I have essays to write, designs to finish, sketches to make, and friends and family to attend to. I’ve got enough meat for most of my day, and to gobble up more cotton candy than I need isn’t just dumb, it’s down right destructive. And I’ll be damned if that little bit of time I have left over is going to be devoted to fluff that isn’t nourishing. Give me fun, but give me substance.
Last night I re-tweeted something that Brandon Walkin said: “The Teehan+Lax iPhone PSD is indirectly responsible for reducing the quality of UI on the App Store.”
I got a few replies this morning asking what I meant by it, so here goes.
First off, the guys at Teehan+Lax do some great work and the first iteration of the iPhone PSD (and subsequent updates) were a god-send to designers/devs everywhere who were quickly trying to flesh out ideas for new apps. However, the buttons are not quite accurate—especially the latest version—and tend to be blurry and a little lower quality than what you would find on a native Apple application.
What I assume Brandon meant was that too many people are simply using these elements from the Teehan+Lax PSD with little attention to detail and are not spending any time of their own to make sure the buttons and icons are up to the Apple standard.
In my opinion, the Teehan+Lax stuff was always about having some assets to use to quickly iterate on design ideas, not to serve as the final product. If you want your applications to truly shine you have to sweat the small stuff. After all, if we have learned one thing from Steve Jobs its that success is all about obsessing over the details.
Ahhhh… what grand plans I had for the beginning of 2010. A complete overhaul of my personal sites/branding, a new collaboration with Josh Porter, updating my wife’s website, and numerous things at work.
However, leading the design team at a startup and being a good husband and father took up a bit more time than I had planned on and so the only thing that got out the door was 52 Weeks of UX, which I am proud to say, is off to a great start! I realized mid-way through my personal site(s) redesign that I wanted a system that was flexible enough to handle all the things I have planned and yet maintain a visual consistency that I could feel good about. So, I went back to the drawing board and hopefully soon you will see the fruits of that labor.
Another huge goal of mine for this year is to write more. I realized that 2 things need to happen for this to really take off:
- Read as much as possible. Read all kinds of different stuff. Read fiction. Read non-fiction. Read. Read. Read.
- Write. All the time. Whenever I have an idea, put it on paper (or in Evernote). But the point being, you must write constantly and without fear in order to become a better writer.
All this to say, I am excited for this year ahead and be on the lookout for more good stuff coming soon!
Faucet gets turned on. No water comes out.
The plumber comes. Makes some noise. Bangs around a little bit.
Faucet gets turned on. Poof. Water comes out.
I envy that.
But, did the faucet elicit the right feelings?
Is the faucet optimized and properly commented for future plumbers?
What’s the ROI on properly functioning indoor plumbing?
If we hire 9 plumbers, can they do 9 hours of work in one hour?
Can we save money by hiring plumbers from Azerbaijan?
Why are we paying the plumber so much? My cousin has a monkey wrench.
Design communicates on every level. It tells you where you are, cues you to what you can do, and facilitates the doing.
— Jeffrey Zeldman, Style vs Design.
And even if what we do grabs someone’s attention for a season, we have to understand how fickle modern audiences are. If I base my identity on having and holding your attention, I forget who I am as soon as you forget to pay attention to me. Being heard can’t be our motivation for speaking. Being responded to can’t be our motivation for sharing. Being discovered can’t be our motivation for creating.
www.52weeksofux.com—a Josh & Josh production. The totally awesome Mr. Josh Porter and I started this project because we wanted to try and simplify down some of the principles that go into creating meaningful experiences. We both love simple, clear interactions and have a desire for people to make it over the hurdles often thrown in front of them (many times purely by accident/ignorance) and achieve the goals they were aiming for.
We also wanted to share our experience in the trenches and hopefully help many of you (both the newly aspiring and the experienced yet tired veterans) apply some simple principles to the process of crafting the user experience.
I hope you enjoy the ride!
Improving the air travel experience is something of a passion of mine, so when I saw Tyler Thompson’s boarding pass redesign, I was intrigued. His article is well-thought-out and provoking, but unfortunately his redesigns don’t address a lot of the practical issues that airline travelers and airlines have to deal with.
Tim Morgan discussed some of the obvious shortcomings in his summary here, and after talking with both him and James Yu I’ve taken a first pass at a practical boarding pass redesign. (Edit: I’ve also discussed another use case here.)
Going over practicalities and priorities.
I had a few design constraints. First, no interesting typefaces or graphics: although they could vastly improve user experience, practically speaking, the machines that print boarding passes won’t be replaced soon. For this redesign, I stuck with one-weight Monaco. Likewise small gate maps of each airport would be ideal, but aren’t practical—so, that idea was scrapped, too.
Second, I constantly kept in mind that the ticket has at least two users, and usually three: both the traveler, who uses it as a reference, and also any TSA agent or airline employee that might need to inspect it.
For this example, I researched multiple airlines’ boarding passes to see what information needed to be included for all interested parties. I chose United Airlines as the airline here, mainly because I used them to travel home for the holidays this Christmas. With a lot of help from James, I’ve outlined checked-in, boarding-pass carrying airline traveler priorities as follows:
- Gate number
- Board time
- Boarding zone
- Seat number
- Departure time
The redesign itself.
You’ll see that the ticket reflects the priorities I just listed for passengers. For the TSA officials scanning this boarding pass, they’ll see the information they’re looking for up top, where the untrained quickly learn to find it: airline, flight number, and passenger name (in the same order as the passenger’s ID).
For airline officials, most of their internal indexing numbers are inside the grey box—it’s grey so that it’s easy for the other parties to ignore. So far as I can tell, airline-only information is usually a bunch of ID numbers. In this mockup, I’ve also included a lot of abbreviations that were present on several boarding pass examples, though in every example I found online, they were left blank. Maybe someone in the airline industry can explain their purpose.
Because I’m a sucker for plain English instructions, I’ve included the text “First leg to [airport code] | transfer at [airport code]” above the grey airline-only box. I’m not sure whether or not it’s feasible to put leg numbers on boarding passes, but if one could easily put one’s transfer tickets in order, it would make travel that much more pleasant.
So let’s walk through some details.
The passenger gets their ticket at the check-in counter or self-check-in kiosk. If they’re printing out tickets at home the night before, or received them in the mail prior to flight, they won’t get a gate, in which case the gate number will have tiny instructions to check with an airline employee. In any case, once travelers know their gate and are going through security, they’ll focus on this:
TSA agents, on the other hand, will be focused on this, especially the top row:
And of course, should there be any problems at the gate, the agent will be focused on this, particularly the information in and above the grey box:
When the passenger is ready to board, they will care about this:
And when they are in the walkway, almost on the plane, they only have the right-hand ticket stub—which is fine, because they just care about this:
Though this redesign isn’t sexy, the important information will be obvious to whoever’s looking for it. TSA agents and airline agents are look at hundreds, if not thousands, of boarding passes a day, so despite the smaller type size, with this redesign they’ll be able to find what they’re looking for because the information they really need is grouped in a small and readable area.
For travelers, the benefits to this design are obvious. A lot of the changes I’ve made are similar to Thompsons’, but with a clearer information hierarchy and a more legible typeface.
A typographic addendum.
Speaking of legible typefaces, this design is typographically sound and if printing machine support it, should look good in a wide variety of typefaces. Here’s the same redesign set in Helvetica Neue (normal and bold).
In personal work, optimism trumps experience.
— (via designethos)
This year saw lots of short trips, hops-skips-and-jumps here and there. The following is a list of places I stayed for at least one night this year:
- San Diego (permanent residence until July)
- San Francisco (permanent residence since July)
- San Jose
- Los Angeles
Well, that was a short list. Might need to expand the travel plans next year and try and make it to the east coast—I hear Boston is pretty sweet and of course there is NYC… oh, and there is the whole 10 year anniversary coming up. So that will need to be somewhere tropical.
Alright 2010, bring on the travel!
Absolutely love the sketching style of the talented JV Bates (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jvbates/). Reminds me I need to upload some sketches one of these days.
My husband and I decided last Saturday to go and try a new coffee shop near our apartment. We moved to SF about 6 months ago and I have to say we have become blue bottle (local coffee shop) junkies. It was time for us to try something new. So, we ventured out to the Creamery despite some very bad reviews. As we were waiting for our yummy crepes and sipping on some damn good coffee, Joshua snapped this photo of Ruth and I. I don’t know why but it just melts me every time I see it. It may just be cute to some but to me there is something so much deeper. When I look at I see this little girl who wants so much to share everything with me. She loves “mama” and everything I do she wants to do and everything she does she wants me to do. So we gave her a coffee cup full of ice water. She loved that it looked like what mom and dad drink out of. So of course she wanted to share it with me. I love love love how she is changing so much every day and I see the beautiful, wonderful, big heart coming out in so many areas. She love to help me in whatever I am doing and although it can be sometimes the most challenging, it is also the most endearing. I just love her and I think I learn so much more from her than I ever thought possible. I want to have this same heart. So simple, she just loves to give love.
I am certainly blessed to be surrounded by two amazing ladies!
I know the price of success: dedication, hard work & an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen.
— Frank Lloyd Wright