Interesting Blog 5: Boxes and Arrows

boxes and arrows

Boxes and Arrows is an online journal filled with peer-written design articles by contributors that tend to have experience in the industry. Anyone can suggest a topic, and readers can comment on it or even write an article on what was suggested. That being said, Boxes and Arrows has many pieces worth reading. There is a lot of information to be absorbed from this site: articles, stories, case studies, ideas, and more. I especially enjoyed the article Are your users S.T.U.P.I.D? where the author provides acronyms to help designers consider their audience and design. Pretty creative, if you ask me.

boxes and arrows homepage

I have yet to fully explore this blog seeing as there is so much to read, but thankfully it is well organized. If you have any questions on design, be it graphic design to information design, it looks like this is the site to go to!


Interesting Blog 4: Usability Blog


Usability Blog is written by Paul Sherman, founder of a user experience consulting firm, ShermanUX. Sherman has been in the usability industry for the past 12 years and fills his blog with numerous posts of good and bad design examples. They include snapshots of various websites, objects, infographics, and more, along with a brief blurb on his opinion.

I suggest my classmates to take a look at this blog for not only design tips but to get some ideas for Good/Bad Design examples to post. He touches on a few things I never really thought about, like repetitive “My”s in a menu or physical obtrusion to an interface. Maybe something mentioned in Sherman’s blog will remind you of another site that fails or succeeds in the same thing.

On another note, be sue to look at Sherman’s explanation of severity ratings. I think this applies to us all very well, since we have a few more usability reports coming up.

Interesting Blog 3:


I don’t know if anyone from class has yet to mention this blog, but I wanted to bring attention to the online journal on Yes, it is from the design firm of Alan Cooper himself!

While several of the posts seem less relevant to design, such as an entry on their Dodgeball Tournament, others are inspiring and provide great insights to what it is like to work for a design firm. (Or at least for Cooper.)

I absolutely love the use of photos in their posts; they really help provide the imagery of all that is Cooper and design. For example, take a look at “Good design is only half the story”, where you can briefly see how designers and non-designers can come together in a collaborative process.

I also recommend looking at the post, “What marketing executives should know about user experience”. It’s one of their longer ones, but really hits some key points as to what user experience design can do for a company.

Interesting Blog 1: Pleasure and Pain

Take a look at Pleasure and Pain by Whitney Hess at

Whitney Hess a freelance user experience designer based in New York and has worked for several notable companies/products such as American Express, New York Times, Allstate, Claritin, Tropicana, Boxee, and more. Pleasure and Pain is her personal UX blog that includes examples of good and bad experiences on the Web and real world. She also has a list of other UX websites that she has many written articles for in the past.

I think this is a great reference because it is from an informal perspective of someone in the UX industry. Her posts are fun and easy to follow and provide interesting yet valuable information. For example, she has a post about the UX Design Process for the Boxee Beta that has information on usability testing, personas, and even interview questions that should prove beneficial.

How Offensive Is Your Facebook?

I was browsing Mashable the other day when I came across a page that had a list of interesting digital media. Linked was an article that was posted a month ago about a Facebook application called Socioclean that looks at your Facebook profile and makes a list of inappropriate items. I tried it myself and ended up getting “D”, however I don’t really find it very accurate. The application looks for possibly inappropriate keywords, however in many cases, the context was harmless. For example, “wasted” showed up in my report, but it was in a comment made by a friend that was expressing how she felt she had wasted her entire day by oversleeping. I also found it interesting that many of the inappropriate keywords were ones used by friends and NOT myself. Regardless, it is on my profile and I should more aware about the content being expressed on it.

This basis of this application reminds me of a previous reading for class, in which an experiment was done to gain an understanding of how users present themselves. The researchers ultimately categorized users into three categories: College Days, Dressed to Impress, and Living in the Business World. What stands out to me, however, was the description of someone in the College Days group:

DiMicco, J. & Millen, D. (2007). Identity management: Multiple presentations of self in Facebook. Proceedings of the 2007 international ACM conference on Supporting group work. Recieved from

Three of the individuals we interviewed followed the patterns we saw in the College Days segment of profile pages. When questioned about issues of identity management and concerns about coworkers and managers viewing their profiles, these users were unconcerned because they considered Facebook to be outside of the context of the workplace. A particularly representative interviewee was Ben (pseudonym):

Ben is in his early 20’s and joined the company as a full time software engineer in January 2006. He is an active Facebook user, beginning in 2005, checking every day, multiple times a day. He primarily uses the site for maintaining friendships with close, but geographically distant, friends. He has over 200 friends on the site, 35 of which are employees he met at new hire events. When he joined the company, he did not change anything about his profile or the pictures of himself. His current profile links to many photos of him drinking alcohol (including directly out of a beer keg) and attending numerous college parties. He feels that Facebook is “for fun” and relates only to “personal life” and hopes that if his manager ever did see this page would understand that it has “nothing to do with his professional life.”

While I understand Ben’s point of view, I find it entirely naive. You may hope that your manager would understand your drunken fun-filled personal life, but that’s just not reality. To quote Mashable:

In a 2009 Harris Interactive study for, 45% of employers questioned had used social networks to screen job candidates. Thirty-five percent of them decided not to hire a candidate based on what they found.

So regardless if an employer sees your inappropriate pictures and tries not to judge, I believe there to still be an impression made subconsciously. Maybe Ben’s priorities leads him not to care. Or perhaps he wouldn’t want to work for someone that would judge you based on your online identity. I then wonder what percentage of users in this College Days group has the same perception as Ben, and if the reason this is so is due to their own personal priorities or something else?

So let’s put it to a poll. How often do you censor the content on your FB profile?

Social Media Sites

In exploration of today’s social media, that is, any media for web-based social interaction, this blog has been created.

Below is a list of 20 random social media sites that I have discovered this past week:
1. BlinkList Save and share links while browsing.
2. Fark An edited social networking news site.
3. Care2 Online community for healthy and green living.
4. Technorati Blog site.
5. CafeMom Community for moms.
6. StyleHive Social network for fashion.
7. Uvouch Share videos and links.
8. AutoSpies News and reviews for automobiles.
9. Habbo Hotel Interactive chatroom for teens.
10. Kiwibox General social network for young adults.
11. KidLinks Community for kids to connect with friends.
12. LibraryThing Cataloging and sharing for book lovers.
13. OUTeverywhere Social network for homosexuals.
14. Skout Online mobile dating site.
15. BakeSpace Community for cooking.
16. ReverbNation Social network for bands and musicians.
17. We the Teachers Community for teachers.
18. SocialVibe Community supporting charities.
19. Fuzzster Network for pets to meet other pets and owners.
20. TravellersPoint Online travel community.

EDIT // 1.18.2011
I suppose that my initial reaction to these sites would have to be my surprise at the number of different niches for social communities. From cooking, to pet lovers, to teachers, it seems as if there is a place for everyone on the web. But I guess thats the charm of Web 2.0 – connecting to people of all sorts through SNS.

I might even join a few new ones myself, but who knows how active Ill be in them.