Accessibility in UX Design

Accessibility in user experience design is vast, but it generally means making your product accessible to any and all of your users. There are a few guidelines that help UX designers meet the WCAG 2.0 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines).

1. Add Enough Color Contrast

Some people have low vision, and those people could have trouble reading text if the background is has too low of color contrast. According to the guidelines, the contrast ratio between the background and the text should be 4.5 to 1.

2. Don’t Just Use Color to Make Vital Information Understandable

Like before, some people might be colorblind and have trouble seeing the content. Using patterns, labels, icons, or a change in the font combat this problem, and gives your users an easier way of identifying crucial information. This is especially apparent in graphs/charts. One way to help in the design of those graphs is to print them in black and white and see if you can still understand the information being presented.

3. Usable Focus States

Things that users are supposed to interact with like links, menu buttons, widgets, etc. should all have clear indicators that they are different. That’s why links have that blue outline and menu navigation buttons are generally a different color and font than the rest of the page/text. They should stand out and be easy to see, as well as be well contrasted to the other parts of the page.

4. Use Labels/Instructions with Form Fields and Inputs

You shouldn’t use placeholder text in text boxes, it is often hard to read and easy to forget what the text box is even for. You should make it so the labels/etc. are above text boxes and are in bold so people can easily read and follow the instructions.

5. Write Useful Alternative Text for Your Images/etc.

People with low visibility may not be able to clearly see images, charts, etc. So having texts that describe or explain them is a good way to convey the idea of them to those people. You’ll want to give these texts real and concise context so people actually know what your images are, instead of reading “picture” or “Exhibit A”.

6. Use Correct Markup on Your Content

Formatting your content is key. You should correctly use titles and headings to better convey the text within them. They should be large and readable so that people can navigate to where they want to start reading, as well as giving readers an overview of what the text underneath the headings are about. HTML tags also help people navigate the pages in a structured manor ,so be sure and use them properly.

7. Be Sure and Support Keyboard Navigation

Some people have motor disabilities, some have low vision, etc. The Tab key can help navigate the interactive parts of your pages. Your tab order should follow the visual flow of your content; whether that be left to right or top to bottom. Also, you should format your navigation menu, links, text fields, etc. so that people with motor function disabilities shouldn’t be tabbing forever to get through your page, it could be too physically demanding for them.

Links

https://uxdesign.cc/designing-for-accessibility-is-not-that-hard-c04cc4779d94

https://medium.com/salesforce-ux/7-things-every-designer-needs-to-know-about-accessibility-64f105f0881b

https://uxdesign.cc/accessibility-guidelines-for-a-ux-designer-c3ba775539be

Information Architecture

Information architecture (IA) is the science of organizing and structuring content of websites, applications, etc. It is pretty much the practice of how the UX design is arranged for it to be understandable and easily navigable by users. Jared Spool, a well-known user interface engineer, said, “Good design, when it’s done well, becomes invisible. It’s only when it’s done poorly that we notice it.” IA is important simply because no matter how great your product/application is, people need to be able to know how to use it quickly, or else they’ll get too intimidated by it. IA is the blueprint of the structural design which is then generated into wireframes/sitemaps so that UX designers can use them to plan out the site/app navigation system. So, good IA is essential for the foundation of a well made user experience.

According to UX Planet, there are three information architecture organizational structures: Hierarchical, Sequential, and Matrix.

Hierarchical is based on the Gestalt psychological theory and is made to present content to the user so that said user will understand the level of importance for each element in the design. This is done by making parts of the design different sizes, colors, alignments on the page, etc. This is done naturally by the users brain, to be drawn to larger or more centralized texts/objects first.

Sequential creates a path for users to navigate. They go step-by-step through the site or application in order to complete an objective. This is often used on retail sites. A good example is ordering a pizza online. It starts with the base of the pizza and moves on to the toppings/sides, then it takes users to the purchase screen.

Matrix makes it so the user can choose their own path of navigation, whether it be alphabetical, chronological, by topic, or by the audience.

Information architecture usually involves splitting up information between separate pages on websites/applications so that users aren’t overwhelmed by the amount of data presented to them. That’s why most sites and apps have a homepage with a navigation bar with short phrases that quickly explain what can be seen on the pages they are linked to. For example, a contact page directs users to a page with the contact information of the business/etc. and an about page would show the mission statement or an “who we are” of that business or person.

So, IA makes for good UX design by structuring websites or applications so that they are easily navigable, readable, and usable. It is a core process in how UXers design their product for public use.

Social Video Series for Stones River Vet Hospital

Project Description

Objectives: This project will help advertise SRVH to potential customers as well as how some of the procedures done at the Hospital. This will prove how well animals are treated.

Needs Analysis: There is a lack of transparency when it comes to how animals are treated in the custody of Vets or boarders; this project is needed to show customers just how their dogs or cats are treated. Also, some customers need to know how to do some things at home when they unable to bring their pet in, this project is needed for that as well.

Audience Analysis: The goal is to reach customers who already bring their animals to SRVH to strengthen the relationship with them, as well as potential customers to forge new ones. Pet owners are not bound to a certain age group, gender, income, etc. They are bound to county of Rutherford, however. That is where these videos are directed towards.   

Goals: The audience will be able to say with confidence that their animals are taken well care of at SRVH. The audience will also be able to do some of the easier things that the hospital/boarding staff do daily (ex. Trim nails, restrain pets for baths/medications/etc.).

Strategies

Creative Approach: The information for this project will be presented in a series of videos. Videos that explain how things are done at the hospital. This might be a sped-up video of a full bath for a dog and how they dry off at the end. Informational videos will be simplified so that viewers can watch and follow along at home. These videos are mainly meant for pet owners to see how their pets are treated while they are not present in the clinic.

Content Outline:

Video 1: this is a sped-up video of a dog getting a bath from the boarding staff, as mentioned before. This video will show how delicate staff members are while assuring them that their pets are getting cleaned well.

Video 2: this is a video showing a technician clipping their cat’s nails.

Video 3: This video is a slow-motion video of a dog running towards the camera in a Superman costume.

Video 4: This is a video of a dog playing catch with a frisbee.

Video 5: This is a video of a puppy running through the lobby of the clinic.

Scope

Deliverables:

Project Management

  • Overseeing and shooting videos with various dogs that are brought into the clinic.
  • Acquiring permission from pet owners for their dogs to be included in each video if needed.
  • Correspondence with staff, management at SRVH

 Analysis

  • Determining how long it will take for each video
  • Replacing video ideas if need be
  • Practice runs with staff, etc.

Production

  • Shot on an iPhone XS Max
  • Edited in Adobe Premier

Delivery / Implementation

  • 5 Videos to be delivered
  • Posted on Facebook

Budget

Based on $50.00 per hour for each action.

Project Management – $500.00

Analysis – $350.00

Production – $750.00

Delivery / Implementation – $100.00

Total – $1,700

Schedule

We propose a project schedule of about 4 weeks. The exact speed of design & development will be affected by the project deadline.

Project Initiation – Week 0

Analysis -Week 0

Production – Week 1-4

Delivery / Implementation – Week 4

VR in Gaming: My Experience

Since its inception, virtual reality has been swaying between innovation and too much of a hassle to deal with. The very concept of VR is an awe inspiring one and at times can be downright mind-blowing. That concept has been sold to us time and time again throughout the years, especially in gaming, and has yet to make itself anything other than a niche product that takes the backseat to what gaming’s best has to offer.

My experience with VR gaming is brief, as I’ve only owned a PlayStation VR Headset. I very much enjoy using the headset, and I’ve yet to play a game in VR that I didn’t think was cool or fun. I’ve played titles such as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Job Simulator, and my personal favorite Trevor Saves the Universe. While these games are all great experiences, I’d still rather sit down in my chair, hold my controller, and my play on my TV/PC. Skyrim is the perfect example as how cool and immersive VR can truly be. While playing, I found the experience to be a great way to pass some time and fool around with the headset. Could I see myself beating it in VR? Absolutely not. I can barely slog through Skyrim normally, I certainly don’t want to stand for 70+ hours, swinging my arms, and gripe about the clunky controls every 5 minutes. If someone out there has completed it in VR, congratulations man, you’re more dedicated a gamer than I.

Other titles like Job Simulator, Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality, and Accounting+ are all hilariously fun to pass around with your friends, but they are short and gimmicky. They aren’t fully-fledged experiences and aren’t quite as fun the second time around. These are the types of games VR gets by on. It keeps selling us the idea of how great VR truly is without offering any blockbuster titles that make players say, “now this I have to try.” The one exception for this is Trover Saves the Universe, the grotesque improvisational-toned titled from the mind of Justin Roiland, the co-creator of Rick and Morty. The game was truly innovative and managed to tell a silly but well-structured story. The gameplay mixed VR with platforming and beat ‘em up elements to make it so you should play the game sitting down, and it was optional to actually play in VR. It truly is the one title I can say is best in VR, and it was in consideration for game of the year for many publications.

VR is a fun way to play games, and is getting better each and every year, but with its lack of heavy-hitters, I expect it to stagnate where it is marketwise. Most of the headsets are expensive and fail to offer real value to your gaming experience. Don’t expect Ready Player One to be a reality for a good 10-20 years, guys.

Design Thinking Topic Post

Design thinking is a process that UX design teams use to help better understand their users, find and define problems, and create real and intuitive solutions to those problems so that they can move on to prototyping and testing. Design thinking is what teams use to think outside of the box and solve pesky problems that aren’t easily defined or found.

Design thinking is usually defined in five separate stages; empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test.

Empathize

The empathize stage is about researching your user’s needs and helping you understand the problems you’re working to solve. You can do this by reaching out and speaking with experts to learn more about the problems or the area where the problem is. This is done through observation and of course, empathizing, with the users to better understand their motivations and the experiences they have with your product, etc. A very large amount of data is obtained in this stage to use in the next stage, define.

Define

The define stage is where and when you state your user’s needs and the problems they have. As previously mentioned, its time to gather the information and data you learned from the empathize stage. You’ll analyze the observations you’ve made and use them to define the problems your team has found. You should try to define those problems as problem statements, which are clear descriptions of the problems, as well as keeping your focus on the user. This stage will help you and your team gather and propose the best ideas and establish features and functions. You should be asking questions that will help you in the next stage, ideate.

Ideate

In the ideate stage, you’ll challenge assumptions and create ideas. This is where you’ll start thinking outside of the box and create fresh and intuitive solutions to the problems you’ve established in previous stages. You’ll also be able to view those problems from a new angle. There are a tons of ways to ideate like Brainstorm and Worst Possible Idea. They are usually used to push free thinking and gather as many ideas or solutions as possible.

Prototype

The prototype stage is where you’ll start creating solutions to your team’s problems, preferably the best solutions. You’ll want to design and present multiple cost-friendly, smaller versions of your app or product that may focus on specific features, so you can investigate the solutions you brainstormed in the last stage. You’ll be weeding out solutions that don’t work properly, etc. By the end of this stage, you’ll have a more concise idea of how your users would react to certain situations.

Test

The final stage, test, is where you’ll try out your solutions and redefine your problems, so you can go back to previous stages and make better and more detailed decisions within those stages.

Stones River Vet Hospital Social Branding Video

Music: All I Love
Musician: Philip E Morris

This is a set of short Snapchat videos that I compiled together in the mobile application InShot. Also, because this was a quick assignment, I was not able to get any other dogs in the video, other than my own. The star of the video is my boy, Ryder, and as you can see, he’s very photogenic.

User-Experience Research Topic Post

User-Experience research is the study of a target audience or users to help with the design process of an application. This can help make the design of your app more fluid and user-friendly, as well as help you work through the kinks of any problems you may have to solve down the road. Not only are you going to be able to present solutions for yourself and your team, you’ll also be providing solutions for your users based off of their wants and needs.

There are two common types of UX research: Qualitative and Quantitative.

Qualitative research consists of interviews, field studies, focus groups, etc. to help you better understand why your users do what they do and how to fix any problems that they have. Qualitative research also helps with usability testing, which in the long run, is how you fix the problems I mentioned previously. Doing this throughout the process of development can help you find out what part of your app is working the best, what is easiest to navigate through, and what is most difficult to do while interacting with the app design. Because qualitative research doesn’t involve numerical or mathematical data and uses things like opinions, wants, and motivations, there is a risk of you injecting your own personal opinions and beliefs into the research and could influence said research.

Quantitative research, on the other hand, consists of measurable data that you get from surveys, analytics, etc. You are gaining data about what the users do, opposed to why. With the measurable data you collect, you can test assumptions and hypotheses that you got from qualitative research. This is how you discover patterns across your userbase, and the bigger that userbase is, the more accurate the findings will be. Unlike qualitative research, quantitative research doesn’t run the risk of being biased towards the developers own ideas or opinions, but it also can’t tell you the more personal information that qualitative research can.

There are two approaches when it comes to UX research: Attitudinal and Behavioral.

The attitudinal approach has you listen to what your users say in interviews, focus groups, etc. This is most often used in marketing because it measures people’s beliefs and needs.

the behavioral approach has you observe your users and study what they do. A few methods of the behavioral approach are A/B testing and eyetracking. This measures their actions and understanding of your product and its design.

Introduction to IAM 3210

Hi everyone, this is my thousandth introduction post/blog I’ve written in my college history. At this point I’m considering making things up about myself. Like how I climbed Mount Everest, twice. I also wrestled a family of bears into submission for trying to steal my lunch.

I’m a senior here at MTSU, studying Interactive Media with a minor in History. Don’t ask me why I chose History, I couldn’t tell you. I work at Moe’s Southwest Grill as a dishwasher, and at this point I’m not sure my hands will be able to type on a regular bases after I leave there.

I’m from a small town in West Tennessee called Dyersburg. There isn’t anything to do there other than hang out in the mall parking lot. Fun, I know. I don’t recommend visiting.

In all reality, I am a typical dude. I love video games more than most people. My favorite video game of all time is Fallout: New Vegas, which I’ve played around 1500 hours (you can read my review here). I also love sports. My LSU Tigers just won the National Championship in football, which is the first time in 13 years. Their quarterback, now the Cincinnati Bengals’ savior, Joe Burrow, is my man crush. I also find myself screaming at the television when the Los Angeles Lakers play. My third love in this world is comic books. I don’t get many chances to buy them anymore but I find myself watching the movies/tv shows or playing the games that include them.

Other than my hobbies/interests, I’m pleased to say that I’m happily engaged to my best friend in the world. We get married in December this year, literally 5 days after we graduate. We have a 3 year old German Shepherd mix. He’s a mutt named Ryder, and he looks identical to Dogmeat from Fallout 4.

I regularly use Twitter to voice my opinions on video games/etc. If you want, you can follow me here.

Anyways here’s one of my favorite memes.

Interview with MrMattyPlays

In this post encapsulates a 3-question interview with Matthew Schroeder, better known as MrMattyPlays. Matthew is a successful YouTuber, Twitch streamer, and Podcast co-host. His channel has been growing and evolving since late 2011, as has he. What once was a “Lets Play!” centered channel, found its niche making content about Bethesda Game Studios games, specifically The Elder Scrolls and Fallout series. This period of time on the channel consisted of speculation/prediction videos, news and reviews, and the “Lets Plays” that started the channel. In its final transformation, “MrMattyPlays” has become one of the most consistently reliable news channels on YouTube. He discusses all manor of games, but is particularly fond of RPGs; and though he isn’t bound by The Elder Scrolls or Fallout titles anymore, he still makes time for what was once his main focus.

Matty’s fan engagement stands out, he has a Discord channel in which he is active in daily. He got back to me fairly quickly for the interview as well, which you will find below.

> To start, I’d like to ask how and when did you know that making YouTube videos, specifically about video games and the culture surrounding them, would be the right career for you? Was it something you always wanted to do, or was it a new found passion after trying it out?

Matty: I remember distinctly when I was nine years old, I was eating dinner at a friend’s place. His mom was going around the table asking myself and her son what we wanted to be when we grew up. I recall saying “I wish I could just play games, but I guess I’ll be a lawyer.” Understandably, my friend’s parents got a pretty good laugh out of that and that moment has always stuck with me my entire life. I spent most of my high school years thinking that I’d go to be a lawyer because according my parents, I loved to argue. It wasn’t until 2015 that I found out that people could share a similar passion as you and there were communities representing all different games. Furthermore, with the growth of the channel, I saw a pay increase that could allow me to do it full-time, but my parents wanted me to get a degree first. I think they made the right call even if I was frustrated at that them at that time. My channel dipped in relevancy until about spring 2017 where my parents and I agreed that I’d give full time content creation a shot for a year and see where it landed me. To sum up the answer to your question, 2015 is when I realized this was a possible career option, but it wasn’t until arguably 2018 that I full established myself between a Patreon, well performing YouTube channel, and Twitch.

> Secondly, how do you measure your own success? What makes you feel good about the work you’ve done?

Matty: I love this question because there’s a lot of angles to success with content creation. The first thought is always numbers. How many views, how much watch time, how much revenue was generated, and so on. While that’s all important to maintain this as your livelihood, I define my success in a case-by-case basis. First and foremost, YouTube is an unpredictable beast in some pretty neat ways. You never know what will gain traction and grab people’s attention. I know this will sound pretentious, but I genuinely try to put my all into everything I put out there. It’s taxing, but it relieves my anxiety in a strange way. If I see a video I put time into doing well, I feel it’s deserved. However, back in 2015 when I was balancing school and this as a job, there were some videos that took me a couple of hours to make that gained traction. No one really had anything bad to say, but I personally felt bad because I knew I could’ve done more. So I measure my success on the effort put in. I trust my audience where if I put something good enough, informative enough out there, it’ll find its way onto other people’s screens. While numbers technically are the most important, I feel when I focus on them too much, my vision is altered and my creativity stagnates. I go to a safe space and try to be okay with the same ol’, same ol’.

> Just one more, to keep it short. What sort of words of wisdom can you offer to people wanting to become a content creator, or anything involved in video games (i.e. journalist, developer, etc.)? Any advice or words of encouragement for those who may not have the proper support system at home?

Matty: A couple of things. Firstly, it’s a thing you have to stick with. A lot of people approach content creation with a mindset of “oh I could make good money off [it] too.” It’ll never come fast and if it does, you have to be ready to fight to maintain your audience and learn the game quick. Some people deviate too fast, some take too long of a break (although short ones should be had!), some don’t know when it’s time to put your foot on the gas and ease off. I think part of this is the product of assuming everyone is interested in everything you’re doing because YOU are into it. The job quickly develops into a worldly perspective and some people just know how to handle that so they either give up too quick or don’t try at all. A support system for content is huge. My parents were fundamental in my ability to do what I do now. Even to this day, they talk a little more quietly when I have the ‘recording’ sign on my door, work dinner around my podcast schedule, etc. They weren’t huge fans at first though! Initially, my friends were my biggest supporters and why I kept going from about 2009-2013. It was a combined effort. If I could offer any advice, I’d say open up your family’s eyes to the reality that this can be a job if you chip away at it long enough and it’s not just YouTube. Some people’s living is through Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok, etc. A career can be made, it’s just about patience, dedication, and support.

Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled

Is it a Good Game?

As an avid fan of the original Crash Team Racing for the first PlayStation console. This game brought back so many memories of fun times. I love this game simply because it’s exactly how I remember it as a child. I’ve probably played more Crash Team Racing than I have any Mario Kart game. With that said, I can confidently say that I very much enjoyed this game.

Description

CTR Nitro-Fueled is a faithful remake of the original PS1 title and some of the later games in the series developed by Beenox and published by Activision. In this reimagining, you can either play through the full game with only one character like the original, or you can fully customize a roster of twenty-five along with the major aspects of their karts. The tracks are varied with all of the details from old titles perfectly remade in HD, along with some funny new ones. On the appropriate difficulty settings, the game can be challenging enough to make you sweat, but not hard enough to keep it from being fun.

What I Liked About the Game

The game scratched an itch that I haven’t been able to scratch for a while. The previously remastered Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy was enjoyable, but it reminded me that I’m not as good as I once was (seriously, I don’t know how I beat those games as a kid). With CTR:NF, I felt like I knew exactly what I was doing, even playing on the Switch (the best way to play it, fight me). The controls were easy to pick up, especially if you’ve played before or have experience playing Mario Kart.

The cartoonish graphical design still somehow manages to pack in a ton of detail. Take Crash’s face for instance, in the original game he had one facial expression (a terrifying one), but in the remake he has a full rotation of expressions based on what he’s doing (including a goofy concentration face with his tongue sticking out). Not to mention the individual hair follicles on each of the animalistic characters as well as the facial and head hair of Doctor Cortex. The customization of the characters and karts isn’t too in depth, but it’s on par with Mario Kart 8, which allows you to pick between a fair amount of karts, colors, stickers, as well as color variations of each character. Perhaps where the game shines the most is playing with others. Having a group of friends over or being at a family function can be transformed into a memorable experience with games like these.

What I Disliked About the Game

Finding things wrong with this game is going to be like grasping at straws but I can name a few. A problem I remember from the original is the small collection of crate power ups during races, which is still present. The boss races are strangely scripted by keeping the boss character from falling too far behind, no matter how far ahead you get they rubber-band and come back eventually. While it makes the race more tense, it just makes it feel like you did all of that amazing driving to get ahead for nothing. The challenges and unlockables are sorta dull and not worth going the extra mile for. While I said the difficulty can be just right, the difference between easy and normal is drastic, and if you aren’t good at the game the easy difficulty doesn’t even reward you the illusion of a challenge.  

Recap

CTR: Nitro-Fueled is an insanely fun kart racing game that pulls on the nostalgia string in the right way. It’s a faithful reimagining of a classic game with some great additions to boot. The customization is good, the racing is fast, and the graphics are beautiful. The game has a few issues, though. The difficulty settings are a bit off, especially for people who are just looking for lazy fun. The boss race mechanics are wonky, but fun nonetheless. And the power ups are a little stale and unvaried. With all that said, the game is extremely fun and the childhood memories are in abundance.

Should YOU Buy this Game?

If you enjoyed the original games, you’ll enjoy this one as well. It’s frantic pace and competitive nature will make it a go to party game for years to come. I believe if you liked the original, are looking for a party game, or just want to lazily play an arcade-ish racer on easy, this game is for you. $40 for this game is a bit much, I would say $30 is an appropriate price, but it’s still a must buy for fans of the series. I would refrain from purchasing the ultimate edition of the game for $60, twenty more dollars for just a few character skins, etc. just isn’t plausible enough. At least there aren’t any microtransactions. If you buy this game on the PlayStation 4, you get exclusive access to the retro tracks and character models (So cool! Bummer for other systems, though). Not considering the cool stuff you get for playing on PS4, the Switch is a great way to play the game. You can play on the go or just use handheld mode if someone else needs the tv.  

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