Converted by an Android. A short story of Gmail, in parts. (1)

gmail_logo_stylized This is part 1 of a short story of personal exploration and development by one new to the daily employment of Gmail.

Part 1: Order and Hierarchy

I was converted by an Android. Now, don’t get me wrong, there was at least a part of me that wanted it, welcomed the change, and even sought it out. On the other hand, it was a conversion much resisted from my terrestrial surroundings where I found myself most comfortable, most at ease in the familiar, the simple.

But to tell you about this miraculous conversion, an event I thought would never come to be, it is important that I preface this tale, and take you to the beginning (or thereabouts) of this transformational journey. And that journey, this journey, all begins with a simple Outlook.

My Outlook

outlook-logo For years I used Outlook to check my email, organize my calendar events, and, in the beginning, prioritize my tasks. Over this time, this tool became integral to my every day being, an extension of who I was. It was organized the way I thought, evolved as my methodologies improved and changed. It contained scores of well formed and refined rules for keeping everything inline, my life ordered and organized; most especially the automated organizing of my email into complex hierarchies of priority and categorization, yet simply and personally in tune with me, and my needs.

Over the years, I found my needs pushing up against my Outlook’s limitations, especially with respect to my email. As my career and subsequent online communication became more prolific, a better means of interchange between myself and others, and across my various devices, became all the more critical to my continued growth and success. And, thus a new method of information Exchange was needed.

The Exchange

exchange This new chapter in my life brought forth new challenges and time saving wonders. No longer did I find myself, into the late hours of the night, synchronizing my read/unread emails between computers, re-sorting that which was already sorted on my other device.

Moments in time, saved in more ways than one. Quantifiably changing my exchanges with friends, family, and more, was the theme. With less time spent on the menial, repetitive chores of before, greater peace and harmony was able to be achieved. My things, my email, my calendar, its dates and times, synchronized, harmonized, connected and interlinked with one another, seamlessly, non-disruptively to ways I have long since grown accustomed.

Oh yes, there was a steep path to climb. At times, straight and direct, being an avid Windows user in this Exchange. And at other times, made steeper more through the challenges, the costs, recurring, to maintain these new found seamless heights. But such strains paled in comparison to my precious things, key components of my days and years, all synchronized between and amongst all those I valued and cared about.

Over time, as the relationships I have become involved in have increased in complexity and quantity, so too have my needs so changed; an increase in mobility, of portability, a need to win more chances at continuing my fruitful journey of evolution and improvement.

WinMo(re)

I began as a fan and user of Palm, but let me not digress, for that is another story for another day.

HTC-Hermes-256x256 In a most natural, parallel evolution of need and capability, as one cell phone passed after another, and PDA followed PDA, I arrived at the then ubiquitous solution made possible by Windows Mobile. Affectionately, this relationship began, providing new found freedoms …mobility, portability… with those other treasures that I have long held dear, such as cross-device synchronization of all my important information.

Unable to find new emails buried within folders — I lived with its shortcomings; for at least together we could be happy, it giving me greater mobility and freedom than I had ever previously enjoyed, and I now able to more easily, in sync with all my computers and devices, check everything that is in my Outlook, my OneNote (at least the mobile notebook), from everywhere, make updates, all in real-time, immediately, across everything.

My email in sync,
my calendar, too.
New apps installed,
enabled yet more productivity to accrue.

The Next

But, next, came the Darkness, the moment before the moment that preceded that which brought forth the Hero, the Android. But, that, my friends, that part of this short story, I will save for next week.

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the eventual adoption of Gmail in one’s daily life, by one once thoroughly addicted to, dependent on, the primarily client-based solution of Microsoft’s Outlook,

what brought about this conversion, (1) (2)
why it took so long, and (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)
what should be done to encourage greater Gmail adoption. (8) (9)

Enjoy & Tweet!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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The Product Guy’s Weekend Reading (September 25, 2009)

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

01_zimbra

On Starting Up…

http://blogs.zoho.com/general/the-real-cost-of-acquisitions-the-zimbra-story
A unique perspective on the acquisition of Zimbra.

 
 

On Design & Product Experience…

http://www.noupe.com/design/simplicity-in-good-web-design-advantages-how-to.html
On accomplishing simplicity and good web design.

02_simplicity
03_cloud-convergence

On Modular Innovation…

http://news.cnet.com/8301-19413_3-10321728-240.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Webware
On the convergence of clouds on the horizon of Modular Innovation.

 

Have a great weekend!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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Google: True Colors Shine Through

desirabilityColors, their schemes, and contrasting arrangements play an important role in increasing, or depressing, the Desirability of a product. Colors play an important role in invoking emotions, conveying themes, and guiding messaging.

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 it?" the sub-category of Color Scheme plays an important role.

For Example: Google (Search Results)

Google Search is a great example of a product that performs perfectly, not just by providing colors very much inline with the target mood of trustworthiness and reliability, but also in how it all impacts the broader readability and accessibility of the products as evaluated from the perspective of color, thereby achieving a 1.0 value for the Color Scheme variable within the category of Desirability within Quick-UX.

00_google-search_homepage

A Standard Look

Internet standard colors are high contrast, highly readable, and bring with them the universal understanding of expected behavior, from new blue link and the purple visited link to the black body text on a white background. Standard color usage helps new and repeat users be more productive — when a link is purple a user doesn’t have to struggle to remember what they previous did; they already know that those purple links in a sea of blue links are those already visited on prior trips to the product.

Some standard expectations of color usage seen throughout the Google Search product are…

  • consistent link colors
  • visited and unvisited links are different colors
  • unvisited links are blue
  • visited links are purple
  • content / descriptions are black

Blue and Black

The strongly colored blue links dominate the search results, catching the user’s eyes and guiding the user from the top listing to each successive hot spot (blue link) on the page.

01_google-search_blue-link

The black text, rightly subordinate to the blue links, is both easy to read against the white background, and does not interfere with the visual flow of the product.

02_google-search_black-text

With this much content on a page, it is easy for a poorly executed color scheme to result in a lack of direction and a confusion of choice. But, here, the weighted use of blue title / links, coupled with other highly contrasting content of lesser attention grabbing strength, provides a perfect use of color, contrast and visual momentum throughout the search results.

Google strictly adheres to these standards and extends these and other web safe color standards and expectations throughout their Search as well as various other Google products. This is a color scheme and structural color approach used throughout the majority of Google’s more refined suite of products (e.g. Google Voice, Gmail, Google Reader, …).

03_google-search_gmail 03_google-search_google-voice

The strength of this product’s Color Scheme and an assessment of its color-based readability and accessibility can be more rigorously and scientifically evaluated by running the product through a serious of color and contrast accessibility tests. The CheckMyColours product runs numerous tests to evaluate a given URL’s adherence to WAI, WCAG 1.0 and WCAG 2.0 standards.

04_google-search_checkmycolours

A Standard Feel

This adherence to the most basic of color standards of the web not only ensures great readability and usability of the product, but also reinforces the more ‘emotional’ human responses to this product as the ‘standard,’ the ‘authority’ on information online.

Google Search’s color choices, from logo to page content, can be characterized as consisting of …

  • primary colors(except for the occasional green),
  • structure, and
  • order.

These characteristics:

the minimal color complexity,
adherence to (mostly) primary colors and web color standards,

…result in the simultaneous coexistence of being a definer and follower of the color standards of the Internet, from blue links to black text on white.

Such adherence to web standards and simplicity, the colors, of blue, white, black, purple, yellow, red, and green (within the product, as well as the product’s logo) evoke feelings of …

  • honesty,
  • objectivity,
  • integrity,

… and, in turn, an overall trustworthiness.

Google Search, as the standard bearer for finding information, is reinforced by the ‘theme of standards’ established initially with their consistent and standardized choice of colors. By sticking with the most basic, most standard of colors for a web page, Google Search reinforces the emotional connection of standard bearer, the authoritative voice on online information; demonstrating, through its lack of gaudier colors, a more scientific, more standard, more matter of fact, factual presentation, a cooler presentation of ‘just the facts.’

Think Green

05_google-search_L

The use of green, a color blend, the most prominent, action agnostic, non-primary color of this product, both in the logo and search results presents a slight break in the rigor of standards. One such interpretation of the emotional impact of green within this product, is that with all the order and structure Google Search seeks to bring to its users, there is also a strand of non-primary, non-structure woven into the product, a sense of being and thinking a bit differently. Further reinforcement of this interpretation, can be seen in the mood effects often associated with the color green, of…

vitality,
creativity, and
sharing.

All emotions and concepts instrumental to both the Google Search product, as well as a primary theme throughout Google’s products and strategies.

06_google-search_url

Quick & Useful

The variables Aesthetics, Layout, Color Scheme, and Typography represent the Usefulness category of Quick-UX for the evaluated product. When looking at an entire product, the question “Do I want to use it?” represents only 1 of the 3 core components (Usability, Usefulness, Desirability) of a Quick-UX evaluation – a rapid way to obtain concrete and comparable means by which to assess a single product or compare its strengths and weaknesses to other products.

Over the next few weeks I will be various good, as well as bad, real-world examples of use of Color and Contrast in online products and websites …

Poor Color Scheme
Fair Color Scheme (Cluttered)
Fair Color Scheme (Mismatched Color)
Good Color Scheme (First Example)
Good Color Scheme (Second Example)

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the Desirability and Color Scheme components 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 18, 2009)

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

01_social_business

On Starting Up…

http://blog.opensocial.org/2009/09/business-of-social-applications.html
An introductory look at the business models of social applications.

 
 

On Design & Product Experience…

http://buildinternet.com/2009/09/principles-of-effective-web-navigation/
A thorough walkthrough of many guiding principles of web navigation.

02_web-nav
03_google-dlf

On Modular Innovation…

http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/2009/09/14/google-wants-you-to-be-able-to-leave-if-you-want
Support of increased Modular Innovation from Google’s Data Liberation Front.

 

Have a great weekend!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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Clean and Air Cooler

desirabilityColors, their schemes, and contrasting arrangements play an important role in increasing, or depressing, the Desirability of a product. Colors play an important role in invoking emotions, conveying themes, and guiding messaging.

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 it?" the sub-category of Color Scheme plays an important role.

For Example: Air Cooler PLUS

A good example of a 1.0 value for the Color Scheme variable within the Quick-UX framework is Air Cooler PLUS.

00_aircoolerplus_homepage

Q: Do the colors match the products messaging?
A: Yes.

Air Cooler Plus is a very good example of a product with a Color Scheme very much inline with the goals and sensations that they seek to convey to its users.

01_aircoolerplus_ac

Sometimes being blue can produce a very happy result. The blue end of the spectrum is not only associated with feelings of sadness and melancholy, but also the more physical sensations of cool and frigid temperatures.

02_aircoolerplus_header

A visitor to this product can instantly picture the cool blues of ice, and even the purpling of chilled lips. And, with this product, the theme conveyed by shades of blue ranging to the deep purple are perfectly in tune with the purpose of the item this product is selling, a cooling, chill inducing, warmly embraced, air conditioner.

Q: Do the colors negatively impact the user’s ability to read the content?
A: No.

All of the messaging of this product is presented with the text color in clear and high contrast to the background upon which it has been placed. Furthermore, the contrasting nature of the text color with the text background color, whether it is black text on a white background, or (icy) white text on an indigo background, is always done with a color from the simple product color palette being paired with a contrasting neutral color. Throughout this product the presentation of these high-contrast, color pairings result in a non-negative impact on the readability within.

03_aircoolerplus_text

Q: Is this product suffering from color overload?
A: No.

The color palette of this product is very simple.

04_aircoolerplus_colors

The Color Scheme primarily consists of a range of blues, your normal web product neutrals of black and white. Only to draw the consumer’s attention, to key locations and information within the various views of this product, will you find the appropriate use of higher contrasting, attention grabbing colors.

Should Do

Specifically surrounding this product’s use of the more attention grabbing colors, reds, yellows, etc., there are some basic steps that can be taken in further refining its use of color…

All would benefit from bringing more attention to the call-to-action buttons.

05_aircoolerplus_buy-online-now

For example, while the ‘Buy Online Now’ button is set apart from its surroundings by way of its 3-dimensional distinction, versus the general flatness of all other product elements, it can easily blend in with the rest of the blues and cool colors of the page. Here, the use of reds, or colors outside of the blue-purple color range would help further distinguish this important user action.

On the product pages, this emphasis issue, with respect to the call-to-action buttons, in this case ‘add to cart,’ can also be seen.

06_aircoolerplus_product

Clearly the product is emphasizing availability and price, over the purchase action.

07_aircoolerplus_product-red

To rectify this situation, something as simple as swapping the colors used within the two regions in question, or having the only red on the page being the ‘add to cart’ button, may prove sufficient.

Another minor point is that while it is good manners (and Usability) to clearly label a link that points to a PDF file, this could be done in a more focused manner.

08_aircooler_plus-pdf

With this appropriately chosen color scheme, the red colors of the PDF logo bring a bit more emphasis to this informational region that the situation appears to call for; needlessly deemphasizing the purchase events. In these cases, instead of warning the visiting clicker by displaying the PDF logo, a simpler approach, such as using a text label ‘(pdf)’ at the end of the appropriate links, is better suited.

Quick & Useful

The variables Aesthetics, Layout, Color Scheme, and Typography represent the Usefulness category of Quick-UX for the evaluated product. When looking at an entire product, the question “Do I want to use it?” represents only 1 of the 3 core components (Usability, Usefulness, Desirability) of a Quick-UX evaluation – a rapid way to obtain concrete and comparable means by which to assess a single product or compare its strengths and weaknesses to other products.

Over the next few weeks I will be various good, as well as bad, real-world examples of use of Color and Contrast in online products and websites …

Poor Color Scheme
Fair Color Scheme (Cluttered)
Fair Color Scheme (Mismatched Color)
Good Color Scheme (First Example)
Good Color Scheme (Second Example)

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the Desirability and Color Scheme components 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 11, 2009)

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

01_anti-silution

On Starting Up…

http://www.markpeterdavis.com/getventure/2009/09/common-antidilution-structures.html
Understanding anti-dilution structures.

 
 

On Design & Product Experience…

http://www.epikone.com/blog/2009/09/08/tracking-ero-result-searches-in-google-analytics/
Finding value in tracking the experience of Zero Search Results.

02_no-results
03_boxnet-cloud

On Modular Innovation…

http://mashable.com/2009/09/10/openbox-mobile/
Box.net’s contribution to Modular Innovation with cross-platform clouds.

 

Have a great weekend!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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Higgledy Haven

desirabilityColors, their schemes, and contrasting arrangements play an important role in increasing, or depressing, the Desirability of a product. Colors play an important role in invoking emotions, conveying themes, and guiding messaging.

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 it?" the sub-category of Color Scheme plays an important role.

For Example: HavenWorks

Some havens present many distractions to the mere mortal, and this one, HavenWorks, presents no shortage of User Experience problems that can be explored. But, for today’s conversation, we will focus on this product’s ability to be a strong example possessed by a cluttered pallet and Fair Color Scheme, and achieving a Quick-UX Color Scheme variable value of 0.5.

00_havenworks_homepage

This product’s consumers are instantly overcome with very strong, bright, highly contrasting primary colors all competing for their attention.

01_havenworks_color-scheme

Sin of Overstimulation

Instead of presenting a simple, harmonious, color scheme, this product assaults the eyes with a combination of both intra- and inter-element color and contrast discord and overstimulation.

02_havenworks_zoom

While readable, altogether, the colors of this product create a persistent state of disharmony and conflict, perhaps inline with the state of politics that this product covers, but too overt in their presentation and welcomed by no one desiring the information that this color scheme masks; an orgy of colored hot spots seeking to draw the user’s attention, pulling the user from red to blue, green to white, etc. and back around again and again.

03_havenworks_hotspots

Should Do

A bit more work than last week’s example may be required to improve this product’s Color Scheme. A good place to start in sheltering this product’s visitors from color overload (and "contrast abuse") can be achieved by reducing the level and frequency of contrast through…

  • Minimizing the number of primary colors on the page, and
  • Reducing the number of elements and points of contrast.
    • Leverage the colors to group common elements, use hues to transition or sharper contrasts to emphasize (occasionally — this should be the exception, unlike the current color implementation).

Quick & Useful

The variables Aesthetics, Layout, Color Scheme, and Typography represent the Usefulness category of Quick-UX for the evaluated product. When looking at an entire product, the question “Do I want to use it?” represents only 1 of the 3 core components (Usability, Usefulness, Desirability) of a Quick-UX evaluation – a rapid way to obtain concrete and comparable means by which to assess a single product or compare its strengths and weaknesses to other products.

Over the next few weeks I will be various good, as well as bad, real-world examples of use of Color and Contrast in online products and websites …

Poor Color Scheme
Fair Color Scheme (Cluttered)
Fair Color Scheme (Mismatched Color)
Good Color Scheme (First Example)
Good Color Scheme (Second Example)

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the Desirability and Color Scheme components 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

Add to Social Bookmarks: Stumbleupon Del.ico.us Furl Reddit Google Add to Mixx!

The Product Guy’s Weekend Reading (September 4, 2009)

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

01_google-patent

On Starting Up…

http://www.patentlyo.com/patent/2009/09/googles-patent-on-its-googlecom-home-page.html
On the limited nature of Google.com’s, and other, design patents.

 
 

On Design & Product Experience…

http://www.joiningdots.net/blog/2009/09/marketing-lessons-from-second-life-to.html
The marketing lessons from GigaOM in 2007 regarding Second Life and Web 2.0 that still apply today.

02_marketing-2nd-life
03_vm

On Modular Innovation…

http://ajaxian.com/archives/web-os-web-vm-value-in-both
The virtual machines of Modular Innovation.

 

Have a great weekend!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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