Tag Archives: UX

Google Buzz – Suggestions for Improvement

Google_Buzz_ScreenshotGoogle Buzz beta: uglier UI than most twitter clients, fewer features than facebook or linkedin.

Suggestions:

  • Categorize people (work, friends, etc.) and colorize and filter their posts
  • Use more interactively responsive visuals to enhance ‘scents of information’
  • Let me opt out of people’s individual networks (e.g. Google reader).
  • Make privacy issues transparent (give a clear view of follower network)
  • WTF is with modal popups for viewing follower list?
  • Social networks are a big enough distraction at work, and Buzz(1) is attached to gMail! Needs a clear (temporary) off button!
  • If someone follows me, I should be able to view their posts
  • Let me mention people (@person)
  • What’s novel about this? Give me a really compelling reason to use it other than "it’s next to gMail".

As for the "beta" tag, Google needs to stop it. Put up or shut up. User test software and then release it. Slapping a beta tag on everything just reminds me of Google’s history of poor support.

I would like a good social network aggregator, but Buzz isn’t quite there.

*Update: looks like someone (I believe an ex-Google employee) has set up a site to vote on Buzz improvements/fixes.

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10/GUI – Calling out the BS

A couple people pointed out this video recently: http://10gui.com/video/

I do not share the generally positive view that others have given. It’s just a nice video with some horribly poor assumptions and the repetition of unoriginal ideas.

1) Multitouch does not make you into a multitasking god. At about 45 second in, they show four sliders moving independently of each other. This premise is so fundamentally flawed, that I’m astounded. The limitation of a single point of interaction doesn’t come from the mouse; it comes from our attention and cognitive limits. Multitouch may allow the computer to receive multiple sources of input, but that doesn’t mean that a single person can fully utilize it. Don’t believe me? Try this: Put both index fingers on the table. Move one up and down. Move the other left and right. Notice something? One of them very quickly will start moving diagonally or in a circle. Maybe you can successfully get through one cycle, but then your brain gives up. In multitouch gestures, though your fingers are at different locations, they all behave similarly. A stretch, a rotation, etc… all perform a formulaic motion about a focal point. Such gestures represent a single point of interaction using different styles. Did you notice ANY example in the practical portion where the video used “multiple points of interaction”? I sure didn’t.

2) The window layout proposal is unsubstantiated bullshit, and I have a publication to prove it (http://steveharoz.com/research/layout/layout.pdf). Our spatial memory is the best that we have, and it works very well in 2D. Layout doesn’t really matter; we can handle it. Furthermore, while swooping your hands around this completely unique piece of hardware (Wacom Bamboo Touch cough cough), how often do you think you’ll accidentally hit the left and right sides? Imagine if every other drag or mouse movement causes you to flip windows? You try dragging some files into an email, but the window switches and you accidentally drag them into Photoshop causing all of them to open. I already have that problem with my laptop trackpad where the right side causes a scroll. It’s annoying. What happens when you want a pdf and a website open while you’re working on a paper? I do that all the time. Here, you are just shit out of luck.

3) They didn’t actually DO anything in the “in practice” segment. It just shows that the windows can slide back and forth and that it has an alt-tab mode. I don’t get what I’m supposed to learn here.

4) Ever heard of a user study? Or at least some use case examples?!?

Overall, the video was well made, but the proposals were unsubstantiated and unoriginal. The hardware design – though unoriginal – is nice, but I’ll believe it when I see it. The exclusive factor that is slowing the adoption of multitouch is not software nor ideas about how to use it. Cheap enough hardware is just slow to come out. Apple and Microsoft have had multitouch in their OSs since Leopard and Vista. Good cheap hardware is finally making it to market, so we’ll see what happens…

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Bad Usability Calendar

I just rediscovered the bad usability calendar. It turns out that Netlife Research (a Norwegian UX company) publishes a new one every year.

A couple good ones from this year are making an interaction overly simple or overly customizable.

usability simplicity     usability choices

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UX Complaints and Grievances

Several great sites out there document the UX flaws of various OS’s and software. The “Taskforce” sites even allow visitors to vote on them Digg-style and propose alternative designs. Here are some great examples:

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