If you're an app developer, your app's rating is the lifeblood of your app's success. I wrote an article over at Mobile Orchard that outlines some tools and techniques for improving your app store rating.
I'm really pumped with the innovations happening around mobile app development right now, and user experience is a growing focus as a driving factor in overall app store success. It's one of the reasons I created AppifyWP. I've written a guest post over at Mobile Orchard to help app developers build a great user experience for their apps. The principals of the article are fairly universal and can be applied to just about any project, mobile or not.
I'm excited to announce a side project that Derrick Petzold and myself have been working on that is finally ready to be consumed by the public. The Problem
Browsing YouTube clips is a cumbersome task. The clips are short, and you spend more time clicking around than actually watching videos. You cant really just kick-back and watch YouTube like you can your TV. We need the best of the web presented like a TV show...like a continual Tosh.0 without Tosh. We need something on the web that you can turn on, kick-back, and be entertained with no cable connection required.
Welcome to CrowdTube.tv
With CrowdTube.tv we take the most entertaining and trending YouTube videos as voted by the masses, then present them back-to-back like a never ending TV show. Videos that you watch are crossed off the list so when you come back, you see fresh videos every time. Welcome to TV meets the web, no hardware or cable service required.
I hope you enjoy it as much as we have. We'd love to hear your feedback!
When designing a UI or landing page that has a desired action, I like to revisit the principals learned in an excellent book by Barry Schwartz called "The Paradox of Choice". There are three main principals I've taken away from The Paradox of Choice:
- The more options people consider, the more buyer's regret they have.
- The more options people consider, the less fulfilling the ultimate outcome.
- Most important: The more options people have, the less likely they are to make a choice.
These three principles can be tough to use when designing a UI or a web page because our instincts tell us that more = more when in reality it is quite the opposite.
Here's a few tips for improving your user experience using these principals:
Strip out the bells and whistles. Unless they directly aid in getting your users from Point A -> B, loose em.
Get rid of fluffy copy. Face it, when trying to accomplish something, people don't read, they skim. Fluffy copy just slows them down and waists precious time. Chances are that if you need lots of text to describe something, that something is too complicated. If you must have a block of copy, re-write it down to the point where is says the same thing in as few words as possible.
Dont give users a bunch of different ways to view the same information. Determine the best way and present it that way. Any time I've ever built a UI with lots of views types, usability testing forces me to choose the best and strip out the rest.
Present one task or call to action per screen. Every screen should have one clear call to action or end goal. It's better to have many screens that lead the user down a path than one page that does it all.
For the past couple years I've been working on iLovePhotos with an amazing team of talented people. It has been a long and enlightening journey, and I'm really proud to announce that today is the day we launch!
Visit www.iLovePhotos.com and download your copy today!
We've reached a point on the internet where page loads are unnecessary and instant gratification is expected. AJAX has become the new standard for how we retrieve and post information. Pagination has always been one of those tedious and annoying necessities for breaking up information, and the time has come to put an end to it! If there's anything that iPhone email or Google Reader has taught us, it's that pagination sucks. Once you use either of these products, going back to the "old way" of pagination will make you want to go do some yoga breathing exercises (or am I the only one?).
Why pagination sucks:
- when you're on page 3, all the content you've loaded from pages 1 and 2 are now inaccessible without clicking your browser's back button a few times...then scrolling back to the information you wanted.
- Target areas of pagination links are normally tiny and hard to quickly find.
- Pagination causes unnecessary server load when people request previously loaded information via pagination links.
A better way : AJAX "Load more":
- Use AJAX to load additional content below existing content without refreshing the page
- Have two HUGE buttons: "Load next 20..." and "Load All..."
- For textual content, add a visual indicator to separate every 20 or so items to aid in knowing where you currently are in the list
I know you might be saying to yourself..."Dude, your blog still has this crappy pagination!". Yes, I am fully aware that my wordpress site you're viewing does not utilize this. My current endeavor of changing how we organize and share our photos takes up most of my time these days. That is why I would encourage you to go and write a wordpress plugin for me and the rest of the blogosphere to solve this problem :)
But for a good reason. I have accepted a full time position as Director of User Experience for a social-based web 2.0 startup in Honolulu, HI. The company is called Blue Lava Technologies, and we'll be developing some break-through technology that will change the way you interact with your photos. I have been working on the sister website, Kindfish.com for the past few months, and we're about to roll-out some awesome new features as well as some social aspects that will make it a lot of fun to use.
With that said, I've decided to focus my future blog topics around social/web 2.0 user experience so that i can blog my thoughts and learnings as I go.
I believe that some of the greatest innovations come from creativity without influence. It's one of those things thats easier said than done. Creativity without influence involves tapping into that right-brain and letting those creative juices flow freely, it involves taking risks, and it involves exploring uncharted territory. All can be difficult things to do, but like most difficult things: the more you do it, the easier it becomes. From Wikipedia: "Influence is a term that refers to the ability to indirectly control or affect the actions of other people or things."
Influence is one of those things that can affect you or your work while you don't even realize it. This post is meant to put more awareness around it, because like G.I. Joe always said, "knowing is half the battle".
Lets take a look at a few things that play a part in influence: Inspiration led by influence Inspiration is very important to creativity...it gives us a purpose, it gives meaning...but in many cases inspiration is led by influence. Inspiration can also be led by a creative vision which I think is a more likely to lead to creativity without influence, and in turn a great innovation.
Credibility powered influence There are many people and companies in the world that we look up to. They have achieved great credibility for their work or actions. It is very compelling to follow these leaders as doing so can result in achieving a similar level success or credibility for yourself. Credibility plays a big part in influence.
Commonality powered influence Commonality is all around us. Its in our music, our fashion, our architecture, our culture, and our information. Commonality tends to influence us to keep things common.
How often have you encountered the comment: "Company X does it this way and is successful, therefore we should do it that way too"? First of all, just because a company is a leader doesn't mean that they're at the top of the chart. Part of thinking outside the box is seeing how much bigger the chart actually is and having the courage to explore with the potential to fail miserably or succeed greatly. After all, the laws of nature tell us that reward is almost always proportionate to the risk that precedes it. Secondly, the way that successful company X does it doesn't mean that they've done it the best way...they've simply done it better than anyone else has to date.
Now don't get me wrong, I think that many great things are led by influence...and creativity may never be completely free of influence. In fact, people have a hard time accepting things that are original...its easier to relate to things that we've seen or heard before. Normally if you see a new fashion statement or hear a new type of music, your first reaction will be a negative one...its not until you look around and see the acceptance of others that you will start to appreciate it (again, influence at work).
Creating things that are truly original is hard...mostly because they are less likely to be accepted at first. They require your influence on others to be accepted. They either crash hard or succeed greatly...with little in between.
If Mozart sat down in front of a piano with the skill of playing but has never heard music before, what would he play?
If we lived in a world where influence did not exist, what would it be like? Would it be a better place or more chaotic?
Can you identify other forms of influence?
How does influence affect you?
This is a guideline I created a while ago with a former coleauge to ensure that we've thought though how a new feature will impact the application from a usability perspective. It has helped to minimize post release modifications. Next time you're making enhancements to a complex UI, this guideline may come in handy for you... General
- What is the objective?
- What is the solution?
- Does the solution meet the objective from a consumer point of view?
- Is this the right strategy for the right project?
- How does the solution affect the page and related pages (as an Entry page)?
- How does the solution affect the pages leading to the modified page?
- How does the solution affect the pages that the modified page links to?
- How does the solution affect other components on the modified page?
- Does the solution require additional or modified error handling?
- Do we need to update any documentation as a result of this solution?
- How does the solution affect the User experience?
- What user needs is this solution satisfying?
- What types of users (personas) will find this solution helpful?
- Are there questions about the solution that a usability test or user research can answer?
- Who in our group has expert knowledge on the subject, product, or feature? Have they weighed in on the solution?
- Does the solution affect analytics or reporting in any way?
- Are there any new reporting requirements for the solution (like additional analytics tags)?
- How do we plan on measuring the effectiveness/success of the solution?
- Are there site conventions that the solution should follow (colors, font, type, grammar, hierarchy, button placement, etc…)?
- Should new standards be created to compensate for the solution?
- Is there any contextual help or documentation necessary to assist the user with the solution?
- How would multiple languages affect the design/layout of this solution?
- Does the implementation seem transferable to multiple sites and languages?
- How does the solution relate to localization?
- Does the solution compensate for accessibility standards?
- Screen Readers
- Mobile Mediums