Monthly Archives: December 2011

Reading notes about Lean UX

I came across the concept of “Lean UX” from a Chinese UX blog, talking about how to simplify and cut unnecessary UX design process to face the rapid updating market. The traditional UX development, as we learned from most courses, are recognized as deliverable-based process. UX researchers/designers are supposed to render different kinds of deliverables. However, the whole process with fine reports requires a relative long period (typically several months) to define the requirements of the products. This would be a great risk for IT companies nowadays, putting them in a position that the product might already out of date when developed. Also, there is a great waste of time and deliverables that could not be directly turned into final experience. To solve the problem, Lean UX was brought up with following features:

  1. Cut completed documentations to bare components necessary for implementation.
  2. Split long design process into short, iterative, and low-fidelity cycles; gather team-wide suggestions during iterative cycles.
  3. Stop pushing pixels, pick up whiteboards, pencils, papers, or even napkins to convey early ideas of workflows.

There are several benefits of Lean UX: the entire team could get more involved into the design process, and gain the sense of owner through this process; stakeholder could get more exposed in an early stage; cost is low for improvement and redesign. Drawbacks of Lean UX are obvious: designers might loose control of the design through the iterative cycles, with constant input from the entire team. This requires UX designers have big visions of the products to hold or approve different suggestions.

Article read: Jeff Gothelf’s post on Smashing Magazine.

Control Sensitivity in Design

I run into the problem everyday: when I try to adjust the temperature of my shower, it is just way too sensitive. I have to move the lever as carefully as I can, however, it still surprises me with sudden change of temperature. I end up taking a shower either too cold or too hot.

This occurs to me today because I read about “control-display ratio” today when I went over the human factor class that I am taking this semester. Control-display (C/D) ratio is measuring the change of control compared to the change of display (or outcome, response). If the C/D ratio is high, then the control sensitivity is low, and vise versa. C/D ratio is very important for HCI design as well. Low C/D ratio (high sensitivity) could save time when users are approaching the target, while high C/D ratio (low sensitivity) could help user with fine adjustment when they reach the target area. So a carefully designed C/D ratio is important for improving user controlling experience. For example, the movement of mouse or controlling stick should have a reasonable C/D control so that users could minimize the effort when they try to move their mouse to reach a target.

The following is a common example in our everyday life: when you try to adjust the window, cursor has to be moved within a narrow area in order to change the shape. If the control sensitivity is too high, it will be very very annoying.

Connect the Digital World with the Physical World II: SixthSense by Pranav Mistry

I posted a blog sharing the idea of connecting digital world with physical world days ago. Today, I would like to extend that topic a bit, with this AMAZING talk, also from TED. Pranav Mistry, a PhD student from MIT Media Lab, demoed his invention called SixthSense with us. The behind idea is to seamlessly connected digital world with physical world, making the interaction more intuitive, and the way he fulfilled it is simple, clean, and yet brilliant.

I am sure you will say “wow” after watching this. Enjoy!

Help Users to Reach “Inner Peace”

If you are a fan of Kung Fu Panda as me, you would certainly remember the magic power of “inner peace”, as the quote from Shifu: “Anything is possible with inner peace”. In my understanding, this “inner peace” is much like the word “flow” used in psychology, which means the mental state of intense immersion and organized focus. However, with emerging high-tech devices and over-loading information, we are losing control of our flow easily nowadays.

I would like to share with you a beautiful article written by Andrew Maier, who is a co-founder of UXBooth. In this post, Andrew commented on several efforts made by Apple to reduce noise and encourage users’ flow. This article itself is acting as a fabulous flow, from weaving personal stories to design. After reading it, I confirmed my thoughts about simple and clean design: reducing noise in design is not only an advance in tech development, but also shows care for human being’s life. I almost can see the picture that people were used to concentrate on reading centuries ago, getting lost in recent ten years with all kinds of distractions by high-tech products, and finally return to a quiet, calm working environment through good designs that try to reduce noise.