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I have a blog which contains information about design/ research methods. I want to improve the UX and make the information more useful and importantly actionable. What steps can I take to achieve this? This is the site: designmethodsandprocesses.co.uk

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I have tried: editing the content, applying some styling to the home page for selection of techniques, adding a search bar, using bootstrap to allow for reading on mobile.

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    Could you be a bit more specific, please? A screenshot and some info about what you have tried might help us visualise. – Vincent Mar 19 '14 at 11:40
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    It looks pretty nice to me. Could you explain what you mean by "more useful and importantly actionable" means? Are you having trouble getting traffic? Are people not clicking on what you want them to click on? Or is your content just not useful? Bit confused. – Ryan Mar 19 '14 at 14:10
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    What is the desired route for the user, what are you trying to make them do? Find a specific research method? Browse the page until one catches their eye? Do you want them to learn about you? Do you intend them to search? What if they don't know what their looking for? Have you watched users actually use the site? Where do they get caught up? These are questions that need answering if you want to apply UX principles to your website. In terms of accessibility, your semantic markup isn't strong. alt tags describe content for screen readers. – Adam Schuld Mar 19 '14 at 14:18
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What you basically have, is a bullet list for categories, and a "bullet list" for posts (it is not actually a bullet list, but in the sense of information retrieval, it is a bullet list.).

In a sense, your blog does not have a classic blog format; there is very little to indicate that your posts are time-connected and therefore sequential. Nothing wrong with that, just an observation. But if the blog is a sort of ongoing visual research repository, you might want to consider adding dates or other markers of time.

This is fundamentally a question of information architecture, and I will not go into the visual language as such.

You have a frightening amount of categories. You might want to try to make it more systematic; a more hierarchical structure. I would imagine that – say – prototyping might well be a sub-category of process etc. Try to make this clearer; try to weight the most important categories. If you find this impossibly difficult, you need to give a better method of browsing the categories. enter image description here

For basic information retrieval, there are (very basically) three ways of looking at it:

  • "Need to know": The guiding, step-by-step information dissemination. A highly controlled hierarchy of information, basis in presumptions of what the user wants and needs. In a way, you could say newspapers do this; with headings, ingress, and main text, and books with subsequent pages.
  • The "phonebook". The user know what s/he is looking for, and are very specific. Words, sorting by time, place, etc.
  • Exploration of information, data and content. Some level of happenstance; the user will dilly-dally around, exploring and following unexpected paths. I am assuming this is what you are aiming for. It is very hard to create, often satisfying to play with, and always with a more hierarchical alternative. It seems sitemaps are out of fashion, but that is one way of giving a hierarchical alternative to the "random".

I think you can actually use a good deal of space to put your blog into a larger context. Your content is complex, take some time and space to demonstrate the scope. The blurb "a toolbox of methods in research and design" is a little hard to place; it could mean so many different things. So the only way I can get a feel for what your site is about is to read the headlines; or what I do, read the categories. And those are overwhelming without more structure.

Try using a large block of the top to create a browsing experience. Your subjects are interesting, but it is extremely important to put it into a larger contex.

i find it interesting that you write about networks, flowcharts, visual languages, systematics, conceptual mapping etc; surely you could apply this to the structure of the blog. Personally I am currently playing with the idea of creating a network-based browser for the content of one of my sites. I do not see why you could not try something similar: enter image description here

This particular one is made in Gephi. I have also collected a pretty long list of data-visualisation tools that are out there.

There are many visual ways of creating an image-browser experience. I will mention some, a lot of them are covered in the link above. Some of these will work well as search terms.

Data visualisation

Visual information

Tag clouds (QI website)

Timelines

Networks (nodes)

Maps

Charts

Multivariable/multivariate visualisation

Weight

Colour coding in some way. You can teach your readers that in your world, purple is math, logic, green is processes, orange is tutorials of whatever. You do not, of course, need to litter your site with colours; it is pretty strict in the design, but you can give subtle hints. This can be defined in css and attached to categories. Not very elegant example:

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It is sometimes a question of teaching the audience a new way of seeing. I am all for it, as long as it adds value.

Oh, and a little comment on the visual language as it is; I would make the navigation a bit clearer, and do something with that search box. Again, since your blog spans enormously wide (kudos!), a prominent well styled search bar would be a good idea. The default ones in Bootstrap are not half bad.

Oh, and did I mention context?

  • Happy to be of help, particularly when it is about my pet subjects :) If I think of any better examples, I will add links. Bit busy right now. – benteh Mar 19 '14 at 15:03
  • a couple of things I am going to investigate for visualisation: github.com/mbostock/d3/wiki/Gallery kineticjs.com – Andrew Welch Mar 19 '14 at 15:28
  • D3 is a classic, and you will find it in the list i linked to :) so is Raphael, and Gephi for one, can export to "interactive" js. Gephi in addition have an insane amount of plugins for every thinkable situation. visualsquirrel.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/… – benteh Mar 19 '14 at 15:44

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