I’m currently designing a new digital product that is quite complex. My design is trying to manage all of the complexity and, where reasonable, simplifying the UI. Somewhere along the way, though, my work seemed to focus more on maintaining my wireframes rather than solving design problems.
To shake things up a little bit I decided to step back and create low fidelity sketches. The sketches helped me quickly focus on the essential design challenges and the results were fantastic. I updated the wireframes with the fresh ideas and the design is really coming together. Hooray for lo-fi sketches.
Every now and then a service comes along that re-imagines how to do something. Instagram, for example, changed how we process and share pictures. When I come across such a service, I enjoy deconstructing the underlying concept and the design decisions made along the way. So let’s talk about Poncho.
Poncho is a weather service that “explains the weather in plain, clear English….Instead of providing you with more data and visualizations to interpret, it…gives you personalized advice.” Deciding to not present weather data and visualizations is an interesting idea.
When I look up the weather I’m mainly interested in the current temperature and whether I need an umbrella or not. I don’t need to know what the wind gust is. Nor do I care about the UV-index. I don’t even need a map. Most weather services provide these things and much more, which makes me wonder who they’re targeting. Meteorologists?
Poncho is different. You get a daily message (either as a text or email message) that tells you how to best prepare for the day. Here’s a text I received recently: “Guess what’s back? Another non-stop wet day. Various amounts of rainfall with temps hitting the low 70s. As Rihanna said: ella ella, eh eh.” Sure, I don’t expect my weather updates to include references to pop-culture, but it does draw you in.
I really like the registration process. It was clear, simple, visually engaging and represents good UX work. There’s a lot of HMTL5 goodness baked into the web experience. My only concern is that the daily messages get lost. I hope there’s a mobile app that extends the web experience onto my device. I like Poncho and wouldn’t mind more of it. There’s a lot of potential here.
I came across an interesting site dedicated to the Graphics Standard Manual of the New York Transit Authority. They’ve documented every page and posted all of the images, which is a celebration of Helvetica. Check it out.
Firefox OS has a grand ideal it is pursuing. Its trying to promote and expand the scope of open web technologies on mobile devices. Generally speaking, ideals are wonderful because they push an endeavor to reach a higher goal. In practice, though, there are many constraints through the process that lead to compromises.
Firefox OS is no different. Firefox OS feels like an experiment. You won’t find the polish of a refined product yet, and that’s okay. It hasn’t been released yet. But there’s something underwhelming about Firefox OS.
Conceptually, there’s nothing new. All of your notifications are available from a notification center, which is access by swiping downward from the top of the display. You have “Apps,” which are “installed” from a market place. For the most part, these apps are merely bookmarks that link to a web experience. Sometimes you’ll get a responsive web experience, and sometimes you won’t. There’s no consistency.
There has never been a uniform web experience and, perhaps, there never will be. The question of whether there should be a uniform experience is important and I won’t address it here.Let’s just say that anything can happen on the web and, at times, you get something innovative. Let’s also say that native apps for Android & iOS offer greater consistency than the web and, as a result, might be easier to learn.
My client, who is in the legal research space, wanted to test whether the language used on their product resonated with users. So we ran an open card sort this week and it was great.
We got good data. Participants were asked to think-aloud while grouping content. The card sort reminded me of how much I enjoy qualitative research. It also emphasized how much of an essentialist have become.
Anyway, this is the setup we used:
I recently created an Android app, called Get Logo, that downloads an image from the web. My goal was really to get my feet wet with making requests for remote objects.
Get Logo is composed of a single activity that presents a form. Upon submission, the app instantiates a HTTPConnection object, and makes a get requests for the desired image. The request is created in the background using an AsyncTask. When the image has been returned I update the main activity with returned image view.
And that’s all it is. My next project will be a bit more substantial. I plan on deploying it to the Play Store. I’ll also share some of my design artifacts throughout the design & development process.
A little over a year ago I designed a cross-platform mobile experience for an enterprise level client. To design that experience, I did what any technically minded experience designer would do; I downloaded all of the relevant SDK’s and tinkered with the various UI builders. That brief introduction helped me achieve my design goals.
This year my goal is to start building mobile apps for Android. Why Android? Android is written in Java. Java is the first programming language I learned. Continuing with a familiar programming language allows me to sidestep the overhead associated with learning a new language (which is not my goal). It’s also free.
I’ll post a few screens from a simple app I have been working on for the past week. Stay tuned.
I enjoyed this. Well done.
Half A Pantaloon from TOGETHER on Vimeo.
This review, which I totally forgot, focuses on how different iOS app’s manage passwords. This builds on the presentation I did on mobile authentication patterns. The patterns are informed by the following application categories: Commerce, Cloud Service, Travel. I also looked at how Apple and Google handle this stuff. The material in this document is still relevant. Take a look.