Failure mapping

Happy path. We spend a lot of time designing for the ‘most likely’ path a user might take in our design. To a degree, it makes sense, falling under the 80/20 rule and the spirit of being agile—getting something out, failing early, learning quickly, and iterating, all while patting ourselves on the back for a job well done.

But I think we can do better to understand, anticipate, and model non-ideal scenarios, allowing us to better handle incorrect usage of products and services.

Failure mapping in user experience design is a system that recognizes patterns of events or conditions that have a direct relationship with subsequent failures. For example, not including a clear call to action on a new landing page you spent months putting together.

Taken from engineering where failure mapping is a system that recognizes patterns of events or conditions that have a direct relationship with subsequent failures, in web design it applies historical experience data to create a user journey map showing how failures occur opposed to just focusing on goal conversions.

Design for real life

What happens when the non-ideal user journey is experienced? What happens when a user, who hasn’t been considered, tries to use something ‘wrong,’ or attempts something that hasn’t been factored into the design of the experience. Identifying possible failure points is designing with compassion, and will allow you to create experiences that support more of your users, more of the time.

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Learn Grid Layout

Google CSS Grid Layout, and you’ll quickly find Rachel Andrew in the search results. She’s blogged about it, created an online course for it, presented at conferences on the subject, and even published A Book Apart on it.

From the basics like what CSS Grid Layout is, to contrasting it to Flexbox, to browser support, to tons of examples and Codepens to reference, to an entire blog dedicated to CSS Grid Layout, you couldn’t go wrong starting here.

With browser support coming very soon across the board, now is the time to get savvy.

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Books Apart


From Jeremy Keith’s debut original HTML5 for Web Designers to Ethan Marcotte’s seminal Responsive Web Design; Karen McGrane’s masterpiece Content Strategy for Mobile to Jason Santa Maria’s exquisite One Web Typography—and everything in between—each volume is a concise and fresh take on an important field in web design.

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Geese don’t grow on trees, but just 250 years ago mankind thought they did.

What becomes of you after purchasing the ultimate collection of design books from A Book Apart? Quite simply, You are now less dumb, true statement. Challenge what you think you already know, and just maybe you’ll learn there’s a brave new world that needs you.

Empower yourself with knowledge. Challenge the status quo. Enlighten others. Information is key and sharing is crucial.

Recognizing the need is the primary condition for design

– Charles Eames

“It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they’ve been fooled.” — Mark Twain

When using technology, we often focus optimistically on all the things it does for us. But where does technology exploit our minds’ weaknesses?

How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds — from a Magician and Google’s Design Ethicist

Hijack #1: If You Control the Menu, You Control the Choices

Hijack #2: Put a Slot Machine In a Billion Pockets

Hijack #3: Fear of Missing Something Important (FOMSI)

Hijack #4: Social Approval

Hijack #5: Social Reciprocity (Tit-for-tat)

Hijack #6: Bottomless bowls, Infinite Feeds, and Autoplay

Hijack #7: Instant Interruption vs. “Respectful” Delivery

Hijack #8: Bundling Your Reasons with Their Reasons

Hijack #9: Inconvenient Choices

Hijack #10: Forecasting Errors, “Foot in the Door” strategies

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“You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

Saying I can't vs I don't

Is there a way to say no that makes it more likely that we’ll stick to good habits and avoid bad ones?

Your words help to frame your sense of empowerment and control.

Every time you tell yourself “I can’t”, you’re creating a feedback loop that is a reminder of your limitations. This terminology indicates that you’re forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to do.

In comparison, when you tell yourself “I don’t”, you’re creating a feedback loop that reminds you of your control and power over the situation.

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Building blocks of modular design

Modular web design (creating reusable components) isn’t anything new in the realm of digital design. It’s been around for years, and much has been written about it dating back to before 2010. However, each year, the concept of pattern labs, or atomic design, or modular design cements itself more and more into our industry’s mainstream consciousness.

This year alone we’ve seen articles on how to combine BEM with atomic design. We’ve also seen Brad Frost himself write for Smashing Magazine about making and maintaining atomic design systems with Pattern Lab 2. It’s become so popular that you can even find articles about how to wireframe for it from the bottom up. And Codepen came out with their own design patterns to serve as ideas, inspiration and examples for your own projects.

Heck, with the emergence of Siri in almost every iOS these days to include AppleTV, along with Amazon Echo and Google Home, there are now books written about how to design for no interface at all.

Most recently, Samantha Zhang authored up her view of the next step forward for modular design by replacing the Russian nesting doll metaphor with a more suitable lego metaphor. Samantha specifically tackles the idea of consistent padding and margin using mixins and media queries when it comes to modular atomic design.

Check out her article where she demonstrates several codepens to illustrate her method.

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BONUS – Check out these books related to architecting your interfaces:

Predicting web design and UX trends in 2017

Predicting the future, whether it’s in sports, politics, fashion, the economy, or technology, is a favorite pastime of pretty much everyone, and the UX industry has no shortage of clairvoyants eager to share their visions of what’s coming. Ironically, one of the most interesting predictions for 2017 was written early last year. Not polluted with your usual “a/b testing is a thing” or “content is king” or “mobile is here to stay”, here are some that made this unique list, but check out the link for all of them with explanations:

  • Tamagotchi Gestures
  • De-linearity
  • Optimized Interstitial Anxiety
  • Migration From Design Evangelism to Design Proselytism
  • Age-Responsive Design
  • User Offboarding (Sunset Moments)
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2017 Web Design Trends Infographic