Category Archives: ALL

The first secret of design is … noticing!

I just finished watching this great talk from Tony Fadell, at TED this year. Tony is the Lead Product designer of the iPod and of the NEST Thermostat. This talk is thoroughly enjoyable and it does a great job of getting a simple  message across: why is Product Design and UX so important today?

Tony takes us through his design principles in the typical 18-minutes TED format. He does it with great passion and emotional intelligence. What is Habituation? Why do we get annoyed at problems and then stop caring? Why is it so important to notice the tiniest details? Why sometimes the solution involves taking a step back and looking at the problem together, as a whole? Why do we need to think like young people to get a fresh perspective?
It is great to see how Tony can deliver this message with superb simplicity and clarity.

London Design Week events

London-Design-Festival-2013-printed-map-1112x834

Hi guys,

There’s a few things happening in London this week that I thought might be worth sharing

Tuesday 15 September, Adam Greenfield (Author of ‘Everyware’) is speaking at the LSE about Smart Cities
http://lsecities.net/media/objects/events/a-city-worth-fighting-for

This Saturday 20, at the Science Museum there’s a workshop about how to photograph magnetic fields (£10, limited places)
The field life of electronic objects
http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/visitmuseum/Plan_your_visit/events/media_space_events/field_life_of_electronic_objects.aspx

During the week-end 20-21, the V&A has a number of free exhibits about Digital Design
http://www.vam.ac.uk/whatson/event/2565/digital-design-weekend-3870/

Ping me on Twitter you think of going to any of those

The browser is dead. Long live the browser!

Note: This article has been originally posted on the Ubuntu Design blog

With the unstoppable rise of mobile apps, some pundits within the tech industry have hastily demoted the mobile web to a second-class citizen, or even dismissed it as ‘dead’. Who cares about websites and webapps when you can deliver a superior user experience with a native app?

Well, we care because the reality is a bit different. New apps are hard to discover; their content is locked, with no way to access it from the outside. People browse the web more than ever on their mobile phones. The browser is the most used app on the phone, both as starting point and a destination in the user journey.

InstallingSource: xkcd

At Ubuntu, we decided to focus on improving the user experience of browsing and searching the web. Our approach is underpinned by our design principles, namely:

  1. Content is king: UI should recede in the background once user starts interacting with content
  2. Leverage natural interaction by using gestures and spatial metaphors.

In designing the browser, there’s one more principle we took into account. If content is our king, then recency should be our queen.

Recency is queen

People forget about things. That’s why tasks such as finding a page you visited yesterday or last week can be very hard: UIs are not designed to support the long-term memory of the user. For example, when browsing tabs on a smartphone touchscreen, it is hard to recognise what’s on screen as we forgot what that page is and why we arrived there.

Similarly, bookmarks are often a meaningless list of webpages, as their value was linked to the specific time when they were taken. For example, let’s imagine we are planning our next holiday and we start bookmarking a few interesting places. We may even create a new ‘holidays’ folder and add the bookmarks to it. However, once the holiday is the bookmarks are still there, they don’t expire once they have lost their value. This happens pretty much every time; old bookmarks and folders will eventually start cluttering our screen and make it difficult to find the information we need.

Therefore we redesigned tabs, history and bookmarks to display the most recent information first. Consequently, the display and the retrieval of information is simplified.

Browser tabs

In our browser, most recent tabs come first. Here is how it works:

browser-tabs-3

In this way, users don’t have to painstakingly browse an endless list of tabs that may have been opened weeks or days ago, like in Mobile Safari or Chrome.

History

Browser history has not changed much since Netscape Navigator; modern browser still display a chronological log of all the web pages we visited starting from today. Finding a website or a page is hard because of the sheer amount of information. In our browser we employ a clustered model where you display the last visited websites, not every single page. On tap, you then display all webpages for that websites, starting from the most recent. In this way scanning the history log is much easier and less painful.

browser-history-4

Loving the bottom edge

We believe the bottom edge is the most pleasurable edge to use. It is easily accessible at any time and ergonomically friendly to the typical one-hand phone hold. Once discovered, it will slowly build into our muscle memory and become a natural and intuitive way of interacting with the application.

btm-edge-11

This is why we combined tabs and history and made them accessible through the bottom edge. As a team, we spent months building and refining a sleek, intuitive and fluid user experience.

Here’s a sneak preview of how it will look like:


Video: Browser interactions

Bottom edge gesture will have three stages:

  1. Dragging from the bottom edge will hint and reveal the most recently viewed tab
  2. Continue dragging and the full tab spread is revealed
  3. Keep on dragging and browser history will be fully revealed.

All elements will support gestural interaction: user can swipe to delete a tab or a website from history.

Beyond the screens

Wearable devices

[Tweet “It is time to look beyond the screens and discover a truly new product”]

I found this very interesting article on Medium today. It resonates with my idea about wearables. So, OK… we are obsessed by touch screen and touch UIs, but we should not try to put them everywhere and rather focus on providing value to users in different ways.
– What kind of data can we collect without relying on touch or speech input?
– How can we notify users and provide feedback without having to watch a new screen?

“As developers start to build applications for Google Glass, Pebble, Galaxy Gear, and Android Wear, we have to decide if we really need to see all of the same content on a new device. We already have an immensely powerful computer and content-consuming device in our pockets every day. It is time to look beyond the screens and discover a truly new product”

No More Screens | Andy Stone | Medium.com