Filed under "Apple"

Never Trust the Mockup (or the Demo)

18 October 2017 • Filed under ,

You know this, y’all: modern design is no longer describable by purely static mockups. Touchscreens have fundamentally changed the expectations and interactions of software. Motion, gestures, & modalities are now commonplace in design. Mockups — as useful as they are for defining visual design and establishing patterns — are unable to describe moving, manipulative elements.*

My recent experience with iOS 11’s Control Center reminded me of this truth. Sometime in June, I saw an image of the new Control Center from a WWDC demo. My gut reaction was similar to others’: What is going on here? There are fat tiles and skinny tall tiles, and they all look kind of randomly placed. What is happening?!

And, yeah; all of that is kind of true. Based on a static image alone, it does looks a bit haphazard.

So I watched the WWDC demo. Craig Federighi got a whole 50 seconds for Control Center. That’s not a lot of time, but it was enough. He was able to show how Control Center works, and how many of the tiles interact with Force Touch. That added whole new dimension to the design that the static image could not describe.

It still seemed kind of wonky to me, but I began to come around to the convenience gains. After all, my personal experience with iOS 10’s multi-screen Control Center model of swiping over to get to the audio controls was pretty poor. I could see the utility of the new design.

But nothing beats using the product. After getting iOS 11 installed on my phone, I found myself going from reluctant skeptic to complete fan in no time at all. The convenience and utility of Control Center overrides any visual weirdness I felt about the differently-shaped and oddly-arranged tiles (which I truly don’t even care about anymore). I had seen Craig demo many of the same interactions, but the act of gesturing my own way through the experience really brought it all home in a way the image and the demo could not.

And in this tale is a prudent reminder for all of us who design for screens: you really can’t be sure you’ve made something great until you get it on a device, use it yourself, and validate it with users. Make mockups? Yeah, if that’s what gets you clear on visual design. Sit in on demos? Yeah! There’s a lot to be learned from seeing a developer or product owner show off what they’ve built. Stop there? NOOOOO. Touch, click, swipe, drag, and in every way interact with the design that is necessary for you to determine if it works as desired. This is your last and final step. Use it.

Good talk, everyone.

*(And yes, there are steps you can take between mockups and demos — animation tools like Principle are great for visualizing motion. You could even build out a prototype. Point is, you’ve got to get to a high level of visual and interactive fidelity to truly judge the success of design.)

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How iPhone Has Changed My Life, Solved World Hunger and Given My Car A High-Gloss Wax Job.

3 August 2008 • Filed under ,

Okay, perhaps that headline is a bit overblown.

I’ve never owned a smartphone. In fact, I’ve owned dumb phones. Very dumb phones. Like, “Hay, muh name is Cletus. The internets? Ain’t that the little stretchy net on th’ ping-pong table?” dumb.

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I Have A Fever, And The Only Prescription Is More... iPhone?

24 March 2008 • Filed under ,

Apple products have a way of engaging me in a little game I like to call “Buy Me First And Then Let Me Deliciously Reveal, With Panache And Nuance, My Usefulness Later On Down The Road.” It kills at parties.

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I, Phone.

22 January 2007 • Filed under ,

I don’t mean to add fat to the already saturated iPhone discussion, but a snippet from a recent Pathfinder article got me thinking about the real “innovation” that the iPhone is bringing to the table:

Why does this phone elicit responses like Alice’s […]? Which I fully admit I shared as all the Mac addicts read the real time blogs from Macworld while Jobs was unveiling it. Oh yeah, it is cool!

But what it makes such a big splash is a study in contrasts, and how the competition failed to develop and market something that people can feel affection for.

Feel affection for. I couldn’t agree more. What truly puts the iPhone (and basically all of Apple’s products) ahead of the curve is its ability — even from just a video of someone else using it — to draw a truly visceral, pleasurable reaction from people.

I’ve long insisted that Apple does not sell hardware, or software. Yes, those are the tangible products that stock the shelves. But what Apple really sells is user experience, and that is why the iPhone is getting so much passionate discussion. It’s not about the touchscreen technology or the digital keyboard — although these technologies are certainly impressive. What’s really exciting and innovative about the iPhone is the emotion it elicits. It sparks the imagination. It moves with your touch. There is a real sense of “feeling” the digital space in a way that most people have only seen in the movies.

Anyone can develop technology. It takes a special kind of vision to turn that technology into an experience.

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Longstanding iTunes Deficiencies.

23 September 2005 • Filed under ,

While it’s still cool to poke at Apple a little bit, let me address two issues that I believe have been serious oversights on the part of Apple’s iTunes. Oh, I know there are a lot of complaints (gapless playback, anyone?) but these two items are at the core of music navigation, and it seems that after 5 versions of iTunes these issues could have been resolved.

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iTunes 5: Music to My Ears, But not My Eyes.

8 September 2005 • Filed under ,

After feasting my eyes on the latest MP3 wonder that is iPod nano yesterday, I was enthused to be notified this morning of an update to iTunes, my longstanding music player of choice. I definitely should have sought out a screenshot first.

First of all, I’m glad Apple has played nice with us poor Windows users for all these years, continuing to release updated versions of iTunes for Windows in concert with its Mac counterpart. Of course, it’s all part of Apple’s strategy…

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9 August 2005 • Filed under ,

There are relatively few purchases one makes in life where congratulations are received. I got many congratulations upon buying my first new car. I imagine I’ll get pats on the back and kudos all around on the day I finally buy a house. But it takes a special kind of product to invoke the congratulations of friends and strangers when it is really not that much bigger than a deck of cards.

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Golden Delicious.

12 January 2005 • Filed under

It seems as though everyone is talking about the new products unveiled at MacWorld Expo yesterday, and who can blame them?

The Mac mini was the showstopper, hands down. With a desktop footprint about the size of a single CD carrying case and only 2 inches tall, the Mac mini is poised to become the digital media center for fed-up PC users the world over. With the iLife suite included, as well as a reasonably large hard drive, there is simply no reason for anyone with a digital music collection, a digital camera and a secret desire for rock stardom to pass up an offer like this.

Well, it’s got to cost a fortune, right? I mean, all Apple products are all pretty pricey.

Wrong. At $499, this may be the most valuable Apple product with the smallest pricetag. While it’s true that the Mac mini doesn’t come with any of the peripherals that PC users are accustomed to (monitor, mouse, keyboard, and crappy inkjet printer), this product seems to be aimed at individuals who already own a computer and are either looking to switch to Apple or add a Mac to their network.

The iPod shuffle took me longer to warm up to. Even with its sexy size (think: pack of gum), 12-hour playlist and incredible $99 price tag, the screenless wonder just irked me. But I suppose you get what you pay for, and the shuffle is not all that bad. Turns out it’s not all about the shuffle; you can toggle between playlist in Order mode (which I assume is the order in which the songs were arranged on the iTunes playlist) and Shuffle mode. I imagine this product isn’t for people who insist on total control over their playlist, but it is definitely a stylish choice for many music lovers looking to enjoy music on the go.

I’m not sure abnout the iPod shuffle, but I see the definite possibility of the Mac mini sharing a KVM switch with my VAIO in the future. For my purposes, which include web development, web graphics, and digital media, the mini seems to suit me well. Sure, it’s no G5, but then not everyone needs a G5. Or an iMac. And that, I believe, is what Apple is banking on.

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