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May 4, 2011 / X_Y

Usability Issues:Here! There! They’re Everywhere!

If you think big companies make high quality stuff, you’re obviously on the wrong track. Like today, I get totally pissed off by Google.

Today, just like usual, I start searching something in google. And Phff! Everything goes into Swedish. This is not too weird, as I’m in Sweden. The weird thing is, I’ve changed the interface language to English long ago!… OK, this is not too big a problem, with my poor amount of Swedish and visual memory (I’m almost a life-time google user), I started bumping around and try to make it back to English. Before I figured it out why, everything is English again. Oh, no, the “account settings” is still Swedish, and I definitely have no idea how to make it back, not even through googling.

Through all these bumping around process, I get some conclusions about google’s language setting:

  • The interface language, as well as the searching language is defined by location of your IP address. If you set it to your convenience, normally it will remember in your computer. However, if you want to change it you need to use “search settings” hidden in a funny menu. If you can’t remember its position very well, don’t speak English and is staring at its interface strangely stuffed with some totally foreign language, then wish you good luck!
  • Searching engine of the browser, if you set it to “”, it will be defined by your location. What’s interesting, this setting seems to be different from the google page you go to through the URL bar. So they can have two different sets of language settings, how amazing!
  • If you’re a google account user, the “account settings” has a third language policy. Within the amount of time I was researching on it, I couldn’t find any solution to change it. So I’m not sure if it is defined by your location or the “country” field you filled in.

Here you change your "Interface language" settings!

Read more…

April 30, 2011 / X_Y

Cave Man and Space Shuttle

Once I was talking to a company, who was so proudly trying to sell space shuttles to cave men. Err, actually, they’re making a software, which introduces a new work procedure to network administrators. With this new tool, their customers can save millions of dollars by dramatically reduce problem-solving time.

“OK, I need to do some user research about your users, so I can understand them.” I said.

“Nooo, I don’t think you can get anything valuable from them.” The boss said, “They’re all old school people,  doing things in a very inefficient way. What’s more, the area we’re working on is a new trend in network administration. What we’re going to introduce is something they’ve never seen before, and it is how they’re supposed to work with this new area. You can’t get much by watching old school people working with old technology.”

Give this to a cave man!

Generally it’s like this: the cave men (users) can only walk a few miles a day (they don’t even have shoes!). And the innovators can provide them with a space shuttle (the new tool) which moves them out of solar system in a blink. What a great improvement in productivity! And what’s the point of researching the cave men then? Read more…

April 21, 2011 / X_Y

Reading notes of “Lean UX: Getting Out Of The Deliverables Business”

Designers have long been in a deliverable based industry,  using “wireframes, site maps, flow diagrams, content inventories, taxonomies, mockups and the ever-sacred specifications documents” as output of their design work. This has the problem of ignoring the value of true user experience but focused on the quality of documents. This leads to a waste of time on making the documents.

Lean UX approach:

The traditional paper work is discarded, while the focus is turned to making sketches of the idea. Then the sketch is presented and discussed with the team. The initial prototype effort is very small comparing to detailed documents, so it’s easy to make changes. After it’s agreed internally, rough prototype is made and tested with users. The learning from users help refine the idea and iteration starts over again. Read more…

April 18, 2011 / X_Y

Future of Flash:Personal Opinion

It’s a new era of internet, technology is changing, focus of development is changing, the once pioneer, Flash, seems to be overwhelmed by all the new technologies  springing toward future. Is Flash coming to an end of era? What’s the future of Flash, both in short run and long run?

Let’s have a look at today’s Flash industry. Generally there’re four areas Flash is fighting in: game, website, advertisement and applications. Games are hot but highly challenged (by Apple), websites are running into some strange conditions, advertisements are annoying, and applications, for the part I know, are also gradually replaced by HTML & javascript. The front line does not look optimistic.

Flash statistics, how will it change in the future?

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April 17, 2011 / X_Y

Choosing Platform for App: HTML vs Native Apps

Strength of native apps:

  • Push notifications. Don’t use push notifications just because you made a native app, but do make a native app if push notifications would deliver real value to your customers.
  • Offline access to data. Would your customers want/need to use your product  outside of cell/wifi range (on an airplane for example)?
  • Rich media. Streaming/buffering/caching and format support are much better with a native app.
  • Other native features. If you need integration with the camera, for example, then you have to go native.
  • App store is a good place to market for the app

Strength of web app:

  • Easier to develop, thus cheaper
  • Contributing to the next Gen internet standard
  • Easy accessible, easy to make changes. Any computer with a proper browser can access the app without the need of installing, and the developer have full control of upgrading.
  • There’re frameworks for making web apps look the same as native ones, narrowing the gap between native and web apps
  • Multi platform, js code developed with Titanium can be applied to iPhone and Android as well. But Titanium is a subset of native APIs.