No space not to stick to the really necessary

I must admit that designing for small surfaces has one very big benefit: constraints.

Designing for a normal screen gives you way more freedom, but it is too easy not to stick to that one thing that really is important.

Small screens on the other hand force you to stick to the core, those basics which are what makes it all work.

Design for small surfaces to the max

This week I came across the LG watch phone. Remember the 80’s with the calculator phone? Well, this one is kind of like that. So most probably will end up in the weird and wonderful cupboard, but what caught my eye was that there is only place for 2 buttons or a few lines of text.

So fed up of phones that do everything well, but to make a simple phone call you need 10 clicks?

Well, here you go. More stuck to the basics you won’t get it.

Create a mobile App. Even if it doesn’t make sense

Feature creep. Sounds familiar that it is difficult to avoid more and more features creeping in? Most probably it won’t be difficult to convince people that you need a mobile app. (maybe it actually doesn’t make any sense, but the exercise could be sufficiently useful just to go through the design process)

Start selecting what really is important in your products. Strip it down to the bare basics. Put it in a design and even if you are not going to develop the mobile app, keep it, print it out and make everybody see it. I promiss you, having consensus on what is really important is a massive step…

Try it and let me know if it gave any results!

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(image thanks to CNET)


Self Checkout, what a fun if only there would not be an "assistent"

Self Checkout, what a fun if it just would be a SELF Checkout

Sometimes there is no way out, saturday, IKEA Hell.

After nearly kicking 2 lovely jovely couples that seem to have a romantic moment on a saturday afternoon in IKEA (for God’s sake, how is that possible?) and being distracted by stuff I really don’t want but my wife yes, we arrived at THE QUEUES.

THE QUEUES

And if I say queues, I mean mega queues. As a bit of a gadget freak I wanted to try their self checkouts. In the supermarkets they work OK if you don’t have a granny in front of you that is scared by every sound. (Got the hint UX designers….)

I must say that they are not too bad, rather cool actually. You can do a lot, cancel and have most of the options you have when interacting with a human being.

The Human Being

But there comes the problem! The Human Being. In this case an assistent that was there to help you and man, she screwed up big time. I tried to tell her in a friendly way that I knew how to do it, but I guess she wanted to show off her knowledge of the system and there we went.

So how did we end up? Having to queue again after having to endure a long queue of people staring and sighting while we were waiting for the assistent to make a mess.

Conclusion

Not too bad these self checkout. As long as they would be SELF Checkout!

PS. Saw that I am not the only one. Read the article at the BBC


Cloud based Business Analytics from Gooddata

Cloud based Business Analytics from Gooddata

SaaS and the Cloud are great. You have all your data available easily and from wherever.

If you are doing a good job and have great API’s to extract from and enter data into your application you open the true gates of heaven.

Being a fan of Tim Berner Lee’s call for action: RAW DATA NOW! it creates loads of possibilities that you most probably didn’t think about.

One we did think about though is the possibility to have good analytics and business intelligence.

Business Intelligence: A market with little innovation

Looking at the big guys like Cognos, SAP and IBM there is not a massive amount of innovation going on in this market. Huge monsters of thousands of features (you must do something to defend your price) usability and ease of use is placed as a priority after the feature shopping list.

So how come that this hasn’t changed?

Until now the data to base the analytics on is local on your network, in your software or on one database. So you need something local to harvest all this data and as standards are lacking something that can read loads of different data.

The Dashboard: Nothing more needed

Go and check with your CVFO and CEO and see what data they are really looking at. Observe… Do they go into all little details, create reports, interlink tables? I bet you they don’t. Most probably they have 1 dashboard with all they need. And if they need more, what happens? Yep, they ask the assistant or admin person to create them a report.

So why all the fuzz if only 1 dashboard per person is needed? Most probably you need a lot of data to create this simple dashboard. Data from your sales team, web analytics, online marketing and financial team. For fun just draw your ideal Business Intelligence dashboard and then go into details on what you need to create these graphs, bart charts and indicators.

Data in The Cloud: Mash you Way Up To The Gates of Heaven

With Google Analytics as a good trend setter for analytics with a user interface that doesn’t require a big fat manual (is there a one actually?) more are to follow. One recent great product I spotted is Good Data that is easy to use and has the possibility to mash up data from different sources. Tim Berners Lee must love this!

Oh yeah, and it is in the Cloud obviously, so light, no setup, not being stuck in a data format.

> Visit the Gooddata website


How do you flush?
How do you flush?

On a recent visit to Tokyo I was amazed at how fluid the user experience of everything from trains to restaurants is. It seems that whenever you have a question, they have already thought of the answer.

One thing that drove me up the wall though after spending 10 min in a toilet, was: “Where is the flush?”
You can water you behind and/or front at different speeds, with sounds (several volumes), have a nice smelling perfume etc…
But the flush? Sometimes difficult to find, sometimes automatic when you stand up.
I love domotica, but you can get too far….

Augmented reality using your camera phoneThe Joy of Mashups! What do you get if you join location based information with your camera? Right: augmented reality.

An image of an F16 pilot shooting down planes comes to mind.

A Dutch company created an app for Android that does precisely so.

> Check out the video

> Layar´s website

> Related: MIT´s Sixth Sense


Google launching Chrome OS, I guess some people will start sweating...

Google launching Chrome OS, I guess some people will start sweating...

How much fun, a desktop OS from Google. Not a surprise, but still a nice message to shake it all up a bit.

CNET calls it a nuclear bomb and I guess it is.

What does that al mean for the UX sector?

Make our life easier. Maybe one day we can stop developing .exe´s and apps for MAC and make everything using web technologies like HTML, Java and Flash. But there is still a long way to go. Promise is 1, actual market share is 2.

 Save Development Costs

No need for parallel developments for web, Windows XP, Windows Vista. Maybe this once thought dream of unified browsers will come true…

> Read the whole article at CNET


Does it Smell which wine you are drinking?

Does it Smell which wine you are drinking?

Let’s be honest: buttons suck. Dropdowns suck, sliders suck, everything that makes you think sucks.

Example: 1:45 AM. You want to get money our of an ATM, you are not very sober and next to a bar and ran out of money. You enter your card, type in your PIN code, now the fun starts. Questions start popping up.

“Money Operations” “Transfer money” “Print out statements” “Change PIN” “Order Tickets”. It is 1:45! What do you think I am here for, to wash my laundry! NO, get me the money and stop bothering me. Who wants to print out statements in the middle of the night?

So all information is there, we know the time, we know what the most common interaction is (get money out) so why do we need that many buttons?

Slaughter the Button – Use Environmental Input

Computers are so good in calculating, remembering, connecting, so why can´t we (interaction designers and usability people) not use that information to stop bothering the user?

If we know where you are, why show you restaurants on the other side of the world? If I know that you are 90 years old, why try to sell me diapers? If you know that I am using IE7 on Windows Vista, why show me solutions for XP?

Sensors, Bluetooth, GPS, etc…

As we know even know where you are, we know what is around you (Bluetooth), what time it is, what temperature it is and sometimes we can now even now more things like your weight, your sex, name, interests etc. Why ask when you already know?  

No excuse except that it can get pricey.

Ask yourself:

  • What do I already know that I don´t have to ask the user?
  • What information can I obtain using sensors or connecting to a site so I don´t have to ask a user for input and so I can make a decision for him or her.