Tag: UX and Design

  • App Idea: CatchUp

    Here’s some initial design ideas for a location-aware chat app that, as far as I am aware, has significant new features over and above existing mobile chat apps (iMessage, WhatsApp, BBM etc.) and existing location-based functionality in apps (FourSquare, Facebook check-ins, Google Places).

  • Skeuomorphism Must Die!

    There have been a lot of rants around the internet of late about “skeuomorphism” in software, largely targeted at the latest versions of Apple’s operating systems. They’ve almost all been negative, possibly because designers hating on the concept are the only ones who felt sufficiently incensed that they looked up the name for it. I’m afraid I’m going to do nothing to buck the trend.

  • Tiny Works of Design Genius: Food Colouring Bottles

    Food Colouring Bottles

  • Towards a Simpler Desktop

    In one of my previous blog posts, “Designing for Granddad”, I examined some of the user interface features that cause my grandfather issues when using his computer, and left a few hanging questions as to how we software designers can make our apps less confusing to the novice computer user.

  • Designing for Granddad

    Slate’s recent article, “2011 Was a Terrible Year for Tech”, coins the term “mom-bomb” for the moment that technology journalists declare a gadget so easy-to-use that it is actually useful to people who aren’t technology journalists:

  • Please Draw on my GUI!

    For my current project, my mock-ups have now progressed to the PowerPoint stage, which sits between whiteboard drawings and actual code, and thus lets me briefly pretend to be a real user experience person. Rather than consigning it to my hard drive for all eternity, I figured I’d get some input on it from the rest of my team – and, in for a penny and so on, everyone else who sets foot in the office.

  • UI Through the Eyes of a Child (Part 1/n?)

    My son is at the age where every question starts with “why” and everything, no matter how obvious, is to be questioned.  I regularly get asked about various iconography and bits of user interface that seem intuitive to me, but to someone without many years of experience are clearly not.  Through his eyes, I am beginning to understand the issues faced by new users of computers, mobile phones, and so on.

  • Previewing Android’s New Market

    Google has a new version of the Android Market app on the way, and just like every other tech blog in the world, here’s a preview.

  • On Game Design: Time to Quit

    Not long after my post about the game DJ Rivals, I finished the main part of the game and hit a metaphorical wall. There was no more story; I’d bought every item in the store and mastered the game’s hardest moves. The game tries to offer replay value via progressively harder missions based on those earlier in the game, and via battles against human players of comparable level. The latter offers nothing to play for apart from in-game money, which I already had in abundance, while the former offers only the elusive carrot of 100% completion, which dangled too far distant for me to want it much.

  • The UI of Least Resistance

    I was working up to a blog post on Ubuntu’s new “Unity” interface a couple of days ago, but repeatedly stalled when it came to making a point. The only point I could come up with was essentially just “I don’t like this”, which isn’t the greatest of subjects for a blog post – to say nothing of the hundreds who have trodden that territory before me.

  • On Game Design: DJ Rivals

    There’s a formula common to many of today’s popular “casual” games. If you’ve played a bunch of Facebook games recently, you’ll probably recognise it. It goes a bit like this:

  • Preaching and the Defence Industry Choir

    CertificateThis week at work has largely been taken up by a Usability training course, borne out of the HMI team’s desire to have at least some sort of formal training in the area, rather than just being chucked in a team together because we were the only people that gave a damn that users liked using our software.

  • SuccessWhale: Considering the Reply UI

    What was once my simple Twitter client, SuccessWhale, is undergoing a lot of changes in the build-up to version 2. One of the biggest changes is the support for multiple services, of which Facebook is the first to be integrated. This, combined with the Twitter website’s new design, brings into question SuccessWhale’s “reply” UI.

  • Announcing: Daily Promise!

    After a couple of weeks of development – documented here, here and here – I think I’m ready to call Daily Promise version 1.0.

  • Daily Promise: Avatars Everywhere!

    After a couple of days and one frantic family-free morning, Daily Promise is getting near completion. Here’s what’s new since last time.

  • Daily Promise: Coming Together

    Despite the lack of response to my earlier post, in which I floated my design concepts for “Daily Promise”, boredom won out in the end and I started coding anyway.

  • Daily Promise: Design Sketches

    Current flavour of the month of some of the geek crowd, “Health Month”, is a social network of sorts on which users compete to achieve certain health-related goals. Each month, each member sets a number of goals for themselves to achieve. Its core mechanic is health points – you start with 10, lose one every time you fail to meet a goal, and players who perform well can heal you.

  • The Sticker Economy

    I find it remarkable how much my 3-year-old son – and presumably by extension most kids his age – go crazy for stickers. They don’t do anything, besides stick to a wall-chart. They don’t even necessarily have to lead to any better reward (10 stickers and we buy you a toy, etc.). It’s a completely false economy, and yet kids will modify their behaviour just to obtain stickers from their parents.

  • The Next Step for Ambient Data

    In one of my previous posts, “In Which I Bemoan the Tech Level in the Navy”, I discussed the possibility of layering radar and targeting data as a heads-up display (HUD) over a ship’s Bridge windows – not necessarily to speed up reaction time as a fighter pilot requires, but just to remove the layer of separation between data and reality.

  • In Which I Bemoan the Tech Level in the Navy

    My job, in the main, is to produce HMIs (human-machine interfaces) for equipment that’s mostly sold to the world’s Navies. Which is great – it’s a job I love, and appear to be reasonably good at. We toil away for months or years, producing a nice GUI with lots of clicky buttons, and usually, customers love it. Often the reason they like it so much is because the interface it replaces, the interface of their old gear, is a bunch of giant battleship-grey painted cabinets adorned with half the world’s supply of little flicky toggle switches. In a lot of situations, just being able to replace dedicated hardware with a general-purpose computer is great.

  • a thousand words: Finishing Touches

    The vast majority of user-reported bugs and requested features on “a thousand words” have now been sorted out. As requested by my co-conspirator Eric, we now have an ‘adult content’ filter based on a date of birth field in users’ profiles, and a ‘report’ button to bring problematic stories and pictures to the attention of the moderators. There’s also a DeviantArt-style “request critique” option to let users know what kind of comments you’re looking for.

  • a thousand words: Alpha, Beta

    “a thousand words” has now reached a stage where every feature that I give a damn about is implemented. Thus, we’re opening it up to a limited beta test to iron out the wrinkles and get a list of any features potential users would like to see us launch with. If you’re bored or simply have a love of breaking other people’s shit, head along to http://athousandwords.org.uk and see what hell you can raise. As the Big Red Box Text warns you, really don’t submit any work of fiction you care about, just in case some kind soul finds an SQL injection vulnerability and trashes the database.

  • a thousand words: Hot Profilin’ Action

    A few days’ laziness (by which I mean a few days’ Starcraft) have passed with not much work being done on “a thousand words”. That came to an end tonight, with a productive evening resulting in a working profile system so that users can now add and display personal information, change their registered e-mail address and password, etc.

  • a thousand words: GETting and POSTing

    Another day, another bunch of functionality added to a thousand words. With the main public-facing interfaces largely complete, I have moved on to the guts of the site’s user interaction. The site now has working, but ugly, implementations of:

  • a thousand words: First Sketches

    With the main browsing UI for a thousand words up and running, it’s time to bore the world with more pointless trivia before moving on. Today: design sketches!

  • a thousand words: A New Timesink has Arrived!

    Somehow unable to cope with actually having free time of an evening, I have taken on yet another project which will doubtless push me deeper into the dark, untamed wilds of the internet, the land stalked only by the mysterious beast known as the “web developer”.