Explore New Technologies But Watch Out For Head Injuries

New technologies change the constraints we work under, enabling new activities and limiting previous ones, easing some and making others more difficult. It takes a while to realize just how much the game has changed, and this period is filled with experiments of varying degrees of success and failure. This is especially true with transformative technologies like the Apple iPhone, its cousin the iPad, and other devices that have followed in their wakes.

Karrie Fransman & Jonathan Plackett have introduced an experimental “tilt comic”, “The First Witch,” that uses the iPhone/iPad accelerometer to move around the comic panel. Here’s a video of the app in action:

I love how they’re using the technology here to push the limits of how we can experience and interact with a particular medium, in this case comics. There’s one point in the video where I cringed, however, as this experimental use of the accelerometer ran into an older navigation paradigm with potentially painful and costly consequences. If you haven’t watched the video yet, I recommend doing so before reading further. Read more

Uhhh…How Do I Turn This On?

We were down in Santa Cruz this weekend for a family reunion, (deStwolinski’s unite!) and we stayed at a lovely hotel nestled away in the forest hillside. Everything about the weekend was spectacular, except for one thing that kept bugging me. One thing that over three days and two nights became, at least in moments when I was feeling a little extra dramatic, my nemesis: the bathroom water faucet.

The mystery faucet

Now, I’m a reasonably intelligent grown man; I’m fairly good at manipulating physical objects and understanding how they work; I study and practice design and usability for a living; I’ve successfully used a wide variety of water faucets; and I’m even somewhat familiar with the inner workings of faucets as I’ve repaired and installed a few. So why can’t I figure out how to turn this stupid thing on?

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Happy Child and Fully-Charged Gadgets Before Your Flight…Priceless

There’s nothing quite like a pleasant surprise. On the way home from a family reunion in California, I found a few at the San Jose International Airport. It offers free WiFi in its terminals, and about 25% of its waiting area seats have built-in electrical outlets, including a USB slot if you swing that way. Now you can stay on Facebook or finish downloading an Elmo video right up until boarding and still have a full battery in your laptop or smartphone for the flight.

On a simpler note, there was a child play table with assorted puzzles and coloring books near our gate, which kept my little daughter both occupied and happy as we waited. Given that she was about to be riding in my lap for a two hour flight, well…thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I may very well never be in this airport again, but kudos SJC for a very pleasant customer experience. I hope other airports are paying attention.

The Rest of the World Is Not Like You

We know that other people are different than us. And I’m not just talking about how some guy in a small rural village in India is different than me, (although we probably both do like a nice tandoori naan.)

Any user experience-minded person (or Tron geek) has heard over and over: “you are not your user”. Still, that’s an easy thing to let slip now and then.

Here’s a nice reminder and example from Adam Kalsey that the rest of the world is not like you.

On Saturday evening, while sitting at the airport in Orlando, three different people saw my Kindle and asked if it was an iPad. They had no idea what an iPad was supposed to look like.

One person asked if my laptop was ‘one of those new Apple things’. They knew Apple had released something, but had no idea what it was.

Paul and Yoko, if you’re reading this, pay extra close attention. The person who “knew Apple had released something” didn’t know what it was, but they at least knew it was a device from the computer company, not a new remastered recording of “Can’t Buy Me Love”.

A Few Good (Experience) Games

Boys with Hoops

Want to spend a few minutes playing a free online game but tired of ones that blow? Try one or more from the carefully curated list at Good Experience Games.  Mark Hurst, partner in customer experience consultancy Creative Good and author of information overload life preserver Bit Literacy, has been assembling this list for almost five years—games that in his opinion, you guessed it, offer an especially “good experience”.

I recommend a couple of the latest additions.  Sushi Cat is cute and satisfying (and hopefully spayed, given how it reminds me of Bob Barker.  Ahhh, Plinko.)  This Is The Only Level is one bit of cleverness after the next, hidden beneath a minimalist facade.  (It really is the only level.)

He’s also recently added an iPhone game section, including my long-time favorite, Boggle uhhh…Quordy.

So head on over and check out these and some of his other selections, as well as a good UX blog and several other projects he has going on. Just don’t come back complaining if you descend too long into a vortex of well-designed giddiness.