Insights

Insights

Insights on innovation. We look at innovation wherever it comes from… startups, corporations and independent inventors. Our articles examine all angles of innovation, from concept to development to go-to-market, growth and scaling. We draw insights on how to apply learnings to your own organization and occasionally share things that Boom Factor has been working on as well. Hope you enjoy and hope to hear from you as well

Insights on innovation. We look at innovation wherever it comes from… startups, corporations and independent inventors. Our articles examine all angles of innovation, from concept to development to go-to-market, growth and scaling. We draw insights on how to apply learnings to your own organization and occasionally share things that Boom Factor has been working on as well. Hope you enjoy and hope to hear from you as well!

Notification about new drag-and-drop feature and interface changes to Gmail.
Google Demonstrates New Gmail
The Web is abuzz with news that Google finally took its office suite, including Gmail, out of beta. Initially launched on April 1, 2004 as an invitation-only release, over five years have passed before Gmail finally graduated to a fully mature product. I would love to know the reasoning behind such an uncommonly long beta period, especially since many have considered it fully-baked for quite some time now.
LG Recognized for its Mobile User Interface
LG ARENA won the IF Communication Design Award for the 3D S-Class User Interface featured on its latest handset, LG ARENA, which was awarded Gold in the Product Interfaces category. The interface, which won over all graphic user interfaces in several product categories, is used on LG’s other high-end phones, namely: Viewty Smart (LG-GC900), LG-GM730 and LG-GD900 Crystal.  
The Futility of the International Terminal
On a recent trip, I was reminded of the illogical separation of the international and domestic terminals in airports. I, like many, have been confused as to where to go when flying overseas; if you have a stop-over in your origin country, do you go to the domestic terminal or to the international one? Why does the separation exist really? It seems like an antiquated system that no one has bothered to rethink. Furthermore, there has been little room to grow with this separation. In the San Francisco International Airport, for instance, JetBlue has been relegated to the international airport
Some Inspirational UX Quotes
Here are a few quotes that should provide some mid-week inspiration. Some are fairly familiar and other are new gems: “It’s the total experience that matters. And that starts from when you first hear about a product… experience is more based upon memory than reality. If your memory of the product is wonderful, you will excuse all sorts of incidental things.” – Don Norman, 2008 “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.” – Steve Jobs “Making the simple complicated is
The Importance of Content in the Customer Experience
Colleen Jones at UX Magazine published a poignant article today entitled, Using Content to Grow Customer Relationships. She speaks about the value of enhancing communication, sometimes in lieu of features, to nuture customer relationships. In so doing, companies can create richer experiences by improving the business-human connection. She advocates for focusing on messaging not only for customer acquisition, but very importantly for retention and loyalty. Jones writes: “Because your site’s content mediates customer relationships, it offers an opportunity to deepen those relationship,” and “… content that supports customer relationships is not merely documentation or filler or marketing blast or user
Designing and Evaluating Gestural Interfaces
Touch continues to be a big topic in user experience and product development. I recently came across two articles that add great points to the continuing dialog: Design Considerations for Touch UI The article (no longer available) enumerates five major pointers for designing effective touch interfaces, namely: Design for immediate access Keep gestures smart and simple Leverage clear mental models Design for real hand sizes Touch feedback is key Evaluating Gesture Usability Kevin Arthur, whose site is dedicated to touch interface usability, shares a rough draft for evaluating gestures. He advocates for the need to have “reliable and repeatable evaluation
Don Norman on User Experience Design
I encourage everyone in product development and service industries to watch the talk which Don Norman gave at UX Week last year (video below). I finally had a chance to watch the video that was released earlier this year, and heard many gems. It’s great to hear the father of User Experience design advocate for the fundamental elements of good design, while also challenging the scope of the field to aid in its evolution. Norman mentions: “Know your users” – it’s still the most fundamental principle of design The importance of terminology. He prefers the term people not users. The
Web Analytics and User Experience Design
Without user experience design to ground and inform it, trying to make sense of web analytics results in conjecture. On the other hand, user experience design without analytical testing to validate and fine-tune it can only be informed guesswork. Analytics data is useful when it is utilized to measure success of goals and to understand performance issues. The elements of the user experience design field, such as user-centered design and usability paradigms, help to make sense of such data. In addition, while data can measure lack of success, it can not tell provide solutions; it takes a user experience specialist
Dimensions of Compelling Mobile Experiences
Dave Zuverink, a Senior User Research Specialist on Adobe XD’s Mobile and Devices team, wrote a compelling article on the five dimensions of successful mobile application experiences. He lists: Core: the fundamentals which support the principle “form follows function” Social: taking advantage of the platform’s intrinsic communication focus Contextual: being aware of physical location (also, based on comments in the article, other applications) Cloud: back-up and optimization Multi-screen: functioning across multiple devices Thinking of the user’s experience in these dimensions can bring a much more cohesive and useful experience, which I agree will be much more compelling. Of course, each
Visual Design Lead Leaves Google: Couldn’t Stand Design by Numbers
Douglas Bowman, largely credited with building the visual design team at Google, left the company on Friday, March 20. On his last day he wrote his reasons for leaving on his blog, Stopdesign. In the post he states his frustration with data dictating design and leaving barely any room for creativity. Bowman writes: Yes, it’s true that a team at Google couldn’t decide between two blues, so they’re testing 41 shades between each blue to see which one performs better. I had a recent debate over whether a border should be 3, 4 or 5 pixels wide, and was asked
Google’s User Experience Director Speaks About Design Challenges
BusinessWeek has a great Q&A with Google’s Director of User Experience, Irene Au. In the article, Irene Au is asked about Google’s approach to design and brand coherence across different Google products. Not surprisingly, Google has a very scientific approach to experience design, heavily rooted in quantitative methods: and analysts pore over streams of data to assess the impact of experiments with colors, shading, and the position of every element on the page. Even changes at the pixel level can affect revenue…. A lot of our design decisions are really driven by cognitive psychology research that shows that, say,
A Great Example of Lazy (Soft) Registration
Imagine you go to a store to buy some new jeans. As you are checking out, the cashier tells you that you must provide your name, email, and passcode to purchase the items you’ve selected. You’d probably exclaim some choice words and storm out of the store, vowing never to return. Well, many websites continue to insist that their users register before completing a crucial action like paying for things you want to buy. User information is valuable, but insisting that they provide it is pretty crazy and tyrannical. One way to mitigate this dichotomy is the idea of lazy
The Palm Pre User Experience
The iPhone started a paradigm shift in mobile that led to a deluge of touch-screen devices, which differ only slightly in feature sets and overall experience. Marek Pawlowski of MEX writes a very detailed account how Palm went back to its ideological roots and to the blackboard to design a unique mobile device–the Pre. In some aspects, the Pre seems to make improvements on common features such as the ergonomics of the QWERTY keyboard: The curvature of the handset improves the balance when typing, combating the “top heavy” feeling users complain of with standard QWERTY monoblocs like the Blackberry Bold
Digitial Camera User Interfaces
With all the talk of mobile phones and touch screen interfaces, it was nice to come across a fairly complete look at existing camera interfaces, which typically do not get much coverage. Gizmodo’s Matt Buchanan, not only gives a great “visual tour” of the top players in camera devices: Canon, Nikon, Sony, Panasonic, Casio, Olympus and Fujifilm, but also a nice round-up on what the various makers are doing right and wrong.
Eye-Tracking Studies at Google
Two user experience researchers share on the Google Blog how their team conducted eye-tracking studies on the interface of Universal Search to gain insight into optimal information design. They write in their post: Our User Experience Research team has found that people evaluate the search results page so quickly that they make most of their decisions unconsciously…. Of course, eye-tracking does not really tell us what they are thinking, but it gives us a good idea of which parts of the page they are thinking about.
Privacy and Security Concerns of Online Applications
As seemingly everyone is moving toward working online, security concerns are being thrown to the wayside with troubling consequences. A recent occurrence at a hot start-up made me seriously think twice about how safe our online data is from malicious eyes. One of the main themes of Web 2.0 is the large-scale migration to the ‘cloud’. Many work-related tasks such as email, word processing, day planning, and idea sharing are being done online rather than on the desktop or across the desk. Hordes of users and technologists sing unmitigated praises of online applications and collaboration services. I too love the
More Evidence that Speed Is Key to User Experience
A while back, Marissa Mayer of Google shared some very compelling research results at a Web 2.0 conference. In essence, she stated that an additional delay of 0.5 seconds to page-load time caused a 20% drop in traffic. Naturally, the first question that came to mind is whether this was an isolated case, or if others were finding such large repercussions for similarly small interaction delays. Greg Linden, writes a very compelling account, on his blog Geeking with Greg, where he remarks that the findings that Marissa shared mirror his own research experience at Amazon: had a similar experience
A Simple Product Line the Secret to Apple’s Success?
In these tough economic times, one reads of disappointing earnings and layoffs almost every day. Certainly, consumer electronics companies are not unaffected, and major players like Microsoft and Sony are seeing sales plummet and are cutting staff. However, there is one among them that is doing exceptionally well given the market conditions–Apple. Matt Burns over at CrunchGear wonders in a recent post whether the secret for Apple’s success isn’t its simple product line. Matt notes in his post that Apple’s product line consists of “ cellphone, four iPods, three notebooks, and three desktop computers.” It’s certainly a fair question, and
Modern Mobile Phones Frustrate Most Users
The BBC reports on a study conducted by Mformation, which reveals that of 4,000 people interviewed in the UK and US, 61% claim that “setting up a new handset is as challenging as moving bank accounts.” The report reveals other details of the complexity users face, such as using various applications, browsing the web, reading email, and sending picture messages. Results include: “Of those questioned, 95% said they would be more likely to use new features if the initial set-up were easier.” “Some 61% of those questioned said they stopped using an application if they could not get it working
YouTube on TiVo
YouTube Spreads to More Consumer Electronics
YouTube announced yesterday yet another way to access its videos on a TV: through the Sony Playstaion 3 (PS3) and Nintendo Wii. The service is now in beta but there are many other devices that can access complete versions today. YouTube has made several deals with set-top box manufacturers and TV manufacturers, releasing its first TV application on AppleTV in June 2007. Other devices that now boast this service are: iPhone Sony Bravia TVs via its wireless module TiVo HP MediaSmart TV VuNow by Verismo Networks D-Link Media Lounge / Active TV YouTube seems to really be living up to
A Film About Industrial Design
Gary Hustwit brings us “a look at the creativity at work behind everything from toothbrushes to tech gadgets” with his new feature-length documentary film, Objectified. The film includes interviews with international visionaries and design leaders such as Jonathan Ive from Apple and Chris Bangle from BMW among others. “ film documents the creative processes of some of the world’s most influential designers, and looks at how the things they make impact our lives.” Objectified will premier at the South by Southwest Film Festival from March 13th to the 21st.