June 30, 2016

UI/UX challenges - decipher that phone number

The user experience - feeling safe

I know. We can't think about everything, especially not when it comes to design - we simply have so much that we take for granted, so many things that are a given for us but may not be for others - read Norman's book "The Design of Everyday Things" if you don't know what I am talking about. We had an interesting discussion at our latest GDG Düsseldorf meetup, after our Accessibility talk, about that.

We also, in our discussion after the talk about how we use different concepts for different audiences - user centred design.  And we should.

Different user groups have different needs, and different expectations

However there are some things that they have  to work regardless of the end user. Some things that are so essential that if no one sees them, sees the problem with them, I just don't know what to think. There are many examples (and I like to collect them - both so i can learn and because they are great as anecdotes for talks).

Below is one example. It is from a bank, but as I don't want to out the bank I didn't use a screenshot, but created my own, and of course these numbers are made-up Hollywood numbers (so don't try and call them).

showing phone number in clear text and one which has been masked and only shows the four last digits
Can you guess the secret number?
The bank, a European bank, sends a text to your phone every time you need to confirm a payment

Great. To be safe, they have made sure they block the main part of the number, the way we do with credit card numbers, and the way we do when we want to show you that "we have your number but we want to keep it safe, so we never display it in clear text".  

June 29, 2016

Accessibility - Usability taken to the next level

Accessibility. It's Usability taken one step further. And it is good business, too

Recently (June 28 2016) I presented at GDG Düsseldorf. I've talked about accessibility before, and I get involved in usability a lot, both when it comes to design and leading/advising on projects. 
It isn't always easy to get the business to understand the impact on the business when you don't consider usability and accessibility - especially not when times are tough and you need to deliver.

However I firmly believe that accessibility is really good for the business. For most businesses. And if you don't think it is for you - well, that's fine, but at least make sure it is because a conscious decision you made and not because you "didn't think about it".  

This is not a tech heavy talk, but more of a generalist talk, to get your attention - and that is completely on purpose. I may build on this and do a more tech heavy talk in the future, but I am also convinced that every developer and every designer is fully capable of finding the information they need - we have a world of knowledge at our fingertips.   It is also not a talk with fancy pictures, and animations - that is the part I do myself when I present.

June 24, 2016

A visit to Berlin and to Droidcon

Last week I attended Droidcon Berlin, a big conference that takes place in every year. Droidcon is focused on Android - as the name would indicate - and is a fantastic opportunity to get together and network and learn more - from amazing speakers to the other participants and from sponsors and companies exhibiting. Droidcon has been running since 2009, and, according to the Droidcon.de website, there were 300 participants at the first Droidcon. My first Droidcon was last year, 2015, and that year there were over 800 participants! 2015 was the year  that I really got a bit obsessed with Android - and Droidcon was one of the reasons.

Droidcon has since it started 2009 spread out over the world. from Berlin to UK, to Greece, to Zagreb, to Dubai, to India and many other places - you can read about the history on the Droidcon international website.

Attending conferences is a fantastic opportunity to learn more - for Droidcon about the world of Android. The talks are generally very inspiring and I found especially the talks on Best Practise useful, especially since I am still learning especially coding for the the Android platform - I am not a real coder but one of those with a good technical overview and broad general knowledge, and I do a lot of IT project management and design related stuff. But when it comes to coding for Android I am still learning.

Anyone who has stopped by here before may also have figured out that I am passionate about usability and user experience - so I always try and attend those talks. I also very much enjoyed the keynotes the second day by Joanna Smith from Google, Android Development Yesterday and Today (and maybe tomorrow) - it was a fun walk along memory lane and while it didn't contain any technical details, it was really quite inspiring and a lot of fun. It was recorded and should be on the Droidcon Youtube Channel soon (June 24 2016)

droidcon Berlin 2016

Notice! This photos isn't mine, this is taken at Droidcon, by the Droidcon photographer. I have embedded it, meaning if you click on it you'd get to the channel that it came from and you can flick through the other official photos in the photo stream.

This year I had the luxury of being at Droidcon for three full days, and while the talks were really inspiring and interesting and taught me a lot, I also missed a lot of the ones I had planned to see, talks I will have to catch up on once they are online.

Why did I miss talks?

June 14, 2016

Error messages that one can't dechiper

There has been a lot of activity from my side lately, and I have been setting up accounts and working on webdesigns - quite a lot of fun, once upon a time that's where it all started, and I love to be back.

A street sign saying "slow children"
However, the whole setting up accounts and working with designs raises a lot of usability - well, not concerns, but awareness and thoughts. I want a site, or an app, or whatever it may be, to be as usable as possible, and one of the things I am looking for is error messages and general feedback to the user.

One of the most frustrating things for me personally when I try and set up an account or change an existing account is getting an error messages that I cannot decipher - and there has been a lot of that lately.

Creating a password an I am getting
"Password must contain [xx] number of characters and must contain both numbers and special characters
despite the fact that I already have all those covered - it turned out that I had used the WRONG special characters; There was a limited set of special character I could use. That's fine, I understand that from a coding perspective, but TELL the users which special characters he/she can include! Same goes for letters from foreign alphabets. If the letters have to be from the German or English subset, just make it clear. 

For another account, I had this message popping up:
"Your password cannot include your name or user-ID". 

June 09, 2016

Taiwanese touch - in California!

And in Mountain View I found Taiwan

I was in California recently, for Google I/O, one of the biggest (the biggest?) tech conferences in the world.

Green hills overlooking the Bay AreaIt was great to be back in California, a part of the world I have visited many times before. I am especially fond of the area around San Francisco and San Jose, the whole  Silicon Valley, the nature is amazing here.  I wouldn't actually mind living in California for a while, despite all earthquakes and the ridiculously high prices if I found an interesting job there (although since I am not actively looking in that area that is unlikely to actually happen).

But that's not what I wanted to tell you about!

What I wanted to tell you about was an unlikely meeting. 

One of the days during the weekend I decided to visit the Computer History Museum -  that in itself so interesting that it deserves a separate post if I find the time later - and on the way back to San Jose, where I was staying for the majority of my trip, I stopped by Castro Street to get something to eat- and there,  not far from the  train station, in the heart of Mountain View, I found something that made me immensely happy. 

June 08, 2016

Design for Accessibility

There is a huge market share you may be missing

1 billion people across  the globe, 1 in 7, have some sort of disability, according to this talk from Google I/O 2016.

ONE BILLION people. That is a number so high that I can't understand it. I have no way of visualising that in my head. 1 billion.  I feel the streets of Düsseldorf, Germany can be crowded during Christmas markets and we aren't even 1 million people living here.

At another talk I attended during Google I/O - yes, I was lucky enough to get a ticket - we were told that 20% of Americans will sometime during their life have some sort of disability. July 4 the American population was 321,442,019 people, according to US Census bureau. OVER 321000000. OVER 321 MILLION people. 20 % of that is a LOT of people.

Design for Accessibility. 

Develop for Accessibility.

It pays off. In more than one way. 

Building in accessibility from the start, making sure that people with disabilities can use your app or your website - that is not just nice to do and has a great social impact, it also gives you an edge and an advantage for the future, enabling a bigger market share - not to mention how you enable your employees to continue to contribute even if they would, at some point, face challenges such as impaired vision.

Put accessibility in there together with usability.

Ginny Grant, from Benetech, whom I also was lucky enough to have a long chat with in Mountain View, starts by giving us some very clear advice (notice that I have just summarised - listen to the talk!):
  • Start early. Think about accessibility as early as you can. 
  • Look for all the design standards
  • Think about "POUR"
She also gives some very concrete examples on how to test for accessibility:
Turn the volume down. Turn down the monitor. Use an oven mitten to try and navigate. 

June 04, 2016

Sustainability Conference in Düsseldorf - Sustainica

There are few things I care about as much as about sustainability

Well, that would be usability and accessibility.

Sustainability is really important. It's the only thing that matters in the long run, because if we overall fail in the sustainability field - well, then there isn't much point in worrying about anything else. 

Orange poppy, close-up, illustrating environment
There are a lot of discussions on what's best for the environment and how to do things: Bio fuel is better for the air quality but since much of it is palm oil based there are other impacts on the planet. Deforestation  is just one of them..

Aluminium cans are easy to recycle and can be recycled again and again, but the amount of energy you need to produce them in the first place is - well, let's just say cans that end up as landfill is a terrible waste. 

We light candles to save energy - but the candles releases CO2 in the air. 

We collect plastic in yellow bins in Germany and call it recycling but the recycling means mainly burning - however we reuse the energy from the burning and heat houses with it so is it good or bad? I had some interesting discussions around this at the Plastic Icons exhibition here in Düsseldorf.

There are simply a lot of questions out there