UX trend predictions of 2012 A:

Whenever likeminded creative people try to innovate trends emerge. Ideas give birth to ideas. As ideas keep combining in the heads of creative people everywhere some ideas become more sticky than others. I'll document some of the trends in user experience design I predict will become the norm in 2012. An example trend from previous years is the scroll down to refresh design. Created by Loren Brichter for his famous Tweetie iphone app it has since become the standard for refreshing feeds and lists in apps everywhere.

Example from mobile webKit build

Related function Panels

You've seen them already. Open your Facebook app and look at the button in the top left corner. Tapping the button or swiping the interface from left to right opens the menu:

Facebook iPhone app

Facebook iPhone app menu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This background panel is always there. Neatly integrated in iOS navigation panel.

The iOS navigation panel? At the top of all iOS apps with many views is a bar that usually has two buttons on it. This bar is called the navigation bar in the iOS SDK and intended to be used like this:

  • the left side button steps you back in the app. Just like the back button in your browser.
  • the right side button steps you forward. Showing the next step or function in the app.
Related function panels will become a trend become complex apps need menus, and no one wants to start the app in a menu. Instead starting the app smack in the middle of activity giving the user an option of accessing the menu by "stepping back".

Why is this different from a menu

But the reason I call the panels related function and not menu panels is that when a menu is that as soon as we have this paradigm, panels on either side that are "behind" our current view in chronological order. We can show the user all sorts of related information and functions, regardless of the apps functions.
Take for instance Path 2.0, a beautiful example of UI design. It too uses the left side menu, but to the right it shows your friends list. In the Facebook app this right side button opens sorting options and not a panel at all. This doesn't matter. As long as the paradigm is in place, panels will start showing up with the most important related functions in apps of all sorts.

Is this good or bad

The design works great in the Facebook app, in the Gmail app and in Path 2.0. But if it will work when lots of apps join the trend? We can't know beforehand.
The design is solid from a perception and usability perspective. It also looks great. So I'm hoping to see some innovative use of it shortly!
Gmail appGmail app

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Path 2.0 appPath 2.0 app

Path 2.0 UX review

Path was a weird app when it launched about a year ago. It was a photo sharing app with checkins, directly competing with Instagram and Foursquare but without the simplicity. It also had the really weird USP that you could "only share with 50 of your closest friends!"... Now, most people don't have more close friends than that. Hell, most people don't come close to that. But the early adopter crowd that usually takes these new apps for a spin were appalled. But Path was beautiful.

Path 1.0

It didn't work.

But Path is back! Path 2.0 is better, faster, turbo, everything you could possibly want. But is it good enough?

Path first impressions

Path is incredibly beautiful. No other mobile experience comes close. Seriously, it's not just pretty graphics, all the animations and interactions, the structure of information, the loading bars and even the damned typing experience is just plain better than in other apps. It's amazing.

Path 2.0

So what is Path?

Path is a digital diary for your life. Everyone on Path has a feed. And at any time you can add stuff to your own: where you are, a piture, who you're with, music you're listening to or when you go to sleep.

Using Path

Is lonely. Sure it launched today but that's not the main issue. Path is clearly going for the same feature set as Facebook Timeline (which is tied up in court and has yet to launch) but there's no way you'll get all your friends to come over. I'm an early adopter. I talk to a lot of other early adopters. And I'm still lonely on Path.

Still, it's an amazing experience. Enough to make me want to use it. Maybe that's enought? I'll update in a few days and let you know.