Rumors have been flying about Senior Vice President of iOS Software Scott Forstall’s hurried departure from Apple. Among other misdeeds he apparently was unwilling to sign the iOS 6 Maps apology letter, leaving it to CEO Tim Cook.
From the viewpoint of someone who loves most Apple design, I am not surprised to learn that Forstall was the man behind the ugly ugly skeuomorphs in iOS and Mac OS X, like the stitched leather in Apple calendars. He and Jony Ive apparently couldn’t stand each other, and Ive will now be leading Apple’s user interface efforts.
Apple stock should shoot up on this news, but the average market analyst is unlikely to be able to parse the impact of this on Apple’s future.
Prezi, the infinite canvas style presentation tool, has released a new interface. The company is making an effort to simplify the somewhat arcane user experience of what is now known as the ‘classic look’. Which means the distinctive — but counterintuitive and slow — ‘bubble’ menu is gone.
In particular, the new approach creates a default ‘path’ — the sequence of screens in the infinite canvas that define a presentation — based on the order of frames created in the canvas. This default can be overridden, but making the path explicit and always present will decrease the cognitive load of Prezi.
I will take another, longer look at this tool, which I tried a few years ago but rejected because of the nausea-inducing swooping in transitions. I never understood why I couldn’t simply move from one frame to another without animation. A quick look suggests that this is still not an option, which is a shame.
How Airbnb Evolved To Focus On Social Rather Than Searches - Cliff Kuang via Co.Design
For a couple years, registered Airbnb users have been able to star the properties they browse, and save them to a list. But Gebbia’s team wondered whether just a few tweaks here and there could change engagement, so they changed that star to a heart. To their surprise, engagement went up by a whopping 30%. The star, they realized, was a generic web shorthand and a utilitarian symbol that didn’t carry much weight. The heart, by contrast, was aspirational. “It showed us the potential for something bigger,” Gebbia tells Co.Design. And in particular, it made them think about the subtle limitations of having a search-based service. “You have to have search,” Gebbia says. “But what if you don’t know where you want to go?”
It’s the little things, people.
We just rolled out some enhancements to the Dashboard!
Tumblr released a new version of some of the behinds the scenes functionality of the service, with this enigmatic collection of images.
But I found out by not being able to figure out how to get at my ‘customize blog’ capabilities.
'Customize' still appears on the blog main page if you are logged in, but only on the main blog of your account. As before, if you are logged in and looking at the main page of a secondary blog — like worktalk.ly, in my case — the customize option is still not shown.
But today, I wanted to update the ‘what’s hot’ list on stoweboyd.com, so I went to the dash board and — no customize blog options.
What I see now is a new dashboard, where there is a selector to pick which blog you are looking at:
Here you see that I am looking at information relative to stoweboyd.com, including the blog stats.
If I want to mess with the blog’s setting I can select the gear icon at the top, and I see this:
And you can see that ‘customize’ is a box midway down the panel. Once you click that you are back to the same old customize screen for the blog.
I wondered if their Help had kept up with this change, and, as usual, it hasn’t. So if anyone confronted with this reworking of the user experience hoped to get guidance as to where the damn ‘customize’ button had gotten to from Help, they would have found bupkis about it.
LinkedIn has done a dramatic facelift of the user experience on the popular site. Much more clean and modern. It will be rolling out to users over the next short while (I am still seeing the old UX, personally.)
I will have to spend some time there, though, to see if anything fundamental is being rejiggered. This reworking is likely to feature in a project of mine later this fall (announcement later this week).
(via Caroline Gaffney, Introducing a Simpler Homepage)
A fascinating UI concept for getting stuff from device to device.
Basecamp UI Preview
37signals have come up with some very unique although simple user experience patterns that should make using Basecamp easier than ever. Jump into the video at 3 minutes to see a demonstration of how they are allowing for you to easily navigate into a project.
Clever sort of ‘stack’ UX, where content in basecamp is treated as an outline, and clicking on an item — like a to do in a project — creates a new ‘sheet’ for the to do that hovers over the project sheet. Closing the to do exposes the project, and so on.
Need to get access to the beta and find out if 37signals have finally fixed the federated identity bug. I bet they have.
In a fascinating and detailed analysis of the UX factors behind Angry Birds success, Charles Mauro touches on many aspects of the game’s design, including human short term memory:
Charles Mauro via Pulse UX Blog
It is a well-known fact of cognitive science that human short-term memory (SM), when compared to other attributes of our memory systems, is exceedingly limited. This fact has been the focus of thousands of studies over the last 50 years. Scientists have poked and prodded this aspect of human cognition to determine exactly how SM operates and what impacts SM effectiveness. As we go about our daily lives, short-term memory makes it possible for you to engage with all manner of technology and the environment in general. SM is a temporary memory that allows us to remember a very limited number of discrete items, behaviors, or patterns for a short period of time. SM makes it possible for you to operate without constant referral to long-term memory, a much more complex and time-consuming process. This is critical because SM is fast and easily configured, which allows one to adapt instantly to situations that might otherwise be fatal if one were required to access long-term memory. In computer-speak, human short-term memory is also highly volatile. This means it can be erased instantly, or more importantly, it can be overwritten by other information coming into the human perceptual system. Where things get interesting is the point where poor user interface design impacts the demand placed on SM. For example, a user interface design solution that requires the user to view information on one screen, store it in short-term memory, and then reenter that same information in a data field on another screen seems like a trivial task. Research shows that it is difficult to do accurately, especially if some other form of stimulus flows between the memorization of the data from the first screen and before the user enters the data in the second. This disruptive data flow can be in almost any form, but as a general rule, anything that is engaging, such as conversation, noise, motion, or worst of all, a combination of all three, is likely to totally erase SM. When you encounter this type of data flow before you complete transfer of data using short-term memory, chances are very good that when you go back to retrieve important information from short-term memory, it is gone!
One would logically assume that any aspect of user interface design that taxes short-term memory is a really bad idea. As was the case with response time, a more refined view leads to surprising insights into how one can use the degradation of short-term memory to actually improve game play engagement. Angry Birds is a surprisingly smart manager of the player’s short-term memory.
By simple manipulation of the user interface, Angry Birds designers created significant short-term memory loss, which in turn increases game play complexity but in a way that is not perceived by the player as negative and adds to the addictive nature of the game itself. The subtle, yet powerful concept employed in Angry Birds is to bend short-term memory but not to actually break it. If you do break SM, make sure you give the user a very simple, fast way to accurately reload.
Bret Victor, A Brief Rant on the Future of Interaction Design