Funny, creative, & just really great. #make
Mini's super engaging campaign acknowledges mini drivers in absolutely creative, non-conventional ways. #lovethis
A round-up of the best and brightest projections from the past year. A must watch, so many great ideas.
Really great product design: streamlined functionality & aesthetics.
More details about the Copenhagen Wheel, here.
Pablo Valbuena's video projection on architecture: geometric patterns are used to change & enhance space.
All the execution goodness lives here.
Design is One
, the movie. "There is so much designers put into the environment, the designers are unknown, but the object is...
Design and life are totally interconnected. You live, breathe, and create."
by Gabriel Pulicio is an interactive, kinetic, projection mapped installation- programmed
to futurist beats & audience operated. This is a digital sabbatical.
Products belong to one of two typologies, they are either innovative or enhancing. Its difficult to predict how these typologies translate into user experiences or what each interface may look like. The common pattern within these two paradigms is the recognition that design is receding to let humans be in their truest form.
What does innovation & enhancement in products mean for UI/UX Design?
- Provide a completely new way of doing something, something that was not possible before
One cannot evaluate an innovation by asking potential customers for their views. This requires people to imagine something they have no experience with. Their answers historically, have been notoriously bad. People have said they would really like some products that then failed in the marketplace. Similarly, they have said they were simply not interested in products that went on to become huge market successes (ie. the cell phone)....Predicting the popularity of a new product is almost impossible before the fact, even though it may seem obvious afterward. (Norman, Emotional Design) | |
- Take an existing product/service & make it better
Jawbone's UP band is a physical accessory, but the interface is hardly detectable. A single button (integrated smoothly into the design w/ materiality considerations) at the end of the band activates light emitting feedback to control user experience (setting sleep/activity mode, alarm reminders). An additional mobile enhances the user experience with data feedback about health & fitness progress
These interfaces strive for seamless connectivity, enabling people to do more, be at more places without the limitations of physical constraints. The interface is the person(s), any settings menus recede so users can focus on the experience. User experience may be compromised with wifi connections.
Leap's interface is seldom noticed so users can engage, communicating their intentions as naturally as possible-medium specific (games, design, etc.)
Tablets & Chromebook are moving away from software dependent experiences where there is less user control. Think back to a time where you'd buy software, install it with a CD, search for that product key code...Such an interruptive/uncertain user experience, not knowing if the install worked because the interface gave no progress feedback...Yeah, I don't miss that.
Most users can now competently navigate apps, finding what they need and test by exploring. If they don't like an app, its as easy as deleting and finding another one. The process is simpler, faster, & navigable. The refined experience & interface provides more opportunities for user control.
- Flux, controls lighting condition of your digital working environment
- Divvy, a utility app to resize your windows for a better working environment
Both Flux and Divvy live in the upper right hand settings of your desktop, alongside Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote & others. They are utilitarian enhancements to the user experience they fulfill their roles quite well. Ideally we'd get to a point where there is enough intelligence to omit the need for such third-party enhancements, but as they are, they operate quite naturally to user needs.
Once Flux is installed, its just works in the background, users will take note of the subtle change in display as the day cycles. Adaptive & unintrusive; click on the Flux icon to pause lighting adjustments or change preferences when needed.
Managing a lot of windows & programs to do your work? Click on Divvy & size your window to its default grid or set your own grid to customize the best working environment for you. Keyboard shortcuts make this process even more efficient.
Cloud anything & everything. It's really convenient to access docs anywhere from any device. That's the user experience- it just works and its just there. The UI hums in the background while you do you. It still gives me a second of delight when I see someone else editing my Google doc as I also work collaboratively on it. Google docs are an amazing interface because there is real time feedback; thereby addressing & emotional understanding that someone else is contributing content as well. The interface is encouraging as users feel compelled to respond by contributing more content, commenting on existing content, etc.
Twitter as an organic real time news feed is radical; empowering anyone to contribute to the latest news by contributing comments & details. It's changing our lifestyles & the way we source out credible news which in turn inform our thoughts behaviour patterns. The UI's focus on "What's happening now, tailored for you" followed by a news feed taps into our emotional intelligence- there is a sense of urgency & its personal. The one-liner statement & its endless newsfeed enables us to feel that we are a part of something bigger, triggering a collective movement.
The ability to chat with someone online to inquire about product/resolve technical issues makes so much sense. Have you ever tried to balance a phone or spoken louder because you were on speaker phone while simultaneously trying to do what the person on the phone is asking of you? Painful. Abilities to share screen sessions in addition to Olark (or equivalent services) has made multi-tasking effective. The UI is clever too, subtle & out of the way while drawing on a psychological memory of instant messaging & the interface that is associated with that.
Rescue Time is eerily smart. We're terrible creatures of habit, impulsively refreshing inboxes & checking social feeds after tasks are complete- as if our achieved hardwork earned the behaviour. Their solution is a start to re-learning the art of focus. Their UI is no UI really, it just pulls data while you do your day to day activities. The generated report informing where you've spent your time...that's the user experience. Scanning the report on time spent, do you feel guilty? Proud?
- Bluetooth & Wifi Enabled Controls (Nest, Airplay, Netflix, Jambox)
- Square & NFC, the new mobile wallet
The 'magic' of adjusting your home's temperture, controlling your tunes from your phone, or pausing a movie from your mobile device feels like magic. It just works & without another remote control or additional uncharged batteries- the experience is just really nice. Bluetooth & wifi capabilities have also enabled a simplified interface...users can now take their existing mapped understanding of say the Netflix UI and use it to initiate a viewing session on TV via Chromecast.This is pretty smart, enabling the same UI to exist in web & mobile while maintaing the same functionality with the introduction of one new button (Airplay, or equivalent). Users no longer need to re-learn a navigation, they can take their existing architecture of the Netflix (on web) and transition it to their interaction through theNetflix app on another output (ie. TV) using Chromecast to view content. The interface here is simplied, no re-learning required & the experience is richer.Square and NFC technologies is simplifying life. It's going to increase spending habits & its going to make it easy for the user to do so. If users are currently content with "tap to pay" via credit card, than (working) NFC technologies is going to be a game changer. Square is already showing indications of this. | |
If you've ever lost your phone & did not install the 'Find my Phone' app...the experience is terrible. So long phone!
If you've ever lost your phone and did install the 'Find my Phone' app...the user experience is amazing. Hello phone! The find your phone UI is often a simple one time input/registration & in the event you need to find your phone, mapped coordinates are highly useful for tracking the device.
The ease of finding optional things to do with friends when there are too many options & too many unknowns (wait times at restaurants, move show times) can be painful. Let an app take care of it, decisions get simplified when objective information is given to you. The user interface of various apps can have a huge impact on the overall experience. These range & vary in usability. Connectivity (you're likely in a busy social environment when trying to make such decision) could sway the user experience as well.
Online mobile banking is a great idea- it is comfortable, convenient & omits severe overhead charges of having a bank branch. Currently, the UI of most apps are slightly outdated often looking a lot like a mini poorly scaled example of the web interface. Navigation & selection on a different screen size with different inherit functionality becomes cumbersome. Refining the mobile interface could positively enhance the user experience. Ironically, because the target objective is so valuable, users will put up with poor usability to do mobile banking if time is limited.
Conclusion: Going back to a simpler intelligently receding UI will require the design of undesign. This approach is more natural & human-centered. No interface is the interface; when UI design recedes, UX is enriched.
We need technologies that provide the rich power of interaction without the disruption: we need to regain control over our lives." (Norman, Emotional Design.)
the Book Thief.
Compelling cinematic direction from Brian Percival.If your eyes could speak, what would they say? Recalibrates the soul, narrated by life.
Defining information architecture.
The way-finding design of the Kata Polytechnic Centre is a living example of information architecture.
This building is a hospital in Japan with a way-finding signage system designed by Kenya Hara.
He innovates the system by blowing up its scale (for elderly patient visibility) & grounds it literally to the floor. Fading & erosion of the signage is addressed through the floor construction, inlaying red text & symbols right into the white floor. The result is an innovative spatial experience that appears to be more effective than traditional signage.
In this hospital design, people walk right on the signs. On the one hand, the flow line from reception counter to waiting room, then to consultation room for a check-up, and then perhaps to the dispensary and finally to the payment counter, is quite clear cut. The role of signage is to indicate flow in such a way that it can be clearly figured out in the minds of visitors & patients. The red crosses laid out on the main points of intersection act as indicators as well as traffic control tools. The length of the trunk of a red arrow sign relates directly to the distance of the destination. This signage system serves as a sort of guideline designed to help visitors and patients remember the hospital space, by helping create the flow line within their minds. (Designing Design, Hara)
I extracted the lessons of information architecture in this building example & drew up my insight about information architecture in the context of user experience and its relationship to the accessibility of the online content databases of Apple TV
The information architecture of this blog entry, a look at user experience within Apple TV & Netflix.
Ideally information architecture is user-centric.
Its purpose is to organize everything in an intuitive structure from a user's point of view; this includes addressing unarticulated needs
. It's critical to avoid designing for perceived perceptions, the foundation of a strong information architecture needs to be tested against actual users- they will dictate how the structure needs to be laid out. Navigation is a broad but necessary aspect of good information architecture, users need to know where they are in a mobile/web application at all times so they can experience the product & more importantly use the product the way it was intended to be used.
A good navigational structure also implies curated maintenance & management of the content that users will visit-broken links are like dead ends, they create debt in a user experience.
Unfortunately, more often the not, most users only become aware of information architecture when it's poor or stops working.
Knowing user personas, especially in the design of an information architecture about movies is high priority. Film can be a subjective topic & everyone gravitates to varying movie types. The value of recommendations from these online movie databases needs to be accurate to merit any value, recommendations can get highly skewed when multiple users in the same household/community are using the same account.
Apple TV & Netflix have opted to make suggestions based on their algorithms about movies recently watched. Netflix has gone a step farther by suggesting different profiles under one account so multiple users can get a better user experience without the influence of previously watched content by other members of the household. Though this shows a subtle understanding of user personas, it is unclear how accurate current movie recommendations came to be, thereby reducing their weighted value. A viable alternative may be to consider suggesting movies based on a third party network that carries more diverse weight about user persona (ie. books recently read (Good Reads
), highly maintained social network (Facebook), or user filtered news source (Subreddits
User persona also means understanding how users search for movies. Some go straight to global search; others like to window shop- good information architecture can accommodate both & everything in between.
Apple TV Search
- Suggested movie titles auto fill the upper search field, slowly refining the title search.
- Search results keep users on point while providing hyper link avenues for filtering other search criteria (actors, directors, screenwriters, etc) that may be of interest
- An original search for a movie title, could drill down to a refined search on all movies made by the same lead actor or directed by the same director.
- Based on the main UI, Netflix suggests global search as its principal means of finding a movie
- Suggested movie titles auto fill with movie posters adjusting to each word entered in the search field. UI is weakened when unavailable movies also show up in search results, this also reflects product value
- Hovering over movie image gives users some information about the movie, but no hyperlinks to additional sub searches. Once a key word is typed in, search is linear.
Consistency is important in search, all movies should have the same consistent data about them. If pieces of information about entries are missing, the search is inaccurate and loses value. Netflix's interface is misleading, every entry in the movie database does not have the same consistent categories of information- try hovering over various movie thumbnails and you'll see that some movies have more detailed information (ie. director, year release, screenwriter) than others. Even within Apple TV, Netflix's application tries to fit into the Apple TV framework, but it in itself is limited because of its own database.
Scoping information architecture in Apple TV & Netflix
- "Wishlist" for personal curating
- Recommendations (using 'Genuis') based on recently watched movies, unsure of weighted value
- No profile segmentation/filter options
- Does not show recently viewed content
- Trailer preview option
- Movie ratings come from Rotten Tomatoes & Customer Reviews
- Global search keeps users on point while suggesting valuable related searchable filters
- When a movie is selected as a possible option, the interface presents a "viewers who watched this also watched this" slightly above the fold to peak curiosity while keeping users on point in the decision making cycle
- Main page of movie options features "Top Featured Movies" as the carousel, focus is on starting new viewing experience
- "My List" for personal curating
- Recommendations based on recently watched movies, unsure of weighted value
- Profile segmentation allows multiple users to view without external influence of suggested movies
- Shows recently (fully) viewed moves above the fold, uncertain of the value
- No trailer preview option
- Movie ratings are internal to Netflix community
- Global search is linear. Hovering over movie thumbnails gives some varied information about the movie but users must remember this data and begin a new search if they want to search by another search method. Hyperlinks within the hover state could remedy this.
- When a movie is selected as possible option, the most is played, there is no 'in-between' interface
- Main page of movie options features movies that are not completely viewed, focus is on finishing what was started
Common information architecture issues:
- The use of movie thumbnails to display content in a gallery like interface reduces quick visual scanning navigation. The problem with this is that varying movie thumbnails display the movie title in different colours, locations, and fonts on the poster making it difficult for users to pinpoint the movie they are searching for unless they have a visual association to that movie. An alternative may be consistent titling along the bottom of each thumbnail, making at-a-glance browsing effective. Apple does this if you search for movies from iTunes desktop, but this feature is absent within Apple TV. Another consideration is a search based on alphabet, this could be a sub-search option for those "I know the movie starts with an "S" moments.
- Too many options. When friends get together, we spend too much time trying to find a movie to watch because there are too many options. The paradox of choice is that we're less likely to pick a choice when we have too many to choose from.
It's one thing to have access to a database & another thing to think of effective ways to present the database in an intuitive way. There are so many ways to sort, users vary and they subconsciously map their personal movie database differently. I have friends who refer to movies based on screenwriter or director while other friends refer to movies based on the lead actor/actress. Then there's me, I sort movies by genre (the way a physical movie rental store once did, Netflix & Apple TV have both take that model of information architecture and digitized it). All these ways of organizing can be displayed to the user in better interfaces than others depending on the device & the search filter type. A hub and spoke technique might be ideal for web usage to sort movies by a specific director/screenplay writer. Translate this same information to mobile & the configuration may best be represented with a nested spring board interface. Tapping a selection in each spring board drills the user deeper into their refined search parameters. A visual breadcrumb along the top could serve as navigation while enabling organic discovery of unwatched movies.
Hub & Spoke: sorting movies by director on web
Nested Spring Board: sorting movies by director on mobile
In any of these scenarios, global search must be accessible as a means of navigating back to key markers within the information architecture.
What happens when products are non usable
If information architecture is understood as the skeleton or road map, a weak or lacking information architecture compromises navigation, leaving users feeling lost, frustrated, indifferent to the overall user experience, or even worse propelling negative growth by sharing insight on the user experience to their community. In my own experience, we've gone the length to go to Apple TV to view a movie trailer (because Netflix doesn't offer that feature), then try to find the movie in Netflix (because its more feasible to watch from there), & if its not there, we go back to Apple TV (if we really want to see the movie), or after all that, we surrender and do something else. Is this really the best user experience? There has got to be an integrated user experience alternative. Bad user experience isn't about the user; it's about unarticulated aspects of the product's design. The design cycle needs to be iterative, a tested dialogue between usability & current product design.
Good information architecture hosts an understanding of how users use the product, in this context between Apple TV & Netflix, Apple takes the cake.
Some great digital finds. Thanks Glen!
An under-rated booth that lets users imagine new projects through 3D printing & projection mapping awesome.
Great user experience is experienced.
The beauty about this topic is that it covers so many facets. Joshua Porter of 52 Weeks in UX
talks about this accurately with his example about architecture & its relation to user experience. At the origins of architecture as a practice, architects were not only designing structures for dwelling, but often times addressing the unarticulated needs of architectural intention: from the furniture, to light fixtures, to landscaping, and even as far as sometimes designing the table setting. Architects have been thinking about the role of a being a great host all along, the nuances that this entails is part of the larger system often referred to as the experience of the guest or user. In this example, the building is just one piece of the larger architectural system. The intention of the designer is that of a good, thoughtful host anticipating the unarticulated needs of guests
. These needs are really what raise the ‘wow’ to any experience because they are not necessarily known, and when brought to the foreground brings a certain level of delight.
Think of anyone who has gone the extra bit to deliver an experience. Whether this be wrapping a gift exceptionally well, setting a table beautifully for a shared meal, syncing your ideas seamlessly across any platform you use, picking you up and having a phone charger cable for your nearly dying phone, or choreographing spaces so they flow when you walk into a building. These are all the ‘wow’ factors that really set a definition for what experience can be.
Below is a quadrant of examples highlighting stronger & weaker user experiences. Two of them are physical objects; the other two are digital products, all of them have been chosen based on my own personal experiences with them. It’s worthwhile to discuss why the designs are effective/ineffective to understand the nuances, which become apparent with daily use.
Strong/Weak User Experiences in Physical Products
| |Parrot Zik Headphones
- Swipe on ear piece to adjust volume
- Tap on ear piece to pause/play songs
- Swipe forward & backward for song change
- Physically light but carries "weight" to establish sense of product value
- Taking head phones off ears to rest on your shoulders pauses audio
- Product description, "The Parrot Zik is revealing your emotions. It merges with the body, like a technological extension of you to listen to music." Human-centered design approach.
- No interface is the interface
| |Ikea Vacumn Flask
- Comes packaged with shrink wrap, no instructions
- Mislead affordance with flask cap, the "open" button suggests pushing down to release hot liquid, when in actuality hot liquid pours from the ridges of the cap. How would a user know this?
- Assumption that users will use flask lid as small cup to house hot liquid. My sister took a sip of hot tea while on a hike right from the flask lid and burned herself.
- Product key feature, "Keeps the contents warm/cold for a long time because you don't need to remove the entire lid when you pour." Design assumption, function fail.
- No interface is the interface
Strong/Weak User Experience in Digital Products
- End to end user experience is continuous & seamless, I can access/update my recorded thoughts from any platform & share to any platform, making this experience a fully articulated cycle
- Notes are captured in a variety of ways to address varying user types/needs (ie. text, photos, video, voice, drawings, etc)
- Uninterrupted syncing so when I go from one platform to the next, thoughts have arrived before me, this is an unarticulated need
- Evernotes other products (ie. Evernote Web Clipper) sync beautifully amongst one another so that ideas can be translated just as quickly as a user processes thoughts
- Product focus, "Remember everything. Evernote apps and products make modern life manageable, by letting you easily collect and find everything that matters."
- Moving between platforms, the interface achieves a mapping continuity, way-finding between platform interfaces is effectively addressed
- Allows multiple users on wifi connection, so different members of the home can adjust/control devices
- Mobile app sync is interruptive, often times I will see first item on the list as it is refreshing, I'll turn that first item off by a tap selection, but by the time that selection begins to process, the full list of automated devices syncs and the app thinks I've selected another item which has populated itself to first place thus failing to address my intent. This can get very frustrating if there are many devices.
- Sometimes going to the device/light switch and turning it on/off seems easier then fiddling with an underdeveloped user experience like this one
- Product Description, "WeMo is a family of simple, ingenious product that all you to control your home electronics from anywhere. To turn them on or off, trigger them with motion, even put them on schedule."
- That said, it works, the technology does let you automate your home. However with daily use, unarticulated needs surface and are becoming obvious pain paints that demand solutions from a consumers point of view
When designing a user experience, if we think of a designer’s intention as the Design Conceptual Model & if we think of the users needs (this could be consciously/unconsciously recognized) as the Users Mental Model, than the by-product where designers intents are met with users needs is recognized as The System Image. My interpretation of this concept from Emotional Design by Donald Norman yields The System Image as a result of an iterative design process grounded by a will to communicate the intended message of what the product needs to be both from the understanding of a user and the designer.
a designer is able to understand the pain points of the users, the user experience is a success. Often times when the user gets upset because the functionality of a product fails, the problem isn’t the user; the problem is the behavioral design. Applying the principles of human-centered design will always pay off.
“Why do so many designs fail? Mainly because designers and engineers are often self-centered. Engineers tend to focus upon technology, putting into a product whatever special features they themselves prefer. Many designers fail as well through their fondness for the sophisticated use of images, metaphors, and semantics that win prizes in design competitions but create products that are inaccessible to users…Engineers and designers explain that, being people themselves, they understand people, but this argument is flawed. Engineers and designers simultaneously known too much and too little. They know too much about the technology and too little about how other people live their lives and do their activities. In addition, anyone involved with a product is so close to the technical details, to the design difficulties, and to the project issues that they are unable to view the product the way an unattached person can.” (Emotional Design, Norman)
With so many intermediary interfaces that are encountered day to day as we transition from online to offline (both with our digital lives & the tangible products that we interact with), the user experiences created today need to be designed for real* people. This realization will demand an acute observation from said makers (engineers & designers alike) about people’s needs, these needs are not as obvious as might be thought.
*Real people are everyday people. When I talk about designing for real people, what I really mean is design universally. “Though this is a challenge, it is well worth the effort. Designing for the handicapped, the hard of hearing or seeing, or those less agile than the average invariably makes a product better for everyone. There is no excuse not to design usable products that everyone can use.” (Emotional Design, Norman)