Posts Tagged ‘Jesper Wille’

Touching the… something

June 5, 2011

You may recall I’ve had words on various touch gadgets in the past, like here or overthere – this post I thought I’d devote to a designer’s look at touch technology itself, so let’s dig in:

– undoubtedly riding the coattails of both the ridonkolously successful iPhone/Pad and their own attemps at mobile OS, Microsoft have started teasing Windows 8. Now, if one did not much like MS, one might ask why one should believe they can make that work when Win-7 clearly ended up as little more than a graphic front-end on XP but that would be outside the scope of this article, and… whoops, I guess I did ask it after all.
Anyway, that’s not the point – the point is, MS want to be the first to apply what is essentially the user interface of a smartphone to a “PC”, as they call it. Complete with swiping, tiles, apps, the whole shebang.

Behold:

The above video became the straw that made me start writing this, and now I must explain why…

Well, in one of the articles I linked at up at the beginning, I mention hotkeys and such, and I also berate the lack of an actual, physical keyboard – at the heart of it, these two complaints are the problem with touch.
Of course, you may think that hotkeys are the stuff o’ geeks, and certainly there are ones you (or even I) have never heard of, but if you’re being but a little productive on your computer, chances are you use some, like cut/copy/paste, or arrow keys or tab, for example.

Then there’s the physical keyboard itself – it relates to touch like a church organ does to a harmonica. What I mean is, even if you’re the most dexterous person you know, the number of possible gestures you can squeeze out of ten fingers (even if none are used to hold the device) pales in comparison to the number of combinations even a relatively-fumbling person can manage with those ten fingers and a qwerty keyboard – there’s just way more material there, which means potential access to a greater number of practical shortcuts.

But there’s something more to the difference between touch and an actual keyboard, and it’s the same reason that this never became popular:

It’s a laser keyboard, and it’s been around for almost twenty years but maybe you’ve never seen one in real life, as it never really caught on.
Why? Because it lacks something you probably didn’t know you needed in a keyboard (and indeed in many other cases): Tactile feedback.
Your fingers, flying mostly below the radar of your consciousness, rely heavily on feedback from the keyboard, and therein lies the rub: – anyone doing anything other than casual browsing (i.e. non-productive activities) on a device is going to experience significant slowing in interaction if, instead of the fingers instantly “knowing” if they hit those buttons or keys or not, and if they responed, you’d have to rely on a visual or audio cue (like a blink or a click) that you have to consciously take note of.
That’s why the F and J keys on your keyboard, and the 5 if you have a numerical pad, have a small bump – to tell you, at a near-subconscious level, that your fingers are in the right place.

This is hyper-low tech – it’s tactile response, something we’ve had since we were friggin monkeys, having snuck into everyday use (check your non-touch phone if you have one, see the little bumps? – see the little nubs on your headphones, telling you which is left and right?), and we rely on it so heavily we’re not even aware of it.

It makes sense – afterall, how often do you ever look down at your fingers, or any other part of your body, to check where it is? Usually (as in, when you’re not learning the tightrope, for example) you don’t have to because the body is exceptionally good at keeping you informed about what it’s doing.
Imagine doing something as simple as walking by consciosly deciding what to do with your legs and feet all along – this is head-explodingly difficult, and the reason some people never learn to walk fully again after certain types of injuries, namely the type that makes the body “forget” how it feels, and forces the concious mind to work it out instead.

The concious mind is good at many things – but being fast is not one of them.

So everyone who uses even slight amounts of blind-typing, which here means “anyone who ever take their eyes off the keyboard at any time during computer use”, is going to have to overcome this. Now granted, for much casual use speed is not of the essence, and you’ll probably be OK once you’ve got new routines but for most productive uses, touch is going to be a major hurdle.



(if you’re now sighing and rolling your eyes, mumbling to yourself how they’ll overcome that easily and soon, you should know that Nokia announced their tactile feedback touch keyboard as far back as 2007 – also something you’ve probably never seen or even heard of. Apparently it’s not that easy)

OK, so what am I saying here, that I want to outlaw – or at least diss heavily on – touch interfaces?
Of course not. Well, the dissing part may be true. But they’re cool, and what’s more, they are now popular with Microsoft, meaning we’re stuck with them even if they weren’t cool at all.

What I want to say with this article is this: – some very important details concerning humans and design are especially apt at flying below the radar and be overlooked, specifically because their place in whatever process we’re talking about is mostly (or completely) outside the spectrum of the conscious experience involved, even if they’re absolutely central to it.
I think we should devote specific attention to try and notice these details.
Not because we can’t make things that work otherwise – things like touch technology clearly works – but because we can make things that work even better if we do.

I also think touch interfacing has as much place on an actual computer as wifi on a sledgehammer, and by thinking this is the one goal of computer development now, to add touch to everything, MS and Apple both (damn, I wish we had more choices!) risk crippling the otherwise incredibly versatile tool a computer truly is.

Broader vision, people, broader vision.

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“UX is not” manifesto, really…

October 27, 2009

This is going to be just a short post (by my standards anywyay) – just thought I’d take a moment to commend this wonderful run-down by UX designer Whitney Hess, of what User Experience and the design thereof is not.

While I’m usually not particularly fond of defining anything through what it isn’t, the field of UX (as it’s also mentioned in the article linked above) is so new and floaty that, to get more familiar with it, the is-not view is one of the steps that we probably have to go through.

Now, I am not going to go down the list and comment everything in the article – suffice to say, I mostly agree with the points that are being made, and you’ll just have to read it to see what they are (I also suggest clicking on some of Whitney’s many links, interesting stuff there too).

And while you’re at it, feel free to compare what’s being communicated in the article to my personal work manifesto (see how much I like that word? Terrible!), as well as the reason for my self-ascribed title of “Design & User Experience Creative Playmaker” (conveniently located in the lower right side of my contact page there).
Yep, we certainly seem to be on roughly the same page.


– and you find all of that over at my website, of course

Finally, a side note: – did you peep that “drag to share” widget about half way down the page? Awesome!

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Change of pace… again!

June 14, 2009

Well, gosh darnit, things just keep happening!

Things like, during what we at JWcph call the anti-bubble (you know, cryziz’n all) I went away from working as advisor, PR chief, salesman etc. at Mekavi, redesigned and rebooted my own website and revived this blog – during that same time I had meetings all over the place… maybe some of those projects will turn up in these pages eventually.

Anyway – I got my head all hunted, so to speak, as the word of my availability to new challenges reached the ear of Karina, Michala & Julie of Rue Verte // Rue Verte Plus, one thing led to another, and two weeks ago I started work with Rue Verte Plus as assistant manager.

Rue Verte Plus

I am very happy for this – these are some lovely people, it’s a great store with some great goodies (don’t just take my word for it, this book says so too – RVP is one of the 55 coolest shops in the world!), and I look forward immensely to working there.

Being this guy that I am, one of the first things I’ve done (besides immersing myself in the new surroundings) is to create a Facebook page for Rue Verte Plus. I’ll be maintaining it, and it’ll be great, with news and events, as well as general stuff concerning our brands, associates and all that.

This is not to say that nothing else will happen, though, and blog & website will once again go dormant.
The tone will probably change a little, and posting frequency may vary but I’ll still be around – maybe to tell you how it’s going with that stereo system I’m designing with Karsten Lülloff and Ulf Nielsen // Helio Audio, or maybe to show some sketches for that waste disposal system I’m creating with mr. Bohmbastik (still kinda secret, so…), og maybe just my two cents on something vaguely design related…

But I’ll be here.

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Perspective on neo-tribalism

May 18, 2009

Have you heard about that, neo-tribalism?

Well, it’s a concept notably promoted by Seth Godin, modern marketing guru and widely credited for popularising the concept of “permission marketing”, and it revolves around using technology (that is, the internet) to form modern tribes around products, causes, activities etc.

actual tribe, the model for Godin’s concept

At present, this idea has considerable buzz going for it in marketing circles, spilling over into lots of other fields of professional communication – so I think this might be a good time to do a piece on it… here goes:

In Godin’s perspective, a neo-tribe is inherently positive – it’s a group of people who genuinely believe in something, and who are given the goodies about that something and the channels for spreading them.
Ideally, this means that a relatively small number of “true believers” will philantropically spread ideas far and wide, in a way no one person or company could, with a credibility you couldn’t match, and reaching deeper into the receiving masses than you could ever hope for.

A PR professional’s dream, and also, when it works, a great idea indeed – which is why Godin has reached the levels of fame and recognition he now enjoys – and a powerful implementation of permission marketing.

In fact, I use techniques similar to these when I communicate about the things I do, and I have done so before I knew anything about these concepts – however, my experience leads me to this advice: Don’t think this is magic.

The fact is, there are many, thousands, of us, trying to create this kind of following – you see this every day in your email inbox, on your twitter, Facebook, everywhere.
And you do it. Sort of.
You see, the modern tribe has two major weaknesses that an actual tribe either didn’t have or rarely fell under…

and neither did jedi…

Number one: – tech tribalism is easy. I can join a tribe about the most important topic in the world and be a contributing member in five minutes flat, by joining some manner of internet tribe, but I don’t even have to give my real name, and I can also forget about my tribe in five minutes, without any consequences whatsoever for me.
Tech tribes can build, grow huge and create momentum in short order, but they can also fizz out just as fast, and there’s usually little the tribe chiefs can do if that happens; it’s part of the speed of the media.
Just because your Facebook group has 50.000 members doesn’t mean that any of them actually do anything for your cause or product.

Number two: – there are other tribes. Many, in fact. An actual tribe doesn’t have to worry about this until it meets one of them, at which point they may have to fight over the ressources.
Which is exactly what tech tribes will have to do almost constantly.
See, like the food the actual tribes fight over, there’s only a limited availability of people, their time and their attention – so a tribe for veteran car owners can be in direct conflict with a tribe for fans of the tiger lily, simply because they occupy the same space in the receiver’s attention.

This can get much longer but for now, I’ll say this: – by all means, let’s go ahead and use those techniques Godin promotes, but as an advocate of really beating as few dead horses as possible, I say let’s already consider our next moves – and most of all, let’s be as real as we can about anything we do: Nothing is inherently perfect.

Now go forth, grasshopper.

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Cross-web beta

March 31, 2009

You saw that button called “cross-web navigation”, which activates a sort-of top bar at my main site there?

(hey, maybe the bar is above this very blog right now!)

Well, I was inspired by Unhub (thanks for the heads-up, Mindjumpers), who were in turn inspired by Skittles, to make my various identities across the web more readily available to my audience (in so far as I have one).
It can be a good idea, I think – at least if your various sites support each other and whatever purpose you made them for.

So I went ahead and whipped up this little thing – it’s in beta so far, and has only been tested for appearance in Safari; if you’re on another browser, consider this my style disclaimer.
Definitely works on the principle of KISS but I think it does the job.

So maybe I’ll keep it around…

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“Would you like to listen to some music…?”

March 14, 2009

I am no fan of websites with sound on by default – even though occasionally it can be done well, most sites run some sort of ambient loop which gets old very quickly.
On the other hand, music is, of course, great, and the internet is a multimedia, errr… medium, so let’s try to use that for the powers of good – here’s my take on that:




Jesper W. of Copenhagen’s website now offers you, dear visitor, a right cool radio station

(I’d put it right here, too, but WordPress doesn’t allow that type of embedding)

It’s my station over at last.fm – I’ve decided to put it in as an opt-in, popup solution: If you’d like music, you’ll get it, and you can even keep listening after you have left my corner of the web (no doubt vastly impressed and inspired).

The station features everything from cornball to dire techno and polish dancehall, because I am a man of broad taste (plus, I’m getting old, I think) – it’s all good.

You’re quite welcome.

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UX thoughts on a friday

March 6, 2009

Settle down, class… I know the weekend is only hours away but we still have stuff to get through…

I thought I’d just use the newly launched (or rather, beta-launched) “Den Store Danske”, the Great Danish Encyclopedia online as a case study – so let’s go ahead and take a look at this picture:

storedanske

You can see the first problem with the user experience quite well, can’t you? This does not look like an encyclopedia.
It looks like a site for something called “Villahjælpen”.

You see, the site is advertisement funded, and that top banner ad is a tricky bastard – if done right, it’ll be OK, if not it will steal the thunder from the site’s own headline. This doesn’t begin well, because the site’s own header simply is too inconspicuous, compared to that banner ad space.
(Also, one has to apply some form of do’s-and-dont’s to website ads, to avoid massive clashing, but that’s a different article)

What you can’t se in that pic up there, however, is that both the top banner and right sidebar ads are flash animated out the wazoo (go visit the site, I’ll wait), and this brings us to the next UX issue at work here:
“Den Store Danske”, being an encyclopedia, is a knowledge harvesting site – it’s a place you’re supposed to go when you’re studying and need specific information, data, facts.

An encyclopedia is a no-nonsense thing, and the design here doesn’t reflect that – all those animations are quite distracting, actually, escpecially if you’re hunkered down over something serious and just need to quickly establish some facts.

Sure, people will sometimes just sort-of browse for interesting stuff in such a place, but it should not be designed for it, any more than an actual encyclopedia (the book – you remember that, right?) should have a wee comic and some entertaining short-stories thrown in every 10 pages.

Finally, there’s the encyclopedia itself – the part where you search for, and hopefully get, information.
This is the primary function, and should take up the primary space, visually. In stead, we have here a case where the log-in entry fields at right are just as prominent at the search field, whereas the filters are just text strings, basically sitting there as if they were any kind of text.
– and those are weird, by the way, with stuff like “cars & motorcycles”, “food”, “travel” making it look like an eBay subsite menu…

Now, DSD is supposed to become a kind of official wikipedia of Danish scholarship (you can log in and submit things, which – unlike a wiki and with the intent of lending greater trustworthiness – will then be verified by a board of editors).
Therefore, it should come across as a wiki: – it should be open and inviting, and the searching should be at the very center of your first impression. Basically, a search control panel with some supporting stuff surrounding it, impression-wise.

This design is not open, in my opinion, and it doesn’t communicate very clearly that this is a search site.
I would have gone about this very differently.

A final thought: – should knowledge sites like this ever have ads?
I mean, isn’t there a risk that, on a subconcious level, the proximity of ad material (animating its way into your attention wether you want it or not) to supposedly un-biased data will compromise our trust in the latter…?

Have a good one!

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I told ya!

March 3, 2009

Remember how, back in an earlier post, I sort-of casually mentioned how easy it would be to add a sign-up for a newsletter at my shiny new website?

emailbow

Here you go – still did it myself, promise, using only what I could find on the internet in terms of guidance.

Now, all I have to do is pepper my soon-to-be-enormous fan base with creative wisdom.

And trust me, I will – irregular, sure, but wise it will be, creative it will be. Or, at the very least, funny.

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Huzzah, the new website!

February 18, 2009

This may not be very comme il faut but I feel like congratulating myself just a tiny bit – the new site at jesperwille.com is up as of today! Yay!

I’m particularly happy about this one because this time, not only did I design it (of course, the previous one was of my own design too) but I also programmed it all myself.

Actually, I mention this for a reason (as you may have guessed) – this was, and is, a project…

This internet thingy, well, let’s just say it’s keeping JW on his toes, being an experience nerd – I don’t think a single day goes by that I don’t, in some way, have thoughts about how this medium is used. Some do it this way, others that and the other, but in my opinion, far too many websites (considering how long we’ve had for practice) succumb to the scourge of technology:

Discordance between purpose and the underlying tech & mechanics

omgwtfwebsite

(you thought I was going to say “feature overload”, didn’t you?)

So what I did was set out to define for myself how I wanted my website to look and feel, and what I wanted it to do – and then get my own hands dirty and see if I could indeed do this, without having to become some kinda professor and without forcing the hand of my users, or annoying them (technically speaking – if you’re annoyed at my style, that’s entirely allowed).

I didn’t think it had to be that bad, since a site such as this has very few functions – no databases or sign-ups (although I could have added a newsletter real easy – maybe I’ll do that one of these days), just pure presentation, which is all a lot of sites do, so I decided part of it would be doing it myself (if a non-coder can, it’s a strong argument against technological difficulty as a reason for not-too-well-done websites, right?)

I also don’t like flash sites very much (no offense intended, my previous site was flash) – I think it breaks the conventions of navigating the net, but not in a good way in and of itself.
It’s all down to the flash programmer, and that can mean too much freedom, because the function of this type of site has to be rather simple – and doing simple things should never be complicated just for the hell of it (even if it looks good in flash).

So the mission was to find out how close I could get to my initial vision, using only basic code, no embedded flash or any such stuff, and getting all my info off the web (did the weirdest google searches I’ve ever done).

Well, I got pretty close – the new site looks like I want and does what I want it to, so: Mission accomplished.

Until I change my mind.

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360 Winnett

February 14, 2009

This may be a little late, but anyway…

Here’s an interesting project I’ve been following almost since it started – some people are building a house and sharing every step of the way with us, the internet people:

360 Winnett

It’s fun to be able to see a home being created somewhere across the world – also, interesting to see how things are done in Canada.

– and Jeremy takes some pretty good pictures, too.

Looking forward to see it all done…!

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