Video: Interacting With a Dynamic Shape Display

It amazed me how tangible objects can be combined with intangible visualization. This is the most amazing video that I have seen in the year of 2013. Imagine how you can do with this in the future: visualize the marketing/sales graph, creating playful interaction between you and your phone, etc. I would definitely get one if it hands me my cell phone like that. : )

Video: The fear of losing creativity

Elizabeth Glibert pointed out what most people don't want to say: we are now too afraid of losing creativity and it in fact stops us from nurturing creativity. We are expected to be creative, and to be successful. Not only our parents, our friends, teachers, boss, colleagues, children have expectations on ourselves, we has the same expectation too. As a result, we are afraid of being fail. We are even more afraid of being success, because we are afraid it would be the most successful thing we will ever do and we will never exceed that. We live under great pressure, worrying not being creative and successful.  However, no matter the work is successful or not, we should keep doing the things we love.

Video: What’s your experience with infinite scrolling

Came across an interesting experiment from Etsy on infinite scrolling. Day McKinley give a interesting talk on why infinite scrolling failed and how they can better approve the implementation process. 

Etsy implemented the infinite scrolling on their search result page, assuming people like to see as much results sooner on the page. After the assumption, the team comes up with this idea using infinite scroll, where you can keep scrolling and see as many results as possible. They did a AB testing and got the result that infinite scrolling made people stop using search. Their learned lesson is to conduct the testing sooner in the process. But, would that really help solving the problem? What is really wrong with the process?

I think the assumption is correct that people do want to see more results and see the result quickly. However, the solutions didn’t really take into account the context.  Instead of asking how we can have a solutions that meet  the assumption, we should really ask what do the users need and why. Why they want to see more results? What happen when they see the result? Do they go back to a certain item? Do they need to remember where the item is so they can find it again?  In the case of something like Etsy, the user is searching for something in particular within the list of results. As ux designer, we have to always keep in mind the scenario, user goal and put users in context.


Single-Page websites become a trend?

Browsing through the internet, I didn’t even realize there are so many single-page websites until I start to build one recently for my friend’s wedding website. I have a mix feeling for single-page websites. I think designers can definitely do some really cool stuff by using single-page, lots of transition and interaction. However, I also always are afraid I might get lost and no choice but to scroll all the way to the bottom, and expect I can go back to the top from there.

Like all my other answers to a lot of design questions, is it good to have a single-page website, “IT DEPENDS”. It depends what you want to achieve and what do you want user to experience.

I think for smaller company, or start-up, projects, or simple structure website, single-page is definitely one way to explore the ideas. For corporate website, e-commerce where you want to the website to be the portal for current users and potential users, single-page website would probably be ideal.

It’s also important to be careful what kind of hint, or visual cue you provide for users when designing single-page website. If you definitely want user to scroll through, having a sticky menu might not be necessary. However, if you want users to follow the flow, then having an arrow to click through might be a good idea.

Think about the goal and what you want user to see or to do before you implement single-page website.

Avoid the Pains of Pagination

What is the right length of a web page?What should be put within the same page, what should go to the next one?

This article Avoid the Pains of Pagination tells us some principles that we should consider when designing one. A few recommendations I find it interesting and useful.

  1. Pages shouldn’t be so short
  2. Filter is a way to reduce content and contraint users to what is important to them.
  3. Making click target bigger.
  4. Pagination shouldn’t need First and the Last.
  5. This is an interesting point for me. While I was designing something similar the other day, I put the first and the last next to previous and next, didn’t doubt not to. However, to my own experience, the first and the last are nearly useless. People don’t just go to the last one if there are tons of them. So why are we putting there? 
  6. When the page is way to many, like 1000, don’t need to show the page. (Ecommerce site is an exception because customers need to know how many items are there and locate the products they once browse)
Source: http://uxmovement.com/navigation/avoid-the...

Passive attention: an ambient display

It is an interesting idea that “Hello.Wall” tries to play a role in the background, not trying to grab people’s attention. Now ambient technologies and situated technologies become more and more popular. As a designer, we not only try to design product with good user experience, but design an implicit interaction, an subtle interaction. People now don’t need to actively react to a certain task, but the background kind of capture all the information. Once people need it, it provides people with rich context. 

As a designer, we should not limit ourselves to current interaction. Though feedback from system is a guidance for designer. When situation and context is being considered by system, then it is possible to design the experience without users intentionally input.

Book: Everything is Miscellaneous

Started to read “Everything is Miscellaneous”. 

Already like this book. Got a good quote “the solution to the overabundance of information is more information.” Indeed, among all these miscellaneous, human beings try to categorize them in a way they can reuse the information, items, object again. I wonder if that is human nature to categorize thing. Now, we often times need to know the gender, the education level, where the person is from, etc. Then based on these categories, we know how to better interact with the person. I myself try not to categorize things in order to interact, but it is not that easy. Whether the desire to categorize if part of human nature, or it’s a process of social construction. 

Back to the quote, we do try to categorize in so many ways, in order to save more time, and improve efficiency. We value efficiency, and that’s way that we categorize information. Too much information is not always bad. We use information to organize information, in order to better retrieve information. 

However, will it keep growing or will it stops? The information itself and the way to organize it expands quickly. Letting users to categorize information is a good way to transfer the cost from information producer to information consumer. I wonder what will happen next?  

How Cognition Relates to User Experience

Yesterday I read an article on UX magazine about how cognition relates to user experience. I found it interesting that as a designer, we often talk about design principles and examples. However, when we are actually designing, we often forget how these principles will take place in our design. 

People’s cognitions influence their experience in a unique way. In this article, it demonstrates how people’s perception will affect how they feel about the experiences. For example, if people expect to complete the task within a short amount of time, then giving them several but short steps would be better then giving them only one but complicated step.

The other interesting takeaway is that giving people a right quantity of choice and the right level of choice are important when designing the structure. Even though the navigation bar shouldn’t be way too long, the things and labels that are similar should be in the same level.

To think about cognition and how it will affect user experience is definitely a useful lesson.

Source: http://uxmag.com/articles/cognition-the-in...

Information or noise?

Reading Taylor’s “Noise in information”.

Noise and information is relative. Or they are not even different from each other. If information doesn’t mean anything to a person, then it’s not even noise, it’s just some background sound that we never notice. For example, have you ever being asked, do you know what color the person is wearing, or have you noticed…. Most of the time the answer would be: hm…I don’t know. That’s because those information/messages/data don’t mean anything to us unless we need to use them. That’s when it becomes information to us. As a result, the noise in information always exists, and once we need it, it becomes useful.

In this article, Taylor talked about the trade-off between uncertainty and redundancy in order to convey the amount of information. However, nowadays, the line between them becomes unclear, or not even important. “Noise in information” reminds me of “everything is miscellaneous.” The information now is overabundance and can be access everywhere. “The solution to the overabundance of information is more information.” People now sort information in their own way. Professional categorization is not the only way. For people to make sense of information is letting people organize them in their own way, and people create the meaning behind it.

For me, what I got from this reading is that it’s not about dematerialization, it’s about the meaning and the value that information brings to human-being. In the ancient time, people do have information that is being written down. In the 20th century, the emerge of internet and the growth of media increase the freedom for people to access information. It becomes a conscious or unconscious choice for people to see and get the information.  It becomes a meaningful choice for people to see from possible messages. While it’s a choice process for people, people who try to deliver these messages/information try to grab people’s attention. The information that being seen and get people’s attention becomes the most valuable. Under information age, attention is actually the essential quality.

Book: Everything is Miscellaneous

Started to read “Everything is Miscellaneous”. Already like this book.

Got a good quote “the solution to the overabundance of information is more information.” Indeed, among all these miscellaneous, human beings try to categorize them in a way they can reuse the information, items, object again. I wonder if that is human nature to categorize thing. Now, we often times need to know the gender, the education level, where the person is from, etc. Then based on these categories, we know how to better interact with the person. I myself try not to categorize things in order to interact, but it is not that easy. Whether the desire to categorize if part of human nature, or it’s a process of social construction. 

Back to the quote, we do try to categorize in so many ways, in order to save more time, and improve efficiency. We value efficiency, and that’s way that we categorize information. Too much information is not always bad. We use information to organize information, in order to better retrieve information. 

However, will it keep growing or will it stops? The information itself and the way to organize it expands quickly. Letting users to categorize information is a good way to transfer the cost from information producer to information consumer. I wonder what will happen next?  

Book: Don’t make me think

Reading “Don’t make me think” by Steve Krug. Two points are especially interesting:

"We don’t make optimal choices. We satisfice."  

It’s true for most of the users. We don’t spend 5 minutes looking for the best answers of a beef stew recipe, we spend 1 minute and get the satisfying answer. As a designer, don’t expect users to spend more than 30 seconds reading the text on our website, expect a quick scan and if they don’t find what they want, they leave. 

"What really counts is not the number of clicks it takes, but rather how hard each click is."

In business, we often times are asked to quantified our work. However, it’s difficult, because experience can’t be quantified. Moreover, for most of the times, the number doesn’t count. It’s the experience, not how many clicks it takes.