Archive for the ‘Usability’ Category

Q&A

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Dustin Moskovitz answer on quora regarding The Social Network

Just as Twitter and Foursquare blew up, the new kid on the block this year, Quora (not the Tron character) has doubled in users since the explosion of new signups in late December and this past week. Not to be compared to Twitter, Quora is a knowledge database of questions and answers powered by the community. Quora’s main attractions are composed of the following factors:

1.    Participation from the big players at Silicon Valley, including – Steve Case, Robert Scoble and Chris Brogan.
2.    An open community of thought leaders.
3.    Incorporation of live updating and SEO.
4.    Good design for efficient interactivity and conversations.

We’ve witnessed the growth and power of real time this past year, especially with Twitter and Google Realtime. Quora’s combination of real-time answers, paired with an accessible community of experts, is what sets it apart from other social media channels and Q&A sites like Yahoo! Answers and Ask.com. While some social media sites have received skepticism for concrete usefulness, Quora’s value is obvious. Similar to any news site, Quora is a medium for discovering news, which people have been doing since the beginning of journalism. The questions asked on Quora spark conversations from people like Steve Case (co-founder of AOL) who are prompted by questions about the companies they work for, information that is highly desired.

Much of Quora’s success is due not only to its participating intelligent community but also because the design provides for a good user experience. Quora incorporates interactive aspects of social media like “voting up” on questions, real-time feed, follow features, and an engagement display. Integrating social media channels like Twitter and Facebook for easy participation, Quora could potentially become a powerful player when it comes to search. People are already starting to use the site as a knowledge database for industry questions and a place to research feedback on restaurants and products. If Quora is able to maintain quality content through an influx of users and spam, it could become a go-to search resource and news information hub. Quora Q&A’s are already appearing under Google search results.

Reading Social

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Since the initial move from print to digital, publishers have been using digital to create a better reading experience. We’ve already seen Conde Nast publications, WIRED and Gourmet use digital innovation to create rich, engaging applications on new platforms such as the iPad. While delivering the great content that has come to be expected by their readers, the applications created have taken their content further by integrating the iPad’s touch screen and leveraging streaming video to further capture reader interest. The shift from print to digital is not a duplication process of transferring reading from one platform to another. The most successful transitions have provided a means for users to interact with and share content, hold discussions, make recommendations, and connect with others in a way that wasn’t possible before.

Authors are also experimenting with book applications dedicated to their individual book. Author Stephen Elliott recently released his app, “The Adderall Diaries,” which includes features such as a dedicated discussion board for readers to hold conversations with him and other readers, access to Elliott’s book tour diary, a RSS feed for events and upcoming titles, and an exclusive video interview of Elliott. Besides novels, textbooks have also entered into digital, including Inkling, an e-book software company that provides textbooks on the iPad. Inkling brings diagrams to life, lets users search, highlight, and take notes instantly with the ability to follow note streams of their professors and friends. Inkling’s goal is to provide a more engaging means of education that attracts students and provides authors with an exciting way to present content.

Digital innovations that allow users to interact with written content and each other satisfy the deeper content longings of readers today. Publishers now have to think of print publications as accessible platforms that can transform the couch potato to a person who multitasks. With the constant release of new reading devices such as the NOOKcolor, we definitely see a trend in e-readers becoming tablets and publishers pushing even more engaging options to accompany e-books and applications.

Feel Better. Work Better.

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Working in the interactive design industry means we’re used to sitting in front of monitors all day. It also means we have firsthand experience with the pitfalls of poor ergonomics, which is why we were so happy to help Herman Miller launch their new Thrive portfolio of ergonomic solutions. The Thrive products are the result of over 35 years of ergonomic research designed to promote health and create a better work environment.

Herman Miller Toolbar

We were especially intrigued with Monitor Support products. Imagine how productive I’d be with eight screens. It’d be like “mega-desk” from The Office.

Helping Healthcare Keep Pace With Change

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Compass System Visualizer

Compass System Visualizer tool we designed for Herman Miller’s new line of modular systems.

Healthcare facilities operate in a constantly changing environment. We launched Compass System with Herman Miller to provide solutions for healthcare organizations in managing their spaces. Compass addresses evolving healthcare facility conditions with a rail system that allows components to be adjusted, modified, and re-utilized over and over.

We launched a Compass System Visualizer tool to help users understand the product in a visual, responsive way. Users can explore the systems in different room setups and watch components interactively fit into setups like an exam room or emergency room. Hot points explain why a room setup would require components like a higher cabinet or a rotating counter surface. Play with the Compass System Visualizer.

“Rollable” OLED

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Sony OLED

We’ve always been excited about the potential OLED screens held for the future and how they will shape interaction with consuming and displaying content. A couple years ago, we designed a website for Sony’s launch of the XEL-1, the first OLED television in the industry, with a 3mm thin panel and an unheard of I million to I contrast ratio, providing higher contrast, black levels, and a stunning picture.

Sony is once again pushing the possibilities of OLED with their recently developed OLED screen that is thin enough to wrap around a pencil, about 4mm in diameter. We’re looking forward to the fresh, unexpected ways and places the new OLED screen will appear. We could start seeing curved digital billboards fitted to the shape of buildings, or transportable full-length videos that can be rolled up and stored in our pockets. It’s only a matter of time before touch sensors are incorporated into OLED and those flexible, go anywhere computers we’ve been dreaming about can become a reality. It’s exciting to see advancements like the recently announced Retina Display on the iPhone 4. OLED developments in particular have us really looking forward to new relevant applications.

Poll: Top Dash Apps

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

sony dash

With the Sony Dash release last week, buzz has been generating about the touch-screen personal Internet viewer, which made appearances on the Today Show, Dr. Oz, and even some pop music videos. Having designed and developed the product startup video for the Dash along with a couple other apps – including CNBC – we’ve been running countless apps on the Dash to test which ones deliver the best personalized doses of information from the web.

Which app would you use most on your dash?

View Results

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First in Line

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

iPadPlaying with the iPad at Hello.

The iPad is out and we’ve got two. Our test drives of the devices are generating a lot of new ideas for prototyping to take advantage of features like multi-touch, proximity sensors, and a larger screen. Stay tuned for updates.

The Dot Revolution

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Having a true change in performance never hurt the industry.” – Ken Salsman, Director of new technologies at Aptina

We have to agree, and we’re excited to read that InVisage is developing a semiconductor called the quantum dot that could upgrade a three-megapixel iPhone camera to 12-megapixels, improving quality up to four times, especially in low light. Photos taken at night will no longer be misshapen blurs, not to mention our social media lives will become much easier.

One of our favorite cameras, the Canon S90, takes excellent shots in low light. The downside is it’s a heavy load in the pocket. Incorporating a high-quality camera into our phones is an overdue and much-needed upgrade for convenience. We’re looking forward to having high-quality blog photos come straight from our phones – it would take mobile blogging to the next level.

canon s90 and iphone

The Buzz on Google

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

google buzz

Since its release two weeks ago, we’ve been playing with Google Buzz. We’ve realized that the top five Buzz features could also be the top five Buzzkill features. Here’s why:

Gmail Integration

Yes: Buzz automatically sets itself up in Gmail requiring no additional paperwork from users, thus saving everyone some much appreciated time.
No: The automatic setup would be readily welcome by users interested in Buzz, but an irritation to those who aren’t, especially since the disable button is buried in your Gmail settings.

Easy Conversation

Yes:  Buzz updates can be sent to your email where you can reply directly.
No:  One of the most annoying features of Facebook is when your inbox gets bombarded with post updates. Prepare for more bombardment.

Buzz Mobile App

Yes:  The Buzz app lets you geotag your posts. You can share in real time AND share your current location.
No:  It is because users share too much information on the Internet that web sites such as Please Rob Me have taken effect. Do we really need to be sending out more personal information into the web?

Auto-follow

Yes: Initially, Google picks who you follow. No more looking up names and adding.
No:  Unless you make your profile private, now the world can see your most frequent email correspondents. For most professionals, they’d like to keep that information private, thus igniting the privacy invasion scare.

Internet Integration

Yes:  One of Buzz’s main marketing tools is promoting its capability of integrating all social media outlets into one. Now we can share Flickr photos (in large view, too), YouTube videos, Twitter, and articles from Google Reader through one outlet.
No:  Is Buzz making social media and information management easier, or just creating another outlet that we have to check? All its sharing capabilities can be done through Facebook, and for most people, the number of Facebook friends is larger than Gmail contacts.

Play with Me

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

microsoft surface

While in New York, Hiro and David gave Microsoft Surface a hands-on test run. The demos felt like, well demos. Not sure we really need a virtual koi pond. As multi-touch interfaces become more common, we’re going to see more intuitive, gestural interfaces like Surface or Wii around us.

microsoft surface

The on-screen keyboard, not quite there yet as you don’t get a tactile response when you press.

microsoft surface

Pinch and pull like an iPhone to zoom in on the map.

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