Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Fluxible offseason is a busy one

Compared with the excitement around last September’s event, the Fluxible offseason may seem quiet. Behind the scenes, though, there’s plenty of activity as we plan for our September 2015 edition. We have dates and venues pretty much nailed down, if not announced, but there’s still much to do.

The main focus of activity for Bob Barlow-Busch and me right now is on finding speakers to bring to town. This is one of the most rewarding and fun parts of putting on our UX conference. We get to meet and talk with smart people who are passionate about UX, and who want to share their knowledge and experience. Recruiting continues, but we’ve already got some fantastic speakers lined up, with some terrific topics that they’ll be bringing to the event. There’ll also be a few surprising topics that are sure to delight attendees!

We’re pretty excited about how it’s shaping up. While it’s still a little early to be making any announcements, we’ll start doing that soon.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Talking about about design artifacts

On Friday I visited the REAP Felt Lab to talk with a group of people about design artifacts.

It was a bit of an overview of some of the things used to communicate a design to the various stakeholders in a product development project. As time was limited, the focus was on representations of the user interface. That is, while they’re important, we didn’t get into such useful research artifacts as personas or scenarios or journey maps.

We did cover such obvious candidates as wireframes and prototypes in various levels of fidelity, exploring the different forms that they can take, and their strengths and weaknesses in different contexts. We also looked at sketches, which might have a more limited audience — maybe even just the designer in some cases — but which are something that I use on every design project. (As an aside, I’ve written before about pencils and how regularly I use them for sketching and more.)

The discussion was lively and the group was an engaging one. I always find it much more interesting to hear what other folks have to say, and welcomed the thoughts that everyone shared. My thanks to REAP for inviting me!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Boltmade is hiring

The new year is well underway, and at Boltmade we’ve cranked up the hiring machine. We’re looking for developers to join our team.

Needless to say, I think that Boltmade is a fantastic place to work!

We have a diverse set of clients that range in size from “two people with an idea” to Fortune 500. All of our clients care deeply about their products and want Boltmade to help them deliver something meaningful to the world. To do that, we have a skilled and engaged team of software developers and designers who truly enjoy building software products. And we do it well.

There’s plenty of opportunity to learn new things, collaborate with smart people, and enjoy a level of autonomy that encourages both. And we do it all in the historic and beautifully restored Bauer Building on King Street in Uptown Waterloo, where fine food and other amenities are a short walk away.

In short, we have terrific fun doing what we do!

If Boltmade sounds interesting to you, then get in touch with us! We’d love to talk with you.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Duelling “Cancel” buttons on my iPhone

I’ve recently noticed an example of duelling “Cancel” buttons in iOS 8 on my iPhone. Have a look the following screen captures to see how it plays out.

Screen 1 shows the Photos app on my iPhone, showing a photo of a steam locomotive. If I want to make some changes to the photo, I can tap the “Edit” button in the upper right corner to edit the photo.

Screen 1, showing a photo in Photos app
Screen 1.

In Screen 2, I’ve decided to crop the image, which is easy to do.

Screen 2, showing edit mode on a photo in Photos app
Screen 2.

Maybe this photo doesn’t need to be cropped after all. In Screen 3 I can tap “Cancel” in the bottom left corner.

Screen 3, showing cropped photo with changes made
Screen 3.

The App designers don’t want me to inadvertently lose any work that I’ve done. In Screen 4 the app presents a confirmation, with “Discard Changes” and “Cancel” as the options. Why yes! I do want to cancel!

Screen 4, showing badly worded confirmation button labels
Screen 4.

Of course, the meaning “Cancel” has changed! Initially it meant “I don’t want to make these changes!”. Now it means “I do want to make these changes!” which is obviously a little confusing, as tapping cancel will leave me on the same editing screen that I actually want to leave.

A better pair of labels might be “Cancel, and discard changes” and “Continue editing”. There are probably plenty of others.

You don’t often see this kind of unclearly worded confirmation these days!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Airplane routes and chartjunk

While traveling home from UX Camp Ottawa, Bob Barlow-Busch and I had a fun discussion about our airplane’s route as presented to us by the seat-back, enRoute system. The system cycles through multiple screens showing information about our trip in progress.

Here’s a photo of a route map, showing us flying west from Ottawa to Toronto. The airplane icon moves from right to left over the course of the trip. The map is presented at a variety of other scales as well. (As an aside, a segment of the route trace is missing at the start.)

Here’s a photo of what looks like a simplified route map. The airplane icon moves from left to right over the course of the trip. That’s the opposite direction to what is shown in the earlier map.

What’s going on is that the second map is really a progress indicator that has been “enhanced” through the addition of a curved grid and the use of a curved progress line. These enhancements seem to be meant to evoke a 3-dimensional route through the air. The problem is that when shown right after the previous map, the direction of travel is reversed for our particular trip. The system has a generalized approach to representing any given trip, and in the case of ours this conflicting presentation is the result.

A simple solution would be to create a progress indicator that is devoid of what Edward Tufte calls chartjunk. A clearer presentation would be unlikely to look like a flight trace.

Isn't that fun?

As an aside, Bob and I were quite aware that we were flying through the air at high speed on a regularly scheduled flight, and that give that context this was a pretty minor issue for us!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

UX Camp Ottawa

Having presented three editions of Fluxible, our UX conference, Bob Barlow-Busch and I know how much work goes into creating such an event. And while we love doing it, we’re always working while Fluxible is on, always paying attention to various details.

This past weekend Bob and I travelled to Ottawa to attend the fifth edition of UX Camp Ottawa, giving us an opportunity to enjoy a UX conference without needing to ensure that it’s running smoothly.

It was a fine experience, with a different vibe, and a larger crowd, than we’re used to with Fluxible. We enjoyed the program of speakers. We also had some great conversations and reconnected with old friends (Cornelius! Lou!) and made a few new ones (Abby! Kim!). We were delighted to see Konrad Sauer deliver a talk that he had debuted at Fluxible 2013. All this is what what conferences are for, right?

UX Ottawa co-chairs Cornelius Rachieru, Tanya Snook, Barbara Spanton and their team have created a great event. For Bob and I it’s gratifying to be a part of the larger UX community that UX Camp Ottawa and Fluxible are supporting here in Ontario.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Sharing at Boltmade

One of the things I love about Boltmade is the way that we engage with the community and share our knowledge as well as our wonderful space in the Bauer complex.

Boltmade has been host for the venerable DevHouse monthly meetups for quite some time, and has recently hosted sessions for uxWaterloo (which I run with Bob Barlow-Busch), KW Ruby Developers, and People x Products, among others. All were enthusiastically attended.

Beyond playing host, though, we also develop our own workshops to give folks hands-on experience with various aspects of software product development. For example, last week two of our designers, Brian and Blake, presented an introduction to Sketch, a cool UI prototyping and design tool that we’ve been using and enjoying on our projects at Boltmade. Back in September Chris and Stephen presented an introduction to functional programming.

Beyond our cozy office, Shan will be taking her prototyping workshop on the road to present it at a REAP lunch session at Felt Lab.

It’s all great stuff.

Interested in meeting interesting people and learning something new? Check out our events and join us at a future session.