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Ask news YC: Your best sources to learn about design & usability
58 points by sharpshoot on Oct 12, 2007 | hide | past | web | favorite | 31 comments
Hey, what are the best blogs/websites you read to learn more about good design and usability? I'm sure this could help a few of us here.

Here are a few links from my bookmark folder on the subject, in no particular order:

How to use contrast to your advantage- http://www.gomediazine.com/design-tip/rule-three-contrast-co...

Use colors that have varying intensities, not just differnet colors. Focus on how it looks in greyscale http://www.gomediazine.com/design-tip/becoming-a-master-desi...

Visualizing Fitt's Law http://particletree.com/features/visualizing-fittss-law/

Software Has personality. http://blogs.adobe.com/lightroomjournal/2007/09/lightrooms_g...

Copy sites you like, such as: http://orderedlist.com/articles/single-line-css#comments or http://www.joyent.com/

How to make your designs suck less: http://jimwhimpey.com/blog/2007/simple-ways-to-help-your-des...

Load faster, by doing a low-res version first. http://www.wait-till-i.com/index.php?p=464

How to do sound design http://www.boxesandarrows.com/view/why_is_that_thing_beeping...

More on Sound Design http://digitalmedia.oreilly.com/2007/03/22/how-to-make-user-...

Use smart color pickers http://news.ycombinator.com/comments?id=6434

Whitespace Matters! http://alistapart.com/articles/whitespace

You can make a UI feel responsive, by minimizing the number of clicks http://tantek.com/log/2007/02.html#d19t1813

Write Production UIs, never use placeholders http://a-simian-mind.blogspot.com/2007/03/user-interface-is-...

A gradient Tutorial http://9rules.com/blog/2006/08/a-gradient-tutorial/

Aza's tips http://ajaxian.com/archives/death-of-the-desktop-by-aza-rask...

Wow. Thank you.

(An up-mod didn't seem quite sufficient.)

Always glad to help. The key thing is to read blogs of people who are better Usability than I (and possible you) ;)

If you read other people's blogs, they find the interesting stuff for you.

http://www.37signals.com/svn/ http://daringfireball.net http://www.smashingmagazine.com/

When you start to see that they keep linking to a site, and saying there's a good article there, then start reading that site too ;)

Hey, the smart color picker link gives an error. Could you repost it please?

Kathy Sierra's, Creating Passionate Users. http://headrush.typepad.com

There you can find a lot of great posts about user experience.

Jakob Nielsen is all about usability:




The book "Don't Make Me Think" by Steve Krug is a classic.

Atwood blogs on Tufte with links cheatsheet "An Education for Analytical Design" http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000739.html

Joel's book is a great introduction and a must read if you haven't taken a look before. http://www.joelonsoftware.com/uibook/chapters/fog0000000057....

Jakob Neilson's site is a treasure trove of usability information. http://www.useit.com/

37 Signals will often write blog posts outlining particular design decisions in their products. http://www.37signals.com/svn/

For a more specific topic, I have been researching typography. Something really simple to do (for which I am in the process of doing); get your text baselines to line up ("baseline rhythm"). It will make your site easier to read. Here's some great writeups on the subject.

http://www.sitepoint.com/blogs/2007/04/30/typography-baselin... http://nubyonrails.com/articles/get-rhythm-in-your-baseline

And here's an online tool that will generate a CSS file with all the appropriate measurements: http://topfunky.com/baseline-rhythm-calculator/

Some blogs from my Google Reader:

Functioning Form: http://www.lukew.com/ff/

flow|state: http://miksovsky.blogs.com

Bokardo (social design): http://bokardo.com

WeBreakStuff: http://blog.webreakstuff.com/

37signals: http://37signals.com/svn

ParticleTree: http://particletree.com/

Jensen Harris (Office 2K7): http://blogs.msdn.com/jensenh/

Usability in the News: http://www.usernomics.com/news/user-interface-design-news.ht...

I constantly check http://www.styleboost.com It's not really about usability but more like a barometer of what's considered good design these days. If I ever need design inspiration this is where I trek to first.

"good design these days."

Isn't good design supposed to be timeless, or something like that? Maybe the word you're looking for is fashion.

I'll toss another hat in Tufte's ring. His stuff can be pretty meta, but once the concepts are in your head, you start looking at design much differently.

If I hadn't read 'The Quantitative Display of Visual Information' I think that my design work would be much more cluttered and confusing. Reading the book actually made me want to be a better designer -- I knew, instinctively and through his demonstrations, that my work was definitely not up to par. Any book that can cut through the dense pretenses of a cocky young designer deserves some respect ;D

Fantastic Photoshop tutorials that focus on "polish" and a lot of design elements that are currently in vogue.



Sometimes it's also helpful to experiencing good usability. So I suggest using OS X, after awhile I found myself looking at software in a different way.

I found this article on web application form design to be a good primer:


It's on the Functioning Form blog for interaction designers:


This is a must read:

The Inmates are Running the Asylum by Alan Cooper


I'm a big fan of information-architects.jp this article on web design typography is great: http://www.informationarchitects.jp/the-web-is-all-about-typ...

This is a great thread, will be really interesting to go through all these links.

Here is another good one, the domain is pretty self explanatory


We're looking for good examples of sticky signup processes. Asking users for the 'fun' info and sneaking in the necessary nuts, blots, and email confirmation later seems like a good way to go. Thoughts? Examples?

I'd highly recommend http://designinginterfaces.com, the companion site to Jenifer Tidwell's eponymous O'Reilly book.

A List apart - www.alistapart.com

Users. Get an good analytics tools and watch what your users do.

I find


to be a worthwhile resource, particularly owing to its being based on research.

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