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UI lessons from urban design

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UI lessons from urban design

Which part of this street is the most dangerous for the average pedestrian?

  1. The area with the bold, diagonal red lines
  2. The parallel, double yellow lines
  3. Or the path marked by the faint, blue dashed lines

The blue dashed lines mark out a slightly twisting cycle path which cuts across a pedestrianised shopping area. It can be joined from the road without going up a curb or through a barrier, meaning cyclists can hit the path at speed.

I’m an enthusiastic cyclist myse…

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The extraordinary choices of the Blackberry Passport

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The extraordinary choices of the Blackberry Passport

There’s nothing else like it: blocky and solid, with a row of physical keys beneath a square display. It is because of these unusual characteristics that I knew I had to try the Blackberry Passport for myself. I wanted to understand whether, by pursuing an extraordinarily different design strategy, Blackberry was actually enabling any extraordinarily different user experiences.

First and foremost, let me say this: it’s not too big.

This question is asked by almost everyone who sees a …

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User story: early learning the hidden costs of tablets

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User story: early learning the hidden costs of tablets

“Are you playing a game?” I looked up to find a boy of about 6 years old, in his school uniform and still wearing his rucksack, reaching out towards my iPad. His sister, a year or two younger, looked on with equal curiosity. I’d been absorbed in my work, balancing the iPad on my knees and tuning out the mayhem of the early evening commuter train on the last Friday before Christmas.

The MEX series of user stories has focused so far on situations where I could be a passive, unnoticed obser…

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Funding for UX from Innovate UK

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Funding for UX from Innovate UK

There are two user experience-focused funding and development opportunities running in Q1 2015 which will be of interest to the MEX community. Both are themed around the idea of ‘Better interactions between people and machines’, such as ways of sensing user intent and specific innovations which might improve overall digital user experience.

The funding comes from Innovate UK, the UK government-backed body which funds, supports and connects innovative businesses to bolster economic growth:…

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Analysing Apple’s Continuity: limited utility today, potential to introduce new experiences

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Analysing Apple’s Continuity: limited utility today, potential to introduce new experiences

The ability to have calls and texts across Apple devices might offer the most immediate practical utility, but it is the least interesting part of Apple’s wider Continuity strategy. Continuity is based around the notion each device, like an iPhone or iPad or Apple Watch, is an actor in an overall production, like an app or web service. Just like actors, each device can give cues to the others, enabling a Mac to pick-up where an iPhone left-off, or vice versa. The future result may be the a…

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The art of ignoring annual predictions

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The art of ignoring annual predictions

Tis the season for annual predictions in the technology industry. I choose to ignore them, and you should too.

The 2015 roadmap for the kind of technologies such articles cover – smartphones and software and gadgets – was already defined 6 to 12 months ago. Those who know what’s coming aren’t at liberty to tell and those who don’t, by definition, are limited by their ignorance.

I’d rather think ahead to tools and techniques which might equip us all to deliver on the elusive goal at the …

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Connecting via an A4 printed page of explanation

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Connecting via an A4 printed page of explanation

How does one arrive at a situation where connecting to Wifi requires an A4 page of explanation, printed on dead trees?

No matter how well meaning an organisation, it is dangerously easy to fall into a trap of addressing symptoms rather than root causes. This is true of experience design regardless of whether the service you are delivering is ‘connectivity’ or an ‘app’ or anything else.

In this instance, we might see the cause as the convoluted third party arrangement the venue had put …

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The experience, the whole experience & nothing but the experience

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The experience, the whole experience & nothing but the experience

I was walking through my village the other day and spotted this sign taped to the inside of a neighbour’s front door. It read: ‘Parcel courier – please ring bell and wait (elderly lady – bit slow)’.

Think about that. Think about the whole chain of user experience which had caused this self-labelled ‘elderly lady’ to hand-write this sign and stick it to her front door.

Do you think the existence of this sign was ever considered by the user experience designer who created the digital ser…

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Moto 360 impressions & thoughts on smartwatches’ poor retail experience

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Moto 360 impressions & thoughts on smartwatches’ poor retail experience

The Moto 360 feels disappointing. The screen is more pixelated than I expected and the materials lack the weight and solidity to suggest quality. It’s not bad, and it’s probably the best feeling smartwatch on the market today, but that’s more a reflection on the weakness of the wider selection.

Let’s put it this way: it’s not a classic in the making.

The relatively poor quality of the current generation of smartwatches is one of the reasons they remain confined to a niche of early adopt…

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User story: typing tablets & coffee house friends

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User story: typing tablets & coffee house friends

Her computer, a Microsoft Surface, was the least colourful thing about her. She wore blue jeans, a bright turquoise sweater, luminous pink plastic wrist band and a deep purple neck warmer. I’d say she was 24 years old.

Sitting at the narrow wooden counter of the coffee house, she’d positioned herself at a slight angle, so that her legs swung free of the bar stool and she could face out towards the window.

I couldn’t tell for sure which model of the Surface she was using, but it was too…

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