I have finally updated the Android UI Design Kit PSD to version 4.2, with the size of Nexus 4 screen resolution (768×1280), as requested by many supporters. Besides the resolution update, I have also added a few new UI elements into the Design Kit: Cards (Google Now) Crouton Drawer Menu Quick Return Undo Bar GesturesI also updated this to my list of UI/UX resource links.
For anyone interested, there's an updated Android GUI by Taylor Ling from Android UI/UX.
I started a new side blog for fun called, Maple Mark. Every time I went to visit my in-laws, I was always impressed with how many different ways they incorporated the maple leaf in all of their logos. I always wanted to make a book out of them, but this is cheaper.
Josh Clark's (@globalmoxie) SXSW talk is online. It's about the future interfaces, going beyond mobile. Listen here
Everyday technology is hurtling at warp speed into science fiction. Mobile's at the forefront, but what's next? At the hazy edges of the tech universe, emerging trends hint at the future of connected devices and even a redefinition of the very idea of user interfaces. Designer Josh Clark, author of "Tapworthy," takes you on an expedition of this final frontier, with a bevy of practical techniques and cutting-edge examples that anticipate what comes next after mobile. Post-PC computing is about more than just phones or tablets. See how your current work lays the foundation for a future of social devices (and why more and dumber machines will make us smarter). Learn how sensor-rich devices change the user experience, and explore how to better design for sensors. Along the way, you'll see how games lead the fleet, how robots will help you build software, and which smart technology choices will prepare you for this future, to boldly go where no geek has gone before.
I work in mobile app development. We've been trying the "lean" approach to projects, where everyone is more involved from the beginning which is great 'cause everyone is clear on where we are in the project. There's also not as much documentation, which can slow everyone down. You can read up on it here and here, they can explain it better than I can. In a previous life, we were doing what people like to call "Waterfall," where each person does their part and then just hands it off to the next with little involvement on the process. There's obvious problems to this when things at the end of the falls go haywire and you have swim back up stream like a dying salmon and start the whole life cycle over. Then a pesky bear comes along and eats you and where does that leave you? What we're doing isn't a new idea:
" 3 or 4 of us in a locked room somewhere on Apple campus, with a lot of whiteboards, talking about what iMovie should be (and should not be). It was as pure as pure gets, in terms of building software. Steve would draw a quick vision on the whiteboard, we'd go work on it for a while, bring it back, find out the ways in which it sucked, and we'd iterate, again and again and again. That's how it always went. Iteration. It's the key to design, really. Just keep improving it until you have to ship it." (via)This Lean-ish organic approach is something that we've been trying out on our most recent projects. My experience with it is, there are no real strict guidelines. It's alot of flying-by-the-seat-of-the-pants and oh-hey-this-feels-right. Every project the company has done, since we started this approach, developed varied techniques that worked for them. So it's really really hard to define, but that's sort of the point. You can't define it and because it's going to change on every project and team of people you work with, so it's best not to. The hardest part of working with less documentation is big enterprise clients are use to and need all of that documentation. There's ways around it. Meeting with the client on a weekly basis and having a solid deliverable, is one. We walk them through all the new things we've done, the reasoning behind them, and the things we've fixed and updated from last we spoke. Sometimes there needs to be a document, but it's just for the client, not the team. So what I'm going to try to explain is the way I've been working with my team. It's been working for us, maybe you can gleam parts that might work for you too. Maybe it's nothing new to you and you've found other ways that are even better (High five to you! Wanna share something?). This is how my latest project has been going: We work in small teams consisting of a Project Manager, UX/Strategist, UI Designer/Art Director, QA, and hopefully at least two-three Developers, one being a Team Lead. Developers are always the hardest to acquire. The morning starts off with a quick 15 min meeting everyday. We meet at the whiteboard with all of our names on it. This is where everyone on the team tells the Project Manager what they're working on, and if we need anything from each other. The Project Manager wipes off your To Do from yesterday if it's finished, or it gets a star if it's not. These stars not happy gold stars! Sometimes they turn into crazy amoeba beasts if its really bad (they are whiteboards after all). The idea of the stars is to help point out if something is taking too long, or if someone needs help. The Project Manager asks if there are any road blocks, makes a list for themselves to do, where we can all see. Then, BREAK! The day starts. Everyone knows exactly what they are focusing on for the day. There's a "Show & Tell" at the end of the week on Friday so everyone can see the finished product what everyone worked on that week, and if we need to make any revisions. This is to prep us and give us a day (or weekend) to make changes before a weekly client meeting on Tuesday. We have a dedicated UX/Strategist who creates the wireframes, but we're been trying to stay away from large spec documents, as they get out of date really quickly and just take too much time to make and update. Now they tend to be on whiteboards or sketches on paper, some of which have been created as a result of brainstorms with me (Art Director/UI Designer) and a Developer, after the Strategist has come up with their direction. We each are looking out for things in our varied disciplines, with the user being the main focus. Then we snap photos with our phones and start implementing them. I must point out that there is a whole process that the Strategist goes through before even starting the wireframes, but this is just to give you the gist of the workday. I start mocking up the screens based on the whiteboarded drawings, the developer puts my comp with some working parts in the app, making a prototype of sorts until we get approval from the client and then we start building the actual screen fully out. I make necessary tweaks to the design, slice it up and then, hand it to the developer. Sometimes I sit with them and tell them which fonts to use, where to place things, etc. Sometimes I make a visual blueprint of all the same information. I prefer to sit next to them cause it takes too long to make a blueprint spec. It also gets out of date really fast as we go through MANY iterations. I must also point out that there is a whole process that the Developers goes through besides just putting in my screenshots. There's usually lots of complicated animations, API feeds and structure that they are also working on. If the design is really complicated and we don't have enough time to put it in the build before a client meeting, I place my comps in a frame of an iPad or iPhone in illustrator so the client can still picture it in the right context. We will usually will start the implementation of these sections by the next round so the client can see it live in the app. It's very very important to show the client the work in the app because the device is always a factor. Also the animations/transitions really sell the design more than just the design on paper. In between all these runs, QA starts doing rounds of user testing to get fresh eyes on the app and show weak areas so we can catch them early and fix them. This part is sometimes so excruciating! The team is waiting on the edge of their seat, biting fingernails. "Are they going to find it?" "Is THAT what they think it means?!" And when it works, the whole team cheers! When it doesn't, more whiteboarding time. Asking the right questions is so key in this area as it's really easy to lead the testers to the answer you're looking for, rather than allowing them to explore and find. There is a company wide review on everyone's projects weekly (each project get bi-monthly attention) where we present our app to the founder of the company to review. We generally want to show him specific things, but he notices EVERYTHING. So he's giving us his opinions, and we're also getting opinions from other people not on the project. This helps us get not only fresh eyes, but maybe figure out a solution to a current design or development problem. I've started thinking that the whole project is a prototype until we ship. I can't afford to get myself too attached to specific elements, as there's always ways to make it better. The main problem is knowing when to stop iterating so you can make sure all the features get implemented in time to ship. There's always hoping for version 1.2 ;) This way of working has made us faster. I'm not saying that you can "make a baby in one month with nine women," as the popular saying around the office goes. BUT you can come up with ideas and bring it to the team faster without having documentation bloat. The designers and developers can start on the project sooner with the bonus of showing a working beta to the client earlier as well. Which in turn, allows the team to single out problems faster, before they become too large and too late in the game to fix.
There's a new site, done Hacker News style, but with links that are designer relevant, called Designer News. (Created by the folks at Layer Vault) Designer News is basically all the best links of the day, all in one place. Posting your own links is invite only, as well as commenting. And for those who would rather get the news as it's posted, try the @designernewsbot twitter feed.
This thing is the FUTURE! This as a prototype of something that could be really amazing once pushed just a bit further.
Brace yourselves, e-paper tablets are coming. The Human Media Lab at Queen's University has developed a flexible tablet device known as PaperTab in collaboration with Plastic Logic and Intel Labs that looks and feels just like a sheet of paper, but with a versatile touchscreen, high-resolution display and the second generation Intel® Core i5 processor. Recently unveiled at the International CES in Las Vegas, the tablet could be commercially ready within three to five years, according to researchers at Queen's University
Start is a flat ui, gestured based alarm clock and stopwatch app by Tack Mobile. Right now you can't wake up to music, but I think they are planning on it in the future. Right now you can wake up to various sounds provided in the app and then set the app to open another app (Rdio, Path, Facebook, etc), once the alarm has gone off.
The app boasts a slick & flat-ish UI, something I’m sure will catch Mikhail’s eye. It uses brightly blended colors throughout all the screens and is very spiffy in its animations. Start focuses heavily on gestures and taps for all the actions in the app. Primarily an alarm clock app, it’s very easy to set up alarms using a few simple taps and swipes. You can set up to 6 custom alarms, each with its own tune and theme. A gorgeous gradient fills up the screen’s background with a radial clock in the center. You can rotate the dial (anti)clockwise to set the alarm and swipe up to activate it. A timer at the bottom shows you exactly how much time is left before the alarm fires. You can pinch an alarm to delete it. (via Beautiful Pixels>
One of the most frustrating things for me is working without my large 27" cinema display that I've grown so accustom to. I press my face right up to the screen to move things pixel by pixel. When I'm traveling or just feel like getting away from my desk for a bit, my working screen space decreases to a really sad state of my 15" laptop with my tools taking up 30-40% of the area. I've always dreamed about a roll up, portable monitor that I can take with me, little did I know, it was in my possession the whole time. Let me tell you how the Air Display App (by Avatron) is going to change my life. It's a little pricey for a usual app at $10, but for how much use I'm going to get out of it, I'm more than happy to pay the developer. Air Display works similar to the remote screen viewing apps like LiveView or XScope, where you have one app on your device and one on your mac and they talk to each other over wifi. Good news for Windows and Android users is that it works on those operating systems too. You can turn any tablet, phone or even another computer into a second monitor. You can even still use touch on those devices or weirdly see your mouse travel over to your iPad. The only problems I encountered was that I had to make sure that I changed the settings through Air Display preferences that unchecked "Use Retina resolutions when available" cause it made my photoshop tools on my retina iPad really really tiny. But I could see it being helpful if I needed to keep a bunch of comps up on the screen, I'd have alot of room for them. The other problem was that my iPad was defaulted as my main monitor, but a quick change in the display preferences fixed that problem as well.
I started watching The Lincoln Lawyer tonight and I just really liked the title sequence. It's really simple with beautiful photography and a little bit of animation. Enjoy.