Posts tagged with #user experience

It’s 2017, and I subscribed to a physical newspaper. It gets delivered to my house every morning, and the first thing I do when I wake up is sneak out my front door in my underwear to get it.

In this time of fake news claims, pundits, and echo chambers, I thought it was important to support some real journalism. But instead of simply adding the NYT to my phone and getting a digital subscription, I decided to try out the physical paper.

I have to tell you: this was the best decision.

I’m reading things I never would have stumbled upon otherwise, and having an item that exists in the physical space that shows up five days a week has been a great way to interact with news, rather than having it be one of many notifications on a screen.

Dev Stuff

I have unsubscribed from so much junk lately. But when I came to unsubscribe from the Huckberry mailing list… I didn’t. And it was because of this delightful experience.

But I’ll probably unsubscribe next time it comes.

Dev Stuff

NYT just bought two of the most useful review sites on the internet for 30 Million dollars, and it’s amazing.

Matt Haugley said most of everything I want to say about this here, but let me tell you why I think this is really cool.

These sites solve a real problem in the best way. The problem being finding an answer to the question “What’s the best _____ to buy?”, and the best way being by just telling you which thing is best right away, backed up by an in depth writeup of how they decided that.

Most review sites will dive deep and dish out all the data of all the different choices, sandwiching advertising between sections for profit, and in the end not even give you a definitive answer leaving you to piece together all the data to form a conclusion.

The former experience is far superior.

Even more amazing, both of these sites were created by one guy in Honolulu, neither site is ad-supported (!!), and he didn’t take any VC funding!

As Matt said in his blog post:

I imagine every step of the development of the Wirecutter/Sweethome was about people laughing at Brian.

You can’t build a tech site that doesn’t publish 20 times a day. You can’t build a content site that isn’t covered with advertising. You can’t build an entire business on Amazon affiliate revenue. You can’t take on Consumer Reports and expect to get any traction. You can’t pay for this level of in-depth reporting. Ok, great, you built this, but why would anyone ever come back?

Ignore the haters and do it anyway. Amazing work, Brian Lam.

This was a really good interview with Brian about the sites, before it was purchased.

Dev Stuff

I was in Portland for Ember Conf recently, and after much research (natch), I stayed at the Hotel Eastlund. This is my new spot in Portland, and let me tell you why.

First: this rooftop bar.

The design of this hotel is amazing. Modern feel, with really nice touches that showed they really took the time to think about the experience. As someone who does UX work for a living, I noticed these touches, and I appreciated all of them. But there were two tiny little things that took my opinion of the place from being “Nice hotel”, to “Portland hotel search is over! I’m staying here every time.”

The first night I stayed there I was going to plug my phone in and go to bed, until I realized I forgot my phone charger. That’s when I noticed they already thought of that, and had charging cords for every type of modern phone on each bedside table. Nice touch.

But the following morning when getting ready, I noticed this shower detail:

Are you seeing this? A hole cut in the long glass shower wall so you can reach the knobs without getting sprayed with cold water? That is such a ridiculously thoughtful feature that I can’t stop gushing about it.

Stay here next time you’re in Portland.

Dev Stuff

From Reconsider:

Part of the problem seems to be that nobody these days is content to merely put their dent in the universe. No, they have to fucking own the universe. It’s not enough to be in the market, they have to dominate it. It’s not enough to serve customers, they have to capture them.

This. Fucking nailed it. One of the most frustrating things lately in technology is that nobody wants to play nice together. Everyone wants to have a platform, instead of providing a great service and while getting along with others. One simple example, look at the landscape of chat services, currently. There was a time, where there were different services, and different clients. Each service had a protocol that a client could conform to, and many clients supported those protocols. I used to chat to my AIM friends and my ICQ friends and my Google friends all within the same program.

Now, everything is a walled garden. Hangouts doesn’t have any third party clients, so I have to run a shitty chrome app to talk to use that. iMessage is its own deal. Facebook has its own thing.

But that’s just one example. Amazon provides great services. Apple makes great products. Apple and Amazon are both have competing products now, the Amazon Fire TV, and the Apple TV. Amazon won’t sell the Apple TV in its stores, and Apple doesn’t have an Amazon Instant Video app available with its services.

Did either of these moves increase loyalty? Improve consumer happiness? Speaking as a consumer: no. It’s only been an inconvenience.

Dev Stuff

We’ve all got those websites that seem to sap away our time. For me, it’s Facebook, Reddit, and Hacker News. For others, it’s Twitter, or ESPN.

I realized that given a free moment while working—like waiting for a file to download, or an app to start up—my muscle memory will kick in and I’ll command-T open a new tab in Chrome and start typing f-a-c or r-e-d-d. And before you know it, my productivity is getting chewed up by an endless stream of gifs, AMAs, and ice bucket challenge videos.

Read the rest of this
Browser Plugin stale
Dev Stuff

You use multiple passwords, right? Do some of your passwords just vary by the last character? Probably. reallylongpassword and reallylongpassword1, maybe.

In the clip below, I try logging into Instagram, using the first incorrect password, followed by the second variation.

See what happened there? The first password was wrong, so I thought I’d just edit it and add a 1 to the end of it, but when I tried to do that it cleared the field. This seems to be the norm in iOS apps, and it provides for a less than ideal experience.

There are two correct options, here.

  1. After entering an invalid password, clear and focus the field. This makes it obvious to the user that they have to retype their password.
  2. After entering an invalid password, don’t clear the field, but allow editing of the field’s contents. To avoid other mediocre experiences, you should also have a clear button on the right side of the input.

What you should definitely not do is make it seem like the field is editable by keeping the contents in there, and then clear it when the user tries to type in it. That’s just rude.

Dev Stuff

We all had tried our fair share of todo list apps, and none of them quite did the job. A friend of mine swore highly of his very low-tech system: write down the next three things he was going to accomplish, immediately followed by doing them. In a world of overly complex productivity solutions, this worked surprisingly well.

We started talking about creating a web-app that would better mimic this simple approach, called “Daily Goals”.

Common Problems With Todo Software

  1. People tend to put too much on their lists, leaving many tasks unfinished at the end of the day.
  2. Most Todo list software is either boring, overly-complex, or too open ended. We felt that with the right UI and right messaging, things could be made much better.

How Daily Goals Would Be Different

  1. Focus all messaging on what could be done today.
  2. Make our UI stand out, by not taking the typical approach to the problem.
  3. Don’t allow more than 3-5 incomplete tasks on the list at a time.
  4. Don’t automatically carry over unfinished tasks from the previous day.

Design Principles

  1. Simple things should be simple, and complex things shouldn’t be too hard.
  2. Talk to your users like they’re humans. Light, playful messaging is key.

“Boring software is broken software.”

Read the rest of this
Dev Stuff

It would be really nice if Messages knew about the people I had on Find My Friends. Right now there’s a disconnect that really doesn’t need to be there.

It works. It’s fine. But you know what would be better? Something like this:

Read the rest of this
Dev Stuff

When it’s so easy to pick five frames and try them on, it sure would be helpful to know which I’ve tried before and which I haven’t.

And it’d be so easy, too. They know my order history, and I’m logged in. Why not something like this?

“You ordered the Woodland Tortise color in Februrary 2014 and returned them.”

Dev Stuff

At Spiceworks, we really wanted to stop supporting older versions of IE, but understood from the stats we collected that 5-10% of our users were still on old versions. So we came up with an upgrade strategy.

Whenever you’re asking someone to do something that might be a little unpleasant, it helps if you make it enjoyable, or funny. That’s basic User Experience. Take their mind off the bad part— “You want me to what?”—by distracting them with laughs.

So catering to an audience of IT guys, I thought making an Office Space joke would be appropriate.

And apparently it worked, because it just made it to the front page of reddit today!

Dev Stuff

I was recently looking for an alarm clock, and had some simple qualifications for suitable models.

  1. Should not take up the entire nightstand; small is good.
  2. Alarm clock should be visible in the dark, without lighting up the entire room.
  3. Must have radio function.

Seems simple, but finding an alarm clock that meets these three requirements are surprisingly difficult.

I think that manufacturers of electrical devices feel that producing an alarm clock is such an easy task, they might as well; they’ve got the parts, they’ve got the people, why not throw something out there? I also imagine they give the least experienced engineer to design this thing, as it’s a relatively straightforward task, and consequences of failure are minimal. I really doubt that they put much thought into the process, because if someone really thought about designing a great alarm clock, wouldn’t we have seen one with a keypad long ago?

Read the rest of this
Dev Stuff

I’m not usually one to lament about how technology has changed our lives, and what life was like before [something] changed everything. “We used to have to get up and change the channel on the TV, and we liked it!”. I don’t miss that.

But what I do miss, in some ways, is how I used to enjoy my music. I used to like browsing used music stores, and if I happened to stumble upon something I’d been looking for, I’d buy it, take it home, put it in the CD player, and enjoy it while admiring the cover of the album and reading the liner notes.

When just casually wanting to put on some music I used to open up my CD cabinet and scan my collection until something caught my eye. If I filled my 5 disc CD player I’d get around 5 or 6 hours of music without any repeated songs.

Read the rest of this
Dev Stuff

The iPhone launches this Friday, and I can’t wait. For months, the hype has been hard to avoid. Hype has never had the intended effect on me; rather than piquing my interest and compelling me to round up my camping gear for product launch day, it raises my skepticism. However, the closer we get to launch day, the more convinced I’m becoming that this phone really will live up to all the hype.

The short demos Steve gave at WWDC and at MacWorld were impressive, but what really won me over was the guided tour of the phone I watched yesterday. Since when has a cell phone been really intuitive to use?

Read the rest of this