Critique - Journal
Brown Student Job Portal
I have been using the Brown student job portal. I tried to applied for around 4-5 jobs which I’m interested in. Each time I have to fill in loads of detail which are 99% common for all jobs that I apply to, although I’m logged into Brown. It would have been a better design if these data are automatically pulled in from a Single Sign On centralized student database. Saves a lot of time and improves the efficiency. There is no way to apply for multiple jobs at one time, which painful.
I recently downloaded the ‘Brown Bears’ app from the AppStore. On opening it first time, it was asking for a user input, for a huge list of various games on which I’m interested in receiving notifications. The ridiculous part is there is no way, I can select all games. I ended up selecting each game - men/women one by one.
The UI which I recently appreciated is the www.appear.in. Highlights of this site is the simplicity, i.e no login required, high learnability. I can just open the site and BOOM, I’m connected to my chat room. It’s the best site for easy video chat.
While clicking a selfie with my friends on the Providence waterfire, with popcorn in one hand, couldn't quite ignore the subtle improvements on usability front in iOS 10.0.2.
- Ease of access to camera on lock screen. Swipe right to camera.
- While in camera, I could notice the 'front camera' on bottom right, instead of usual top. I could easily correlate to Fitts law, as the distance between 'shoot' and 'front camera' is more easily accessible now.
- the new feature rich iMessage, with features like 'draw', 'handwrite text' etc makes it an interesting case.
- 'Bedtime' instead of just boring alarm improves learnability and interpretation. Swipe around the circle to change time.
- Organization of photos by people in the photo is an awesome feature, that reduced my effort drastically and improved efficiency.
Two out of 10times, I deleted a mail in MacMail while trying to close it. The 'delete' button is tantalizing positioned towards 'close' button. The 'hand icon pointing downward' next to ‘close’ button implied - 'low importance' as I'm so used to outlook. But the tooltip says - 'Mark this as Junk'. Another important lesson which we learnt - 'Icons are bad'.
To me reddit looks like a schoolboy website or an unfinished design. In this modern era of design, reddit looks chaotic and outdated with text/information heavy home page, which looks highly cluttered. Almost any time I open it, I’m ushered to close it immediately. Somehow I could not appreciate its contents, when I can't even stand its home page. It could have been designed a little more readable and appreciable, with better cell spacing, padding and a good pixels of margin between the left pane and right login pane. Also instead of using the complete width, a little spacing on left and right corners and a decent spacing between each items, would have made it more readable. Also, the currently ‘trending sub-reddits’ line on top almost go un-noticed due to its size and placement. Opening in a new tab has its own cons. When your browser already has 5-6 tabs, and you open 5-6 reddit items and each open in new tabs, the tabbing becomes cluttered again. With the reddit design already cluttered, I wouldn’t design it to open each item in new tab.
User Centric Design
I recently downloaded the “Adobe Brackets” editor. I have used many text editors earlier. But this is just amazingly designed. The UI looks like-able and very simple to use. The
When I was thinking about user-centric design, I recently remembered a past experience in Paris metro station. While I had a train pass, a friend of mine who accompanied me, went to a metro kiosk to buy a train ticket. He doesn’t understand French but understands just English. All he was searching on the kiosk was for an option to choose English. The kiosk UI was so cluttered with so many details on home page, including some ad’s everything in French. In this was hidden a button titled as ‘Je parle anglais’ which translates to “I speak English”. After 10minutes of struggle, he called me for help. Looking back, I can relate to the Usability of that kisok’s UI. Ironical. A button targeted at English speaking community was titled in French, defeating its whole purpose.
I recently encountered an amazing website - which is one of the projects by a student. It detects our hand gestures through our laptop camera and works on it. The link is here.(works only with Chrome) Though it is an amazing piece of work, which I could play with my hands moving in the air, up down, left, right, etc, I found that the accidental selection was more prevalent over intentional selection. I was lost at some point as to which slide I was and I’m in right now.
My friend stays in Natick, MA. I recently tried to book a ticket from peterpanbus.com to visit Natick from Providence. I gave the origin as Providence Downtown and in the destination text box, there is a default text saying ‘Begin typing’. I started typing N, nothing appeared. I typed ‘Na’, ‘Nat’ and still nothing appeared. There is no learnability. I wasn't sure if they dont service Providence to Natick (or) don’t serve Natick at all. I clicked on “Schedules” link on the top Navigation bar. All I wanted to see was if there exists a route to Natick from any other place. Oh Gosh! There is no easy way out. All it had was a link to download a pdf which had complete timetable of illegible 50pages. There is no efficiency either. I later found that Natick was not serviced by peterpan.
What if I just wanted to see all destinations starting with ’N’? No dropdown will appear in the destination text box, till you type in a minimum of 3characters. There's no way I can see all the available destinations. I would have redesigned the UI, to be more user-centric, to give early feedback.
Yeah, point well made. I have experienced this problem multiple times while creating passwords for various sites. However, it is a significant blunder to have that big tick mark saying congratulations, with an error message highlighted in “red”. Even a naive person would be ridiculing such a UI design disaster. Having said that, from my past experience, I have had a real problem once, where the error message would just not be clear enough on what is wrong. All I got to see was - “your password does not meet our standards. Please choose a different password”. The design had a big flaw as it expected the user to know their standards, in this era of designing for the users. I finally had to give up my registration after a few attempts. The best design is to have a green check mark displayed, right next to the password field, as soon as the user finished typing the minimum number of characters which meets the password standards. Lesson learnt is that “early feedback makes a better design”, as it significantly improves efficiency, consuming less time and effort from the user.
Norman - Design:
After reading the selected excerpts from The Design of Everyday Things, discuss what you learned. Relate one of Norman's ideas to a situation that you have experienced. What do you think Norman would have suggested to improve the experience?
To summarize the excerpts,
-When designed with best affordance, people just automatically know how to use. Design succeeds.
Principles of design:
-Provide excellent conceptual model.
-Make things visible.
We also learnt about 7stages of actions, how people go about achieving a goal. People achieve goals through proper planning, executing, interpreting and evaluating it with real world.
Many times I encountered this situation, where there is both design success/failure, using a ‘complex shower cum jacuzzi tap’. The good design is that, they have a red/blue dot which tells me clearly which tap is for hot/cold water. But I almost always have turned on the jacuzzi, when I intended for shower and vice versa. It’s because its not designed with best affordance. Most times it’s either rotating to left/right for shower/jacuzzi, where mental model disagrees with designer's model. Norman would have suggested to have 2 simple buttons denoting ⬆️ and ⬇️ for the shower on top and jacuzzi underneath. This would need no trial/error to use it right first time, as 'things are visible’.
While making div tag changes for A/B testing, I used Adobe ‘Brackets’ editor for editing. After the lecture on Interaction Design, I could easily relate this to third interaction design principle - ‘Show inline feedback’. While typing color as ‘color:coral’, the word coral had coral color in the background. Also, I could not help but be amazed by the ‘live preview’ feature of Brackets. Wherever my mouse cursor was on html file I was editing, the live preview window highlighted the corresponding portion in the html output preview. Also, whatever change I make in html file, it kept reflecting immediately live in the ‘preview’. This live feedback makes developer’s life much easier. Also, as per Norman’s design principles, design succeeds when its affordance is high and things are made highly visible to the user. The design of Brackets as a developer’s tool succeeds here, as it couples 2 principles
1.’makes things visible’
2. Show inline feedback.
Hagan Rivers - Navigation:
At what point in the design process should one consider navigation? Do you agree or disagree with Hagan’s assertion that navigation is a separate application?
One should consider Navigation, when there is a need to get the user to right screen. I agree with Hagan’s assertion that navigation is a separate mini app within an application, the reason being I have had a relevant personal experience. While I designed the complete UI of GE’s Mammography product, when we considered how the technologist would navigate from a patient schedule page to an exposure screen, and back to image management, it was tough, because having the navigation ideas upfront made the complete UI design a lot constrained with limited scope of improvement, as the Xray viewer screen was in C++/Qt, patient scheduler screen in java etc. We then discussed to have each screen UI designed separately, and then I worked on a desktop management module, which was responsible for complete navigation and workflow of every possible use case, by taking the user from screen A to screen B, to C etc.
Due to recent pain in my fingers while using my Mac, I installed an app called RSI-Guard on my Mac, to enforce me to take breaks from continuous long usage of laptop. The app looked like below:
It is highly intuitive with this app to figure out, how much of typing and mousing I do in an hour, without breaks. It also has an auto-click facility, when enabled, mimics clicks. It thus helps reduce strain on my hand & also reports how much I obey the app with compliance report. However, once the major break time started, it started flickering 2 screens A&B intermittently, with the mouse pointer standing fixed at the center of monitor, and I could not do anything. I was highly confused if I had some malicious software installed by mistake. When I was almost about to uninstall it, it stopped flickering and gave an 100% compliance with a ‘Congrats’ message. The affordance of this design is very poor. The very purpose of forcing breaks, would have led me to uninstall it, defeating its whole purpose(funnel problem). I would have redesigned this part, so there is a user feedback about the break. Moral: Provide early feedback.
Buxton - Sketching:
What do you think is the greatest strength of paper prototyping, or its greatest weakness? Did Buxton convince you that having multiple differing versions of paper prototypes is a good thing? Explain why or why not.
The greatest strength of paper prototyping is saving time. We can quickly design a concept with our colleagues and walk or talk through the design. Based on the feedback, we can revise on the spot by quickly erasing and re-drawing, and save time. I’m convinced that having multiple versions of paper prototype is a good thing because having numerous alternatives gives the user, better exploring possibilities by comparing merits/demerits of each alternative and choose the best. Eventually one among the numerous alternatives, is going to end up in final product.
Hery - UI:
I chose the world clock application in iOS.
What users can do:
-On click of ‘+’ button, can add new clock of a city.
-On click of ‘Edit’ button, can delete any existing city clock.
What users can see:
-a list of already added cities.
-the time/date difference of those list of cities with user’s present location.
-A visible ‘+’ button, on clicking which can see ‘search’ area to search for new city.
-An ‘edit’ button to edit/delete a city clock.
We know a function(core state) = derived state i.e core state is bare minimum.
Core state: The core state in this app, shall store only UTC time and list of cities with it’s timezone offsets.
Derived state: When a user adds a new city clock, the app can derive the time and date for that city, time at present location and from that the difference in hours with the present location, everything from the UTC and timezone offsets.
As UI/UX designers, what kind of relationships should we have with our users and their information? Additionally, discuss some of the data collection methodologies performed by Kramer et al.
As UI/UX designers, we should have an anonymous relationship with users data. We can access user data anonymously, but shouldn't negatively influence the user’s mentality, by manipulating the data. Kramer et al, used 'FB posts of ~6M users' as raw data. Their data collection methodology involves inputting this data to electronic dictionary, segregating and collecting positive and negative posts to play around in their research.Though the end-goal is research, temporarily negatively influencing user’s emotions, by displaying negative newsfeed for certain user group, by tweaking their newsfeed is unacceptable. One cannot play with people's emotions without them knowing it 100%.
Stay tuned. More to come!