Thursday, 31 July 2008

An ode to user experience

In the world of website design there is this lovely idea of 'user experience'. I've become quite interested in user experience. Personally, I've always been very definitive about sites I love to use and those I don't. My opinion on how a company relates to me has been heavily influenced by the way they let me experience them.

As I've worked with clients over the past few months I've felt like this idea of the user's experience is the thing that I've been driving at, I now have a handy phrase for it. I love the way the web has driven us to discover these ideas and make them part of our everyday experience.

There's an interesting article here from a company that help businesses create amazing user experiences on their websites - they've helped some of my favourite sites so I think they know their stuff. Flow Interactive - What makes us happy what makes us stupid

Sunday, 13 July 2008

What do you want to use your phone for?

Still on the subject of the E27 Unconference, I was at a session on Mobile Platforms. Aside from lots of techie conundrums, the discussion centered around how people actually use their mobiles, what they mean to people and the iphone.

Since then I've been thinking about what I want to use my phone for. Here's my list so far:
  • Phone calls, taking pictures and listening to my music. I'd want to upload pics straight to Picasa too.
  • SMS - With option to SMS ideas I have and things people tell me into my email inbox.
  • Check my Google account for calender and contact details. I'd want to be able to upload info back to these places too.
  • Request recommendations for near-by restaurants, hotels and bars from reviewers who like stuff I like - I'd want a short description, with the option to SMS the place to get directions and make bookings. Oh and I'd like it to be able to translate the message into the local language!
  • Street maps specific to my location with nearest public transport info included.
  • Location of nearest public toilet, decent coffee, post office, ATM for my bank and perhaps news on whether any of my mates are near-by.
With the right handset I can probably do a lot of what's above already. But the tricky bit for everyone seems to be about how businesses will communicate with me. I was wondering about a website that acted like your settings. So you go in and tell it what services and info you want to receive. For example, do you want Starbucks to tell you where their nearest shop is when you click their icon on your mobile home screen? You could even select the types of ads you want to see. So if you have to show me an ad whilst my map loads, I'm seeing info I'm interested in.

What do you think? What do we want to really use our phones for? How do we want businesses to talk to us?

I'm plotting interface designs now...

It all starts with a great idea

Yesterday I was surrounded by geeks. At the E27 Unconference for web start-ups I got over excited about the amount of good ideas and clever people there are in my community. Here's a list of the most interesting groups I saw.

- Beautifully easy to use website for finding homes. Map based, it also includes a price comparison so you can see how much people have been paying for similar property.

ZopIM - Chat with the people who are currently visiting your website. There's no need to log into Messenger, it's integrated into your site. The businesses' end also collates data about your visitors.

GoThere - Another beautifully functional website. Type in any two places to get maps, directions and public transport info (including cost and journey duration).