Leonie Wharton's Posts

Usability versus Dyslexia

Legibility guidelines for dyslexia often conflict with usability conventions for websites. My challenge was to find a way of designing a website that adhered to both sets of rules.


Just before embarking on the new website design for the British Dyslexia Association I read Steve Krug’s book ‘Don’t make me think’ on usability. I was excited about putting my new found knowledge into practice.

I entered the design kick off meeting with my usability hat firmly on, but unfortunately left with it slightly askew.

The problem was whilst gibbering on about usability I found many of my ideas got knocked down as they contradicted dyslexia conventions.

The final home page design:


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How using banner ads can help increase traffic to your site

Banner ads: no one really likes them. They’re not interesting to create, they look pretty horrible and, quite frankly, they can be very annoying.

So why have we just uploaded a new banner ad to promote our Reputation Monitor? 

These annoying little flashing ads really grab peoples’ attention and can drive traffic to the right pages on your site. More visitors hopefully means more conversions.

Why are banner ads so ugly and annoying?

If a banner ad is a subtle and harmoniously designed feature that blends in beautifully with the rest of a page then no one is going to notice it. It has to be glaringly obvious to grab a visitor’s attention and drag them away from the content that they are/were originally trying to look at.

Bright colours, big shiny click-able buttons – rotating, flashing or twinkling elements help too. Banner ads are also very small.

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What makes designing for the web different to designing for Print?

Design for the web is considerably different to designing for print. This post discusses ten ways they differ and explains how we at Distilled design for the web.

As a web designer, I’m constrained by the build. Not all designers and developers follow the constraints that I’m used to, but Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Accessibility and Usability are key features which dictate the conventions we use.

Firstly, for those of you who don’t know let me explain what these terms mean:

SEO – All our websites are designed and built with SEO in mind. SEO is the process of increasing the amount of traffic a website receives by improving its ranking within Search Engines. This optimisation primarily involves finding and using key words and building links.

Accessibility – We build with accessibility in mind to ensure that people of all abilities and disabilities can use our websites.

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The Five Second Test usability tool

The five second test is a simple usability test that helps you measure the effectiveness of your user interfaces.  Distilled have been using this tool to discover what users notice most about our website.  

The tool works by flashing up a screen shot of the particular web page for 5 seconds-(can you see where they got their name from)?  After the page is viewed a form appears which has five spaces for the user to simply list the things they remember.

Some people used these spaces to list the things they remembered, others to give in-depth advice or constructive criticism and others to simply offer up random abuse ... nice.

If you are a loyal subject of Distilled, you many have noticed that we have been implementing some minor changes to the Distilled ‘Home’ and ‘Contact’ page recently. These changes were spurred on as a result of the the interesting things people had said in our test. 

Just a few months of using the tool gathered a considerable amount of data for both pages.

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Inspiration away from the computer

Hello, I am Leonie the designer here at Distilled, I wanted to share how I gather inspiration at the beginning of a project, and also to ask how you get yours.

There is only so much inspiration I can gather from staring at my computer screen. Sometimes I hit a wall and it becomes clear that a change needs to happen. This post will explain my solution to these mental blocks.

Working on a computer is great when you already have an idea; it helps as a tool to bring my ideas to life. The problem is getting the idea in the first place.

To elaborate, I see the computer as a constraint at the beginning of a project. This is because I often end up thinking of how I can design something as opposed to focusing on what the idea is. Thinking in this way hinders my trail of thought and crushes fragile ideas before they have properly evolved. Creativity should happen before the media decision is made.

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