This year’s batch of nominees for the Oops Award for Bad Product Design are truly exemplary. I highly encourage the reader to feast your eyes on some of the world’s biggest product design disasters. While most of the nominees have earned their spot in these echelons for aesthetic reasons, there are also some that are clearly included for their utter lack of utility—see below.
The Web is abuzz with news that Google finally took its office suite, including Gmail, out of beta. Initially launched on April 1, 2004 as an invitation-only release, over five years have passed before Gmail finally graduated to a fully mature product. I would love to know the reasoning behind such an uncommonly long beta period, especially since many have considered it fully-baked for quite some time now.
LG ARENA won the IF Communication Design Award for the 3D S-Class User Interface featured on its latest handset, LG ARENA, which was awarded Gold in the Product Interfaces category. The interface, which won over all graphic user interfaces in several product categories, is used on LG’s other high-end phones, namely: Viewty Smart (LG-GC900), LG-GM730 and LG-GD900 Crystal.
On a recent trip, I was reminded of the illogical separation of the international and domestic terminals in airports. I, like many, have been confused as to where to go when flying overseas; if you have a stop-over in your origin country, do you go to the domestic terminal or to the international one? Why does the separation exist really? It seems like an antiquated system that no one has bothered to rethink. Furthermore, there has been little room to grow with this separation. In the San Francisco International Airport, for instance, JetBlue has been relegated to the international airport because there was simply no more room in the domestic area. You can see how this begins to further complicate matters for airport patrons. Read the rest of this article »
Here are a few quotes that should provide some mid-week inspiration. Some are fairly familiar and other are new gems:
“It’s the total experience that matters. And that starts from when you first hear about a product… experience is more based upon memory than reality. If your memory of the product is wonderful, you will excuse all sorts of incidental things.”
- Don Norman, 2008
“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.”
- Steve Jobs
“Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.”
- Charles Mingus
Colleen Jones at UX Magazine published a poignant article today entitled, Using Content to Grow Customer Relationships. She speaks about the value of enhancing communication, sometimes in lieu of features, to nuture customer relationships. In so doing, companies can create richer experiences by improving the business-human connection. She advocates for focusing on messaging not only for customer acquisition, but very importantly for retention and loyalty.
“Because your site’s content mediates customer relationships, it offers an opportunity to deepen those relationship,”
“… content that supports customer relationships is not merely documentation or filler or marketing blast or user interface. It is an extension of a company’s best people. Viewing content in this way implies that content should, among other things
- sound human, not machine-like
- be helpful
- have an appropriate tone
- reflect social norms such as politeness
- represent the company’s personality and values”
The article gives various examples of delighting users through content to enrich the customer’s experience. Finally, Jones encourages us to “… view content less as a means of transacting relationships and more as an opportunity to make them flourish.”
Extending the conversation around its “blood, sweat and tears” process, Nokia’s design team tells the story of the making of its upcoming N97 homescreen. Discovering at the outset that, “of the total time you spend using your mobile phone, on average 85 per cent of that time is spent on your homescreen,” the team went through a robust three step process that consisted of:
- Observation and data gathering on a global scale on perspectives of personalization.
- Exploration of concepts and prototypes, including free-form design from customers.
- Validation and testing of the proposed homescreen.
Touch continues to be a big topic in user experience and product development. I recently came across two articles that add great points to the continuing dialog:
This article enumerates five major pointers for designing effective touch interfaces, namely:
- Design for immediate access
- Keep gestures smart and simple
- Leverage clear mental models
- Design for real hand sizes
- Touch feedback is key
Kevin Arthur, whose site is dedicated to touch interface usability, shares a rough draft for evaluating gestures. He advocates for the need to have “reliable and repeatable evaluation techniques for gestures,” applicable to all forms of touch: touchpad, touchscreens, and free-form. The draft outlines some distinctions of gestures:
- Gestures are inter-related.
- Gesture interfaces typically don’t have affordances.
- Gestures don’t just need to work — they need to not work when they’re not supposed to.
- For touch gestures things like finger size and fingernails can make a very big difference so it’s important that the test participants are representative.
I agree that there are greater considerations in testing gestures, particularly around learnability, feedback, consistency, and accuracy.
Follow the developing article.
I encourage everyone in product development and service industries to watch the talk which Don Norman gave at UX Week last year (video below). I finally had a chance to watch the video that was released earlier this year, and heard many gems. It’s great to hear the father of User Experience design advocate for the fundamental elements of good design, while also challenging the scope of the field to aid in its evolution.
- “Know your users” - it’s still the most fundamental principle of design
- The importance of terminology. He prefers the term people not users.
- The essence of experience design is people’s memory. Every interaction contains good and bad, but it’s the final impression that matters.
- There is a huge need for UX professionals to consider their audience: not the user, but clients and businesses. He advocates that we should “learn to speak the language of business,” including using numbers to sell our ideas.