Buttons Were An Inspired UI Hack, But Now We’ve Got Better Options

Buttons Were An Inspired UI Hack, But Now We’ve Got Better Options

  • March 13, 2012

Josh Clark on the future of touch and other types of UI.

If you’ve ever seen a child interact with an iPad, you’ve seen the power of the touch interface in action. Is this a sign of what’s to come — will we be touching and swiping screens rather tapping buttons? I reached out to Josh Clark (@globalmoxie), founder of Global Moxie and author of “Tapworthy,” to get his thoughts on the future of touch and computer interaction, and whether or not buttons face extinction.

Clark says a touch-based UI is more intuitive to the way we think and act in the world. He also says touch is just the beginning — speech, facial expression, and physical gestures are on they way, and we need to start thinking about content in these contexts.

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Corning’s Second Day Of Glass

Corning’s Second Day of Glass

  • February 7, 2012

Nearly a year ago, Corning (maker of Gorilla Glass), released a video encapsulating it’s vision of the future. It’s since gotten 17 million views on YouTube, and started numerous discussions and responses.

In the video, Corning predicted large scale desktop touchscreen displays, bigger video screens, and dynamic billboards. And while much of the video is still in the future, the OLED TV’s shown by LG at this year’s CES do seem to bring the video to life.

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Microsoft’s Vision For Future Productivity

Microsoft’s Vision for Future Productivity

  • November 12, 2011

From Microsoft’s Office YouTube Channel:

Watch how future technology will help people make better use of their time, focus their attention, and strengthen relationships while getting things done at work, home, and on the go. (Release: 2011)

There are some interesting concepts in the video involving augmented reality (adding visualizations to one’s environment), new user interfaces and user collaboration, and “Web 3.0” style communication: where relevant information finds the user at the appropriate time (an intelligent filtering of the overwhelming information now being generated by “Web 2.0” technologies such as social media).

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Mobile UX Sharpens Usability Guidelines

Mobile UX Sharpens Usability Guidelines

  • November 7, 2011

Summary: Many guidelines are similar for mobile and desktop design, but their mobile interpretation is much more unforgiving.

My recent column Mobile Content: If in Doubt, Leave It Out advised site owners to eliminate secondary material when writing for mobile users. Many tweets, blog postings, and other comments on the article all expanded on this theme: Yes, do cut the fluff from mobile content, but also cut secondary content when writing for desktop websites.

In one way, I can only agree. Since 1997, conciseness has been a key guideline when writing for the web. People don’t read a lot on the web and leave in a few seconds if a site doesn’t communicate its value clearly. These findings lead to more detailed guidelines, such as emphasizing the first 2 words of nanocontent (e.g., headlines and search engine links).

So yes, cut the blah-blah from your desktop site.

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How Microsoft’s Xbox 360 & Kinect Help Surgeons In The OR

How Microsoft’s Xbox 360 & Kinect Help Surgeons in the OR

  • July 20, 2011

Image: The avatar for Dr. Brian Ross welcomes participants to an online training session using Xbox chat technology (Stephen Brashear photos/PSBJ)

The sight of a surgeon playing “Grand Theft Auto” in the operating room might raise eyebrows, but it’s one example of how consumer technology is being repurposed to advance the practice of medicine.

Rising medical costs — bloated by expensive, complicated machines — are wrecking the nation’s economic health, while off-the-shelf consumer gadgets keep getting cheaper and more powerful. So the health care industry has discovered it can tap into the innovative wonders of an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 or an Android smartphone app.

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Utilize Available Screen Space

Utilize Available Screen Space

  • May 9, 2011

Summary: Websites and mobile apps both frequently cram options into too-small parts of the screen, making items harder to understand.

A computer screen’s precious pixels are the world’s most valuable real estate. Amazon’s Add to Cart button is 160×27 pixels, or 0.003 square feet (0.0003 m2) at a typical 100 dpi monitor resolution. You could crowd almost 800,000 Buy buttons onto the floor space of the average American home, which currently sells for $160,000. Even a single Buy button will often bring in more than that — let alone the revenue from 800,000 buttons.

Normally, when something is extremely valuable, you try to conserve it. But screen space shouldn’t be hoarded, it should be spent. I see too many designs that cram highly valuable content or action items into tiny spaces while wasting vast amounts of screen space.

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