I’ve been taking part in an amazing mentorship group run by Brad Einarsen (of Klick Communication). We’ve met bi-weekely for the past six months or so going through a variety of web UX concepts. But the most exciting part of it has been the hands-on pro-bono work the group of us have done for CanadaHelps. They’re a successful not-for-profit organization whose mandate is to facilitate online donations to any charity in Canada. This may not be as big for, say, Kid’s Help Phone which already has e-commerce on their site – but it’s critical for charitable organization that don’t have online donations (and sometimes don’t even have a website).

We presented a few weeks ago (I was a bit busy so didn’t get to post until now) and it went spectacularly well. We had a few people from the organization come in (including Owen Charters the Executive Director) and they were rather thrilled with the user issues and recommendations we identified – some that were surprising and some that were pain points they were familiar with (but now they have video proof!)

Bill Buxton’s advice


Designers are owners of product and negotiators. B X T – business experience technology. “It’s a compromise like Gehry’s design, which goes to engineering for feasibility and business for cost,” says Bill Buxton. More like collaboration though – compromise presupposes someone wins and someone loses.

Designers help guide work so that what people invest in is the best we can do – not just the first idea we come up with.

Determine design language + design principles/philosophy before starting (a la Microsoft mobile “metro”, a la “Alias Commandments”). Helps with determining what design decisions (or any other decisions) are right.

Uncanny valley: Closer you come to reality the more uncanny it is because it’s harder to suspend belief…

Fierce reduction: What is the core essence of this? e.g. iPhone = app store + internet connectivity

Design specification: e.g. GM device: any employee must be able to figure out 80% of functionality within 3-5 min with 90% retention a week later.

Every application has a good use and bad use. Trade-offs.