User Experience News

Here’s a collection of user interface news, as aggregated by AllTop. I take no responsibility for the content, but it’s usually very good.

Required Reading – The End Of Apps As We Know Them

My colleague, former Microsoftie and Sage-ite Steve Cover, posted a link to a thought provoking article on Intercom.io. Titled “The End Of Apps As We Know Them“, it claims that designers and developers need to focus more on designing apps as systems that interact with other applications and OS’es, and less as stand-alone destinations. It’s […]

iPhone 6 Speed Test

iPhone 6 Speed TestThis speed test between the iPhone 6, the Galaxy S5, and the HTC One (M8) shows Apple’s newest handset roundly beating the others. I don’t usually link to this kind of technical content because I don’t have a ton of value to add on these topics. I’m also relatively unfamiliar with speed measurement techniques; this…

Basecampy?

If there was a buddy cop movie starring the Geico gecko and the Aflac duck, I’m pretty sure it would outperform “Edge of Tomorrow” at the box office.

We love our anthropomorphized branding mascots. Shortly after Basecamp hatched its own such character, I was watching a big event on TV, and it seemed as though every product in every commercial had sprouted arms and legs. I guess we are part of the zeitgeist.

While I would love to take credit for inventing our Basecamp creature because he came out of the tip of my Micron, the fact is Jason asked me to create it, and it’s pretty hard to go wrong by adding humanoid features to the Basecamp logo. The results are bound to be adorable. Shawnimals had made a similar character months before with the Happy Sherpa, and our design intern this summer, Julia, also made a nice version. That said, I’m proud of the character I helped create, and I’m glad to see it gain momentum. What started as an experiment seems to have taken hold.


At Basecamp, our marketing is more intuitive than contrived. We don’t have dedicated marketing or sales staff. We pay attention to data but it doesn’t own us (take that Noah). I think the philosophy has been that the best marketing is a superior product. Basecamp sells itself, but it doesn’t hurt to have something cool to print on T-shirts. That is where this mascot comes into play. Internally we have been calling it “Basecampy,” and I heard someone call it “Mr. Basecamp” the other day. Let it be known, however, that it is genderless. It reproduces through binary fission. A creation myth is in the works. Basecampy may stick as the name, but we are open for suggestions. Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Beyond You

In client work, it’s our responsibility to ensure that our work lives beyond ourselves. Sometimes that means making sure the CMS can handle clients’ ever-changing business needs, or making sure it continually teaches its users. For clients with an internal development team that will be taking over after you, it means making sure the design system you create is flexible enough to handle changes, yet rigid enough to maintain consistency.

Making your work live beyond you starts by changing your approach to design and development. Rather than defining and building a certain set of pages, focus on building an extensible design system of styles, modules, and page types.

Clients can use the system like LEGO bricks, by taking apart and rearranging modules in new and different ways. The key to a successful system is keeping that modularity in mind while going through design, front-end, and backend development. Every piece you build should be self-contained and reusable.

But a system like that only survives by educating your clients on how to use, maintain, and update it. Show how the components function, independently and together. Document and teach everything you can in whatever way works best—writing, screencasting, or in-person training sessions.

The most common mistake made in this process—and I’ve made it plenty of times before—is stopping at education. Building and teaching a modular system is a great start, but success hinges on your clients being able to use it entirely on their own.

In order for that to be the case, there is an important role reversal that must happen: the client team must become the doer, and you become the feedback-provider. That may sound weird, but think about how the design process normally goes. Say the client gives feedback on a checkout form—the functionality needs to be tweaked a bit to match their business operations. You take that feedback, design a solution, and present it back to them.

Instead, after this role reversal, the client team identifies the change that needs to be made, they use their knowledge of the system to make it, and you provide feedback on their implementation. That process gives their team a chance to work with your system while you’re still involved, and it lets you ensure that things are being used the way you intended.

So if you’re on the agency side like I am, remember that it’s your responsibility to make your work live on beyond your involvement. If you’re on the client side, hold your partner accountable for that. Ask all the necessary questions to really learn the system. Late in the project, ask how you can make changes, instead of letting the agency (or freelancer) make changes themselves. Force them to teach you how to care for what they’ve built, and everyone will be happier with, and more confident in, the result.

Infographic: 2015 E-commerce Opportunities

Interieur 2014

On Tuesday I took a little road trip to something I always look forward to. It’s a biannual event that takes place at the Kortrijk Xpo. You could say it’s our 'Milan design week'.

Interieur 2014 banner

24rd Biennale

Kortrijk really has become the center of design thanks to the Biennale Interieur. This year marks the 24th edition since it all started in 1968. It’s 10 days with 40.000m² of design across 6 halls from 300 selected brands. There is also a side track (that premiered in 2012) that runs in the city center on the Buda island where you can find the Budalab, Ventura Interieur platform and the expo Scandinavian Designers At Work. It’s easy to get there with one of 55 Audi’s that ride between the Xpo and the city center (from noon until midnight).

The home does not exist

Josep Grima is the curator of the cultural program at Interieur 2014. He goes for the shock approach with its title ‘The home does not exist’. He questions some of the things you’ll see at Interieur. In other words capitalism and the damage it does. He thinks we are at a turning point towards a better system. That’s what he tries to show in his exhibition. You can see his story in the Rambla, the central space between the other halls. The full program of the ‘The home does not exist’ can be found here.

A journey through the biennale with my images

My impressions of Interieur 2014. 'The home does not exist' was this years theme. Photos of Dark, Wildfire, PER/USE and more…

New Belgian labels that make their debut

It’s nice to see that design is very much alive in Belgium and that there is room for some new Belgian brands.

PER/USE

One of those new brands is PER/USE. I’ve written about their MCE Lamp not so long ago. They offer a balanced mix of furniture and accessories designed by international designers. You can find the PER/USE furniture at STAND 324 in HALL 3.

PER/USE living room
Zee

Another Brand that I featured here on my blog is Zee. They show their colorful Mirtoon and a new outside shower called ‘Levantine’ and is designed by Alain Gilles. Levantine will be available in the same color range as the Mirtoon. It’s cool and will be available in the Spring of 2015. Zee is found at STAND 118 in HALL 1.

Mirtoon by Zee
Moome

Another newcomer is ‘Moome’, a collaboration between design furniture manufacturer INDERA and MOOZ creative agency. They used Interieur to launch their 35 new products. The collection exists out of compact, affordable design and multifunctional interior accessories. They work with 12 designers such as Fabiaan Van Severen and Nathalie Dewez to name a few. I’ll write and show some of their furniture in an upcoming post. Moome is at STAND 459 in HALL 4.

rform

rform is also a new Belgian furniture design brand that develops contemporary design and manufactures it too. One of the criteria used by rform is affordability. Their focus deliberately opts for a low threshold, ecological materials and handy flat pack packaging with simple assembly instructions. It’s also very modular and highly customizable. Go see them at STAND 520 in HALL 5.

MMooD

The last newcomer I focus on is called ‘MMooD’. MMooD has high ambitions: give furniture design a new, sustainable dimension. MMooD is a brand recently created by furniture maker Karel Mintjens. The collection that they are showing at Interieur is called ‘FloWers & SeeDs’ and is created by two generations of Belgian designers. They also recently launched a collection designed by Pascale Naessens. One item out of her collection is the table below. MMooD is found at STAND 624 in HALL 6.

Eyes/Nights Only

Since the Biennale of 2012 there are also activities in the city center. One of the cooler ones this edition is taking place in a former school (Broelschool). It’s called 'Eyes/Nights Only' and situated in a former nunnery that soon will be knocked down to make room for luxury apartments. During the duration of Interieur this will be a temporary hotel annex showroom (during the day). It’s an idea of the agency Dift. To furnish the rooms, Dift approached furniture brands like Ikea or Durlet to come up with interpretations of a hotel room using their own products. Other rooms are done by furniture shops like Espoo for example. It’s a series of rooms spread across two floors. The old floors in this building are quite amazing. I absolutely adore the patterns.

Eyes/Nights Only, the temporary hotel annex showroom. Furnished by Ikea, Durelet, Espoo, Vormen, Artifort, Orac, Ilse Acke, Olivier Roels, Boss & Ydee. Photos: Dzeen.

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Mapillary

Mapillary lets you construct Street View-like panoramas from your own photos and integrate them into OpenStreetmap:

[via prosthetic knowledge]

Drone Racing Star Wars Style

As prosthetic knowledge says, this was bound to happen...

[via CreativeApplications.net]

This Is Not a Conspiracy Theory

This Is Not a Conspiracy TheoryA new series from Kirby Ferguson, the prolific video essayist behind the fantastic series “Everything Is a Remix.” Released episodically as new installments are completed, “This Is Not a Conspiracy Theory” examines “the quest to understand the hidden forces shaping our lives.” The first episode is free, but a US subscription is required to view…