A chief executive officer wields an awesome power over his companies’ policies, employees and principles—and just how sustainable each will be. So when a previously ungreen CEO decides to adopt an ecologically responsible agenda, the effects can be wide-reaching, and exceptionally inspiring.
While Google keeps cramming its search results pages full of tools and social content, today Bing confirmed with me the full roll out a redesigned search results page that completely clears the left sidebar, and replaces the tabbed header with a cleaner set of links.
Amazing design is not enough. It is like fashion. Everybody is excited about it at the beginning, but then people are getting used to it and eventually it wears out. After it does, the user is left with the essence of the user experience.
After a couple of seconds of scanning this article, and maybe reading parts of the introduction, you may have started to ask yourself whether the information that you’re consuming at the moment is actually relevant to you—the user. Unfortunately (and as certain as death and taxes), if users cannot find the information they are looking for, chances are they will abandon their track, never to return.
Look inside the 2011 Ford Fiesta and you will see dashboard controls that have been modeled after the keypad of a cellphone. In some ways, that makes perfect sense: Ford’s market research suggested that young buyers were more attached to their mobile phones than to their means of mobility. But by the time the new Fiesta arrived in American showrooms this summer, the phone that Ford had chosen as its model looked old-fashioned alongside the latest Apple iPhones and Motorola Droids — and so did the dashboard controls.
The only brands that stay relevant in our change world will be ones savvy about mobile technology.
Apple's new products have one subtle quality that no company can touch: Cohesion.
Google has a plan to become a force in everything from TV to gaming, and today it’s become clear that plan involves the upcoming Chrome Web Store. Video game website 1up was able to grab some photographs of a presentation Google delivered to a room of game developers at the GDC Europe conference. The presentation showed off the Chrome Web Store, a marketplace for HTML5 apps Google announced during its I/O conference earlier this year. The presentation revealed some new details about Google’s new app store. It takes a lot of cues from Apple and its successful iPhone app store. App icons, categories and “Top rated games” are all part of the new interface.
A new report by Method – “Place, Space and the Mobile Interface” – surmises some key behavioral and attitudinal shifts that mobile has facilitated, and which brands seeking to engage with – and provide a solution for – consumers should be tracking to. An increasingly hyper-connected world dependent upon our (smart)phones to organize our lives and finances, plan our schedules, connect to others (both digitally and physically) and suggest to us where to go has opened up multiple opportunities for brands, designers and developers.
Rob Tannen is an expert in designing products, interfaces and systems that accommodate the complexities of human behavior and capabilities. He has researched cockpit interfaces for the U.S. Air Force, designed trading floor order systems for the New York Stock Exchange, and created touch screen applications for consumer appliances. Rob is Director of Research and Interaction Design at the product development firm Bresslergroup. He has a PhD in Human Factors and is a Certified Professional Ergonomist.
Experience is subjective, and therefore cannot be designed in quite the same way that a physical product can. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t design the framework within which people experience our product/service. If we succeed, then great experiences will be a common occurrence.
The technology industry is going retro — moving away from remote controls, mice and joysticks to something that arrives without batteries, wires or a user manual. It’s called a hand. In the coming months, the likes of Microsoft, Hitachi and major PC makers will begin selling devices that will allow people to flip channels on the TV or move documents on a computer monitor with simple hand gestures. The technology, one of the most significant changes to human-device interfaces since the mouse appeared next to computers in the early 1980s, was being shown in private sessions during the immense Consumer Electronics Show here last week.
Whenever companies do something inexplicable, the nerd in me always comes back to that scene in Close Encounters of the Third Kind when Richard Dreyfus keeps building models of a mountain, culminating in a huge, muddy mess in his kitchen. Throughout it all he keeps saying “This means something.” Well, the latest molehill into a mountain is the move by Time Inc. and Conde Nast, among others, to build a tablet-based interface for their flagship titles. This means something, but what it means is that the homes of Time and Gourmet (oh, wait), aren’t going to take the coming industrial disruption lying down.
Microsoft’s Web portal MSN today unveils its most significant redesign in a decade, as the company looks to increase engagement on the property while spurring usage of its fledgling Bing search product. “We think we’ve designed the best home page on the Web,” said Scott Moore, U.S. executive producer, MSN. According to Moore, the new home page is designed to focus on four key areas of overarching consumer interest: video, social networking, search and local news/information.
Last week, Facebook did something it had been urged not to: listen to its customers. At the end of last week, Facebook partially rolled back a redesign to its home page newsfeed that had been introduced late last winter. Before March 2009, the Facebook home page presented highlights from a user's friends who were of greatest interest, deduced based on their history browsing Facebook. This was changed into a news feed made up mainly of status updates in real time, which gave the site a Twitter-like feel.
When you want an answer to a question, you want it now, which is why the social Q&A service Aardvark first launched as an IM client, then via Facebook, then Twitter. Only today is it opening up its Website as a general social search engine. And it’s just a much better interface than the command-line-reminiscent prompts in the IM interface. You still have to sign in or sign up for the service, which sends your question to people in your extended social network (usually on Facebook, but also Gmail or Hotmail contacts) who are also on Aardvark. In the IM client, this results in a somewhat annoying back-and-forth, interspersed with tips from Aardvark about what text commands to use to unleash more functionality (see bottom screenshot). On the new Website, you simply ask a question, and it goes out to find answers, which are then displayed in logical groupings.
Intuit just bought Mint.com for $170,000,000. Mint is a web- and phone-based tool with a simple design interface that helps people manage their finances in an integrated way — across all their credit cards and asset accounts. According to the New York Times, they have tracked over $200,000,000,000 in spending and have 1.5 million users, meaning that Intuit is paying over $100 per user. Why did the company that made its mark with a simple user interface (the very name "Intuit" is a riff on "intuitive") have to buy Mint? Why couldn't they have built it themselves?
In a world of near-ubiquitous computing, where an ever-expanding collection of devices turns readers into an army of co-creators and news distributors, The New York Times is trying to figure out its place. And the venerable Gray Lady's place in this world, increasingly, rests squarely with turning its readers into, well, something more.
With Internet Connected television, Yahoo and Samsung try to take a leaf out of Apple's design playbook.
Twitter’s popularity has skyrocketed in the recent months. Usage statistics states that most people who use Twitter interact with the application via the web rather than a third-party client such as TweetDeck or twitterfeed. Twitter’s web interface is simple and intuitive but lacks a few features that can make it much better.