The Nest thermostat, as described by usability expert Kara Pernice: "When I turned the dial to increase the heat to 66 degrees, rather than responding by making the house warmer . . . the next day the house temperature plummeted to a punishing 50 degrees. So I pull on another sweater and mittens and a hat. Indoors. And I wait until my thermostat decides that I am worthy of radiant warmth." [more inside]
Ever wanted to know why the Bluetooth symbol looks like it does, or what the deal is with the logo on the Command button on Apple keyboards? This link, which tells the story behind the design of many common user interface symbols, has got you covered.
Wow! Microsoft is thinking about bringing back the Start Menu and Modern apps on the Desktop. This is perfect timing! Here you’ll why it’s a good idea and how they should do it.
Most UI/UX experiences seem to concentrate on a busy user, but what if they are not? Empty States addresses how applications handle no content.
Skeu It! "A celebration of arbitrary and gratuitious user interface decisions." Specifically: needless or inappropriate skeumorphism. Best of Skeu It.
Engadget's Distro talks to UI guru, Xerox PARC alumni, gadget collector (previously) and Microsoft Research Principal Researcher Bill Buxton about the future of natural interfaces.
Start Ups: This is how Design works.. A guide for non-designers by designer Wells Riley. [more inside]
Am I wasting my time organizing e-mail? A study of e-mail refinding. (single link academic paper in .pdf.)
Ian Hex writes about the features that make for a good UI typeface by comparing and contrasting five different fonts (Segoe UI, Lucida Grande, Ubuntu, Helvetica Neue, and Droid Sans) . He also links to a great post on the making of Azuro. Left out of the race was Nokia Pure.
The future according to Microsoft.
The Ladder of Abstraction does an amazing, Tuftian job of illustrating the convergence of science, engineering, and intuition that is involved in tackling the difficult problems of today's systems and software. [more inside]
Do you use RSS? Not many do, apparently. Goodbye, then, RSS button in the location bar of Firefox 4 (Bugzilla entry). “RSS is dying,” a blog hyperbolizes in response, with retort from Asa Dotzler of Mozilla, who states the functionality is being moved to a menu item.
Google Maps and Label Readability. No really, it's an interesting read.
"The Office of the Future" 40 Years Later - 40 years of Xerox Parc, the Palo Alto research group responsible for the desktop computer interface as we know it today.
Bob and Beyond - Tandy Trower (previously) on the history of Microsoft Bob, Clippy and other Microsoft forays into the field of embodied agents.
Since SRI and Xerox invented the GUI and the mouse in the late 1970s, technology has leaped forward, but the way we interact with our computers has stood still. "10/GUI aims to bridge this gap by rethinking the desktop to leverage technology in an intuitive and powerful way."
Sptnk.org : The Observatory for the Study of Contemporary Culture. Sputnik is an NY organization that seeks to document, promote, and foster discussion around current trends in culture (I think Sptnk is more a "loose confederation" than an organization, but I can't seem to find much more about them. Here's one of the founder's tongue-in-cheek Linked In page). They just launched a new website which ties together sets of interviews from thinkers and doers in lots of fields. They are organized nicely into "paths", "conversations", and transmissions (presentations). Jonathan Harris (he blogs at number27.org) did the design of the site, which is top notch. The production values are not up to ted.com levels, but the weaving of stories and conversations that is emerging may prove useful. Happy culture hunting!
Print your own DIY papercraft drum machine. Webcam + paper template + free software = drum machine with tangible interface. [via] [more inside]
Ubiquity is a Mozilla Labs experiment into connecting the Web with language in an attempt to find new user interfaces that could make it possible for everyone to do common Web tasks more quickly and easily. Check out a video demonstration of Ubiquity. And here's a tutorial. [more inside]
Bill Gates files a bug report: "There's not a day that I don't send a piece of e-mail ... like that piece of e-mail. That's my job."
Using Color In Information Display Graphics - a resource from NASA, "intended to help designers who are not color experts find usable color designs" [via] [more inside]
User interface design so epically bad you need a strategy guide to defeat it. Presenting The Legend of FacilityFocus.
Atlas Gloves: A DIY hand gesture interface for Google Earth.
Gary Stasiuk's beautiful Digital Creatures pulls the curtains on the kinematics of geometric objects, after which he plays with the mathematics and user interactivity of generative art and shows how to build the appearance of AI behaviors into Flash objects.
If indeed information technology is seeping out of cyberspace at a rate that will soon immerse us in a world of smart furniture and spime wranglers, I think we have bigger things to worry about than disambiguating the terminology (user experience and opting out come to mind). MeFi's own Adam Greenfield weighs in with his first book, Everyware.
Inventor of CTRL-ALT-DEL ridicules Bill Gates. "'I may have invented CTRL-ALT-DEL, but Bill Gates made it famous". Video clip of the episode, via TUAW, who say "The funniest part is the expression, or lack thereof, on the face of Bill."
dontclick.it : what would you do if somebody stole your mouse button? Yes, it’s flash, and it’s annoying, but that’s the point.
This is Broken A compendium of bad designs. By Mark Hurst
Metrocard Vending Machine UI critique. If you've been to New York City in the last few years, then you might be familiar with the MTA's big silver vending machines in the subways. For those living here it's almost second nature by now. The Windows NT based touch screen UI is really not too bad. Most tourists may opt for a One-day Fun Pass ($4), while the locals already know what to pick. MTA also places posters all over indicating changes to the vending machines, and initially even had posters explaining the various options.
Amazon Light is project powered by amazon's SOAP API, with a design and interaction reminiscent of Google's clean no-frills approach. Pretty cool and clean way to use the site (without annoying popups or gold box offers).
This orthopaedic surgery site seems more like a design exercise than an actual attempt at an informative site. Imagine that someone told you to make the site using poor technology choices, couple it with non-professional content not conducive to trusting the doctors, and add a map to the office that does more to enable chuckles than get people to into the business. It's so bad, it's good, and most definitely do not skip intro on this one.
While the father of Visual Basic tells Microsoft to: "abandon the browser", a multitude of researchers are looking into next-generation interfaces (links via Joel on Software and Wired respectively). Is the software industry even close to moving on to a new paradigm?
A Flash usability white paper that says Flash can improve the usability of a web site.
- "When executed correctly, with attention paid to the needs and wants of users, Macromedia Flash content can actually improve the user experience on any Web site."
Jef Raskin, creator of the Macintosh project at Apple, says the windows-based interface is passé. "In my current interface designs, everything you need is laid out for you. You just zoom in, and as soon as you can read the text or see the graphic details, you can work on them. Then there's no need for windows, which you are forever opening, closing, moving or fooling with."
Poor user interface elects George W. The second hole on the right does not correspond to the second candidate on the left (Gore), but rather to the first candidate on the right (Buchanan). While many people will notice this, many others, especially those with poor vision, will not. About 20% of Buchanan's votes in FL came from the county that used this ballot.
Why tab based interfaces suck This site finally fell into interface hell. Originally they used tabs as navigation and still are now... BUT it doesn't work... Watch... every ecommerce company that copied its interface will also fall into the same interface hell... The others include ebags.com, urbanfetch and more....
Apple historically been at the forefront of UI and HCI research and technology, documenting it in their Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines. In the past couple of years however, they've been slipping. They designed the useless round mouse (that requires a 3rd-party product to become useful), the nightmare quicktime 4 interface, and now aqua for OS X. When I saw it at Macworld, there were lots of little things I didn't think were right about it, and Bruce Tognazzini (or Tog for short) has written a great summary of the UI including problems. So what I'm wondering is, why is Apple abandoning their own guidelines?