Designing distraction-free reading experiences

Adrian Zumbrunnen put out a summary of this UXLS talk in article form detailing the pitfalls and evolutionary status of designing distraction-free reading experiences. He draws on ideas from a multitude of media types and applies mechanic’s within them to start forming a blissful reading experience for the modern day.

He tackles both high level theory as well as practical aspects such as typography, navigation, layout and rich media like animations, images and videos. Lots of great idea’s and a clear way to start implementing them. Well worth your time.

Reading list for designers, by designers

Margaret Kelsey published a wonderfully large list of must read books for designers. Drawing inspiration from almost everywhere and dealing with all aspects the industry, this reading list will surely keep your Amazon wish list full


Domflags is a development tool that allows you to easily add in flags to your HTML code and quickly switch to it through the browser developer tools. This free extension features quick switching using keyboard shortcuts, which will definitely help expedite building and debugging on the fly. Its available for Chrome, Firefox and Safari.

RWD and Performance

Over the past few weeks performance, specifically in relation to responsive web design, has been a hot topic.

Its started with Maximiliano Firtman article for Smashing Magazine where he discussed how relying solely on RWD as your mobile strategy is likely leading to user and by extension conversion loss. He went on to discuss how information is prioritised and laid out, furthering his point with asset loading times and how RWD affects user’s on slower connections as well as the way server’s need to provide assets. Summarizing quite succinctly into this quote by Brad Frost:

“Your visitors don’t give a sh*t if your site is responsive,” — Brad Frost

Brian Krall shared his views on the Smashing article by taking a look at the RWD landscape and providing some ideas on how to improve speed. He ran test’s on a few recent responsive designs such as the New Yorker, Virgin America and good ol’ Adobe. Also providing a list of tools that can help any dev get their site up to speed.

On the back of this Dave Rupert did a very comprehensive investigation into RWD performance, measuring and reporting load times and hang ups on his own website. Going so far as to breaking down the actual size percentages of responsive css compared to the rest of the sites styles. His TL;DR (Too long; Didn’t read) summarizes it as:

If a page clocks in at 28MB and 399 HTTP Requests, that’s not the fault of responsive design, that’s the fault an organization that doesn’t care about web performance.

Good guy Mr. Rupert did a follow up post shortly after detailing how he made his site faster based off the results in this previous post.

On a similar line, Scott Jehl also published an article talking about ways to make RWD load as fast as heck.

All in all, good reads with thought provoking ideas that ultimately is taking us closer to speedier RWD websites.

Predicting user aim

Cihad Turhan wrote an article (and plugin) based on creating a better user experience through decreasing the path of resistance between toll containers and the functions they hold. His concept predicts cursor movement to trigger events before the user reaches the trigger button. How this works in practical terms (or on touch devices) is problematic but the concept of creating a experience even more intuitive and speedy can really move up further towards more user autonomy with the systems we build. Perhaps there’s a space in the world of AI to help this along as well.

Hip Hop and UX

Simon Duncan published a great list talking about UX lessons inspired by some of the greatest Hip Hop artists lyrics. Maybe a little bit of a stretch but a fantastic tool to drive the article. Its a fairly quick read and well worth your time. The wonderful caricatures made it that much better too.

Bear Re-imagined

Design is wonderful in that not every solution is the same to every problem. There is interpretation and contextualisation involved. Both on the media, the subject and the designer him or herself. Anshuman Iddamsetty published a Bear Re-imagined ,a article about five iterations of the book cover for Bear by five different illustrators.

Icon Usability

Aurora Bedford published an in-depth article discussing the use of icons with accompanying text and without. How the understanding of the icons changes between each style and how it further varies between users. All based on good ol’ user research. Definitely worth your screen time if you design for touch devices where icons as key navigational elements are prevalent.

Email Stats and Reports

Mailchimp has some great resources for email. This page has some really useful information regarding open rates, subject lines, subscription statistics and click through rates. The page also has links to Email Marketing Benchmarks, Email Marketing Subject Line Comparison and Effects of List Segmentation on Email Marketing Stats. Really useful if you or your clients are running email campaigns as marketing and promotion tools.

Alphabet of Accessibility

The reality is that not all user’s have 20/20 vision and hearing like eagles. Not all of them can precisely control a cursor to your 10px x 10px hit area (please don’t do that) or have the ability to keep their fingers perfectly steady on a touch screen.

Anne Gibson published An Alphabet of Accessibility Issues detailing 26 different real world scenarios of user’s with difficulties. They are not persona’s but rather Anne’s friends and family, showing just how many different kinds of user’s can be linked to one person, never mind and entire global brand. Its food for thought and a good starting spot to design a better experience for all kinds of users. Not just the convenient ones.

Typography Based Sites July 2014

Jeremiah Shoaf put out another list of his favorite typography based websites for the month with details on each design. Its also a great way to see type good combinations in action.

Virgin Airlines Comparisons

I’m sure we all remember the fantastic redesign of the Virgin America website and the hoo haa that came with it. (In case you didn’t see it).

Now we can see some of the metric’s since the sites launch.

The Adobe Illustrator Story

Adobe Illustrator has been around for about 27 years now and it has quite the history. Watch the 20 minute documentary below or directly on vimeo.

Web Dev Checklist

We all like lists, lists are cool. (Thats a Barney Stinson quote).
Here’s the web development checklist, which also comes as a handy browser extension. Great way to ensure that all your t’s are crossed and i’s dotted before handing off to your client.

Designer Relationships

This little tumblr blog features some funny quotes and one liners for your significant other who might also be a designer. Hashtag cute.

Rebranding Samsung

Like many unsolicited rebrands, this is more than likely a very thin slice of what an actual rebrand of such a huge brand would take. But thisSamsung rebrand is still very beautiful, modern and possibly a good direction for Samsung to consider.

Make 8-bit art

Remember good old MS Paint? Remember drawing with a mouse? This is kind of like that with a kick of nostalgia. A fun, simple browser based drawing tool that should have you occupied for a good while.

Instagram with Material Design

Material design is Google’s new approach to design. Its a set of principles that are meant to convey intuitive meaning about the content they represent. This video is a concept for the Instagram app with material design principles applied.

Science and Technology Adverts circa 1950+

This Flickr collection of print advertisements from the 50s and 60s is simple wonderful. Over 1475 images and counting should keep you busy for a while.