Defining A Principle of Quality that works

Quality was what set the good craftsmen apart form the bad ones. It was why some brands became more revered than others. The illusive idea is why Apple sells so well, why some artists are better than others. But what the hell is quality? Does it change from artist to artist? Does it mean something different for cars than for software? No. I don't think so. I think there's a common feature for all types of good quality.

Using Cognitive Psychology to reveal quality

In academic circles scholars of cognitive psychology  have been debating and hacking the human perception for a very long time. One of my favorite tidbits of knowledge from my student days is that negatives are worth twice as much as positives. That means if I give you $100 and then take it back, you'll feel as if you've lost more money than you felt you gained in at first. Put another way: if you spend $50 and earn $100 dollars you'll feel you made about even. Losing something is negative, and is therefore twice as important to you perception.

This gives us valuable clue to Quality. Let's see how far that can bring us.

If negative values, and negative experiences, create stronger reactions in users we should look at minimizing these as much as possible. If we get close to no negative values we'll have a  really solid product experience regardless of the products positive values.

For example, if you create an app where every action gives clear feedback it will feel great. Even if the UX design isn't all that great from the start.

Getting the values right

But wait, let's back up a bit. What is a negative value? And what is a positive value? We're talking about products here! What is a negative in a web app?

Happily, another branch of cognitive psychology has dealt with what value is. This is the theory: there is no "real" value. Only subjective, or perceived,  value. That is to say: water to a man dying of thirst has a lot of value, while water to a man at a cocktail bar in NY is worth very little. This sounds really basic right? But if all value is relative to experience that also means that we determine reasonable prices from prices around us. We distinguish beauty not by their own beauty but by how much less beautiful the other people around us are. Dan Ariely has some great examples of this in his book Predictably Irrational.

The good part starts 12 minutes in.

So all value is interpreted relative to similar experiences by each individual. How does that help us? That means every experience is valued compared to other, similar, experiences.

So?

Well if people experience negative values much stronger than positive ones, we need to focus harder on making our apps perform at least as well as other apps the users are using instead of trying to one-up our competitors. This will make out UX more positive than focusing on making the positive experiences better. Most Human Computer Interaction studies are actually based on this. They're often studies to define how consistency works. And consistency is exactly what I'm talking about here. But not internal consistency, while that to is extremely important, but experience consistance for the user. No matter what that use might look like, spanning over machines, apps, platforms and use cases.

Summing up

A principle of quality, a rule of thumb that works for all products and services, is not making something really well. It's minimizing the negative impact of shortcomings.

So how do we use this principle?

  • Don't show the user experiences that aren't finished. Release early release often as much as you want, but don't release half baked.
  • Polish one feature instead of making two features.
  • Make sure other apps aren't making your experience feel broken by creating an experience gap that will feel negative for example the pull-down-to-refresh UI of iPhone apps.
  • Look at the platform. Look at the most popular uses. Look at the environment it will be used in. Then try to be consistent.
  • Make your marketing consistant with your experience, or you might end up making your product feel worse than it is

The perfect example of not understanding quality is the Nokia N97, enjoy!

Another great example of achieving quality, not by adding features, but by managing your negatives is the iPhone and iPad operating system. Just compare these transition effects from iOS to the Android counter parts:

Quora - win or fail? A User Experience study

I recently was asked to check out Quora again. This time from a UX standpoint. I found a lot of strange design decisions and an almost crazy implementation of "Gamification" so I thought I had to share it: Quora logo

First Impression

What does this do? Quora is a mess of questions. That's a good thing. But it's also a mess of features. There is no real overview to how the service is supposed to be used nor how the features fit together to create a whole. It feel like a mess of somewhat related features that have been randomly added to a wiki.

User feedback loops

All services and products intended to be used more than once work because their is a loop in user interaction. After we've done what we came for we're back at the start and can do it again.

Feedback loops is a way to look at how feedback is introduced in the loop to keep users going forward and using the product. Quora does this really strangely.

There are two ways to understand what happens in a loop, one is to look at emotional impact or internal steps in the process from the point of view of the user. This is called the intrinsic loop. The other is to look at the service's constructed steps from the point of the user. This is called the extrinsic loop.

Intrinsic

The value in looking at both of these is to see where they meet and reinforce each other. So how does the intrinsic loop look?

answer questions -> gain social proof in form of replies, votes and followers -> answer ranks higher on lists of answers -> return

This loop works well. Interacting with the site gives you a sense of communicating with other users. Though notifications are bad and it's hard to really understand what is happening, there is a definite sense of activity spawned from other users interacting with your content.

Extrinsic

So how does the extrinsic feedback loop look?

Add information (unidentified) -> earn points -> use points to request answers -> no return

Basically it adds points but not to obvious steps in the loop. In fact, Quora only seems to add points for adding information. But Quora doesn't tell us why, how much or for what we earn these points.

This is an extrinsic loop set up to give users rewards for interacting that doesn't reward user for interacting. What went wrong here? Quora is giving out points for interacting with Quora, but not with other users.

The problem is humans don't think of services as independent entities and don't expect to interact with services, humans expect to interact through services. Another problem is that these rewards aren't reinforcing the intrinsic loop but instead starts rewarding an entirely different behavior. And last but not least, there is no clear end or way to start again from when you receive rewards. Rewards are doled out in the middle of the intrinsic feedback loop.

Gamification or What Bumblebees feel about Bicycles

Points. Just add points and it's a game. Just add points and the weird statistical exercise has miraculously turned into "fun"! Right? No. That's not how it works, you can read all about how to add the fun here. But Quora doesn't care about that, you get points for adding content but aren't told when or how much. There doesn't seem to be a differentiation between how you add content, you simply receive an arbitrary amount of points.

There's only one way to use points. You can pay others to answer questions. That's it. You can't even compare your points to another users.

Quora app icon

Summing up

Quora is awesome. What makes it awesome is the high level of interest from other users. The problem is, Quora does little of anything to enhance this. More often it gets in the way.

The service quickly became famous for supplying answers from high level CEOs and business savvy high performers. Sadly though, it took me hours to find any such answer. It took me hours just to find some interesting questions.

The random points thrown in just increases perception of randomness. Quora is a great idea, close to a good product. Over designed and under thought. It's confusing as hell and weird to use. But if you're lucky you can at least get some answers. Just don't expect the question to be the same one you had in mind from the start...

Facebook Messenger for iPhone and poor user experience

facebook messenger logoSome time ago Facebook launched it's cross platform messaging app: Facebook Messenger; the mobile stand alone app that fully integrates Facebook messaging with your cell phone. Sounds awesome right? Sadly, it's badly broken. I recently tweeted a designer at Facebook to ask why the UX of the app is so bad, in turn he asked me to describe what's wrong so they can fix it. So are you listening Facebook? Great. Here's what's wrong with the iOS version:

Starting the app Takes time. A lot of time. Why? There is no large graphics in use. Why does it start slower than some third party messaging or twitter apps? Short messaging on mobile devices is supposed to be fast. Loading the app for over a full second is bad user experience.

If I'd have to guess what's wrong I'd say Facebook Messenger is loading the entire message database at startup when all the user really needs is something like the last 5 messages.

Loading and responsiveness So the app is now loaded. Let's start messaging! No? Unresponsive?! But why? Why is there a second load time?

This second load becomes even weirder when I start the app from a notification. The app should be loading the message I was notified about but instead it seems to load for several full seconds. Even on WiFi.

If I'd have to guess what's wrong I'd say you're syncing ALL the messaging data with the server...

Don't, do, that. Ever.

Always smart load, download only the essential information to start using the app. Then download the rest in the background while the user is happily messaging away. This is critical on mobile devices.

Feedback If even Apple, that clearly doesn't get social at all, get's the importance of user feedback in short messaging. And the Facebook web interface clearly shows when the other party is writing something to you... Why do you not show this information in the Messenger app? If someone starts typing, send that information. Show an indication of this in the app.

And please, don't make my phone vibrate with every new messages when the thread is open on the screen.

Notifications  Notifications on iOS  are a bit strange. They don't sync between iPhone and iPad and the app can't receive any data from the notification. So some odd behavior is simply inescapable. However, most of the odd behavior with notifications from Facebook's Messenger app have nothing to do with that.

The main problem is that notifications aren't consistent between mobile app and web. As a matter of fact I haven't even been able to understand what triggers mobile notifications. In my tests some messenges have triggered notifications on both web and mobile while other, identical tests, have triggered only one of them. Once I even received a mobile notification while typing a response in that very thread on the web.

Notifications are hard. Really hard. But a few simple basics should at least get you of out this mess:

  • If the thread open on web and the page is active (focused some time the last minute or so) - don't send a notification at all.
  • If the thread not open and the page is not active - send a notification.
  • If the thread minimized in the web browser but the page is active - send only a web notification.

Facebook Messenger

Do I realize that these features are more complex than I have described them here? Yes. But they're not very complex for a product team such as the one behind Facebook.

Do I realize that Facebook usually releases features and then iterates on them to improve the user experience? Yes. But this is a web strategy. A mobile app is often, like in this case, just a good interface on top of a web service. If the interface is bad, the service is bad. Iterate all you want on the service. But "release early, release often"  is not a viable strategy for a mobile interface.

So why am I taking time to complain write all this? Because Facebook Messages, and Facebook Messenger, is a great product. It will help me organize my communication even better and have faster communications with my friends. No longer will discussions be spread through WhatsApp, iMessages, SMS, Email etc etc.

And the reason I can't do that today is the Facebook Messenger interface. With god damn enourmous amounts of some luck this post might help Facebook create a really good Messenger app faster. Fingers crossed. Also, I'm available for hire.

Thanks to @MagnusEngdal and Sara Öhman for helping me with the testing.

Update: Ben from the Facebook Messenger team replies with some information about the upcoming version 1.5 of the app. Early the next morning I had it and started using it. And I must say it's a big improvement. I'll write a follow up shortly about this new version.

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.

Twitter is the Twitter-killer

Twitter, the micro blogging service, has taken the world by storm. While there are only a few hundred million users compared to Facebook's massive near Billion, the service has become the place to share real time updates and is often used to gauge peoples reactions by news and analytic firms because the platform is open. But Twitter is about to face it's doom While Google struggle to reproduce the viral effect of micro blogging services Facebook's grab for the real time feed was hampered by the need to privacy. Twitter has already gained wide acceptance and was never intended for private information in the first place. But a series of ominous events are slowly hollowing out the foundations of Twitter.

Twitter is being killed by... Twitter has never been the most stable of tech startups. The service used to be plagued by downtime which became so frequent the Fail Whale error page became as famous as the service. The company itself is also changing management again, and again. Not a great trend this early in a one product company. The lack of leadership is clear to see.

Twitter UX Twitter (the company) is constantly changing and evolving it's product. Which is a great way to organically fit the needs of their users. But Twitter (the company) is doing this in a somewhat odd way. It started when Retweeting (passing on another users tweet as a sign of encouragement while marking it with their name and RT) was made a part of the product, after it's wide adoption by users, Twitter (the company) decided to implement it differently than the usual Retweets. This lead to better statistics, but also a fractured UX as apps now had to implement both ways to RT because users didn't like the new one. Eventually Twitter (the company) incorporated the old style Retweets but called the function Quote Tweet instead. And the problems were just getting started.

Twitter app insanity Twitter apps were almost a category on their own in the beginning of the Appstore. Twitter has become so important to mobile phone manufacturers they always showcase a twitter app with their new flagship phones. But Twitter wanted to control the experience, like Apple. Maybe a good idea. But really bad execution. They bought Atebits, the developers behind the most popular Twitter apps for iOS and Mac. Have you ever pulled down a list to refresh? Atebits invented that. So why was this a problem? Sounds great, right?

Tweetie and Twitter

After being purchased by Twitter (the company), the newly renamed Twitter for Mac and Twitter for iPhone started being updated less frequently... Let me make that clear, having the developer of the apps work closer with the Twitter development team made them update the apps less often.

Then shit really hit the fan. Twitter (the company) redesigned all their interfaces to be similar across platforms. Starting with a roll out on iPad, then web then the rest, Twitter (the company) streamlined their interface development.. in theory. What really happened? The interfaces now looked the same, but they didn't work the same. In fact, certain features only exist on certain platforms even though the interfaces look the same. Which makes it really hard as a user to remember what you can do where.

Later on the developers behind Atebits have left Twitter (the company), possibly in raging despair. And Twitter (the service) is fracturing into a mess. Not just between interfaces but functions as well. For example with the roll out of the activity tab you can follow some of the things people are doing through Twitter, following, unfollowing, making lists and so on. These features, which btw totally contradict the extreme simplicity of the core product, are weirdly integrated into the web interface as the afterthought they are. And it's only available on the web.

Summery Twitter (the company) is destroying Twitter (the services) with some sort of odd design-by-committee culture.  No matter if you like or dislike these new features, the case is clear that teams behind Twitter (the service) definitely aren't working towards the same goal.

This is sad. Because I love Twitter (the service). And I don't like that it's being killed by Twitter (the company). Please RT this if you agree.

Update:

Apparently the sentiment is echoed by people leaving Twitter (the company).

Update 2:

In December 2011 Twitter updated their entire line of interfaces. The design changes were clearly aimed at making Twitter a lot more interesting for new users.

Twitter divided itself into different parts, seemingly with different uses:

Twitter areas of interest

Sounds great right? What could possibly be the problem!

Twitter didn't actually change. And Twitter (the service) does not actually have these different areas of interest. So any user checking them out will quickly get confounded. What is the difference between "Home" and "Me"? I have no idea. But to make this obvious, Twitter (the company) has removed Me and Tweet from the web interface which basically means they have these left: Home (My feed), Connect (replies, RTs and follows) and Discover (search damnit, it's just search!).

To make things better worse, the UI is even more fragmented. Twitter no longer has updated clients for iPad and Mac. Apparently the job previously done by one single guy is just to much for an organization of 300 or so.

But it get's even better worse. The UI of the web and iPhone version, while both being updated simultaneously for this new paradigm, still do not follow the same UI standards and are structured differently. Don't ask about Android. Twitter (the company) must really, really, hate Android.

Anyone want to build a Twitter killer, possibly built upon the API of Twitter to simplify the transfer of users? I'm available right now.

The awesome new Google Mobile site - Google Mobile goes Local

When I roam around a city (which rarely happens I promise think) I often find myself wishing there was a good way to search for local services (coffee shops, bars, restaurants). This unicorn has never appeared though. Local seemed to be impossible with current tech.

Then I was on the subway this morning. And a tweet lead me to Google Mobile, below the search bar I found something odd...

Google Mobile Start page

It said log in. And it asked for my location (sorry about the Swedish btw, I'm in Sweden so Google assumes I prefer the deprecated language over English).

Now I've used Google Places before and I was not impressed. There simply isn't enough aggregated data in Stockholm for it to work. Well that's what I thought.

I logged in and pressed the icon marked "Cafe's". Lo and behold! Google quickly returned Coffee shops close to my location, on a map even!

Google Mobile Local Results

Now this is impressive. But what is a lot more impressive is what happened next. I scroll down the list and instead of just finding aggregated information, which I come to expect from Google, I'm shown an impressive interface of detailed information and functions for each location.

Google Mobile Location results list 1Google Mobile Location results list 2

Not only can I call the location directly from the app, I can also find reviews directly. But this is the most impressive part: the item on top of the list is shown on the map (which stays at the top as you scroll) and an overlay button appears letting me find Directions to the location...

This post is quite probably the worst I've ever written, and that is because I'm completely blown away by the UX of this SERP.

Google has really understood what I want out of a local search and given me the tools I need to use the information they present me with. A level of user experience I've never seen from Google and would only expect from the very best Apple products.

Google, I salute you. Keep this up!

 

How to change scrolling direction in Lion; and why you shouldn't

Trackpad Settings from Lion To change back from Lion's default natural scrolling open Settings -> Trackpad -> Scroll & Zoom and uncheck the natural scrolling checkbox. All done.

Why shouldn't you?

It's annoying right? Why should you have to relearn how scrolling works?

Because it makes no sense in Lion, and I'll bet you anything it'll make less and less sense going forward. This is the new paradigm, learn it now or later.

But why?

In the beginning of Graphic User Interfaces scrolling was done by clicking the scrollbars on the side of an application window.

Scrollbars

Since this wasn't a very efficient way to do it many weird solutions for simpler scrolling popped up here and there. It soon became standard for Mice to have scroll wheels on them. Making the entire representation of scroll bars a bit redundant. They take up a lot of screen real estate just to show you where in a window you are looking at any one time. It's not like you didn't scroll there in the first place right?

A Mouse with a Scroll Wheel

When touch pads started becoming standard, this design thought was transplanted over from mice and scroll bars. Nothing wrong with that, reinventing the wheel isn't always a good thing.

Except when it is.

In this case it made no sense. The mouse and it's scroll wheel use two different controls to achieve two different things. You move the mouse to point. And you scroll the wheel to.. eh.. scroll.

But on a touch pad you use the same control. Your poking the touchpad to move the pointer and then poking the touchpad in the opposite direction to scroll. The only reason this feels "natural" is because we, as the ingrained PC users we are, are so used to scrollbars. We know that what we're scrolling isn't the content but the scrollbar. Which in turn scrolls the content...

See where the design falls apart?

The metaphor is broken. The scrollbar no longer makes sense when you scroll using the pointing device to move the content, instead of the scrollbar.

Alright. That makes sense, but why relearn? Why fix what ain't broken?

In two words: Cognitive load.

Lion's natural scrolling (directly scrolling the content instead of the scroll bar) will become the standard, like it or not, because the average PC user doesn't change default settings and certainly don't understand why scrolling should be inverse to the screen. The cognitive load of thinking about how to scroll will simply become to much as more computers are delivered with touch pads and more of our PCs become touch based (as tablets become more widely spread).

To clarify; on a mouse the scrolling direction won't change. Because the scroll wheel isn't directly linked to the content anyway. But a touch pad is directly linked. Update: For some reason, Apple has changed the scrolling direction on the mouse wheel for non-apple mice. This is weird. Thanks to Dan in the comments for reporting!

It takes a little time to get used to, though less than you might think, but it will be worth it. And you won't have to relearn later on which will get increasingly frustrating.

Not convinced? Check out MG Siegler's excellent pre-lion post The iPad Has Broken My Brain; OS X Lion Will Help Fix It.

A new iOS notification design

Something I don't get about most current design is that designers adding features always add layers of complexity. Never add things unnecessarily.

This is my design for a new Notification system. The notification counter on top will ping in color and sound/vibration when new notifications drop in. The user can set which service does what in settings.

The entire notification list is under the spotlight window. If you use spotlight, it'll disappear until you remove your search.

 

UPDATE:

iOS5 has been unveiled and while I'm not shocked to find I wasn't spot on, I am a bit shocked by their adding another menu just for notifications. If you have no idea what I'm talking about check em out here.

New iOS notification system

Notifications on the iPhone and the iPad are broken. They distract us and get us away from our work flow or Angry Birds and if you, like me, get a lot of them they stack most annoyingly. Push notification on an iPhone

So why haven't Apple already solved this? We can't know that for sure, secretive as Apple is. But I'll bet it has something to do with the new iteration of OS X.

Lion In Lion Apple is bringing iOS features back to the Mac. Specifically, for notifications, applications are now encouraged to be full screen. Full screen apps can't use badges or jumping icons in the dock to notify users of what's going on.

Lion has to redesign notifications. And Lion has to make notifications work with full screen apps, exactly the same problem that Apple faces on the iPhone and iPad.

Unified notification system I believe the new notification system will be the same, or very similar, across all Apple platforms. It just makes to much sense not to, all their devices need new notifications and they face the same constraints... Except input. iOS handles touch,  OS X has a mouse/keyboard. Both of them handle gestures however.

Universal Gestures? In the new beta of iOS, 4.3, Apple has released a set of gestures to do multitasking making the feature a lot more powerful and easy to use.

[youtube wvxSSGUtTYA]

These gestures don't translate all that well to the iPhone (five fingers on a 3" screen?) but I dare say Apple can solve that. But I also notice there's one gesture missing: down. Right and left swipes change app, swipe up to show active apps, why not swipe down to show a notification app/menu?

Notification app/menu/dock Gathers all notifications, only needs to make a sound or visual cue for new notifications and users can come back to it at will. It would work on all Apple devices and could be accessed by gesture or from the icon.

Sounds pretty Apple-y to me. What are your thoughts?

Adding the Fun

I decided to start a new project that is closer to my heart than anything for the passed three years. A blog dedicated to explore gamification and game theory for products. Originally meant to be a short book I decided doing the research and most of the writing as a blog might help the project along. Who knows, it might actually be better for it.

You'll find it continuously updated over on Tumblr: Adding The Fun

AirPlay review: flawed feature

AirPlay, the amazing feature released by Apple in iOS4.2, allows you to stream audio and video to AirPlay enabled devices. While such devices are severely limited right now (only for iDevices and not even Macs) the feature works like magic and is a revolution we've been waiting for in sharing media in the real world.

So why flawed? Coming home today I switched my podcast over to my stereo as I entered my apartment. While making dinner I was smirking at some droll statement when I received a text. The sound was played on my stereo. Not my iPhone.

If AirPlay simply tranfers all audio (or video) from the system to another system the practicality evaporates quickly. With the decrepid notification system still on iOS will we be doomed to listen to beeps and pings until iOS5?!

Steve, please, don't let this continue.

AirPlay review - the future is upon us

Today it looks like iOS 4.2, the new version of Apples operating system for the iPhone and the iPad, is being pushed back another week. I've been trying out AirPlay on my iPad (the developer preview) and I have to say this is the future. In http://www.apple.com/itunes/airplay/iOS has a killer app beyond anything else in the mobile space today. I'm not kidding.

Third Party AirPlay speaker

AirPlay let's you stream music and videos to and from any iOS enabled devices. Whole there aren't many such devices yet this is the future of media we've been waiting for.

Coming home, sitting down with my iPad and than choosing what I want to listen to on my wifi stereo system is a form of media disintermediation that really takes the leap from 50s hifi systems to the visions of the future represented in movies such as Total Recall or Minority Report.

AirPlay really does change everything. Lets just hope Apple opened it up to third parties. This is the way we'll want to consume media in the coming years. Let's hope it get wide adoption on all platforms.

The New Twitter interface reeks of WebOS

Twitter.com has released a new interface based on two panes; one for the real time stream for tweets and one for the selected tweet, it's options and dialogue. [youtube rIpD7hfffQo]

This design is really closely related to the official Twitter iPad app:

But what gets me most is that both these designs are so very closely related to the Palm HP WebOS:

[youtube XgwUs6h57PE]

Jump into the video and really check out the WebOS cards interface model. How different is it from Twitter panes model?

In defence of Millers number in design

The great design site UXmyths recently wrote an article claiming to debunk the use of Millers number in design. The article is a great read and really well researched, I recommend reading it to anyone who hasn't studied Miller in psychology or cognition class. But the article missed the mark. It debunks how people use Millers number, but not the importance of Millers number nor it's application in design. Basically, I think somewhere along the way someone misinterpreted the theory. Let me explain why.

Millers number The renowned psychologist George Miller is most famous for discovering a certain limit to the human short term memory. This limit has to do with the number of information bits that a person can remember at any one time, he called it the Magic number 7 +- 2. This in itself has absolutely nothing to do with design, just as the article on UXmyths has detailed.

Short term memory and decision making To think about something we need to hold the different thoughts or parts of thoughts in our minds. This is especially important in decision making where it is not to your conscious advantage to forget parts of the decision. Since this is limited to 7+-2 we can never remember more parts of any choice. But what about ideas? What about bits of information that are really just the sums of huge amounts of other information? To handle things like this we use chunking.

Chunking? Chunking is the process where we categorize information that fit together, for any satisfactory reason, into one bit of information. For example a car is seen as a car not "a metal body with chair in that sits on four wheel rotated by an engine". For the best explanation of chunking vie seen to date check out visual chunking and the law of Prägnanz. LINK

Why does this support Millers number in design? Millers number sets a upper limit to chunks before they become noise. So while it is quite useful to have a menu with more than 7+-2 choices it would be really frustrating and hard to remember if there were more areas of interest or chunks of information on any one page.

So millers number is excellent in design, UXmyths is dealing with the simplified use of Millers number which leads to results that are just plain wrong.

In a sentence: Make sure you understand complicated psychological theories before you apply them to design.

The future of UX is play

In case you didn't know; UX week is a conference in San Fransisco that, if your into UX, you wish you were at. It has great speakers on great subjects and sounds like heaven for all us UX designers spread across the planet. Nicole Lazzaro has a presentation scheduled on the future of UX where she argues that design focusing on increasing positive emotions rather than minimizing negative experience is the future of UX development. A field where game design is leading the way.

I for one am really happy someone is bringing this up at a large conference. I studied game design for this very reason and I'm still having a hard time selling the idea to my colleagues, the notion that games are basically toys is still deeply ingrained in western culture and it's now starting to hold us back from creating better experiences.

For anyone interested in learning from game design I recommend you start with legendary designer Raph Koster's excellent book A Theory of Fun.

Second week with the iPad

My first impression of the iPad, after the glowing halo of hype wore off, was really not that good. It wasn't that there was anything wrong with the iPad, there wasn't. It just didn't work the way I wanted it to. A week later I hadn't really changed my mind, until I was typing away earlier tonight and realized why I didn't feel it fitted into my life. It's a unitasking machine.

The iPad doesn't multitask, yet, but after comparing my experience using the same apps on my iPhone 4 I'm now convinced that my problem is not a result of the device lacking features, but instead that the iPad forces me to focus on my work.

Work which I've learned so well to digress and be distracted from on my other machines. I'm just not used to having to focus for more than a few minutes at a time.

This discovery has really turned my experience around, I can't wait to work like this for a few more days and see where it leads me. Unitasking is the new productivity buzz word. Let's see if this machine helps me become more productive or leaves me doing less complex work.

EpicWin app review

When I first saw the EpicWin app trailer a few months ago I had a nerdgasm. The sheer amount of hilarious humor applied to something so mundane as a to do list really hit the spot with me. This iPhone app really looked like an epic win, if not for productivity than just for comedy.

[youtube AmKwF_Si734]

EpicWin was released today and I downloaded it on the subway on my way to work. I was happily choosing my avatar and plowing through the "tutorial" quests (the first few to do's that get you up to speed with the app) and I find myself creating smaller and smaller to do's just to progress in my quests.

The way the game handles valuation of tasks makes it a bit strange but I'm not going to say to much to early. I'll keep using the app a few days and update when I've really come to terms with it.

It's just a few bucks and worth it just for laughs. You can find out more at the developers site: EpicWinApp.com

Update: Launch trailer is up

[youtube OU1Q3b1EN9M]

Update 2: EpicWin apparently closes all other music or sound processes. So if you're listening to music and open EpicWin your iPod/Pandora/Spotify will actually stop the music, not just pause it. This is really annoying if you're just quickly adding a task.

Flipboard review

Flipboard is a news aggregator. Much like feed readers you've probably used in the past. The difference is that Flipboard reads your Twitter and Facebook streams, scans them for content and present it to you in a fantastic UI.

Flipboard is extremely competent and feels great to use, it's well implemented into Twitter and Facebook functionally making it easy to reweet, comment, like and share.

Flipboard is free in the Appstore right now but I'd recommend giving it a look as fast as you can as a lot of media companies are gunning for Flipboard for scraping material not presented in their RISS feeds. Well see how it pans out in the end but this is really how you'll want to use social media in the future.

[youtube LDARc7jhM8U]