Thursday, June 28, 2012

Just Flip it.

I recently bought the latest of Android smartphones, the Samsung Galaxy S 3, in all of its pristine marble white.  The device itself is larger than the Captivate I had before, and its touch as well as its larger screen size, make it feel like a mini tablet.

One of the new widget apps already installed was Flipboard.  Having never seen it before, I explored its workings with its simple "flip" interaction as it goes from story to story.  I've read more articles in a matter of an hour for breakfast than I have in a long time.  It was a direct replacement to my daily CBS Morning Show.

I then begin to wonder, why is it that I'm more apt to consumer news on my mobile device than I am on my laptop?  While the tabl...err smartphone was smaller, it had what laptop didn't - transitions.  It's the transitions from story to story, page to page that engaged me more than anything else.  Flipboard is proof that any application can be built by using simple transitions to enhance what its suppose to be doing - in this case, display an aggregate of current news.

I've also been a regular user of Pulse, a more customizable aggregator of online publications.  But I find Flipboard to be more engaging, even though the Pulse is more personal.

So, what am I trying to say here?  I'm not sure that I really have anything to say other than the fact that as of now, I'm considering more and more to get an actual tablet to facilitate my daily Interweb consumption.

Yes, I can be a late adopter.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Remove Yourself from the Equation.

It's happening again.  The conversations sometimes feel like background noise, but each and every sentence said is very important to deciding which way we go in terms of design direction.  Or is it?  Drawing is great.  Discussing is as good.  Making the discussions meaningful is best.  So how do you do that?

I'm going to let you in on a little secret on my unique ability.

We do this many times.  Whether it's discussing the results of a usability testing session, or trying to determine what style or pattern to use in our user interface, I find that there is something missing.  I sit there and stay quiet.  I let others talk and concentrate on the problem and get to the root.  I reflect back in what seems like a lifetime, but in fact is milliseconds, to all the years of knowledge of past usability testing sessions, the type of feedback we received and the design decisions that were made as a result.  This is what I do during heated discussions - when my colleagues try to figure out the ins and outs of the results, what was said or even how the user behaved, etc., etc., etc...

This is when I remove myself from the equation.

Why do I do this?  Sometimes I'm my own worst enemy.  I get too attached to the outcome so I feel the need to argue or justify or persuade.  What most people don't get is that great analysis comes from looking at all perspectives and not being attached to anything.  Only then, after the work in your mind has been done, should you come out with something that changes other people's minds.

What happens is that most people look at the surface - what color to use on the user interface.  Others look just under the surface - how does the user interface behave, or what is its immediate impact.  What I do is look at all those layers, including the Why's, and beyond - through my own collected experience of UX itself.  Those experiences are a part of me but they're also external to me.  What I learn from it is the treasure, not the outcome itself.

I think many of us as UX practitioners is forgetting the full breadth of knowledge and perspective we've accumulated over the years.  And I think we've forgotten it because we're just too busy defending our design decisions or discussing something we think is profound but turns out to be something superficial.  And many times, we take it too personally.

Some people think monkeys can do this.  "Just train him and all things will go well."


While indeed, having a starting a point is good, having someone with experience is even better.  And the objective is to gain that experience from the time you're committing yourself to the practice.  And it requires a lifetime to do so.  It requires design knowledge, not just the practicalities of usability testing.  That of course, is another topic.

Analyze well!