Nothing embodies the graphical user interface like drag & drop. You use a mouse pointer (or, more recently, a finger) to select an object and move it to a new location. Often the object, its original location, and the destination are abstract concepts, mapped onto physical ones via familiar metaphors. It’s relatively easy to learn and, once learned, easy to extend to unfamiliar situations. (Some would say intuitive but that’s not really accurate; some training is required.) It adapts the strange world of the digital to the peculiarities of the human brain.
Drag & drop also epitomizes all the disadvantages of a GUI. Read the rest over at Medium →
Remember the Desktop Cleanup Wizard from Windows XP? It popped up regularly saying, “You have unused icons on your desktop.” To this day I have no idea what an unused icon is…and it probably gets my vote for worst notification ever.
Good notifications and error messages require care. They’re not necessarily hard, but they are often overlooked – to the detriment of your overall product experience. Because notifications often occur at times of anxiety and annoyance, a bad notification can ruin your UX; while a good notification can take a moment of frustration and turn it around.
Read the rest on Medium →
When I was eleven, my parents bought a Mac Plus. It had a tiny monochrome screen, a floppy drive, and 1MB of memory. And it came with something called HyperCard. HyperCard let you make stuff. It had documents called stacks, each a series of cards – similar to PowerPoint today. In addition to graphics and text…
Read the full post at Boxes & Arrows.
In yesterday’s TechCrunch post, “Hey Apple, What The Next iPhone Really, Really Needs Is A Much Better Keyboard“, Natasha Lomas argues that the iPhone keyboard is lagging behind its competition. I disagree.
I’ve spent the last six weeks using a combination of Android’s built-in keyboard and SwiftKey, and it’s been an interesting opportunity to think about the nuances of keyboard design. Of course there’s room for Apple to improve; but I believe they still have the best keyboard in the business. Continue reading
I complain about Apple a lot. They’re fun to pick on: their products are generally well-designed, allowing me to critique individual details.
But that’s changing. Each version of iPhoto is buggier, slower, and more confusing than the last. iOS interactions like Launchpad get shoehorned into the Mac without real integration. Arcane checkboxes and popups proliferate. More and more details slip through the cracks.
iTunes 11 may be the most prominent evidence of this yet. MG Siegler and Walt Mossberg have written about superbly-executed details; but the fundamental information architecture of the product is flawed.
Since I released Stky in June I’ve been thrilled by the response. Its novel approach to task management and simplicity have been a hit! Here are a few of the comments I’ve received:
“Fits just the way I get organized in the morning.”
“The concept behind Stky is ingenious and the execution is beautiful.”
“Really like it, and I like the little sounds too. They make me happy.”
Stky’s been covered in TechCrunch and named one of E-Junkie’s best apps of 2012.
It’s been especially gratifying to see how well such a simple concept works for so many people. But of course, there’s always room for improvement. With that in mind I’m pleased to announce Stky version 1.1! Continue reading
When I first heard about Lean Startup I was tempted to dismiss it. The tech industry gets excited about movements and philosophies; when they do I tend to run screaming.
Parts of Lean Startup made sense to me, and indeed echoed what UX practitioners have been saying for years. Gather data. Make sure you’re building something your target customers will actually use. Test early and often. So I did something I rarely do: I read the book, Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup.
By and large I like Lean Startup, especially once you recognize how it’s been misunderstood by the industry at large: Continue reading
It’s been nearly eight months since I quit my job at AOL to become an entrepreneur. It’s hard. They tell you it’s going to be hard; you say, “Yeah, I know, it’s totally going to be hard;” and then it’s hard.
Not a week goes by in which I don’t fantasize about going back to work at a big company. That’s OK: in unfamiliar, uncomfortable terrain it’s inevitable I’ll want to retreat to the familiar. It would be just that: a retreat. I’ve chosen this path because I want to start something myself, because I want to build a company. And as I said, I knew it was going to be hard.
But I’m equipped to do it, in no small part because I’ve spent the last five years at big tech companies – first Yahoo!, then AOL. I was thrilled to be there, surrounded by talented, passionate people who knew more than I did. There were fascinating design reviews, brown bag talks, hallway conversations. There was so much to learn, and I loved it. Continue reading
You’ve tried a lot of to-do lists. It starts out well: a blank slate, a new system, a sense of purpose. But one day you open that shiny to-do app, see a “today” list a mile long, and can’t take it.
And what do you do? Grab a sticky note. Write down the five things you’ll do today, slap it on your monitor, done. Your life is under control again.
There’s a fundamental flaw in today’s productivity apps: the assumption that with a well-organized tool we can keep our lives under control. For most of us that’s just not true. (One glance at my desk should convince anyone of that.) You put ten things on your list and do five. You probably won’t do the others tomorrow, but you can’t bring yourself to delete them…so the list grows. And grows. Until it’s more than you can bear to look at.
Stky is a simple to-do list inspired by that sticky note on your monitor. By anyone who’s ever put a credit card in the freezer. Or taken change out of the vacation jar to pay the babysitter. Sure, it’s about getting things done. But it’s also about the satisfaction you get from crossing off everything on your list; and the freedom of waking up to a blank slate in the morning.
Stky is available now for iPhone and iPod Touch. I hope you enjoy it.
As product designers we tend to seek holistic solutions to user problems. We ask, “Yeah, but what about when the user does this?” and then we seek a Grand Unified Design that takes this into account elegantly. But sometimes an elegant solution doesn’t exist. Sometimes the best UX is one where each edge case, each behavioral nuance is effectively hard-coded. It may seem cumbersome, but it can also result in a great user experience. Continue reading