The UX of Windows 10 beta

Let’s get something out of the way.  I appreciate Apple, but I don’t like MacOS X.  I have many different kinds of devices, iPods, iPads, Laptops, Wearables, Mac Minis and desktops.  They have a wide array of operating systems.  I think iOS is brilliant for the iPad/iPod/iPhone family.  However, I think MacOS X is inferior to  the latest versions of Windows. I could spend the whole post explaining why, but here is the short list:

  • I hate the way windows maximize.  Aero Snap on Windows is a million times better and anyone who disagrees has never used Aero Snap.
  • The Start Bar is better than the Dock. The Doc is pretty, but the Start Bar is more useful and customizable.
  • Office is better on Windows.  I use Office 365 all day.  The newest versions on the Mac are closer to parity, but they still are inferior in a million tiny ways.

This is not to say MacOS X doesn’t have nice things.  I love GarageBand, but overall, the OS is not better to me.

Now let’s focus on the beta of Windows 10.

First thing, it really is buggy.  It crashes all the time and reboots.  It’s starting to piss me off actually.  OneDrive, which I once considered the best cloud storage tool is now a hindrance because it crashes so often.  I can’t save files there anymore because it is crashing Office.

The next thing is the Metro UI from Windows 8.  It’s mostly gone and replaced with a more traditional Start menu.  This is fine, I suppose, since I didn’t much care for the giant set of tiles.  However, it doesn’t feel like a step forward.  It feels like a step backwards.  Innovation is required here.  A Start Menu is fine, but it needs to be designed better than what it is now.

startMenu

The dark gray is a mistake to me.  The darkness needs to be replaced with vibrant colors mostly on the lighter side of the color spectrum.  I appreciate the complete lack of skeuomorphism, but the trend is actually starting to go in a different direction.  My recommendation would be for them to introduce “Jelly” or “Liquid” effects.

Cortana is Microsoft’s version of Siri.  I believe they are making the same mistake with Cortana that they made with Metro.  It is a tool that works well with a phone or tablet, not a desktop or laptop.  Maybe they have the Surface on their minds, but most people don’t have a Surface.  I appreciate that Cortana is a better technology than Siri, but so what? I don’t need a voice controller at my desk at work.

So overall, it’s a bit underwhelming.  I don’t see much improvement from 8.1.  I am hoping that more polish and love is introduced in later versions.  We shall see. One thing I really appreciate is that they let us install it easily and quickly.  I have tested every version of Windows betas since 3.1.

Designing with Data or Intuition

Yesterday, a colleague asked my opinion about the Data vs. Intuition debate amongst designers. Should a designer rely on data or intuition to do their job? It seemed to me to be a false choice.  These are not mutually exclusive ideas. Great design requires both at different times.

When a new feature or product begins, there is an iterative cycle that happens. Usually hundreds of times between start and sunset, this loop goes round and round.

When you are learning about the requirements, the market, the personas, the technologies, the constraints and more, it is critical to put your intuition away and absorb the data. Don’t assume anything is true, research, ask, observe if it is true.  This is where product managers often try to give you THEIR intuition, but it is important to stay focused on the facts.

Unfortunately, learning by itself, isn’t all that useful to the customer.  They want action, products and services. Something needs to be made, whether that is a mockup, a storyboard, a prototype or the real product. So you need to create something.

The creation process is not like learning. It’s more like discovering. You take all of your learning and put it in a box and shake it up. You apply previous skills and experience come up with – an idea.  This is an intuitive exercise similar to painting or writing a book. You have facts and data, but that isn’t an idea. The idea comes from the creative combination of different previous ideas and the data you gathered.

Once you create something, you can show it to people. Thus, you can gather more data.  Whether that is hallway testing (“hey dude, look at my screen”) or formal usability testing or web analytics, it is essential to see your creation through the eyes of others. Ultimately, it is about empathy. You can’t have empathy without other people. Always try to get to the WHY of the data.  Without WHY, data is just numbers.

So to summarize, when I am learning, it is all about data.  When I am designing, it is all about intuition. The whole debate doesn’t hold water. Designers need to be able to come up with better ideas than normal people. This is the job.  They also need to be able to gather data about their ideas, so they can make even better designs. Now, I feel my blog is becoming circular. -fin

On-boarding Employees via Support

It’s not the most common technique, but I fully endorse the idea of employee on-boarding by spending time on phone support. I think 3 weeks is probably the right amount of time. Certainly 3 days is too short and 3 months is too long.

The reason this is a good technique is that it forces employees to interact directly with customers. It’s so easy to abstract customers to be statistics or faceless company logos. Spending time with them when they are most vulnerable and the employee knows the least is the perfect chance for two people to connect on a meaningful/emotional level.

Too often, employees join a company and are thrown into the job. I’ve met countless people who had deliverables in their first few weeks. This is not a very pleasant way to start a new job. You have to ease into it.  Learn the culture, learn the customers, learn your surroundings. Where are the printers?

We are in such a rush and we assume people know what we know.  We assume they can do what we can do. It’s just not the truth.  People changing jobs have excitement and energy and absolutely no knowledge of the environment they just entered.

For new UX Designers, I have them answer support style questions on the community as well as shadow numerous people throughout the organization. I don’t think I have perfected the process, but I remain committed to the goal. How do you on-board employees?

Conference Room Names

conferenceNames

UX should apply to your working environment.  Naming your conference rooms as funny names will actually change the culture in your office.  Here are a bunch of name themes I have collected that are fun. Some are better than others. This is meant to inspire you to name with some fun.

Snow White

  1. Snow White
  2. Happy
  3. Sleepy
  4. Sneezy
  5. Grumpy
  6. Dopey
  7. Bashful
  8. Doc

Note: The seven dwarfs were named individually for the first time in 1912 in a Broadway play titled Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Their names in this play were Blick, Flick, Glick, Snick, Plick, Whick and Quee.

Wu-Tang Name Generator

Not for the feint of heart, but you can put the founders names in and see what you get.

http://www.recordstore.com/wuname/wuname.pl

  1. Tha Prickly Comedian
  2. Sullen Choirboy
  3. Gratuitous F-REEK
  4. Spunky Misunderstood Genius
  5. Lazy-Assed Destroyer
  6. Contagious Specialist
  7. Action-Packed Mentallist
  8. Asthmatic Enemy of God

Things kids pretend to be

We use this one at Marketo.  I love it.

  1. Pirate
  2. Monkey
  3. Robot
  4. Ninja
  5. Captain
  6. Wizard
  7. Troll
  8. Zombie
  9. Princess
  10. Superhero

Muppets

Not everyone knows the Muppets, but they are so awesome.

  1. Kermit
  2. Piggy
  3. Fozzie
  4. Gonzo
  5. Beeker
  6. Rowlf
  7. Animal
  8. Camilla
  9. Scooter

Monsters

If treated right can be fun.

  1. Dracula
  2. Frankenstein
  3. Wolfman
  4. Mummy
  5. Blob
  6. Thing
  7. Godzilla
  8. King Kong
  9. Loch Ness

Monopoly

One of the most popular games int he world for almost 100 years.

  1. Boardwalk
  2. Park Place
  3. Marvin Gardens
  4. Atlantic Avenue
  5. Saint James Place
  6. Baltic Avenue
  7. Mediterranean Avenue
  8. Electric Company
  9. Water Works

Bad Things

Just because they are bad, doesn’t mean they aren’t fun. #7 is my favorite.

  1. Sub-Prime Mortgages
  2. Windows Vista
  3. Godfather Part III
  4. Running with Scissors
  5. Fighting Chuck Norris
  6. Knife at a Gun Fight
  7. Land War in Asia
  8. Crossing the Streams

Marketo Things

Think of the equivalent in your own company.  What are your objects?

  1. Smart Campaign
  2. Landing Page
  3. Email
  4. Model
  5. Form
  6. Munchkin
  7. Snippet
  8. Segmentation
  9. Stream
  10. Program

Oxymorons

A little intelligence makes people smile, and think.

  1. Great Depression
  2. Jumbo shrimp
  3. Clearly confused
  4. Act naturally
  5. Deafening silence
  6. Definitely maybe
  7. Virtual reality
  8. Random order
  9. Original copy
  10. Awfully good

Elements

I’ve always loved this theme.  I used it for product releases as well.

  1. Hydrogen
  2. Carbon
  3. Chlorine
  4. Argon
  5. Potassium
  6. Oxygen
  7. Neon
  8. Sulfur
  9. Zinc
  10. Obviously, you can look at the periodic table.

Emotions

Where are we meeting?  We are in Love. ♥

  1. Love
  2. Delightful
  3. Awesome
  4. Funny
  5. Brilliant
  6. Incredible
  7. Clever
  8. Wonderful

Rooms in the game Clue

Another very popular game

  1. Kitchen
  2. Study
  3. Conservatory Hall
  4. Dining Room
  5. Billiard Room
  6. Lounge
  7. Library
  8. Ballroom

Star Trek

To boldly hold meetings where no one has met before!

  1. Kirk
  2. Spock
  3. McCoy
  4. Uhura
  5. Sulu
  6. Scotty
  7. Chekov
  8. Enterprise (choose the biggest room)
  9. The Bridge

Superheroes

Empower your employees!

  1. Superman
  2. Batman
  3. Robin
  4. Wonder Woman
  5. Aquaman
  6. The FlashGreen
  7. Lantern
  8. Hawkman
  9. The Wonder Twins

Deadly Sins

Any company who uses these is living La Vida Loca.  But I dig it!

  1. Gluttony
  2. Greed
  3. Wrath
  4. Sloth
  5. Lust
  6. Pride
  7. Envy

Peanuts

Ah, nostalgia

  1. Charlie Brown
  2. Snoopy
  3. Linus
  4. Lucy
  5. Woodstock
  6. Marcie
  7. Peppermint Patty
  8. Schroeder
  9. Pig-Pen

Planets

Maybe a little boring, but it’s schence-y so I like it

  1. Mercury
  2. Venus
  3. Earth
  4. Mars
  5. Jupiter
  6. Saturn
  7. Uranus
  8. Neptune
  9. Pluto (Yes it is!)

Confusing

My absolute favorite.  Just answer the question: Where are meeting? – We use this one on the floor I work at.

  1. I Don’t Know
  2. Who?
  3. When?
  4. Which Meeting?
  5. It was canceled
  6. Guess
  7. TBD
  8. Over There
  9. Right Here
  10. Why?
  11. Outside
  12. Downstairs

Meeting Theme

This allows you to choose the room you need for a specific meeting.  Finish the sentence “Let’s go to…”

  1. Prepare
  2. Work it Out
  3. Brainstorm
  4. Get Work Done
  5. Deliver Status
  6. Waste Time
  7. Creative Thinking
  8. Nail Down the Details
  9. The Woodshed

Time

This works if you have a circular floor.  Put them in order with 12:00 at due north.  The name of the conference room should be oriented on a clock as if you are looking down on the floor.  It makes it easy to remember where the room is.  Orientation is critical for this one to work.

  1. High Noon (north)
  2. 3:00 (due east)
  3. 6:30 (a little north of west)
  4. etc etc

Based on the floor

We have lots of floors at Marketo.  These are the ones I named for the 5th floor.  You can imagine similar for other floors.

  1. FIVE Fingers
  2. Jackson FIVE
  3. FIVE Alive
  4. FIVE Spot
  5. Cinqo de Mayo
  6. Fiddy Cent
  7. The FIFTH Floor
  8. Pentagon

Mixing Food and Music

I saw this oneline.  Brilliant. Absolute Genius.

  1. Ace of Bouillabaisse
  2. Bon Bon Jovi
  3. David Lee Broth
  4. Fleetwood Mac ‘n’ Cheese
  5. Froyo Ma
  6. Johnny Cashews
  7. Lil Kimchee
  8. Nine Inch Snails
  9. Oreo Speedwagon
  10. Pjork
  11. Public Edamame
  12. Red Velvet Underground
  13. Soy Division
  14. Sushi and the Banshees
  15. The Rolling Scones
  16. Wu Tang Clams

Rooms in a Row

If you have three rooms in a row, you can theme those together.  You can imagine more of the same, but here are a few tripplets

  1. A Rock
  2. Between
  3. A Hard Place
  1. Yesterday
  2. Today
  3. Tomorrow
  1. Past
  2. Present
  3. Future
  1. Too Hot
  2. Just Right
  3. Too Cold
  1. Yes
  2. Maybe
  3. No

Countries

I originally names the conference rooms at Marketo countries because I couldn’t remember which was way north and south.  I put the northern country names on the conference rooms in the north side of the office.  The lesson here is that the shape of the office matters.

  1. Greenland (North big room)
  2. Iceland (North small room)
  3. Australia (south big room)
  4. New Zealand (south small room)

Old Testament Characters

I am helping out a team in Israel.  Maybe this would cause more problems than it solves?

  1. Adam
  2. Eve
  3. Moses
  4. Joshua
  5. Elijah
  6. Samson
  7. David
  8. Goliath
  9. Noah
  10. Job
  11. Delilah

Best Typefaces of all time

I love typography.

  1. Clarendon
  2. Gill Sans
  3. Times New Roman
  4. Franklin Gothic
  5. Verdana
  6. Myriad
  7. Trajan
  8. Garamond
  9. Futura
  10. Helvetica

Worst Typefaces

Ok, I am losing steam, obviously.

  1. Arial
  2. Papyrus
  3. Brush Script
  4. Copperplate Gothic
  5. Comic Sans (of course)

The list can go on and on.  What is important is to have fun with it. Make it contextual and amusing.  It’s supposed to lighten the mood.  Don’t try to make it boring or corporate.  Don’t make focus groups.  Be inspired.  Have fun.  It’s an important opportunity to build culture.

Feel free to post other ideas below.

Size Matters

Contrary to what you have heard, size matters. However, bigger isn’t always better.  Here is the rundown:

Taller
In business, if you are taller, you are more likely to be promoted.  Also, in SmartPhones, a taller screen is helpful.  Especially if you are scrolling down.  In fact, I have three screens on my desk. See below.

desktop

Notice how the middle monitor is turned sideways?  That is because It allows me to read more of the email.  Wider isn’t useful for that, taller is.  I like my smart phone’s to be tall for the same reason.  I can see more text that way.

Wider
Width is more important for other types of activities.  PowerPoint 2013 works great when my screen is very wide.  I have several panel toolbars open at once, in addition to my Trillian panel docked on the side.  A wide screen is indispensable when you have multiple vertical toolbars.

Thicker
Girth, ah yes.  Good right? Wrong.  Thicker is never better.  I want my TV to be as close to the wall as possible.  I want my m desk monitors to be as thin as possible.  Laptops? Yes, of course, thin, thin, thin. The most important thin is for my wrist watch.  I wear the Asus Zenwatch.  It’s thin, but not thin enough. I didn’t get the Moto 360 because it was too thick. The iWatch from Apple is also too thick.   See my watch below, it could be a little thinner, right?

watch

Thick is bad, period.  In the future, devices will allow paper thin interfaces, but then a different measure will come into play. Heft.

Heft
It’s not always better to be lighter.  I want my tennis rackets light, but not too light. I want my wrist watch to have an appropriate heft to it. It should feel like something, not invisible.  A super light phone will feel cheap and be difficult to hold to your ear.  A light TV or Monitor is appropriate, but be careful of it feeling cheap.

So, apparently, size does matter.  How big is yours?

 

Misfits First

When you want to change people’s behavior you must take into account a simple social fact. Early adopters feel social anxiety when everyone is doing the same thing. They feel wrong when they are in the pack. On the contrary, the early majority feel anxiety when they are NOT following the pack.

If you want to introduce new behavior, you must start with the first group, the early adopters, the misfits. The sheer fact that the behavior is not already ingrained will appeal to them. It will be a turn off to the majority, so don’t craft your message to them yet.

I’m a misfit myself, always have been. I love when I try something before everyone else. In fact, once something becomes “popular” I lose interest. Right now, on my wrist is a Asus Zenwatch.  If/When the Apple iWatch or others become really popular, I will likely go retro for an old style watch.

When you target the misfits, they don’t need to know it all works.  They don’t need it to be perfect.  It’s better with flaws.  It needs to be exciting and different.  It needs to show insight and personality.  Once they grab ahold of the idea, you need to swing your designs towards consistency, reliability and normalcy.  This will absolutely push them away, but it is the price to get the majority going.

It’s funny how these cycles work. I wish they worked differently, but it is foolish to fight them.  Books that cover this topic are Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell and Crossing the Chasm by Geoff Moore. Seth Godin blogs about it frequently.

It’s common knowledge if you care to look. Yet somehow, people keep marketing new things to the majority and expecting changes in behavior. Maybe it isn’t as common as I think?

Passive Aggressive in Palo Alto

I was in a nice restaurant in Palo Alto. (Less than a mile away from Stanford University).  This was a picture I took in the bathroom.

20150303_192118
Nice, real nice. Classy.