Archive for the 'Design' Category
This shows that a great designer can work in almost any medium.
Check out the slideshow here on F@stCompany’s site.
These structures look wonderful- and no comments about how this is what we’ll all be living in during the coming depression.
Now, I suspect this online movie rental company failed more because of the success of Netflix and Blockbuster than its horrible interface- however, they certainly were doing themselves no favors when they rolled out this gem:
Clearly, that last checkbox label is one of the most confusing things I’ve seen on the web (which is why I saved it). Just came across it today so I thought I’d share.
When thinking of the million or so better ways to represent this option to users, a few clear winners stand out.
Why not this, for example:
Use new Drag-and-drop Queue Format?
…which has the advantage of needing no code changes to the front or back end.
But really, this is probably better served as a radio button set as in:
Really, this stuff shouldn’t be so difficult. But time and again I come across interface elements that seem to have been put there as a joke.
Of course, with this example, we can’t rule that out entirely. Who knows how many disgruntled developers they had on staff.
With devices shrinking to nearly invisible, displays need to stay the same or get bigger.
How to solve this apparent dilemma? Embed tiny projector units into handheld devices so the display can scale up quite large.
Of course, this idea has been floating around for some time now, as well as ideas to use projection technology as input (as in the laser projected full-sized keyboard that has somehow failed to capture the market’s attention).
However, the news is now, the technology (battery power, image processing, ability to push enough candle-power to be effective) is getting to where it’s good enough and cheap enough to fit our incessant demands for tiny handheld units.
Now, we just need to come up with a clever way to energize particles in the air so this display can hover in front of us without the need for a flat surface on which to project…
Here’s how close we’re getting to this being the defacto standard. Read the eWeek article.
Inspiring examples of illustrator Cristiana Couceiro showing off some brilliant, effortless compositing skill
This one’s not the best in the sample, but I love Flight of the Conchords, so I threw this one up here to share:
Like any real American (by birth, at least) red-blooded man, I’m a big fan of performance art. I also like robots and spiders. Brewing up the perfect storm is this French group called La Machine who last year staged an expensive but interesting work in the (with apologies to all my Scouser friends) dreary city of Liverpool.
Here’s a photo-journal of the event, which is quite good.
I wanted to see video of it in action and of course, there’s some on Youtube, but suprisingly, the photos are better. The video is quite tiresome and dull. You get a feel for how nimble (or not) the machine is from just a few seconds of vid.
Now, put a decent controller on this thing and program in some walk routines; speed up groups of motion processes and make the thing friggin scurry! Now that would be entertaining… though highly dangerous. Wouldn’t want all those people standing around, but the effect would be chilling. Things that big normally don’t move as fast as a spider can. Scaling that up would be goosebump-inducing, to be sure.
This one’s almost too good to be true. I think they should just leave it up there and convert it to a local tourist attraction (having lived in Wales some four years, believe me- they can use some help attracting people to the place)
This story tells the tale of a British sign mishap where the Welsh translation was handled very sloppily indeed. Turns out the supposed translation was really just the would-be translator’s Out-of-Office automated responder. Full story here
Sometimes we fall into the pattern of thinking that UX is mostly about making pretty pictures and putting the right label on a button, or making sure there are affordances that show the user how to interact with something (like showing a handle or grabbable texture to show the user to click and pull, or a plus-sign to indicate there are hidden sub-elements in a tree, etc.). Of course, delivering a solid user experience is so much more.
It includes things like delivering the right information, at the right time, and to the right audience. Enter this example: one can easily envision the harried parent or grand parent browsing a site to pick out titles for the little ones. Looking forward to an evening or afternoon with the whole family gathered around the wide-screen hearth fully expecting some wholesome animated entertainment, they accept the recommendations into their purchases…
If looking at this picture doesn’t immediately make you chuckle, let me point out the “one of these things that’s not like the others”. Fritz the Cat is the animated realization of underground comic illustrator Robert Crumb’s raunchy and irreverent character whose bawdy adventures earned the title an X rating on its release in 1972.
No recommendation engine or other similar automated system is going to be perfect, but catching serious glitches like this before they go live should be top on every UX practicionner’s mind. Sure, the buttons to the left and right of the carousel indicate there are more recommendations on either side… but is the content “right”? Things like this can make all the difference.
A while back, a friend of mine recounted to me a nuggent of wisdom from an old client who said, “you know what ‘legacy system’ means to me? It means that it works.”
Funny. True. …and when you’re in the business of making new and better systems, you run into this sentiment a lot.
It didn’t occur to me sooner how to elegantly respond to this chestnut, but I think I have it now.
By way of analogy, the early adopters of the automobile and the telephone system could easily have fallen back on this way of thinking.
A horse will most likely get you where you need to go and will have fewer breakdowns and no flat tires along the way- you don’t even need to use a road.
Likewise, an early long distance telephone call could take hours to connect and required a team of operators to synchronize and make it happen… but hey- when you send a letter through the post, it doesn’t suddenly cut out half-way through or get merged with cross-talk from another sender.
On the downside, you have to put fuel in a horse whether you’re using it or not, it has few serviceable parts so when something goes wrong you need a whole new one. Sending a letter takes time and resources to create and can take weeks to get any kind of response.
When we look at these changes, we know that (most of) the kinks in the new systems got worked out and we now have it way better than those who rely solely on the legacy systems.
Lucky for those of us born after the 19th century, we didn’t have to experience the extreme growing pains these early adopters did, but the pattern repeats itself with every new innovation.
The change is spurred by an unserved need that is first met by a solution that isn’t quite good enough. However, this new solution attacks a problem that motivated early adopters will endure a period of low reliability to solve.
Embracing change is hard. Harder for some than others. The wonderful thing about the diversity of the marketplace is there seems to be a healthy balance of early adopters who bring the more conservative risk-averse forward by working through the rough periods of change ahead of them.
When you find yourself facing the murky waters of early technology or process change, it might be better to be looking ahead to the time when the new solution works as reliably (but better in most ways) than the legacy system it is replacing.
This is healthier in the long run than lamenting over the fact that even though it was slow and ugly, the legacy system “worked”.
A few months ago, I read “A Whole New Mind” by Daniel Pink (which I highly recommend- it’s excellent). As is becoming common knowledge, our brains are made up of two different brain styles. The left hemisphere of the gray matter tends to work very logically, linearly and literally. This is where most of history’s best and brightest really excelled, since success with this type of thinking can pay immediate returns in cultures that live with less technology.
Thing is, the better machines get at performing left-brain (computer-like) tasks, the less valuable it is to be super-strong in left-brain skills. Pink’s premise in the book makes a lot of sense. We are probably many generations from the day when machines can surpass human creativity- that is: right-brain activities. Therefore, if you want to be in demand in this future of ours, you’d better be good at the things that can’t be done by computers. You’d better be creative.
I was inspired to create a series of sessions where folks could explore the creative side of their minds. This would be something everyone would benefit from, but those who would benefit most would be those geeks among us who feel that the entire brain is a Left-brain thing.
Note that I said “inspired”. I haven’t started yet, but the idea is to follow the model of BarCamp. An open forum with guest speakers, meetings, informal classes and lots of socializing (which, BTW is a very right-brain thing…unless you’re only interacting with others as part of a calculated ploy to get something in return).
Coming soon- updates on next steps to bring something together.