As members of design teams, we want as many people as possible to use what we create. This is true whether we are designing a specialized medical device for a specific type of surgery or something more mainstream, like a smartphone or video game console.
We often focus on the importance of ensuring our product is usable. Less often, we discuss other factors related to people accepting and using our products. Users don’t automatically or simultaneously accept even the best ideas and most useful technologies. Acceptance and adoption happens in stages, and in order to stick, it has to happen the right way. Therefore, our design teams need to account for both usability and how the use of a product spreads across users in order for our work to have maximum impact.
We’re all resigned to it: launching a browser reloads every tab you previously had open, blasting a cacophonous mix of sound and video. While browsers have made it easier to control this experience with tab icons and extensions like MuteTab, for most people this behavior presents a confusing and disorienting experience. As developers and designers it’s our job to make the web welcoming, not overwhelming.
Doesn’t it make sense that sites should only be active when they are the primary focused tab? Why are we burning up batteries and processor cycles with animation that can’t be seen?
Digital experiences are emulating real life more and more every day. This may seem counterintuitive, considering the hate that rains down on skeuomorphic visual design, but there's a lot more to emulating real life than aesthetics.
Interface designers can emulate real-life physics and movement on a digital screen. This type of motion is becoming more common, which is why it's becoming easier for people to understand computers. We're not getting better, the interfaces are!
It’s been three years since I launched my productized service. And, boy, did I do a lot of things wrong! But I’m glad I did. If it weren’t for the many mistakes I’ve learned from and lessons I’ve applied, my business never would have grown to replace my income as a freelancer.
As it turns out, I wasn’t alone in my mission to move away from client work and into a products business. Every day when I read the replies I get from freelancers who read my newsletter, most tell me they want to do the same but that making the transition seems almost impossible.
“Stories have defined our world. They have been with us since the dawn of communication, from cave walls to the tall tales recounted around fires. They have continued to evolve, with their purpose remaining the same: to entertain, to share common experiences, to teach and to pass on traditions.”
Francisco Inchauste wrote those words on this website back in 2010. His post is just one of many on this website that talk about the power of storytelling to engage users. But storytelling is not just a tool to engage users. It is also a powerful way to teach organizations more about their customers.
Mobile application ecosystems — let’s count Android and iOS here — are unbelievably dynamic, but they also suffer from both software and hardware fragmentation. This is especially true for Android, but fragmentation also exists in the iOS ecosystem, as experienced with the rollout of iOS 8. As the latest version of iOS was released, many existing apps were made clumsy on updated devices.
Even the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have had not-so-typical issues for Apple devices. In addition, a significant proportion of users with older devices have very few options: essentially, buy new hardware (i.e. a new device) to get everything working well.
AJAX calls have moved user interaction on the Web a huge step forward: We no longer need to reload the page in response to each user input. Using AJAX, we can call specific procedures on the server and update the page based on the returned values, giving our applications fast interactivity.
What AJAX calls do not cover are updates from the server, which are needed for the modern real-time and collaborative web. This need for updates covers use cases ranging from a couple of users collaboratively editing a document to the notification of potentially millions of readers of a news website that a goal has been scored in a World Cup match. Another messaging pattern, in addition to the response request of AJAX, is needed — one that works at any scale. PubSub (as in “publish and subscribe”) is an established messaging pattern that achieves this.
SmashingConf isn't the eighth wonder of the world, but we are pretty close. Join us at SmashingConf Oxford on March 16–19 or meet us at the shores of Santa Monica for SmashingConf LA on April 27–30. You won't be disappointed.