Category Archives: Mobile UX

What is Service Design?

In our field, we often tend to hear the phrase Service Design. Service Design is basically applying holistic user-centred design methods and processes to on- and off-line services. The Design Council has put together a good introduction to the field.

“A service is something that I use but do not own […] Service design is therefore the shaping of service experiences so that they really work for people. Removing the lumps and bumps that make them frustrating, and then adding some magic to make them compelling.”


In my personal experience, Service Design is often triggered by the opportunity of providing a better customer experience at a better cost by using mobile, digital technology. In the last 7 years, most of the opportunities of innovation in service design are coming from the mass adoption of internet-enabled, touch-friendly smartphones.

However, my interest does not stop with Smartphones. Often, working on a Service Design project is an opportunity of tackling the design problem from a holistic perspective, looking at the experience through different touchpoints, such as email, post, retail points, customer service and so on.

Customer Journey Maps, for example, are a great tool for documenting existing customer experience, and show how customers shift through different touchpoints to reach their goals. Customer Journey Maps strongly resemble user flows/journeys, with the exception that the design needs to represent multiple channels, in a swim lane fashion.
customer journey map

Ethnographic research methods can be required to fully understand the context of use. In my experience, ethnographic research projects are really good at getting under the skin of a product or service. It’s a great way of stepping outside our comfort zone and put ourselves in the shoes of the customers.

If you are a designer and you are interested in getting to grips with the methods and techniques of Service Design, I would recommend this book:

This is Service Design Thinking
designthinking
(BUY on Amazon.co.uk)

This little video introduction hints about what the book covers

Other useful Service Design resources

Service Design Tools

Service Design Network

The Mistery Meat of Mobile Navigation

I wouldn’t know what to choose from: Hamburger or Kebab for your mobile navigation?

Jokes aside, it is sad to see the hamburger and its poor cousin the kebab are frequently used not only for mobile, but even in desktop and tablet layouts. It’s a lazy design choice and it does not make your website easier to use, rather the opposite. Evidence suggest that a ‘menu’ button is 20% more clicked than a hamburger button. On tablet, there is often space for standard top navigation.

Do Androids dream in Verse?


a great article from Joscelin Cooper, former UX Writer at Google :

As technology becomes more pervasive and gains access to greater amounts of our personal data, how can we design successful human-machine conversations? Should user interface text approximate the lilt, flow, and syntax of human speech? Or does humanizing UI conversations create a false intimacy that distances even as it attempts to foster familiarity?

The answer, of course, is that it depends. Most of us have encountered voice-automated customer service systems. Some of them, in an effort to make their robot customer reps less droid-like, feature voices that try to approximate human diction. A calm, often female voice pauses, suggests brightly, bridges her prompts with almost-ums. Her attempts at realness further underscore the fact that she is fake, blocking you from an actual human encounter.

A computer that cheerfully calls you by your first name can either delight you or creep you out, depending on the circumstances. Just as robots enter the uncanny valley when they seem too human, a user interface that’s too familiar can push people away. The copy needs to strike the right balance.

Read the remainder of the article on A List Apart

The last 18 months at Canonical

It has been a month since I left Canonical, so it is time to sum up what we achieved. I have been working for 18 months in the Ubuntu mothership, and oh boy they have been very hectic. 2014 has been a great year for me and the Apps team. We accelerated the evolution of touch friendly apps: Browser, Weather, Clock, Calculator, the whole communication suite (Dialler, Contacts, Messaging). By the end of the year 2014, we had a mature set of app design and their implementation was on its way. It was a real privilege to be able to work with such a big pool of talent. I am particularly proud of the gestural interaction, which makes use of all the 4 edges of the screen, and provides ranged gestures progressively revealing information and functionality. At Ubuntu, we coined the formula Hint-Reveal-Commit-Select to identify the 4  stages of gestural interaction.

Ranged gestures

The Ubuntu Phone has a sophisticated motion design language, which makes every transition meaningful and delightful in a subtle way. Just check the video below.

Moreover, when I left me and Jouni had just completed a strong set of design patterns for tablet and convergent desktop. It was incredible interesting to define an interaction design language spanning across multiple form factors and input styles. I think Ubuntu has been at the forefront in exploring a brave new world of convergent design, going beyond touch-friendly and pointer-centric interfaces. Does it really make sense to optimise for one input style or the other? We have been building for future hardware, not for the present. In 5 years time, tablets and laptops are likely to be the same device. The user will frequently move between touch, keyboard and pointer devices and she will have little or no tolerance for differences in interaction design. Why should the Ubuntu browser be any different in any of these form factors? It makes no sense to design otherwise.

The aspect of my work I was mostly proud of, though, is working with the community behind Ubuntu. Hundreds of passionate people who tirelessly build and refine the fabric of the Ubuntu ecosystem. Most of the people in the Ubuntu community are driven by the genuine desire to build and own an operative system and a set of apps that they can call their own. In age of pre-digested consumer choices, where big brands and corporations dictate the way you consume and build the digital and physical world, I find inspiring to see how a community of enthusiasts joins forces to create something so important and so meaningful in the name of Freedom.

We helped the Community by developing an extensive set of design principles and guidelines, which are available on the Ubuntu Design website. This exercise was extremely useful in clarifying our design system, and putting it down in words and pictures.