If I were an Axure user, this is what I would be using. Version 2 of Loren Baxter's of the Better Defaults library has been expanded to sixty five (or so) interactive and cleanly styled widgets. Use it in place of the standard widget set.
I saw Dave Gray demonstrate his visual alphabet at SXSWi last year. If you haven't seen him demonstrate this, you might want to watch this video now. In the video he illustrates for us how sketching is just combining forms and lines, and all you really need to be able to come up with pictures is to see and use these basic shapes.
See also Dave's Basic Rules for Napkin Sketching after you've seen the above.
I remember drawing as a kid, feeling frustrated sometimes because I couldn't make things look the way they do in real life. I didn't really understand representational drawing until I started painting. In examining volumes, I was able to find a more basic understanding of the 2 dimensional shapes, and began drawing with ease. But it all came together when I took a Manga drawing class and started drawing characters that I really saw everything in this world of 2d and 3d shapes and polygons.
Drawing representationally shouldn't be the goal in sketching. It should be capturing an idea with rough, basic shapes. I think wanting to draw representational renderings is what held me back so much when I was younger, but embracing the basic shapes is what propels me now. After a while, you learn the alphabet and the pictures come easily if you continue to use the langauge.
I have a feeling these videos will come in handy very soon as tablets flood the market. Brushes and SketchBook Pro for the iPad will certainly provide another way for us to sketch.
Jon Phillips writes about how the user experience of restaurant flow can be redesigned by illustrating the flow in a cafeteria-style space from entry, order and pickup to seating and exit. In his great diagrams he shows how the orginal flow frustrated diners (users) and could be easily re-designed to consider a flow that was immediately understandable--the design he experienced made him feel stupid. Sound familiar?
I think about interior spaces like lines at Whole Foods, where sometimes it makes absolutely no sense (I'm looking at you Columbus Circle) and where other lines seem to have considered this (Union Square sometimes feels efficient). Whole Foods has the problem of not having enough real estate to manage their volume unfortunately.
I remember experiences from my childhood, however, in places like Disney World, where the wait didn't always seem so incredibly grueling because lines are split off to feel shorter, and because distractions make the line feel like part of the experience. Ugh, I take that back. That now makes me think about creative "Loading..." dialogs in Flash. Actually, come to think of it, there are some pretty cool loading experiences in games that give you something fun to do. I also experienced the same with the credits when we recently finished Super Mario Wii.
Jon's article is a must read, if only to think about the problem solving we do and how it is applicable in physical contexts. There's so much opportunity, but I think how unfortunate it is that we don't have UX designers in important places. I think of all the time following the "hanging chad" Florida elections and how poorly designed the polling place in my district in Brooklyn remains, for instance. There's no shortage of UX design need out there.
Paddy Donnelly flips the bird at the fold.
What I'm proposing is for you to think twice about these ‘rules’ which are preached so often around the web and aim to create something original. Don't live in the old world of pushing all your quality content on the visitor at once because they've only got 4 seconds before their attention drops (or whatever other statistic is doing the rounds at present).
Think about the ultimate journey you want them to take. Entice them in, make them actively want to scroll and read on, and on, and on. Guide them with your excellent content and let them explore your site. Tell a story with your content. Space it out a little and you will have some happy visitors who actually want to be there!
A very fitting word to describe the state of web design at present would be
So many sites have the same, big header, big fat call to action buttons, a sidebar, a big fat footer and the letterpress effect scattered about. Finding a bit of originality in the sea of sameyness is pretty difficult these days.