This posting is meant to serve as a practical follow-up to the more reflective, academic article I recently published on boxesandarrows about designing for a rich user experience.

This is a “crib sheet” summarizes the main points of that article, with links to resources to help the dedicated UI designer who strives to craft a richer quality of engagement with digital media (web, mobile, desktop apps). Of course, richness transcends the digital, towards immersive games, environments, and performances; yet this set of tips is focused on pixel-based encounters for brevity. More later on non-digital rich encounters…

High-Level Issues

+ Re-perceive the design as a talk or presentation to an audience, persuading them this product is best for meeting their goals, as demonstrated in the navigation, functionality, content, and style.

+ Consider how to enhance that communication at the level of structure, behavior, and/or style by using a) good visual and interaction design and b) emerging technologies like Flash, CSS, AJAX, etc.

+ Make sure such enhancements improve the user’s efficiency, confidence, desire or other stated goals and not for the sake of technical hype or coolness.

Detail Design Tips

+ Use in-place editing of labels, names, and other data, whether inside a form or table grid

+ Present immediate feedback and error validation with in-place visual cues, rather than a dialog box or separately loaded page

+ Use desktop-inspired interactions like drag-and-drop, floating palettes, keyboarding shortcuts, as the web and desktop become blurred

+ Use collapsible panels and panes of information; through usability ascertain the default states

+ Apply visual embellishments to emphasize key pieces of information and functionality, like tabs or buttons or messages, or to add stylistic flair inmoderation

+ Remember to sustain the underlying grid layout and visual balance of elements

+ Designing Visual Interfaces by Mullet/Sano
+ Designing Interfaces by Jenifer Tidwell
+ Tufte’s books, particularly Envisioning Information
+ About Face 2.0 by Alan Cooper
+ Designing for Interactionby Dan Saffer
+ Thoughts on Interaction Design by Jon Kolko