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Content Strategy for Mobile, by Karen McGrane, a brief book review on how to handle content coping with multiple devices.

Content Strategy for Mobile, by Karen McGrane, a brief book review on how to cope with multiple devices. (link http://abookapart.com/products/content-strategy-for-mobile, long header)

COPE: Create Once Publish Everywhere (citation, McGrane)

We have neither idea, nor control over where, when, why or on what device our readers will be. Period. So don´t create content for a specific device! So what about the title of the book then? (short intro)

We have neither idea, nor control over where, when, why or on what device our readers will be. Period. So creating content for a specific device is a pretty bad idea. So what about the title of the book then? Well, thinking about mobile gives us well needed contraints to keep things brief. (long intro)


Why the odd start of this post?

Well, it is an example of creating content that is

  • Reusable
  • Structured
  • Presentation independent
  • Having meaningful meta-data (at least some)
  • Unfortunately not fulfilling the last of the five key points for content management which is having a usable CMS interface
Content package
Think of content as parts of lego that can be selected depending on device size

Think of your content as a package of parts of varying size that can be re-used depending on what size device the user is on. The short header can be used on a mobile device. The long header in a desktop or iPad. Short intro can be used on a mobile device as wel as displayed as a search result.

WYSIWYG sucks, at least for the sake of reusable content. The blog post in WordPress is just a blob that cannot be re-used in parts. And what does preview really tell you – how the content looks on a desktop… Data analysis tells us that mobile is on the rise and mobile users already outnumber desktop users and will dominate in the future.

You cannot predict future behaviour by analysing a current mobile experience that sucks. (Jason Grigsby)

We need to test on smartphones, tablets and desktop – at least. Don´t forget landscape versus portrait.

Things to note when on mobile

  • Scroll is good, often much better than tap
  • Make it easy to jump using anchors and menus
  • Tables are tough on mobile – acutually they suck most of the time
  • Don’t shrink or truncate text or images, make alternate images with same message
  • Only force mobile users to your FULL DESKTOP website if you dislike them

Writing well is essential. Remove the fluff, much writing has far too many words that do not have significant meaning. A lot of book intros are far to repetitive to be interesting… I like to reference Jerry Weinberg’s The fieldstone method that has a lot of great tips on writing legible and interesting sentences.

Use the pyramid approach – interesting stuff and conclusions first to spark an interest. Less interesting details lke that I got inspired to read this book by listening to Karen McGrane at From business to buttons can be at the end of the article.

Most web pages are too heavy – users are often on low bandwith. Don´t loose them because of heavy non-essential images or large content.

Want more, buy the book? I bought a bunch of the available titles and found the ones I have read so far up to date, easy reads to a very affordable price.

So it´s Halloween and my kids are out trick or treating. Daddy´s enjoying a glass of Fat Jack double Pumpkin.

Fat Jack Beer
Picture of Fat Jack Beer bottle

What then can be more entertaining than writing a review of not only one but two books with almost the same title.

The first book is titled User Experience Design. If you read my blog you know that I read quite a lot of books. Some I think are to heavy and academic, other are easy to read and some to seem really clever. But reading this book kind of pissed me off. It really feels like - Hey we have a college course, we should just take our power-points and create a book. Thin of content, lots of full pages with screen shots and pictures, explaining gestalt theory in no less than seven brightly colored kitsch pages. Trying to explain iterative circular process with a linear picture? There are so many really good books out there - this is not one of them. And that ends the review!

Still upset from my last reading I dove into Undercover User Experience Design. Now this is another league of writing! This feels like lots of information distilled into a rather short book instead of little information extended to a ...rather short book. What really makes me like it is that it refects the situation I am often in. UX is not understood and still I try to make a difference. This book tells me how others in the same situation think and act. I really like he reasoning around what to do and what to deliver. I feels like having a lecture from people that get their hands dirty and want to share their experience with us in order to help us. The book does not dive into details on each and every technique but I consider it a great part of my UX library. This is a book for the practitioner that wants to have input on the HOW part of working. I will be coming back to this book to get good ideas. Well done!

UndercoverUX book cover

Designing multi-device experiences is an easy to read experience report from Michal Levin that is well worth reading to understand the future of application development.

It´s an Ecosystem

Gone are the days when we could choose what device to develop for. With the entry of the smartphone, the tablet and new flat screen TVs we no longer are single device users. We not only use many devices, we use them simultaneously to control or as a flow to complete each other. So we have four major devices, including the laptop, and the Internet of things means that every appliance you can think of, are or will be connected in a future not to distant.


ecosystem overview


Understanding User Behaviour

Now, more than ever, we need to get a better understanding of how users interact with devices in different contexts. The book contains numerous examples of multi device applications as well as some really nice summaries. Take a look at Google's own statistics shown in the graph below.


Consistent, Continuous and Complementary

One of the key takeaways is the 3C-framework where the author puts focus on:

  • consistent: major functions on all devices, adjustments in layout to fit screen size. great example is google maps
  • continous: start reading an e-book on your tablet, when you sit down in the car continue where you ended as an audiobook, leaving the car continue as audiobook on your smartphone and worry no more about work 🙂
  • complementary: using your smartphone to control he TV, then the tablet to look up trivia about the actors on screen and nter reminder to watch next episode and use the smartphone to tweet about OMG-moments



This book is a great starter for UX consultants as well as the rest of us trying to find out how to build the next ground breaking application. The future is here now! It feels like an experience report from someone that has tried hard to design for todays technology as opposed to a detailed instruction on how to do your next project. Easy to read, very non-academic (which is a good thing in my opinion), gives an overview as well as some inspiration and points you where to look for more rather than trying to explain it all. Lots of good example applications but few hands-on techniques on how to do it yourself. A good complement to my book collection. Recommended!

Yes- I am lazy and stole the ilustrations from the Internet instead of drawing them myself. But I have so many other books to read...



About one year ago I realized that UX is "the new black". I have been a vivid user of Effect Maps for many years and a strong believer in the importance of usability. Working in yet another project that completely ignoredall usability issues I made a vowe to get better ammunition for future endeavors.

The Plan

I decided to do my best to learn as much as possible about the fantastic new subject known as User Experience. To be honest I consider it more of an approach than a collection of techniques. I bough a load of books, registered for conferences and classes and started to work hard on applying my newfound knowledge in whatever I did.

Let's Start with the Conferences

I think is fun to meet other people in the community, make contact and chat. Some talks have been very inspiring but far too many too shallow to make any lasting impression. If I look back at the learning part from conference talks it is pretty meager to be honest. It is fun to see famous people live, at least some of them, but it is really hard to deliver a lasting message in 30 minutes.


Now we're talking. I spent a full day working with touchpoints guided by Chris Risdon and we did a lot of hands-on exercising. I have been able to practice what I learned already. I also spent half a day on Lean UX which was really cool. Also with a lot of hands on stuff. So tutorials are a great way of learning.

chris risdon


I also manged to take a two day class called usability in practice - covering interviews, flows, effect maps and some interaction design. Great class but it was so crammed with interesting stuff that would gladly have spent a full week diving deeper into each part. The class is in Swedish so if your are an eager UX-learner fluent in Swedish - register now!

The teachers


I have read a lot of blog posts by well known people in the UX community, none mentioned and none forgotten. I find this a good way of getting a grip on current trends and finding the buzz. Sometimes the discussion dives down in detail on details which bores me quickly. What's the obsession with the hamburger menu anyhow, is this really the most important subject to discuss?

I have read quite a lot of books, some great and some reeeeally boring stuff. Now I am a practitioner so I want to see lots of examples and feel a connection to real work.

Don't make me think by Steve Krug is a wonderful first book on usability that I want to order dozens of and give to my colleagues. That together with The Swedish book Jävla skitsystem by Jonas Södertsröm should shake people up a bit - enough to understand that we do need to think about UX - NOW!

Smashing UX Design by Allen and Chudley is really good -  I especially like the second half on tools, techniques and UX deconstructed.

Communicating the User Experience by Caddick and Cable is a good overview of techniques and models and it would have been even better if the parts about creating stuff in powerpoint was a separate downloadable pdf.

Sketching User Experiences by Bll Buxton looks promising. It is my plan for the next year to read together with the worbook

Rocket Surgery Made Easy by Steve Krug is another one of this books I want to hand out to all my fellow testers. Just start doing it because it matter and YOU can make difference. Great intro to usability testing.

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud was a fun read and describes a lot of interesting stuff on how to visualize things and how people fill in the blanks. Hey, read it and just enjoy the ride!

And then I started on some really heavy material - Interaction design beyond human computer interaction - highly academic and very heavy. About Face 2.0 - thousand of tips listed and too many words. Since I really like the Inmates are running the asylum this was quite a dissapointment. Handbook of usability testing - hm, after having read Krug's book on agile usability testing this feels a wee bit heavy. The UX book - so heavy that it is hard to carry around and so dense I can´t manage to get into it. Now if I had a year to spend on reading.... nah, forget about it. I guess the problem these books have is that they try to be comprehensive and tell it all - it just does not work for me! Tell me the essentials and then let me practice!


In order to get really great I believe in learning from the best. So I have managed to get a mentor to discuss my current work. This I believe will take it from good to great! I wish I could always work with people that were better than me so I could learn more and faster. You make a difference Micke!

I make sure I get to do more UX at work and always spend a few extra hours reworking my material until it becomes better and better. After all - Practice is the best teacher.


And to really get me out of my comfort zone I push the limits of what I am teaching to contain more and more UX material. This forces me to rethink and restructure and redo and is how I become really good at test design.

Final Words

  • Knowing is step one
  • Doing is step two
  • Teaching is step three
  • Step four may be a book in Swedish on UX?

So is my plan working you wonder...

...you bet!







I just finshed reading Rocket Surgery Made Easy. As the title so clearly says it is a do-it-yourself guide to finding and fixing usability problems.


The author´s name is Steve Krug and here´s what he looks like according to the book. skrug_cartoonSo next time you happen to be at a usability conference make sure you say hello...

My current personal goal is to become really good at usability testing so I try to read good books and browse the web for videos, talks and other useful stuff like templates for creating prototypes. This post will focus on my interpretation of what Steve says.



Have You Ever Met a Good Midget Comedian?

This book is just like a really good midget comedian... very short and very funny. It is full of headlines like this one together with those nerdy quotes that we all love to hate and cherish so much. The title may as well have been Usability testing made entertaining. For a long time I tried to make usability a part of the IT-projects I worked in with limited success until I decided to keep it very simple and do it myself. If there is something I have learned from 20 years in business it is that large, complicate and cumbersome stuff never ever gets done! At least not for real or for very long.

In my opinion, the essence of the book is:

      "Let´s make it so easy and still so rewarding that it´s very hard to motivate not doing it!"

Even better, the book in itself is made accessible so there is hope that even the most reluctant readers can get through it. To be really clear, this is a book on how to get you STARTED, not the comprehensive works that can be found elsewhere. The problem with most thicker books is that usually at least half of the words are totally unnecessary making the reading experience not very pleasant and then there is so much information that it is really hard to find out what is most important. So cudos for effectively distilling usability into something more devourable.

So by now you have realised that I really liked this book! I like it so much that I will most likely use it as course litterature for a one day usablity class I am planning to create. I would love to translate it to Swedish to make it even more accessible fo my fellow countrymen.


Rocket Surgery Cover Page
Rocket Surgery Cover Page


The Core Process of Usability Testing

Let us start with the goal of usability testing made easy:

Our goal is to find and fix the most serious problems in order to make products easier to use.

That´s really all there is to it. We don´t try to find all of the problems and we do not bother about statistical significance in our measurements. The point is that bad usablity shows itself readily and even if we found momore problems, there would be no time to fix them. So if we can find what is hurting the most and fix this right away, we stand a great chance to end up with a great product. This type of usability testing has one large advantage over more advanced versions - this one get´s done(hopefully)!

If you look at the tis on planning and execution it is pretty clear that this is usability the agile way - and agile is good for us, right?

When Do We Start

"Start earlier than you think makes sense" (S Krug)

Right along the lines with Lean UX we start testing early and continue throughout the project. We have a hypothesis and we test it to see how well it works. How? Create a prototype and do a usability test. It is soooo easy to create a prototype in powerpoint or Omnigraffle that it is criminal not doing it! It saves so much time if we test before the developers have started coding. Of course we need to do some background work beforehand mapping the user experience or creating an impact map so we understand what the real problem is. This is not discussed in detail in this book but an earlier blog post. is a good start for learning more.


One Hour Well Spent

A test session takes only one hour, an extra half hour extension is possible but in my experience that may be too long both for booking people and for keeping focus.. Make sure that everything is well prepared. Since we have only one hour to spend, there is no time for last minute fixes like not having your test data or equipment ready. The easiest possible configuration is to have a device with your application loaded, and one test manager telling the participant what to do and then observing and taking notes. The recommendation is to have at least one observer - in the same room if you can keep them from talking during the test. I find it a bit hard to take great notes at the same time as I am leading the test.

Now here is an important point that Steve makes. Having more observers gives us many advantages:

  • people make different observations
  • it is a great learning experience for everyone involved
  • it helps getting team consensus on what to fix
  • the understanding for why usability testing is needed increases

These additional observers should be kept in another room since too many people in the same room make he subject feeling watched - which is a correct observation - and that will disturb the testing. So hook up a big screen using GoToMeeting or any other tool you have - Skype or Project Place can work although I have found Skype a bit choppy at times. Use an external microphone and extra speakers to record and replay the talk aloud and instructions. No need to record the face of the tester - audio is enough. Recors the screen if you think there is actually a chance that you will watch the re-run. It can of course be good ammunition for pointing out a problem later.

Now introduce the tester to what they will do and make sure they understand we are testing to see if OUR DESIGN HAS PROBLEMS not if they are skilled! Don´t forget this and don´t tell them more than three times in a session since this will lead them to think the opposite.

Set up of simple think aloud session
Usability testing using think aloud

Now it is great to have another test lead in the observation room to distribute the tasks in written format together wih a place where the observers can write what they see and sum it up in their top three problems.

Post Test Session Processing

Meet with all of the observers. Collect all top three observations. I like to do this on post-its. Do a collective sorting and prioritising. And voila, you have a list of most important things to fix and some other stuff that you will not fix right now. It may seem a bit provocative to some - but if you have not observed - you don´t get to vote. Cause we are not voting on what you think is bad - we make the prioritisation on what you actually observed! This will hopefully make more people wanting to observe. Time well spent I think!

So that´s it. No big report that noone will read, no huge list of to do that we have no chance getting done. Pretty agile, huh!


Final Words

Last project I worked in failed miserably at the usabilty testing part. Lack of understanding and knowledge was the biggest culprit. If was to take the advice from Steve I would have run tests from early on although the web interface looked crappy for a very long time. I would have created a quick prototype on my own to start with just to have something that enabled me to get feedback. I would also have used my colleagues and friends as testers since many usability problems have to do with general things like navigation and information that also non-business specialist will run into. I would have recorded sessions and shown them to the members of the project.

I was so pleased after reading this book that I bought and read the updated version of Don't make me think. This is a good read as well but more about that later...