user experience

Bad UX is Killing Newsstand Apps on iOS

Marko Karppinen, who advises magazines on their digital strategy, has an interesting tear down of why he’s telling publishers to not use iOS’s Newsstand feature in iOS 7. While he gives several reasons, he calls out one in particular as the motivating factor Read more

Deliver Results, Not Delights, For Your Mobile Users

This week I’m speaking at IUE 2013 on Mobile UX, and how companies with existing web apps often screw it up. Here’s the summary of my talk:

Mobile app usage rose by 35% in 2012. Despite this increase, a quarter of all mobile apps are only used once and never opened again. What makes users keep coming back to some apps and abandon others? The difference lies in the real user experience being delivered by each of these apps. Many companies, in their rush to create a mobile presence, have focused on aesthetics and copying their existing website. Six months later, everyone is looking around a table at each other asking “Why didn’t it work? It looked so beautiful!”

Slides for the talk will be posted here afterwards.

Same box, different results

I’ve been using Google+ for a few months now. The most striking difference has been the type of content I see posted in contrast to Facebook.

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First impressions of Google+

What’s better than being part of the Old Boy’s Club? Being part of the New Tech club! I got an invite to Google+ a few hours after they were launched, courtesy of a good friend at the Googleplex. I just spent 15 minutes playing around with the interface, and here are some quick notes: (there’s a good overview of Google+ at TechCrunch and NYTimes )

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Effing Hail, Effing Awesome Game

I’m always a sucker for isometric projections, so you can imagine the amount of time I’ve spent playing Effing Hail, a flash game where you basically try to create the biggest hail storm possible to cause the most destruction possible. At the same time, there’s some useful info about how hail is actually made! (I’m not sure about the part where it starts taking out satellites though) Read more

What every DVD player should do


How can I help you, Dave?

That’s the power button on my DVD player. Now, my DVD player is pretty intelligent- it’ll automatically turn off when my TV turns off, and it’ll even turn on my TV for me if I insert a disc. It’s only a year old, but it shares a fatal design flaw with every, single DVD player I have ever used. Read more

Let’s turn 1 Step into 3!

I’m always frustrated when the UI gets in the way of the user’s experience. As an anectdote, let’s talk about how a UI I use which has this very problem, and in the process has increased the number of steps in it from just one into three separate steps!

The Culprit

If you’re at MIT and you want to use software like Matlab or online journals off campus, you need to use a VPN to get access to these resources. Fortunately, MIT provides some software, Cisco’s VPN Client, and its already pre-configured with everything you need.

So here you are with what I’ll call a secondary application- you essentially never use it directly, it just does stuff for you in the background. Antivirus software is another good example of a secondary application. Since these apps are more about supporting some existing workflow (getting into MIT’s network, making sure your computer keeps functioning and virus-free), you really want your interaction with them to be at an absolute minimum.

Somebody at Cisco didn’t get the memo and clearly thought that it would be a joy for users to start a 3-step process everytime they want to use a VPN. Read more

Facebook’s Implicit Lesson? Don’t listen to the user

Newsfeed Hate GroupsThings aren’t always rosy in Facebook’s user experience, even before the debacle with Beacon, Facebook faced a similiar backlash over the Newsfeed when it was introduced. People were concerned that Facebook stalking was going to be elevated to a whole new level.  Read more