All posts tagged “Exploring”

Looking at Painting Volume 1: A beautiful journal exploring art and the ideas behind it

Looking at Painting Volume 1

Across the 96 pages within the softcover “Looking at Painting Volume 1” arts journal, editor and designer Jessie Churchill (who also happens to be a fine artist) probes the expanding visual landscape of painting today. With care and thought, painting……

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Word of Mouth: Koreatown, Los Angeles : Exploring the historic neighborhood’s most recent additions, from stoner food to classic cocktails

Word of Mouth: Koreatown, Los Angeles


With the largest Korean population outside of South Korea, LA’s sprawling Koreatown neighborhood offers an almost overwhelming number of food, beverage and shopping options at every turn. Traditionally home to many Korean families and a large Latino……

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Sundance 2015: Rabbit : A narrative fiction film exploring a correctional facility’s pet partnership program

Sundance 2015: Rabbit

Of the thousands of applicants at the annual Sundance Film Festival short film competition, only 60 make it into the festival. And, while this year has already provided many standouts, “Rabbit” truly stunned by way of message and execution. The beautiful……

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Redefining Wearable Tech at Decoded Fashion NYC: Exploring new relationships with technology as it becomes part of the daily lexicon for identity and self-expression

Redefining Wearable Tech at Decoded Fashion NYC

The NYC Decoded Fashion summit proved to be an especially good-looking tech conference. Not to say that the average tech conference is unattractive, but this crowd obviously cares as much about aesthetics and presentation as they do about software……

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Exploring Material Design: A New UI Design Concept by Google

A couple of months ago, at their 7th annual I/O developer conference, Google had introduced a new UI design concept called Material Design.

Exploring Material Design: A New UI Design Concept by Google

This inspiring, vibrant and gorgeous design style is rapidly becoming popular among designers, and is indeed a great effort by Google to bring visual, motion, and interaction design together across different types of platforms and devices. Using bold graphic design, tactile surfaces and fluid motion, this content-focused design language delivers unified, playful, and intuitive experiences to users.

Originally Material Design was created for the L-Release of Android, but later Google applied it to home screens of Docs, Sheets and Slides. Inspired by this, designers started using Material Design for websites they create. In this blog post, I’ll take you on a tour of Material Design concept and also explore how you can use it in your upcoming web design projects.

Let’s begin!

Core Principles of Material Design

Material Metaphor:

Material design puts a huge emphasis on making elements, animations, and transitions as real as they appear in real life. After intensive study of paper and ink, Google team decided to use a material metaphor as the unified principle of a rationalized space and a system of motion. In a nutshell, we can say Material design is nothing but a combination of various classic concepts of design and basic physical properties.

Tangible Surfaces:

In material design, surfaces and edges of the material establish a physical structure to give users visual cues to help them quickly understand what they can touch and move. Utilizing principles of print design, material design keeps the important content in front of the user’s eye, while ignoring other less useful content. The use of familiar, intuitive and natural attributes allows user’s brain to work less and quickly understand affordances.

Dimensional Affordances:

If there is a stack of papers on your desk, they gain dimension along with protecting their shadows. Likewise, in material design, when you apply this property to the user interface, you’ll have hierarchy and shadows in order draw a user’s attention to the most important object they should interact with. Using the basics of light, surface and movement, material design conveys how an object will interact with users. Additionally, realistic lighting lets users get the most realistic view of the interface you’ve designed.

One Adaptive Design:

Material design uses a single underlying design system in order to organize space and interactions. The concept of one adaptive design brings coherence along different devices, means a unified design creates specialized views for different types of devices. Each view is tailored in a unique way to the interaction and size suitable for a particular device. On the other hand, no changes are made to hierarchy, iconography, colors, and spatial relationships.

Bold and Intentional Content:

Another thing you’ll notice about this new visual language is its bold design with bright color scheme. Taking cues from pavement marking tape, contemporary architecture, road signs, and sports courts, Google has introduced fantastic and vibrant colors that you had never expected. Also, they’ve extensively refined the Roboto font, making it slightly wider and rounder in order to make reading a better experience. Furthermore, deliberate white space and edge-to-edge imagery create clarity and immersion.

Emphasize Actions:

Material design puts a lot of emphasis on making the interaction between users and surfaces more digital, magical, and responsive. In this design style, when someone interacts with the user interface, the whole design is transformed in a surprising way. The graphical expression with color, surface, and iconography gives users a clear idea about what an object can do, whereas responsive interaction encourages the user to deeply explore the interface: if I touch this, what will happen? And what happens next?

User-initiated Change:

When a person touches the surface of water and makes wavelets, the energy derived from his actions to make changes in the interface gives him a real-life and tangible experience. In the same way, material design enables users to touch the user interface as they do in their real life. For this, Google suggests designers to take an extra dimension of interaction, which is “motion feedback”, into account. So user could feel like they’re being heard by the surface on scrolls, drags, slides and taps.

Animation Choreography:

In the real world, every action has a motion, beginning and ending. For instance, when you open a carton in the real life, you tap somewhere on it and show what’s inside. Likewise, all of the user actions in material design take place in a unified environment. Each object is presented to the user with a fast, smooth, and continuous animation that is choreographed on a shared stage. As all assets in material design move into a rhythm, the screen appears more enthralling and interactive than ever.

Meaningful Motion:

As we all know, for Google, user experience is more important than anything else. The same rule applies to the last principle of material design. This principle says that motion should be appropriate, meaningful, and carefully choreographed, and must not be used just to impress users. Motion in material design should not only be beautiful, but also build meaning about the functionality and spatial relationships along with maintaining the beauty and simplicity of a seamless user experience.

Implementing Material Design for the Web with Polymer

Not yet familiar with Polymer? Well! Polymer is a great UI toolkit that enables you to bring material design to the web. With the paper elements collection of Polymer, you will have access to all the capabilities of material design and be able to bring tangibility, bold graphics, and smooth transitions and animations to your applications on the web. You can see Polymer and material design patterns in action with Topeka, a fun quiz app.

Polymer and material design patterns

Now, I’m going to explore Polymer’s paper elements and show you the way you can make use of this new design paradigm in your web projects.

Getting Started:

Polymer’s getting started guide comes bundled with a brief tutorial and starter project to help you get familiar with the key concepts of Polymer. Firstly, you need to download the starter project that contains all of dependencies and libraries required to work with Polymer. Once you’ve downloaded the starter project, unzip it somewhere on your local drive.

Before you’re going to start, you’ll need a quick HTTP server running. If you already have Python installed, run any one of the following commands in the top level of the sample project.

Python 2.x:

python -m SimpleHTTPServer

Python 3.x:

python -m http.server

Now, load the finished version of the project to test out the web server. For example, if the local server is listening on port 8000:

http://localhost:8000/finished/

Install Paper Elements:

After that, you need to install paper elements using any one of following three ways:

  • Zip: Download Zip file and unzip it to your project root.
  • Bower: Run this command above from the project root:
    bower install Polymer/paper-elements
    

    For more information, go through installing with Bower.

  • Github: Run this command above from the project root:
    git clone https://github.com/Polymer/paper-elements.git components/paper-elements
    

Once you’ve got the paper elements in your project root, import the component by including the following code in your HTML file:

<link rel="import" href="components/paper-elements/paper-elements.html">
Using Material UI Components:

Like Foundation and Bootstrap, the Polymer’s paper element collection is packed with dialogs, tabs, and form controls. Below is the list of standard user interface components contained in paper elements:

  • paper-button
  • paper-checkbox
  • paper-dialog-transition
  • paper-dialog
  • paper-dropdown-menu
  • paper-fab
  • paper-focusable
  • paper-icon-button
  • paper-input
  • paper-item
  • paper-menu-button
  • paper-progress
  • paper-radio-button
  • paper-radio-group
  • paper-ripple
  • paper-shadow
  • paper-slider
  • paper-spinner
  • paper-tab
  • paper-tabs
  • paper-toast
  • paper-toggle-button

Icons are another crucial part of material design. Polymer’s <core-icon> element provides a number of icons that you can use. You can install core icons in the same way you’ve installed paper elements.

Because of their declarative nature, paper elements are as easy to use as components of other front-end frameworks. Below I’ve shown the implementation of some most commonly used UI elements of material design.

paper-menu-button:

To create a simple menu button that opens a drop down menu when clicked, you need to use the following code:

<paper-menu-button icon="menu">
<div>Web Design</div>
<div>WordPress</div>
<div>JavaScript</div>
<div>HTML5</div>
<div>Responsive</div>
</paper-menu-button>

The preview of menu button will look something like this:

Material Design element: paper-menu-button

paper-fab:

The <paper-fab> is a floating action button that is used for promoted actions. To create a floating action button, you need to use the code given below:

<paper-fab icon="favorite"></paper-fab>

Also, the floating action button can be resized smaller by applying the class mini.

<paper-fab class="mini"></paper-fab>

Material Design element: paper-fab

paper-tabs:

You can create tabs using the following code:

<paper-tabs selected="0">
 <paper-tab>ITEM ONE</paper-tab>
 <paper-tab>ITEM TWO</paper-tab>
 <paper-tab>ITEM THREE</paper-tab>
</paper-tabs>

Material Design element: paper-tabs

paper-input:

The <paper-input> is a single/multi-line text field where users can input required values. This paper element can optionally have a label.

<paper-input label="User Name"></paper-input>
<paper-input multiline label="Keep Multiple Lines Here"></paper-input>

Material Design element: paper-input

paper-dialog:

The <paper-dialog> element is used to render a dialog overlay. For example:

<paper-dialog heading="Dialog">
<p>Lorem ipsum ....</p>
<p>Id qui scripta ...</p>
<paper-button label="MORE INFO..." dismissive></paper-button>
<paper-button label="DECLINE" affirmative></paper-button>
<paper-button label="ACCEPT" affirmative autofocus></paper-button>
</paper-dialog>

Material Design element: paper-dialog

paper-shadow:

The <paper-shadow> element helps you add shadow effect to elements. This is done by nesting the <paper-shadow> element inside a <div>.
The shadow can be applied to an element by declaring it as the target.

<div id="myCard" class="card"></div>
<paper-shadow id="myShadow" z="1"></div>
myShadow.target = document.getElementById('myCard');

If you don’t assign an element as the target, the shadow will be applied to the parent element of the paper-shadow element.

<div class="card">
<paper-shadow z="1"></paper-shadow>
</div>

Alternatively, you can directly use CSS classes of an element.

<div class="card paper-shadow-top paper-shadow-top-z-1">
<div class="card-inner paper-shadow-bottom paper-shadow-bottom-z-1"></div>
</div>

Material Design element: paper-shadow

Transitions:

As I mentioned earlier, animations and transitions are important aspects of material design. Where animations improve overall user experience significantly, on the other hand, transitions provide a beautiful, engaging, and seamless way to direct users to the next step. Polymer’s core element <core-animated-pages> is used to handle transitions while switching between two pages.

Transitions

To see different types of transitions in action, I suggest you to visit following demo links of <core-animated-pages> element and Topeka app.

That’s all about Material Design!

What do you think of Material Design concept? What are chances for Material Design style to get success in web design? Is this concept the future of web design?

You can share your opinion through the comment box given below!

Visit us at InstantShift.com

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Exploring Social Design Patterns For the Web


Although many people are designing mobile products that are social in nature, few understand what that really means, how it works, or why it’s important.

While social features are becoming increasingly important for many reasons, they require careful thinking about the identities and respective communities impacted by them, and how the nature of the product changes with this kind of user interaction. For example, every social network you could possibly link to (i.e. for sharing purposes) is different and serves a different purpose for the users involved. And some information may be really sensitive (i.e. bank information, personally identifiable information, or users may want privacy so they can’t be viewed or contacted by certain people or anyone. These are just some considerations, but the list is virtually endless as mobile applications incorporate more designs around who we are as unique and social people.

In this article, we dive deep into 10 different UI patterns for social design. We’ve also previously delved into the importance of navigation design patterns, you should check that out as well.

An Overview of The Patterns

Here’s an overview of the design patterns we’ve detailed in this article:

  1. Achievements & Badges.
  2. Auto-Sharing.
  3. Activity Feeds.
  4. Friend Lists.
  5. Follow.
  6. Vote to Promote.
  7. Pay To Promote.
  8. Direct Messaging.
  9. Like.
  10. Find & Invite Friends.

1. Achievements & Badges

Codecademy

Example: Codecademy, Stackoverflow

Problem: The user wants incremental encouragement and a general sense of progress

Solution: Build gamification into the user’s interactions with the website. Apart from the regular user interactions like listening to a song or posting an update on a social network, many sites also want to encourage users to complete their profile information or interact more frequently with the app. In these cases it makes sense to provide some incentive to the user so that this extra step appeals to them.

Gamification is one of the most popular ways of doing this as it can be a great way of increasing user engagement. Gamification applies the mechanics that hook gamers in order to make the users more engaged on the site. A gamified app is characterized by rewards the user receives as they move through different stages of the “game”. For example users of Codecademy receive points and badges as they complete different tutorials. Stackoverflow and Quora implement the same and provide users with points that can be used to unlock additional features like asking targeted questions or contributing to protected questions.

2. Auto-Sharing

Quora

Example: Quora, Vimeo

Problem: The user wants to easily share their activity with their social networks.

Solution: Build an option that lets users automatically share particular interactions with their social networks. A lot of web apps like Tumblr, Spotify and Vimeo are building granular sharing settings which allow users to automatically post updates to their networks based on their activity. These updates can be posted within the app or even shared with external social channels like Facebook or Twitter.

Not only does this help the user engage with their friends and family in everyday activities like listening to a song or reading an article on an external website, its also a great way to build awareness and engagement with the app itself. For interactions like uploading a photo to Carousel or a video to Vimeo, this pattern makes it even easier for users by eliminating an extra step in the process which they are most likely going to take regardless.

3. Activity Feeds

Medium

Example: Medium, Vimeo

Problem: The user wants to keep up with what’s happening around them and get quick updates on recent activity.

Solution: Show recent activity that’s relevant to the user within the app. Aside from the obvious Facebook or Twitter news feeds, other web apps that contain an element of social interaction, like Quora or Medium have implemented activity feeds that provide users with an overview of recent activity from their friends or people they follow.

The activity stream can be used to aggregate recent actions by an individual user, commonly used on profile pages; more commonly however, activity feeds are used to aggregate multiple users from the perspective of one user. These feeds are extremely useful in demonstrating different features of the UI by showing how other users are interacting with it, and this also plays a great word-of-mouth role.

4. Friend Lists

Goodreads, Spotify

Example: Goodreads

Problem: The user wants to keep track of and engage a subset of their friends on the site.

Solution: Show all the user’s connections or friends in a list. Spotify and Airbnb are part of the growing number of web apps that give you friend lists which can be used to help users engage with the app in a better way by keeping up with how people they know are using the app. Combined with the Follow pattern, which we discuss next, a friend list gives users an easy way to keep track of this information, which comes in handy to give some social proof to content that the users are interacting with.

Friend lists also come in handy when the users want to control who they share with. Whether it’s one-on-one communication or keeping track of someone’s tastes and preferences, the way users explore their blossoming friend groups will become increasingly contextual, requiring friends to become a more integral part of the content-consumption experience.

5. Follow

Google+

Example: Google+, Pinterest

Problem: The user wants to track and keep up to date with activity on topics or themes, not just people.

Solution: Let users select items that they want to stay up to date with. Aside from the purely social web apps like Twitter, Pinterest and Spotify, they let you select friends, channels or artists that you want to keep track of, and updates are shown in the user’s newsfeed. Whether you have friends or not, there’s endless user-generated content to keep you busy.

Users can gain access to a lot of varied content by “following” the activities and recommendations of other users and this pattern allows them to do so without having to worry about how many of their actual friends are using the app. Content shared with followers on sites like Google+ and Pinterest makes the content curation community possible and users can choose to follow topics, events, themes or even people to get fresh content built by and around the channel being followed. For the same reason friend lists will become an increasingly important UI design pattern, so will following.

6. Vote to Promote

Medium

Example: Medium, Reddit

Problem: The user wants to endorse and share content they like.

Solution: Let users participate in content curation by designing a voting system, where content they like can be promoted. The idea of crowd-sourced content curation was popularized by the likes of Digg and Reddit, and today we see almost every app that has user generated content integrate this pattern to bring up the best from the rest. On Reddit, Stackoverflow and Quora, users can vote on content created by other users. Not only does this create a history of what the user has upvoted or downvoted, it also gives users a way of popularizing content and publicly associate themselves with something they enjoyed.

7. Pay To Promote

OKCupid

Example: Quora, OKCupid

Problem: The user wants to highlight certain content above the regular content feed.

Solution: Let users pay to to promote their content. On sites like Quora and Facebook, users can give their posts a boost by paying a certain amount that gives them greater visibility in the content feed above the regular non-paid content. OKCupid allows users to give their profile a boost in views and LinkedIn does the same albeit as part of the paid membership plan rather than by individual content like in Facebook. As discussed in the e-book Web UI Design Patterns 2014, this form of native advertising can be a great way of allowing users to gain traction and greater visibility while maintaining the user’s experience in the platform.

8. Direct Messaging

Spotify

Example: Spotify, Twitter

Problem: The user wants to send private messages to their friends from within the system.

Solution: Allow users to interact with each other in private messages alongside their other interactions. Instagram and many other web apps offer chat or direct messaging as an integral part of their experience. Private chat UI design patterns will continue to blossom across many web apps, not just traditional “social networks” now that users are finally comfortable sharing more private things online and they have substantial breadth in the content they’re generating online.

9. Like

YouTube

Example: YouTube, Pinterest

Problem: The user wants to rate content in a simple way without having to worry about the degrees to which they like it.

Solution: Simplify rating controls by making them binary choices – the user either likes it or dislikes it. Eliminating the fine-grain of stars and rating scores, this makes rating things easier for users as well as interpreting them. If I liked a video, should I rate it 4 stars or go all the way with 5 stars? YouTube and almost every application lets you like (or even dislike) everything in a binary way instead. A lot of web apps provide a way of showing appreciation by simply “liking” or “hearting” content.

10. Find & Invite Friends

Airbnb

Example: Pinterest, Airbnb

Problem: The user wants to experience the application with their friends.

Solution: Make the invitation process simple and easy to complete. Since word-of-mouth and referrals are a huge driver of growth especially in consumer applications, you’ll see this UI design pattern proliferate and evolve even more. Providing users with a way of connecting with and sharing the app with friends also gives them a better, more immersive experience even if just in terms of more content. The invite feature can be built into the onboarding pattern or even as the empty state design, both of which we’ve covered earlier.

Let The User Socialize

Keep track of where your users might want or need to socialize, whether they ever view those features, how often they use them, where they’re coming from and going to in the application (i.e. the user flow) and so on. Keep rearranging, re-sequencing, re-sizing, and tweaking those controls until you get more of the desired actions. And, of course, think deeply about how the user is actually using your mobile application when they’re trying to socialize – make sure you’re not missing something obvious.

For a deeper look at how some of the hottest companies are implementing new and existing social design patterns as well as 50+ other patterns, feel free to check out the e-book Web UI Design Patterns 2014. Use what you need and scrap the rest – but make sure to tailor them to solve your own problems and, most importantly, those of your users.


The post Exploring Social Design Patterns For the Web appeared first on Speckyboy Web Design Magazine.


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Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty: 40 artists create new works for the first-ever Hello Kitty retrospective at LA’s Japanese American National Museum

Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty


As part of Hello Kitty’s 40th Anniversary celebration, the adorably cute character will be celebrated in numerous ways, including a birthday party, Hello Kitty Con and her first-ever museum retrospective at the ,…

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Exploring Words and Destruction with “Extracts” : Three typography artists join forces for a group show highlighting their different uses of negative space

Exploring Words and Destruction with


by Jorge Grimberg Currently on view at New York’s No Romance Galleries is “Extracts,” an exhibition curated by Tim Strazza that features work by three artists on one common theme:…

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Exploring the Google Glass UX

As wearable devices enter the mainstream, UX designers must develop ways to maximize those devices’ potential while acknowledging the new limitations they impose. That’s what the software team at ELEKS concluded after evaluating Google Glass – an experience that allowed them to abandon their expectations about head-mounted wearables, adapt user experiences to tiny screens, and forget about keyboards altogether.

For many UX designers, Google Glass evokes visions of an Iron Man-like interface with numerous controls and augmented reality features. Our team at ELEKS, too, fell victim to these assumptions. It was only after designing and developing multiple applications for Google Glass that we began to truly understand its distinctive features – and how to work within its limitations.
In particular, we came across numerous technical and contextual challenges that few in the UX space will have encountered before. As the market for Google Glass, and thus the market for compatible applications continues to expand, we feel it is of vital importance for UX designers to share their experiences creating applications for the device. It’s in this spirit that we’re sharing our own.

Google Glass: a new device, with new application opportunities

Photo Credit: lawrencegs via Compfight cc

Technological limitations

We began playing with Glass in August of 2013. Since then, our team of designers, analysts and engineers has worked on seven related projects, ranging from business concepts to fully operational applications. Most of the projects catered to unique usage scenarios and provided an application from which clients can benefit, either by opening new opportunities or by optimizing business processes.
First, we discovered that the predominant way to interact with Google Glass was via Mirror API, which showed text and pictures to the user and nothing more. As it turns out, there was a strong rationale behind using Mirror API – trying to perform any non-trivial computations, like video streaming, introduces three significant challenges: heat, battery life, and camera capability. We experienced all of them during our trials with Glass.

Heat

Upon performing certain computations, Glass heats up to levels that border on unbearable for users (50°C/122°F) after just a few minutes. We discovered the issue while testing an application we developed for warehouse workers, which enables the user to scan barcodes on the go and fill in delivery information with voice input. The heat became noticeable after the application’s launch and reached its peak while scanning the barcodes. Thankfully, we discovered a solution to the problem, which also improved the usability of our application.
To minimize overheating, we gave Glass time to cool down between each step in the scanning process. For example, we assumed that after scanning one bar code, a warehouse worker would move the scanned item before moving on to scan the next one, so we dimmed the application screen for several seconds (during which the user would merely see a dim square in the corner of Glass) before returning to the image preview mode, which precedes the snapping of a photograph.
Finding the compromise between heat levels and users’ patience will be a continuous challenge for UX teams designing for Glass. In our case, thinking through the flow of user actions (physical movements as well as thought processes), we managed to improve usability and beat the heat.

Battery

Heating issues aside, video streaming drains the battery so quickly that Glass can be out of commission in under an hour. As a result, having anything other than extremely brief video calls really isn’t really feasible. It’s likely for this reason that Google has chosen to temporarily drop video calls in Glass, but the battery life may cause other difficulties for designers. While there are workarounds – surgeons at the University of California, San Francisco are attaching battery packs to Glass for use in the OR – it’s a design constraint most UX teams simply have to accept.

Surgeons use Google Glass in operations.

Photo Credit: Kasya Shahovskaya via Compfight cc

A glance at the apps available for Google Glass suggests that the device performs best in brief usage scenarios. Ongoing, highly interactive experiences aren’t really where Glass is strong. What can work for Glass are applications like DriveSafe, which monitors users’ eye movements while they drive and sends them alerts when they start dozing off at the wheel. The app’s behavior is mostly passive, as it’s running in the background, which conserves the batter life while maintaining the core facet of the experience—and providing a very valuable service.
Designers should think hard about why they’re designing apps for Google Glass and whether it’s the right platform for what they’re trying to achieve. The longer and more immersive the experience, the less likely it is to be appropriate for Glass.

Camera control

In the same warehouse application that revealed the heating issue, we faced another major problem – camera control. The Glass camera is far less flexible than most smartphone cameras, and in some cases it doesn’t capture enough detail to fulfill user needs.
When users attempted to scan barcodes with our Glass warehouse application, they had trouble scanning the very small ones. The issue: Glass’s camera focus is permanently set to infinity. Although we haven’t found a solution, per se, we were able to identify the barcode and QR code sizes that Google Glass can effectively scan and define those in our application. It works, but it limits the kinds of items warehouse workers can scan with Glass.
For now, as with the battery limitations, UX designers set on high quality images may find that Glass is not the right device. However, the infinity setting on Glass’s camera works nicely with certain apps. Consider the Moment Camera application, which automatically captures an image when the light, device steadiness, and subject position are most optimal for a quality photograph. Not only does it meet our brevity criteria for not draining the battery, but it helps users take maximum advantage of the camera’s infinity mode limitation.
It’s also worth noting that camera focus was recently accepted by the Google support team as an issue to address in upcoming releases.

Contextual challenges

Technological limitations aside, wearing Google Glass elicits mixed reactions from onlookers. For consumers, the device must provide significant value in exchange for the attention, positive and negative, that its users attract. Users need a compelling reason to put Glass on each morning, carry it around all day, and charge it at night. But on its own, all Google Glass offers is a camera and the ability to provide directions; the rest is up to us – the designers.

Google Glass looks strange to onlookers

Photo Credit: Max Braun via Compfight cc

While the applications we create can be useful in a variety of contexts spanning the professional (think barcode scanning), practical (DriveSafe), and recreational realms, it’s important to remember that Glass should help users complete a specific task without getting in their way. Finishing that task is the user’s goal. Glass is simply the assistant.

Single-Minded Functionality

One of the biggest potential failures in designing for Glass is trying to emulate a mobile app, which results in packing too much functionality into a device intended for simplicity. Glass has different usage patterns from mobile, and simulating the mobile environment simply doesn’t work. Since Google Glass does not have a keyboard and the screen is relatively small – not to mention close to the user’s eyes – designers need to focus, and deliver information relevant to the user’s immediate context.
The ELEKS team realized this while developing another application: an adaptation of a huge parade management system. To understand how the system might work, we studied how parades are organized. The central elements is a float with a driver inside; there are people performing around the float; additionally, there are managers moving from one float to another to ensure everything is in order. All of these actions need to be synchronized up to a second in time and a centimeter in space. Typically, float drivers use tablets with a detail rich-UI and controls for speed, position, alignment with the schedule, and so on. Managers, likewise, have access to similar data indicating the status and position of floats.
In an effort to maintain consistency, we initially tried to mimic that functionality by displaying dozens of those indicators on Glass’s tiny screen. However, on-screen clutter became a serious issue, and we had to reconsider our vision for the app by delving deeper into the users’ needs. We learned that drivers looked for one piece of information at a time—so we switched to a notification-based approach, providing the drivers with a countdown timer for each specific action such as start, pause, or move as the parade unfolded and plans changed, in real time.

Notifications

The notification-based approach we used for the parade management system is an effective way to avoid displaying lots of information on Glass’s small screen, but we also learned that the notifications don’t always have to be visual. Glass can also provide auditory feedback by keeping one “headphone” constantly turned on. The audio is a native feature in Glass, specially designed to be less intrusive than visual notifications, which can be overwhelming on such a small screen.
Notifications are a perfect tool for leveraging contextual awareness through the Glass form factor. One great example of a context-aware notification-based app is the built-in directions app. When providing directions, the screen switches on just before a turn in order to provide navigation assistance. Another example is Google Now, from which Glass inherits its card-based notifications. Google Now effectively provides recommendations that are relevant to the user’s immediate context based on actions he or she performed before. Tourists, for example, can receive restaurant recommendations based on their previous trips, current location, and interests published in social media profiles.

Google Glass is gaining in popularity.

Photo Credit: Radboud REshape & Innovation Center via Compfight cc

For UX designers, notifications in Glass are the fastest, most seamless way to get information to users. And since they mostly operate in the background, appearing only briefly, they help designers avoid Glass’s heat and battery issues too. Notifications are an effective tool, but UX designers should still be careful and not overuse them. There should always be a good reason to distract users from their “real life” activities.

Getting involved

Designing for Glass challenges design teams to overcome various technological limitations and unusual contextual scenarios. Keeping abreast of how the UX community is solving these problems can be a great way for designers to stay at the edge and understand the issues involved in Glass design. Some ways to do so include:

It’s a whole new world out there, with tiny screens and unexplored possibilities.

About the Author

Oleh Hasoshyn

Oleh Hasoshyn is an art director at ELEKS. Oleh is a multidisciplinary award-winning designer and creative leader with focus on interaction design and user experience. He is passionate about combining new technologies, motion design and user experience design to tell stories in a new exciting way and create enjoyable user interfaces. Follow Oleh on Twitter @Gasioshyn

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Art or Sound at Fondazione Prada: Curated by Germano Celant, a provocative exhibition exploring the transcendental nature of instrumental expression

Art or Sound at Fondazione Prada


Ca’ Corner della Regina is a majestic Venetian palazzo overlooking Canal Grande, built between 1723 and 1728 by Domenico Rossi. At the end of 2010 Fondazione Prada began a restoration process on the historic building while…

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