Ripening FreshDirect

desirabilityQuick-UX provides for the rapid, simple and quantifiable assessment of a product’s User Experience (UX). In answering the question of Desirability, “Do I want to use it?” the sub-category of Aesthetics is one of frequent discussion, especially in that latest wave of online products and how they handle content presentation and interaction.

Today, in the same spirit of Quick-UX, let’s take a quick look at an Internet product with an Aesthetic value of 1.

Example: Incomplete (value = 1)

01_freshdirect

FreshDirect, enjoying an Aesthetic variable value of 1, is faced with a difficult challenge of presenting a great deal of information in a simple and enjoyable way. The product does very well in providing for a clean, minimalistic, and enjoyable experience, but would benefit from greater interaction with the mouse (and user), as well as transitions to improve the overall Desirability of the product.

There are many sections of the website that would benefit from more-obvious, more-visual mouse-overs – the menu bar and initial navigation section being two of them.

02_freshdirect_menubar

03_freshdirect_initialnav

Over the course of this series I am providing real-world examples of Aesthetics values…

Clean, Sharp, Pleasing, and Enjoyable (value 2)

Incomplete (value 1)

Overload (value 0)

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the Desirability and Aesthetics of Quick-UX, the quick and easy method of generating quantifiable and comparable metrics representing the understanding of the overall User Experience of a product, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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The Product Guy’s Weekend Reading (September 26, 2008)

reading_w_TPG_thumb5_thumb2_thumb2_t[2] Every week I read tens of thousands of blog posts. Here, for your weekend enjoyment, are some highlights from my recent reading, for you.

On Starting Up…
http://onstartups.com/home/tabid/3339/bid/6727/Startups-and-The-Power-Of-Polarization.aspx
Good discussion about startups and the power of polarization.

On Design & Product Experience…
http://www.usabilitypost.com/2008/09/24/use-whitespace-to-indicate-relationships-between-content-elements/
Whitespace and its role in shaping website relationships.

On Modular Innovation…
http://www.sitepoint.com/blogs/2008/09/26/microsoft-talks-up-client-cloud-future/
Microsoft shares thoughts on the future of online Modular Innovations.

Have a great weekend!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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Shining Chrome

desirabilityQuick-UX provides for the rapid, simple and quantifiable assessment of a product’s User Experience (UX). In answering the question of Desirability, “Do I want to use it?” the sub-category of Aesthetics is one of frequent discussion, especially in the latest wave of online products and how they handle content presentation and interaction.

Today, in the same spirit of Quick-UX, let’s take a quick look at an Internet product with an Aesthetic value of 2.

Example: Clean, Sharp, Pleasing and Enjoyable (value = 2)

01_chrome

A good example of the Aesthetic variable value of 2 can be seen in the newly released Chrome browser, from Google. Chrome provides a very minimalistic experience, incrementally revealing more information, on-demand and non-intrusively, right when the user needs it. Chrome also makes sound use of transitions to draw the user’s attention to new events and actions further increasing the pleasingly simplified experience of the product.

As the user types into the single textbox, the browser infers what information and actions the user will most likely want to take – presenting the decisions and options at an appropriate time.

02_chrome_incremental

Opening a new tab, the user is confronted with a simple transition, bringing subtle, non-disruptive, attention to the unique tab region as well as the location of the newly created tab.

03_chrome_animation

Even the “status bar” only appears when there is something to display (e.g. mousing-over a link).

04_chrome_status

Over the course of this series I am providing real-world examples of Aesthetics values…

Clean, Sharp, Pleasing, and Enjoyable (value 2)

Incomplete (value 1)

Overload (value 0)

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the Desirability and Aesthetics of Quick-UX, the quick and easy method of generating quantifiable and comparable metrics representing the understanding of the overall User Experience of a product, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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The Product Guy’s Weekend Reading (September 19, 2008)

reading_w_TPG_thumb5_thumb2_thumb2_t[2] Every week I read tens of thousands of blog posts. Here, for your weekend enjoyment, are some highlights from my recent reading, for you.

On Starting Up…
http://gigaom.com/2008/09/13/ron-conway-more-reasons-to-go-all-angel/
Key reason’s that Ron Conway advocates startups only using Angel financing.

On Design & Product Experience…
http://blog.chromium.org/2008/09/dns-prefetching-or-pre-resolving.html
On how DNS impacts your website’s User Experience (UX).

On Modular Innovation…
http://www.synapticacentral.com/content/semantic-web-internets-equivalent-green-building-movement
Christine takes a look at aspects of Modular Innovation and the similarities they share with many environmentalist initiatives.

Have a great weekend!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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On the Aesthetics of Quick-UX

desirabilityEvery single feature does NOT have to be crammed into the interface. A smart minimalist design will provide just enough of the core functionality up front, and allow for the gradual introduction of deeper features and extras as the user interacts with the product.

Quick-UX provides for the rapid, simple and quantifiable assessment of a product’s User Experience (UX). In answering the question of Desirability, “Do I want to use it?” the sub-category of Aesthetics is one of frequent discussion, especially in the latest wave of online products and how they handle content presentation and interaction.

The ways by which the product responds to the user’s mouse and chosen actions can positively add to the aesthetic, or, if unnecessary or excessively implemented, they can then contribute to the unwelcomed sense of gaudiness. For example, if, to view a larger version of a displayed picture, the user clicks a button, a brief transition is utilized to provide for a clear communication of button-click result, the animation will be appreciated. On the other hand, contrary to the minimalist goals, would be upon clicking the button, the page (the user interface) goes into a series of strange and drawn out animations, with clearly unnecessary special effects and flourishes, or other prompts requesting exactly how much bigger the user wanted the picture before it is ever displayed.

The Aesthetic variable’s rubric is:

The value assigned to the Aesthetics variable in determining Desirability within Quick-UX is…

  • 2 if the product presents a clean, sharp, pleasing and enjoyable product environment where interaction is a pleasure. In addition, the product consistently makes good use of mouse-overs and animated transitions.
  • 1 if the product presents generally “OK” Aesthetics. The product may have some mouse-over states and other beneficial transitions, but these states and transitions are found to be incomplete and would benefit from a more comprehensive and consistent implementation.
  • 0 if the product suffers from information and graphical (transitions, interactions, etc.) overload. In this case, the content and graphical aspects of the site continually get in the way of getting the desired task completed quickly, efficiently, and enjoyably.

Over the next few weeks I will be providing real-world examples of Aesthetics values…

Clean, Sharp, Pleasing, and Enjoyable (value 2)

Incomplete (value 1)

Overload (value 0)

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the Desirability and Aesthetics of Quick-UX, the quick and easy method of generating quantifiable and comparable metrics representing the understanding of the overall User Experience of a product, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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The Product Guy’s Weekend Reading (September 12, 2008)

reading_w_TPG_thumb5_thumb2_thumb2_t[1] Every week I read tens of thousands of blog posts. Here, for your weekend enjoyment, are some highlights from my recent reading, for you.

On Starting Up…
http://gigaom.com/2008/09/10/5-reasons-to-move-your-startup-out-of-silicon-valley/
An 5 arguments for NOT locating your startup in Silicon Valley.

On Design & Product Experience…
http://www.positivespaceblog.com/archives/deleting-the-save-icon/
On the need for interfaces to keep up with modern conventions.

On Modular Innovation…
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/skydata_integrates_everything_puts_it_on_smartphone.php
Newly launched SkyData along with many other online products are fostering greater Integration and Modular Innovation.

Have a great weekend!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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Where Google Should Not Do More

chrome_logo With the latest browser launched upon the great sea of already existing browsers, a common thread has begun to develop from numerous sources and blogs. While not uncommon for new, online products of all types, from all companies, I find myself with a unique and different opinion from most.

Google has just released its own web browser, Chrome. And everyone is telling Google to add more, more, and more. In most every other circumstance, especially as it relates to the products that Google produces, I too, frequently opine for more and better user experiences and features within the Google line of products.

However, now, for once, Google would be best served NOT LISTENING TO EVERYONE!

Why Google Chrome Isn’t My Default Browser

What’s Missing in Google Chrome

Google Toolbar missing in Chrome!

Hands-on with Chrome: Google’s browser shines (mostly)

Chrome Not Ready for Enterprise

Chrome to Get Extensions – Just Not Yet

Many are asking for a lot more, from RSS and plug-ins to toolbars, to more buttons, and even ActiveX (something no browser, other than Internet Explorer will ever support).

Wrong More

The more that is being asked for is the wrong more. It is the more of buttons and toolbars and widgets and doo-dads. The right more for Google’s Chrome is in intelligence and intuition, in a minimalistic and welcoming environment, where the products of the Internet take center stage, and the browser with all its new found simplicity fades into the background.

Minimalistic Good

01_good_stuffChrome has been designed with clear effort to provide a browser-minimalistic view. It is one in which the browser becomes more the portal through which the Internet can more closely connect with the user; a lesser point of interaction and distraction from the main goals of products and people online.

Good highlights…

  • The tabs, from their placement at the top edge of the window to the improvement of user interaction flow through the introduction of such elements as transition animations when adding and removing them.
  • Faster and more responsive environment. From the opening of a new window, to the easy visual selecting from the most frequently visited sites, bookmarks and closed tabs — presented at just the right moment … opening a new window (not persistently taking up valuable window real-estate).

Right More

While many of the desired features from the masses may make sense, that should be considered within the new paradigm being presented by Google – making the browser and the use of the products of the Internet EASIER, MORE INTUTIVE, and more ACCESSIBLE to all. People don’t need more buttons and menus and other strange icons and graphics. Rather, people need a browser that will better understand the user, and better present just what the user wants, when they want (or need) it. That is the new experience, the new concept currently being presented by Google. This is a very challenging and admirable path to take. And hopefully, Google will be able to hold fast and not diverge, and become just any old browser, but a new innovation in web browsing that elevates the web experience.

Needs work…

  • More intuitive integration of bookmarking concepts. Chrome did well in minimizing their presence, but does not currently do well in user interaction post- and during bookmarking.

02_bookmark

  • Other companies will want to integration and include plug-ins and other types of extensions for the browser. Google will need to spend a good deal of effort in introducing a new framework within which the developer community will be able to integrate with the intuitive and minimalistic elements of the browser, not negatively impacting the current minimalism that has been achieved.

No More

People are comfortable with the same old thing. People knowingly, or subconsciously, will request and guide and suggest and desire that old familiar feeling. People like what they are comfortable with and will try to coax Chrome into a format resembling the Internet Explorer or FireFox experiences, but in a Google shell — – if that happens you might as well have just shut down the project.

The goal of Chrome appears to be in the desire to shift the online paradigm (as well as further seed the development of G1 apps) — making online interaction more inviting, easier, faster, and more intuitive – even in areas that people don’t realize these improvements are needed. Therein lies the true promise and value in the future of what has currently been presented as Chrome.

Chrome presents a wonderful opportunity, to show people a concept of interacting with the products of the Internet in a manner that perhaps none have imagined, and based on the advice being thrown around, may be near impossible for many to fully comprehend the implications.

But, if Google ever listened to anyone before, listen to me now — DON’T LISTEN TO THEM! Ignore the prevailing advice of the masses about what the browser needs and what interfaces and buttons are missing. Google has notoriously done a poor job of presenting a good online user experience (iPhone apps being the most notable exception).

However, now with the newest browser in town, Chrome, Google must strive to adhere to and strengthen its embrace of this new minimalistic paradigm of interaction with the online world and carefully decide where they, Google, should do more, and where Google should (definitely) not do more.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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The Product Guy’s Weekend Reading (September 5, 2008)

reading_w_TPG_thumb5_thumb2_thumb2_t[1] Every week I read tens of thousands of blog posts. Here, for your weekend enjoyment, are some highlights from my recent reading, for you.

On Starting Up…
http://www.technologytransfertactics.com/content/2008/09/03/%E2%80%9Cinventor%E2%80%9D-files-for-patent-on-method-of-commercializing-academic-research/
A look at the recent filing attempting to patent the process of founding startups based on academic research.

On Design & Product Experience…
http://www.pathf.com/blogs/2008/09/four-blatant-iphone-usability-blunders-and-one-constant-annoyance/
On the usability blunders of the iPhone.

On Modular Innovation…
http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939_109-10032785-2.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Webware
Google highlights the ‘top 10′ of another concept of Modular Innovation, the Cloud.

Have a great weekend!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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Somewhat Less Del.icio.us

deliciouslogo_thumb3…because Delicious is synonymous with tagging online. With all of the improvements made within the latest upgrade to Delicious, the functionality and procedures surrounding tagging remain minimally and indirectly altered. Primarily, the changes to Delicious (its domain name included) were limited to desirability and usability (discussed last week), with its usefulness marginally augmented.

Lacking

There were no improvements nor innovations of any parts related to tagging. I look forward to seeing a more innovative stance from Delicious and seeing resolute efforts made to…

  • Encourage and facilitate more tagging,
  • Add structure and order to the tagging process, and
  • Improve the searching, exploration, and discovery process.

By no means are any of these (Delicious) next steps trivial, but rather they are steps (most specifically related to the Usefulness of the product) that will need to be continually presented and refined, by whichever company that desires to be a leader in describing the context and content of the web.

Encourage

Tagging is critical to Delicious. Central to success for a user and to the Delicious community- at- large, is the frequent and descriptive usage of tags. With less tagging, or less accurate tagging, users will have a more difficult time locating older content. With more tagging, users are able to better organize, filter, and find saved and new information. With more tagging, the community will be able to better understand the extent of the existing system-wide knowledge, and how it is evolving, as well as the potential it has for impacting themselves.

Today, Delicious encourages tagging by way of simple user interface presentations, inline editing…

01_inline_edit

…and the display of Popular tags and Recommended tags within the full-screen edit of new content…

02_recommended

In addition, the new Sidebars, by allowing for easier, to both modify and view, access of tags, also facilitate their bundling and usage.

03_sidebars

In some sense Delicious has made tagging a little bit easier to understand, read, and do. Substantial in encouraging any sort of online activity is the simplification of that activity. In this sense, there are many avenues to explore. Some of them being…

Make tag suggestions based on the actual content of the new destination page being submitted to Delicious. Then, let the user select tags they feel are appropriate — it is much easier to click a suggestion, than think up a word and type it (e.g. corrected spelling, finer-tuned additions, alternate similar tags). More information can be coaxed from the user with the simple encouragement via intelligent suggestions, which can be appended to a new (or existing) entry with the click of the mouse.

Infer deeper meta information, again based, on the context of the target page or tags already typed. For example, if the user is typing “New York, ” suggest “state” and “city.” Continuing this example, should the user select “city,” additional geo-tags can then be automatically appended.

Identify potential sub-tags based on the context of the already entered tags, leveraging the power of the crowd, and offer suggestions of tags that are frequently related. If an individual enters the tag “person,” suggest some common types of people. If someone types “person” and “moon,” Delicious may identify the other related tags like “scientist,” “astronaut,” and “astronomer.”

Encourage alternate or corrected tags (spelling, more common or specific descriptors)

Add

The most obvious injection of structure is introduced to the tagging process within the latest update via the orderless tags of the Tag Bar…

04_tagbar

From more structure comes a reduction in the information / content noise. Presenting just a little bit of structure, or means of organization, has a significant impact on the system utility – from the introduction of a minimally common way of thinking and organizing to helping people focus their tagging descriptions and find new information within different, and possibly foreign, domains.

Simple personal structure, like folders and private tags, would have a greater impact upon this goal — and for those people, and there are more than a handful that use multiple Delicious accounts to organize their bookmarks, they would be able to use a single account to accomplish everything (and probably more, especially without the burden of maintaining multiple accounts).

On the non-personal, i.e. public, additions of increased structure, merely a level or two of hierarchical guidance (e.g. tag categories) could exist to help the user quickly zero in on an accurate description of the new content directly resulting in reducing the “strain” on the user to figure out the right tags to assign, as well as letting them come back later and add more details as they occur to the user, all while still being able to filter and zero back in on the item in the future.

Improve

The latest upgrade added the ability for context-based searching and Tag Bar usability enhancements in an effort to improve the searching, exploration, and knowledge discovery processes.

05_search

In the end, this upgrade was quite incremental in nature in so far as the purpose of exploration and discovery are concerned. Here too, knowledge discovery and searching can greatly benefit from an increase in simplification.

Instead of entering, or guessing, one tag at a time, to browse or find content, semi-hierarchical tag clusters, representing concepts and groups of varying scope, could be automatically generated. Individuals would be able to gain broader understanding of the current state of the Delicious environment, the coalescing of tags and ideas, and use them as an alternate means of drilling down.

Another method of simplifying the discovery and search actions can be done through the offering of suggestions for alternate and additional words related to the tags being entered for the search (just like those suggestions that can be made when submitting new content).

Improving the exploration and discovery processes will directly lead to the increased utility and usefulness of Delicious.

…and…

Since Delicious had been acquired by Yahoo (Dec. 2005) change has come very slowly to the product and created a plethora of opportunities within the tagging (and semantic tagging) space that have yet to be fully taken advantage of — but, eventually, either Delicious will choose to lead or other companies, like flickr or twine.

Delicious accomplished a good deal in the way of improving the tagging experience. Now they need to continue, and evolve the functionality of Delicious, (the tagging) and improve the usefulness — lest the mantel for tagging leadership be taken up by other innovators, like flickr, twine, or another up-and-comer.

Share & Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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