Sunday, February 1, 2015

Lab 1 Part I

1. Create a Blog for the course. If you are reading this, you are here!

2. Twitter account. My twitter account is @anninireland

3. Technology Topics: Twitter search

It seems there is a new version of JavaScript coming out soon; I found a few tweets about the preview including this one posted by @JavaScriptGuide - Try out JavaScript 6 features while you wait for the real thing

Found a link to an article outlining how to do client-side testing in JS posted by @JavaScriptDaily -
A Journey Through Client-Side Testing with JavaScript:

Web design/development:: 

UX Magazine posted an eye-catching quote from an article on its website talking about the importance of design in enterprise apps.  @UXmag - "The last thing you want your app to invoke is the quizzical stare with head cocked to the side"  - #enterprise #UX

This article offers up some trends in web design for the new year. One that I had to look up to learn more about was isomorphic JavaScript; this seems to be an interesting idea! posted by @netmag -
Updated! 10 web design trends that will change EVERYTHING in 2015:

smartphones/ mobile tech ::

Prynt is a new company looking for Kickstarter funding to produce a smartphone case that is also a mini photo printer, essentially making your phone a polaroid camera. Kickstarter page here:
Tweeted by multiple sources including @gaurdiantech, @engadget, @prynt, @popsci, @willstweet, @ekado and many more

Google is preparing for a market test of Ara, a new concept in smartphones. The mudlar phone will apparently allow users to replace or upgrade indiviual components of the phone without having to replace the whole phone. Screen, battery, speakers, camera, etc will all be exchangeable. The idea could be one that promotes sustainable design and reduces consumption, but it could easily go the other way by promoting constant upgrades. The market test is scheduled this year in Puerto Rico, with an aim to have them available widely by year's end. Stay tuned.
Tweeted by @fastcodesign, @googleprojectara, @designtaxi, @verge, @android headline, and more
Links with more info:


Feeds to follow on twitter::

@netmag - magazine for web designers and developers. Features practical articles and includes a bit of fun.

@codrops - Nice mix of articles and tutorials on web design and development

@smashingmag and @sitepointdotcom both look to have some excellent news and info related to web design and development

I found there are quite a few others out there that specialise in JavaScript, User Interface, HTML/CSS and more, but for now, I will watch the more general ones.

4.  Observations from reading mobile&multi-device design 

Reading this text was an interesting introduction to thinking about design concepts. Though I use web and mobile technologies, I have given little if any conscious thought to the process of designing them. Here are a few observations and reflections on the reading.

Just in time features
I was interested to read about the process of this feature evolving from 'invisible' features to one that subtly but effectively draws attention to itself.

Passwords and Usability 
Passwords are a necessary annoyance, but Luke puts the issue into perspective and makes some very good points. I think the decision of showing the password by default but offering the option to hide it is a very good balance of maximising usability while retaining a security feature that some people will feel is very important. Sure, someone looking over your shoulder to spy on your password is still possible, but there are many other security threats which are taking precedence now.
I also see the sense in not prominently displaying the log-out feature. I do find it tedious to have to re-login to apps every time they open.

Gradual Engagement: Maximum user happiness 
I hadn't thought about the idea of user drop-off after installing apps and was a bit surprised there was such a dramatic drop. On reflection though, I can recall some apps that I abandoned quickly when I found getting the app up and functional was taking too many steps.
Polar has implemented a range of techniques to ensure users are able to get into the app easily and find its useful features without getting in the way. Making sure the user is able to interact with the core functionality of the app immediately means thinking more carefully about the user's expectations and building in features and actions to be there at the right time to make the user experience better.

Besides leaving the sign-up/sign-in process until later, Luke describes how the app incorporates just in time education through well timed tips rather than a formal app-tour, and the strategy of keeping on the train while incorporating social media integration.

Performing actions optimistically
I was not familiar with the idea of performing actions optimistically, but after reading about it here I am sold on the concept as a way to increase user satisfaction. While the results of this strategy are invisible to the user, that is what makes it brilliant. Allowing the user to move on to another poll while the app continues in the background to upload the data lets the user get on with what they want to do and keeps them engaged with the app. Yes, creating a local version of the poll requires more programming, but the user gets a better experience, which can make an important difference in whether they stay with the app or move on to something else.

The related section on avoiding the spinner describes a technique I have been aware of before and seen in practice. However, the suggestion of skeleton screens as a way to achieve this might not be ideal for all applications. Where I have seen this kind of behaviour in apps, I found it as frustrating as staring at a spinner. Although I'm sure there are a number of other programming techniques that are intertwined with this one.

Thumb flow
It makes a lot of sense to design and test a product for the way that it will be used.
Thinking about the main actions that a user would take and building in simple thumb swipes and taps to do these while incorporating the just in time tips to help users discover these features would go a long way to making the app incredibly easy to use.
It seems to me though that this process would take quite a bit of thinking and planning, trial and error, to get right. Particularly finding a way to make these slick features known without getting in the way of using the app. The timing and placement of the tips that should help users could easily be a designed hassle rather than help. 

Companion design
I was interested to learn a little bit about this concept and I can see its potential as the 'next thing' in design. Depictions of technologies being fully integrated with one another are common in television and film, but the level of integration in life is only beginning to develop. Sure, web services can now easily sync between devices, but the level of integration and interaction that Luke is talking about here goes far beyond that. I like the idea of apps being connected to what a user is watching on TV and being able to enhance the media experience. I wonder though, with all the different platforms out there (PC, Mac, TV, iphone, Android, etc.) how far away is this from being practically possible on a wide scale?

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