The UX Files: The Grey Lady’s New Clothes

The UX Files

Hello everyone. This is my first UX Files, so I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to be doing. Also, I just got back from Cuba, and I’m trying to figure out a decent wisecrack about user experience in Cuba that ends with some kind of punchline about cigars and/or rum. Maybe one will come to me. Anyway.

In a weird bit of meta-commentary, Jeff Jarvis at The Guardian (it’s like the British New York Times), wrote an opinion piece on the online redesign of The New York Times (it’s like the American Guardian). Jarvis seems to be a fan of the hamburger  – that little icon consisting of three lines that brings up the navigation. It started as a way to hide the navigation in order to save space on smartphone screens and is quickly making inroads into traditional desktop design. Is this a good or a bad thing? Who’s to say? (It’s good), and makes an interesting point about the focus being put on the articles themselves rather than the home page – they’re presented as one long page, clean, readable, and for the most part without any audio-visual animated pfuffery.

Which coincides with an article Linn sent me yesterday, called Cores and Paths (it was written in 2012, so it’s not new, but it’s new to me), about creating the User Experience from the inside out. That is, deciding what the core of your site is, and starting with that, then identifying the paths into and out of it. So in the case of The New York Times redesign, the core, the thing people want, is the article. The homepage is just a path in. A path out might be a link to a related story or more information on a particular geographic location mentioned in the article.

In the same email, Linn also mentioned this movie called From Nothing, Something, a documentary which focuses on creatives in several different fields, such as songwriting, architecture, sculpture, video game design, and explores what makes them tick, what inspires and drives them and what they do that makes their work better (spoiler: it’s collaboration). It’s fairly short, fairly light, but for anyone in a creative field who deals every day with criticism, the necessity of following your gut and the pervading fear that someday you’re going to run out of ideas, it’s a good place to pick up a little inspiration and motivation.

It’s still only January, so I don’t feel as though I’m particularly behind the curve by pointing out Gizmodo’s 11 Most Exciting UI and UX Ideas of 2013. From clothing that responds to eye contact, to the coming ubiquity of voice and gesture control for most of our gadgets, the article covers a bunch of innovations that look set to become the new mainstream, as well as some that are still on the fringe.