Thursday, July 13, 2006

Plugging In


What a concept! Chul Min Kang and Sung Hun Lim designed what they call the E-ROPE.

E-rope is a modular power strip that enables users to add or subtract sockets as needed. In addition, to better accommodate large, bulky cords each socket can also be rotated 180 degrees, so adjacent sockets are not blocked. When electrical devices are not in use, simply twist the socket section 90 degrees to disconnect the flow of electricity.

Now if all design problems could be solved so innovatively.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Download Usability

Download Usability!

We have heard of Universal usability, and then somebody talked of Link Usability as well.

Let's talk a little about Download (Actually content on the download page) Usability.

Picture this: You are at a website to download something. You have absolutely no idea around how heavy is the download going to be. When you were planning to fit the application on a floppy, it turns out to be a heavy 65+ MB download.

How can we fix this? Additional auxilliary content (this counts for content usability) needs to be added which declares the size and type of the file coming down to the user's system. That'll definitely help in deciding the portability of the file and what kind of media would the user require, if he plans to move it elsewhere.

Now, Does that look tough?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Google Web Toolkit Unleashed

Google recently released an unexpected Web Toolkit. From what's up at Google Code, it looks pretty promising(read: slick!).

Google Web Toolkit (GWT) is a Java software development framework that makes writing AJAX applications like Google Maps and Gmail easy for developers who don't speak browser quirks as a second language. Writing dynamic web applications today is a tedious and error-prone process; you spend 90% of your time working around subtle incompatabilities between web browsers and platforms, and JavaScript's lack of modularity makes sharing, testing, and reusing AJAX components difficult and fragile.

GWT lets you avoid many of these headaches while offering your users the same dynamic, standards-compliant experience. You write your front end in the Java programming language, and the GWT compiler converts your Java classes to browser-compliant JavaScript and HTML.

Check it out.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Defying UI Patterns

Sign me out! Now!

"I spent a while to figure out where I log out from this system!" a perplexed colleague called out.

A banking company has been doing a lot of interesting stuff without knowing if it works.

As soon as the User gets used to your antics (the way you want them to do things!) you make things tougher for them.

Now, look at the above picture. This signout looks like a badge or an award image, or almost parallel to a digital signature authority banner.

Why can it not be just a simple 'hyperlink'?

Monday, April 03, 2006

IE can do that too

Webdeveloper extensions

As a kid, some of us were used to saying "I can do that too!" and wanted to beat the others at every game. Including the games the others were better at.

That's what is supposedly happening with the guys at Microsoft. If I were in a parallel challenging role, I'd not want to kid around trying to do everything under the sun. I'd rather try to focus on something that I am good at.

But No—Some guys never change their ways. Chris did a slick job at the WebDeveloper Extension for Firefox, and somebody said "IE can do that too!"

Go ahead, get one for IE too!! But please!—Don't try doing everything everyone can do!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Gmail talks to the User

Gmail Interaction

Gmail is winning hearts across the web. Not only because it is pushing out one service after another, but also because it is making the Web a better place.

Coming to Interaction Design and Error Handling (if somebody would like to put it that way), Google is innovating new ways to communicate with the User.

They are adding the more human touch to interfaces. The user does not feel stupid when something goes wrong.

Instead, we see the Gmail system itself literally 'talking' to the user here.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Importance of User Experience

Bryce has created a wonderful diagram for Experience Dynamics.

This one makes it very easy to comprehend for the ones coming from the business perspective.

"Why is UX required?" is a persistent question, and this diagram makes things clearer.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Importance of User Profiles

Importance of User Profiles
User profiles have played an important role in shaping products and deciding about features, navigation and how interaction occurs in the system.

Now, What are User Profiles?

Okay, a User Profile (also called a Persona) is a fictional user for your product. They can be created by identifying and categorizing your user audience. You will have to create a realistic user profile for each of them (make them real, with names, headshot snaps and characteristics).

Why do we need User Profiles?

Answering a simple question should put you on the right track:

“Do you know what your users need?”

If the answer is yes, you already know who your users are – at least you have a fuzzy idea who they are. Is your user present in the average middle-class family? Is there an age-group that he fits in?

Well, if you still thought you knew your user well, try asking yourself if he is computer illiterate or tech-savvy. What is it that he likes about your product? Is it ease-of-use, or the feature-richness?

Creating User Profiles helps understand how your average user or customer thinks like. It helps peep into user motivations, needs and goals. So the next time, if you made the finance management product simpler to use, you know that Mr. Roberts (the CEO who wants 48 hours in a day, and always on the run) is going to love you for it.

More is merrier – Get in more profilers

Creating a User profile is a more-than-one-man job. The reason is that when one sets out to create a User Profile it tends to be more or less a replica of his own. When a team works on creating a User Profile, the User Profile will align lesser and lesser to any one individual in the team.

There’s also another reason to this. We need more people who are working on the product to be involved so that they agree (either by compromise or in acceptance) to the defined User Profiles. When creating user profiles two types of groups will come together – those who know about the user and those who don’t. Sales guys, the marketing teams, business strategists and support people are the people who can think like the average user. Then engineering folks, Information architects, Interaction Designers, Usability team, Color psychologists, Visual and Interface designers constitute the group that needs to know about the user.

The idea is simple. The interaction designer would want the user to use the feature X with ease, minimum dialogue and reduced ambiguity. He may miss out to understand if the feature X is really important to the user or not. The Interface designer believes that the user will like the drop-down menu’s cool effects (huh?), but may fail to see that it is actually a hindrance for a user who wants things to be done faster.

When everybody comes together to create a User profile, it turns out to be a richly defined profile, and also eliminates any preconceptions that a particular production segment may have.

Steps to create a User Profile

Now when you know the importance of User profiles, you definitely would want to know how to create them. The following steps will tell you just that.

1. Take samples of your user population. Pick up samples or representatives of cross-sections from your user community.

2. Narrow the range of Profiles. Zero in on 3-4 users which are averages from the respective selected samples.

3. Define them more accurately. Add names, find stock photographs, describe the User Profile – define physical, mental and emotional attributes. Add some life to the personas – their lifestyle, their age, family situation, home life, income, pets, job, hobbies and interests. Get into their shoes and think. What are their favorite things (products) and what do they hate? Be creative but realistic.

4. Define the Profile Goals. The most important element of the persona or User profile - the motivating goals and the goals for using the product. Think about the different types of goals:

• Experience goals - how does the User feel when he uses the product – not stupid, confident, excited, happy, “I-am-an-expert”
• End goals – the achievement factor - productivity, economy, benefits over conventional systems, efficiency, better quality, happiness, solutions
• Business goals – how does it affect business goals - profitability, market share, competitive edge, security, growth
• Practical goals – outcome as seen as a regular pattern - Avoided problems, met clients’ requirements, found a solution

Hope that helps you understand John, Judy and Mr. Roberts better!

Notes on Design Practice, Stories and Prototypes
Perfecting your Personas

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

404 Revisited

There was a time when we talked about 404 Pages last March.

Slowly a lot has become smarter, like homokaasu's 404. It's Amazing!

Friday, January 27, 2006

PropellerHeads Play Boy

Propellerheads Persuasion

Persuasive imagery does not always work. And the way the guys at PropellerHeads are propelling their flash splash, may not be liked by people who want to get to the information straight.

And to top it all, they have options like "Yes, OK, SURE!".
You are not even SURE, whether it is OK to click YES!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Dream Error

Ah well! What a wonderful way of telling the user that the software is behaving as it should! Hmm, that's innovation in Interaction Design.

Can anyone explain this?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Google Minimalism

Google is doing to Web applications, what Apple did to the Operating system.