Every day, for the next 5 days, I’m doing a brief Q&A with a UX pro, who’s taking part in our 10 minute speed sessions to fix your website UX. This is an amazing opportunity for you to get 10 minutes of free, one-on-one feedback on your website UX!
Tell me a little about your UX knowledge/practice:
My background is a bit mixed. I started out as a graphic designer with a focus in print during high school. In college, I studied computer science. During college I migrated from print to web design, then from web design to product design where I started learning more and more about user centered design and UX methodologies. I tend to follow the way Nick Finck has outlined user experience: a practice that applies information architecture, user research, content strategy, interaction design, visual design, and usability. I tend to focus more on everything but the content strategy bits. I also do a large amount of front-end development and a wee bit of back-end.
Who have you worked with/for?
For my employer, Cardinal Solutions, I work with a handful of talented folks and manage their user experience practice. We focus on product design and my team is a mix of user experience designers, UI designers, and a role we call UI developer. Through them we work for a number of Fortune 50 and Fortune 500 companies around the US. A few years ago I had the pleasure of working with Jina Bolton and Michael Parenteau on the redesign the Sass brand and website. Sass is a CSS preprocessor that makes writing CSS fun again.
Which project are you most proud of?
I would say the Sass rebrand. Jina and Michael are both 10 kinds of talented and I’d been an admirer or theirs for the better part of a decade. This was my first time contributing to such a large open source project. I live in Charlotte, Michael lived in Raleigh, and Jina lived in San Francisco. It was an interesting challenge coordinating but we had the internet. I would take the Amtrak out to Raleigh and work with Michael, took a trip or two our to San Francisco to work with Jina, and we coordinated online. I had the specific task of redesigning the logo. In general I have terrible handwriting and we had decided to do a custom handwritten looking logo. I channeled my best Jessica Hische, though I’m sure she would have a large number of fixed. In the end, it turned out… not terrible. We launched the website at SassConf to much rejoicing and high-fives.
What do you consider the biggest problem with websites today?
My biggest pet peeve is that most websites use bootstrap, which isn’t terrible by itself. But, most of the websites look like a bootstrap theme, and appear to only use a couple of layouts: big mastheads with large, centered text, 3 – 4 columns with a big, single color icons and a paragraph of text, or something with a big image on one side and some text on the left. Fewer and fewer folks appear to be learning about design and how to write well formed, semantic HTML/CSS. Instead, they pick a generic framework that makes the output look generic.
What quick fix could any website owner make to immediately improve his/her website?
Hire a designer that won’t do everything you ask them to do, and constantly asks, “why?”