illustration of Apple's CarPlay
Posted on March 5, 2014 by

CarPlay and Future Car Interfaces

More horses. More wheels driving. More intuitive car interfaces. Is Apple’s CarPlay the answer?

Kid number two is on the way which means I’m in car-buying mode. Commercial breaks are for Consumer Reports (yes, I know that little about cars) and weekends are filled with test drives.

A big surprise has been how poorly many ‘infotainment’ interfaces have been designed. Basic tasks like adjusting temperature and finding a radio station seem archaic. The user experience of new cars hasn’t changed as much as the fake carbon fibre accents would have you believe.

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Posted on January 13, 2014 by

Compromise in Design

Designing without compromise isn’t realistic and drives away clients.

If you read about design enough, it’s easy to think that decisions get made in a vacuum. The designers create a groundbreaking online experience and the client cuts a cheque. It’s like first-year physics when problems are in frictionless environments with weightless ropes and pulleys.

The reality is design decisions get made in hostile environments with legacy systems, risk-averse stakeholders, and the ‘but we’ve always done it this way’ mentality. There’s limited time, you get to test ideas if you’re lucky, and budget hammers are always a swingin’.

Compromise isn’t selling out. It’s a possible outcome to a rational design process.

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Posted on December 10, 2013 by

Universal Web Design

Universal Web Design aims to make the web for everyone.

By now, all designers have a seat on the responsive design train. There’s no such thing as a mobile web or a desktop web – there’s just one internet that needs to work on as many devices as possible.

But being responsive is only half the battle. Responsiveness just means our sites change based on device characteristics (like screen size) but they could still be a bummer to use. Better web experiences need to consider accessibility, usability, and performance. For the time being, let’s call this Universal Web Design.

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Posted on November 25, 2013 by

Design is not subjective

Design solves problems. When we trust design is not subjective, we make better digital experiences.

Imagine being in the last round of prototype reviews. No one agrees and out of frustration someone quips, “Isn’t design subjective? Let’s just put this to a vote.” Even if not said aloud, this is the elephant in the room when consensus can’t be reached or when a new designer comes aboard.

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Posted on November 14, 2013 by

Natural language processing is just hitting its stride

With natural language processing, our devices, websites, and apps understand conversational phrases. They’ll act based on what we mean, not blindly follow the keywords we type.

It’s just getting to the point where natural language input is no longer frustrating. We can start to trust websites that tell us to ‘ask a question’. We can bark voice commands to our phones – and actually expect more than jokes. This progress is a big opportunity to make our digital work more usable.

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