—constantly putting out fires.”

These are words that one never really wants to hear from a home-improvement contractor. Or any type of contractor really. Recently, I built a new house. And I heard these very words from a person who was coming in to clean up a mess. At some point, the tile guy had messed up the work the hardwood guy was doing and left an inch gap between the place leading into the bathroom—where the tile floor ends and the marble threshold begins. Or maybe it was the hardwood guy who had messed up the tile guy’s work. It’s hard to tell these days. We live in an era when the deflection of blame and the avoidance of personal responsibility are common.
“Sigh… That’s Gonna Be a Hard Job.”

Sep
22

Eye Tracking in User Experience Design

Source: UXMatters – By Jennifer Romano Bergstrom and Andrew Schall
Published: September 22, 2014
“This chapter is an exploration of what eye tracking can tell us about the user experience of forms and surveys. It discusses when eye tracking is appropriate and when it can be misleading. This leads to some tips for what to do when using eye-tracking techniques to test your forms and surveys.”

This is a sample chapter from Jennifer Romano Bergstrom and Andrew Schall’s new book, Eye Tracking in User Experience Design. 2014 Morgan Kaufmann.
Chapter 5: Forms and Surveys
By Caroline Jarrett and Jennifer Romano Bergstrom
Introduction
Most parts of a Web experience are optional. Forms usually are not.
You want to use a Web service? Register for it—using a form. You want to buy something on the Internet? Select it, then go through the checkout—using a form. Want to insure a car, book a flight, apply for a loan? You will find a form standing as a barrier between you and your goal.
Eye Tracking in User Experience Design

Sep
18

This week’s sponsor: Asana

Source: A List Apart

Asana’s new iOS 8 app now available! Use Asana to organize team tasks and conversations on web and mobile. Sign up free.


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