The number of different user interfaces we need to know has exploded, and it might lead to problems.Read More
On September 9th, 2015 Apple introduced 3D Touch - a user interface feature for the new iPhones. It's an innovative idea, but how will difficult will it be for users to learn this new interface?Read More
The smartwatch is a broad category (and hopefully we can now cease hyphenating the words "smart" and “watch”), but there is still much discussion regarding what these devices should do.Read More
The rapid user interface (UI) developments have tapered off on mobile, yet there are likely many more UI (and hardware) improvements to come.Read More
In A List Apart article, Jessica Enders writes about the downsides of flat UI design - something that the entire mobile industry has jumped on. Starting with Microsoft and Windows phone 7/8, Google's Holo UI, and Apple's iOS 7, the mobile world is now more devoid of texture and shadow than ever before. Enders argues that flat UI's can backfire, as they don't always provide the user with enough information.
Though some decry flat user interfaces as pure fashion, or the obvious response to skeuomorphic trends, many designers have embraced the flat approach because the reduction in visual styling (such as gradients, drop shadows, and borders) creates interfaces that seem simpler and cleaner.
The problem is that most flat UIs are built with a focus on the provision of content, with transactional components (i.e., forms) receiving very little attention. What happens when flat and forms collide? User experiences can, and often do, suffer.
Enders uses forms as an example:
When I say forms, I mean any interaction in which information is exchanged to receive a product or a service. This includes everything from internet banking to mobile commerce, from signing up to use a new tablet app to running a web search.
Her analysis highlights many of the problems that users might experience when navigating a flat UI. She notes that the drop-shadows, gradients, and borders may not be the "useless 'embellishments'" that many "modernist" designers claim. Enders also lists three clear pitfalls of flat UI's - using Klout as her primary example.
- Lack of affordance (affordance is how much the design of an object—physical or digital—suggests use, like a chair inviting you to sit)
- Insufficient distinction between form elements (e.g., fields versus labels versus instructions versus buttons)
- Insufficient hierarchy within categories of form elements (e.g., primary versus secondary buttons)
This is particularly interesting, since some of the broad goals that flat UI's try to achieve can actually violate some basic usability principles. For instance, insufficient distinction between elements could be considered an underuse of contrast. Also, a lack of hierarchy within categories is a key principle for organizing elements in Information Architecture.
Enders article is quite relevant today. Check out the full piece in the source below.
Sources: A List Apart
With a probable release of September 10th, it's not surprising that Apple's iOS 7 has been a top story the past few weeks. Apple just released the sixth version of the iOS 7 beta to developers, and the Gold Master (GM) is almost certain to follow suit shortly. However, much of the hype surrounding the mobile OS has addressed the redesigned interface, color palette, and iconography. What is most interesting about iOS 7 might be its least reported feature - namely how it's targeted toward enterprise customers, and how it improves the overall user experience.
In a Venture Beat article (by J Schwan - founder and CEO of Solstice Mobile), there is mention of various system level features that would be appealing to enterprise customers. These include:
- device and data security: single sign on capabilities
- productivity, workflow, collaboration: air drop for sharing apps and content.
- contextual computing and M2M: iBeacon (low energy Bluetooth) for indoor navigation, device presence awareness, and "automated physical workflow tracking."
- scan to acquire Passbook passes: mobile coupons and digital passes.
Schwan goes into considerably more detail (so make sure to check out the source below). He also discusses some of the more notable UI features developers are excited about.
There is a lot for developers to take advantage of in iOS 7 — features such as TextKit, Multi-tasking, Auto-layout and UIDynamics. A critical part of analyzing iOS 7 organizational readiness is looking at how enterprises can leverage capabilities to improve the user experience. The introduction of iOS 7 should be a trigger point for brands to look at their own design features.
In addition to user interface (UI) improvements, Apple is introducing flat design, which puts more emphasis on content over aesthetics. By placing content at the forefront of the experience, users can focus on the information at hand. Developers will need to balance three key areas: deference, clarity and depth.
These areas include "deference" (making sure the UI doesn't take precedence or overshadow the content), "clarity" (using color to indicate touch targets rather than boarders and buttons), and "depth" (using layers to facilitate navigation and multitasking, and making sure users are aware of their location within an app).
The aesthetic changes are far more than superficial. They aim to get the OS out of the way, so to speak, and put content at the forefront. No longer will iOS prioritize form over function.
With their announcement of iOS7 on Monday, Apple has embraced a flat and minimalistic user interface, which has been long touted by Android and Window Phone.
John Koetsier (of Venture Beat) writes about the changes in iOS7, and compares them to Apple's past design choices.
The latest version of iOS is the culmination of Apple’s six-year journey with iPhone, and that journey mirrors the changes that successfully brought Apple back from the brink of death in the late 1990s. The product that saved Apple was the iMac, and Steve Jobs threw it like a grenade into the the computer industry. Where the industry was grey, iMac was color. Where the industry was separate pieces wired together, iMac was unified and singular. Where the industry was opaque, iMac was translucent.
But the original iMac was also a little childish — a little young — before it became the singular objét d’art that it is today. And like iMac’s 15-year transition from fruity to elegant, iOS has now crossed the user interface Rubicon from Microsoft Bob to the Bauhaus — from decoration to design.
Versions 1 through 6 were Apple’s mobile juvenilia; iOS 7 is Apple at the zenith of its design zen.
Koetsier's summary is quite excellent. Check out his full article in the link bellow.
In a Mashable article, Grace Smith interviews design guru Luke Wroblewski (former Chief Design Architect at Yahoo and founder of BagCheck).
Designing for mobile has evolved dramatically. Users now expect fast, immersive mobile experiences, and catering to this is increasingly difficult.
When Luke Wroblewski introduced the concept of Mobile First more than four years ago, it radically changed how we approach design. According to him, the reason was threefold:
"It was clear mobile use was going to take over; designing for mobile pushed you to better and simpler designs because of constraints like small screens and slow networks; and last but not least, mobile devices had capabilities like multi-touch and location detection that allowed you to create new kinds of experiences."
Wroblewski outlines five pillars of mobile design, focusing on the importance of a fast user experience, engagement with users, designing specifically for mobile, enforcing constraints, and the importance of taps.