jammylammy Just another WordPress site

April 30, 2012

A nice take on proving you’re a human

Filed under: Design,Experiential,Usability — admin @ 10:43 am

A refreshingly different way of proving to a sign-up process that you’re not a machine.

A form of captcha that asks you to drag a symbol into an area to prove you're not a machine

April 13, 2012

Greater control over when to receive push data on iOS

Filed under: Apple,Experiential — admin @ 2:25 pm

Push data is great. I like knowing that my phone will always have my most up to date contacts and calendar information without me having to go in and manually drag down updates from the cloud.

However, I’m less enamoured about receiving emails at all times, particularly work emails. Wouldn’t it be useful if you had more control over when to receive certain types of push data?

What if your phone was able to determine:

  • When you’re at your desk with your mail client open
  • When you’re not at work
  • When it’s the weekend
  • When you’re on holiday (it’s in your calendar)

And what if it allowed you to set a preference for when to receive push data?

A mockup of iOS allowing greater control over when to receive push data

This is a rather quick & crude mockup, and part of me feels that this is such a non-problem but I love the idea of my phone being super smart with how & when it pulls my work emails down for me.

What if my phone didn’t pull emails down:

  • When I’m at my desk with Mail open (I’m getting my emails via Mail — nobody likes getting a ting on two devices when receiving one email)
  • When I’m not meant to be working (I’ve told iCal what my work hours are)
  • When it’s the weekend (weekends come at the end of every week; they’re pretty predictable)
  • When I’m on holiday (I’ve put my work holidays into iCal)
  • When I’m anywhere I’ve told my phone I don’t want to be disturbed (e.g. the cinema)
  • Anytime I’ve told my phone I don’t want to be disturbed

This is definitely a first world problem. Why not just turn off push data when you don’t want it? It’s relatively easy to find within the Settings app and takes but a moment. A bit of a faff, perhaps, turning it off & on each time you want or don’t want it, but a simple solution — that works in iOS now — that solves the problem.

When Scott Forstall demoed the location-based reminder feature of iOS 5, I had a bit of an ‘ah-ha’ moment — this was using the full power of the whole device (the GPS location & contact data) to make something fairly rudimentary (reminders) better for the user. Yes, setting your phone to ping at the time you think you’re going to be home works most of the time, but what if you could tell your phone where ‘home’ is and have it remind you when you get there, regardless of what time it was? Location-based reminders set off a little lightbulb in my head.

Something similar that allowed me greater control over when to receive push data would be marvellous.

April 12, 2012

Nielsen’s view on the mobile web

Filed under: Mobile,Opinion,Usability — admin @ 4:38 pm

Josh Clark takes Jakob to task for his latest alertbox:

There’s a persistent myth that mobile users are always distracted, on the go, ‘info snacking’ in sessions of 10 seconds. That’s certainly part of the mobile experience, but not the whole story.

Totally agree with Josh.

Nielsen has always presented his research as gospel, with little thought or consideration for context or changing trends. See, for example, his thoughts on using tabs as a navigation device. Granted, this is from 2007 but tabs have been used as a method of primary navigation for some time — certainly for a period that began pre-2007. Nielsen cites Amazon as an example (but notes that they ‘recently abandoned’ the tab design). I also remember the Apple site had lovely, shiny, lickable tabs.

To dismiss a common use of tabs as ‘incorrect’ because of a narrow notion of what tabs actually represent strikes me as a rigid and myopic viewpoint. Web interface design is an ever evolving discipline. Trends emerge. Things change.

Would ‘pull to refresh’ ever have happened if we all thought like Nielsen?

Browsers could be more helpful

Filed under: Interfaces,Usability — admin @ 3:06 pm

Speaking of software being a bit more helpful when it comes to common errors, I often mistype URLs which leads my browser of choice (Safari) to throw up the following message:

Safari's standard 'cannot find server' message

I find it mildly infuriating that Safari doesn’t offer more help here. If you mistype a URL in Chrome you get a Google-like “Did you mean:” suggestion and a Google search box.

Why can’t Safari be similarly helpful? If it’s clear I’ve mistyped a URL I’ve visited before, tell me.

A revised message with some more useful links

(Yes, I was trying to visit the Mothercare website. When you get one of these, your browsing habits tend to include such places.)

Sebastiaan de With: Prevention is better than cure

Filed under: Ideas,Interfaces,Usability — admin @ 2:42 pm

Sebastiaan de With has an interesting take on reworking email bounceback messages:

That email I got back was apparently because my attachments were too large. I can barely read that email — let alone my grandmother. Machines can read it just fine, though. Here’s an idea: machines shouldn’t slap us in the face. They should help us along if they fail to do our bidding.

Sebastiaan’s proposal takes the standard ‘undelivered email’ bounceback message and reworks it to be more user-friendly. If I were to receive one of these emails I would better understand why my message failed to be delivered but I’d still have an undelivered email.

To me, the problem here isn’t that people don’t understand email bounceback messages, it’s that they’re receiving them in the first place. What if our email software could pre-empt these kinds of errors based on things we’ve done in the past?

A mockup of a dialog box alerting the user that there might be problems with the email they're about to send

So if I’ve previously tried to send large attachments to this email address that have bounced, perhaps my email software could warn me that the same thing might happen again?

(Yes, I know — this might work for situations where attachments cause email delivery failures but wouldn’t necessarily work for other errors such as ‘host unreachable’.)

Damien Comolli leaves Liverpool ‘by mutual consent’

Filed under: Football — admin @ 1:48 pm

The reason, according to the Guardian, was due to the poor performance of some of Liverpool’s recent signings:

Liverpool’s director of football Damien Comolli has left the club “by mutual consent” after the club’s owner, Fenway Sports Group, decided the high-profile expensive signings – such as Andy Carroll – have not delivered value for money.

How culpable Comolli was for these signings isn’t clear:

Comolli was also involved in bringing Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing, José Enrique, Sebastián Coates and Craig Bellamy to the club, although the manager Kenny Dalglish had the final say on their arrivals.

What is clear is that Comolli has been made a fall guy for Dalglish. If the manager had the final say on who to sign, and those signings ‘have not delivered value for money’, surely the manager is culpable too?

April 8, 2012

Lotus F1 team no longer sponsored by Lotus

Filed under: Formula One — admin @ 2:06 am

From Autosport:

Lotus has terminated its title sponsorship deal with sportscar manufacturer Group Lotus, AUTOSPORT can reveal, but remains wholly committed to keeping the famous name in Formula 1 for the future.

The best thing Tony Fernandes ever did was to name his F1 outfit Team Lotus in 2010.

The second best thing he ever did was to rename it in 2012.

April 7, 2012

“Sometimes, new technology is not progress”

Filed under: Experiential,Technology — admin @ 3:36 am

Marco on Chase’s photo cheque deposit functionality.

A good idea in theory. In practice, not so much.

April 6, 2012

Paper makes me want a stylus for my iPad

Filed under: Sketchings — admin @ 6:32 pm

I know, I know — it’s heresy. But Paper on the iPad is so much fun. The only limitation seems to be my chunky fingers.

A scribble I made with Paper for iPad

April 5, 2012

When the limitations of your backend system negatively affect my experience

Filed under: Experiential,Usability — admin @ 5:08 am

An error on an input field telling me to remove the spaces from my telephone number

Spaces in numbers help us memorise them and we naturally type phone numbers with spaces in them.

If your backend system can’t handle spaces, write some code to strip them out when the form data is submitted. Don’t burden the user by asking them to input data in a way that doesn’t match their mental model of that data.

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