Words&Such

Ramblings about Design, UX, Process, Code... basically where my thoughts go when nobody else is listening. Est. 2009.

UX Articles: DO Read the Comments

What's the first rule of reading on the internet? DON'T READ THE COMMENTS! Nothing good comes from going down the dark death-spiral into the pit of human sludge that are the public comments!

I follow this pretty religiously, but make exceptions in one arena: UX Articles. Like most UX nerds, I read a lot. Different insights and viewpoints can add the extra perspective needed to solve problems now or influence future decision making. Some of my favorites are UX Mag, UX Matters (which reminds you on every visit that UX != design), UX Booth, UIE Brain Sparks, Smashing Mag UX, Boxes and Arrows, Disambiguity, Bokardo, InspireUX, and Putting People First. I even keep up with a few product-focused blogs like Usabillia, Konigi, Mozilla UX, and Balsamiq to name-drop a few.

Often times the best insights that are on the page come from the people reading and rebutting pieces or the entire premise of the article. In a less educated and civil environment - say YouTube comments for example - the arguements basically boil down to "I hate this" and "you're a butthole". In the UX realm, the overflowing abundance of collective knowledge shines the light of reason onto posts that can be too black-and-white about grey topics.

The latest example of this beauty, the article and comments that inspired this post, Efficently Simplifying Navigation for IA on the Smashing UX blog. The premise is straightforward, the author was nice enough to include plenty of examples and pictures, and it employs an authoritative tone to drive home the main points. About a 10-15 minute read... but then I dug into the comments.

Readers were quick to point out that one-size-fits-all nav schemas turn out to be less important that catering to target audience preferences. After further analysis by several readers, I found several really great points and an ever better approach to balancing primary categories, filters, and navigation approaches and gave examples of why it works for them. After reading through the UX Matters post from 2011 they linked (that I had missed) on Browsable Facets, This new approach works way better for my needs than what the author was writing about. This more than doubled the initial read time, but I am so much wiser because of it!

So what's the takeaway? The majority of the UX community that takes the time to share their knowledge are wonderful people with great minds... so don't be too afraid to wade through the comments on UX blogs, there's usually golden nuggets of wisdom attached to the bottom of those pages!

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