Google Plus… or Minus (Part4)

–Steve Tengler is Altia’s User Experience Director. This post is part of a series where he reviews Google’s new social network, “Google Plus”. This is the fourth and final installment.Click here for part 1, part 2, or part 3

One of the Olympic Twins Knew It

In the movie, there’s a debate amongst the three Harvard students about when to sue Zuckerberg since they supposedly approached Mark with their intellectual property as a request to code their brainstormed website. As delineated in multiple scenes, one of the Winklevoss twins (sarcastically referred to as “Winklevi”) wanted to shutdown The Facebook immediately since the early bird gets the worm, and the greater momentum attained by the earlier website, the harder it would be to overcome. Eventually, during deposition proceedings, Zuckerberg’s character states, “If they had invented Facebook … well, they would’ve invented Facebook.” Those scenes were all I could imagine while examining Google+ — they didn’t invent Facebook, and their 10 million users are a far cry from 750 million users who, according to Facebook’s site, spend 700 billion combined minutes per month on Facebook. The momentum created by Facebook is real, so real that the French government has recently banned their hyperlinks from French websites to give other start-ups a chance.  (Author’s note — Obviously the French didn’t go to Harvard!) According to Facebook, 50% of all users log-in in a given day with a third of the users having a Facebook app on their mobile device. Moving that inertia shall be a Herculean effort for Google – and anyone else who attempts to reinvent this social networking wheel.

Perception is Everything

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Google Plus… or Minus (Part3)

–Steve Tengler is Altia’s User Experience Director. This post is part three of a series where he reviews Google’s new social network, “Google Plus”. Click here for Part 1. And here for part 2

(HANGOUTS CONTINUED)

Then after more blood, sweat and tears, I finally get it installed, and I’m unable to find the feature. Why? They violated a principle within usability called “Location Convention” (or “Expected Location”), i.e. the pre-conceived notion a control should be clustered with other like controls or in a traditional location (see http://www.usabilityfirst.com/glossary/convention/). The Hangout button was in a left-hand column squeezed between other unrelated features, whereas I was looking in the traditional web locations: top or left-hand menus. It literally took ten minutes and a co-worker’s assistance to find it. C’mon Google – if I can’t get off the start line, I’m not running the race. Despite your dominance in other areas, you should realize that making the early engagement easy is critical.

gplus_hangout1
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Google Plus… or Minus (Part2)

–Steve Tengler is Altia’s User Experience Director. This post is part two of a series where he reviews Google’s new social network, “Google Plus”. Click here for Part 1.

STREAMS

This feature is associated with Circles.  Though not touted as highly by either the reviewers or Google+, in my expert-yet-humble opinion, this may be the best usability improvement amongst the new features. Streams allows you to use your pre-defined circles to separate the wheat from the chaff (*a metaphor I rarely use since I’m allergic to wheat J) – quickly filtering posts for only one Circle. For instance, you have less than a minute between activities and wish to quickly read any updates from your family. Boom! You click on one circle and you’re seeing only familial info.

Viewing just my "Family" stream. Includes my own posts.
Viewing just my "Family" stream. Includes my own posts.

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What’s New in Altia Design 10? The Blur Effect

Altia Design 10, coming August 16th, has a plethora of new features.  One neat little addition is the ability to add a Blur treatment to the objects in your HMI.  Simple, but very sweet!  Combine the Blur Effect with transparency for a nice reflection.  Watch and learn.

This post is part of a series related to features of the release. Click here to see an overview of the release.  Last week, we shared videos on Vectors and Flash. Coming soon: The Navigator and Classing.

Google Plus… or Minus (Part1)

–Steve Tengler is Altia’s User Experience Director. This post is part of a series where he reviews Google’s new social network, “Google Plus”. This is part one of the series.–

My wife is an avid reader — with a capital “A”. I, on the other hand, love an engaging movie. Ironically the most recent one I’ve seen is “The Social Network” (2010). In case you’ve lived in a cave the last year, the film provided some insight into the founding of Facebook and, in essence, made Mark Zuckerberg (CEO and founder) look brilliant, thieving and semi-heartless. But if you delve one level deeper than the personal attacks, you will find some lessons in that film, which would have been valuable for Google as they launched their newest competitor in the genre of social networking: “Google+.” Some of these lessons were heeded; some were not.

If you’ve read any of the techie blogs, most investigators think Google+ is the best thing since the iPad, but I’m not sure five years from now it’ll be anywhere beyond Buzz and Wave (Google’s two previous forays into the Land of Online Chatter) because of some of those missed cinematic lessons.

Make It User-Friendly Rather Than Sexy
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What’s new in Altia Design 10? Vectors

This post is part of a series related to features of the release of Altia Design 10.Click here to see an overview of the release.

Vector content is versatile and powerful – and has long been a staple for graphic designers worldwide.  With our new release, Altia Design 10, our users will gain to the power to import SVG content into their Altia designs and further develop that content within the Altia editor.

Do you need to see to believe?  Check out this video for a peek at our Vector Path Object in Altia Design 10.

What’s new in Altia Design 10? The Flash® Player Object

In August, we will be releasing the latest version of our HMI development software:  Altia Design 10. One key feature that we are particularly excited about is the Adobe® Flash® Player Object, which gives your team the capability to add Flash content to your HMI projects.

With this new Altia Design 10 add-on, you can include previously-produced Flash media into Altia projects.  Add even more pizzazz to your display with an animated splash screen or fun product videos.  Flash content can be added at any point during development, so your artists and developers can be ultra-efficient and work in parallel.

Check out this video for a glimpse at what the Flash Object combined with Altia Design 10 can do for your next project.

Flash® is a copyright of Adobe Systems.

New Release — Coming August 16th!

We are always getting feedback and suggestions from our customers about how to take our suite of tools to the next level.  Our Product Team has been hard at work loading our next product release full of features and refinements requested by User Interface design experts like you!  Mark your calendars for our new release date, August 16, 2011 – and stay tuned to our blog for specific coverage of each feature over the coming weeks.

boxCan’t wait to see what’s new?  Here’s a quick peek under the hood:

Flash. The new Flash Player Object allows you to integrate pre-existing Flash content into your HMI projects, adding rich and engaging media for splash screens, special alerts, seasonal offerings, and more.  (Video coming soon!)

Classing. This feature provides better team collaboration and advanced skinning, allowing users to work in parallel and integrate separate projects seamlessly.  Your team can break down complex interfaces into manageable pieces and apply changes to multiple objects to better manage projects with lots of identical objects.  (Videos coming soon!)

Navigator. This is the roadmap to your Altia projects!   The Navigator lets you quickly understand and explore designs, whether you have built it yourself or inherited it from a colleague.  Get productive sooner!  (Videos coming soon!)

Vectors. We have built in improved support for SVG content – and expanded your artist’s toolkit to include more advanced vectors.  Higher quality graphics improve the visual component of your HMI.  Vector content also takes up less memory, enabling smaller chipsets on final hardware.  (Video coming soon!)

Blur. Apply new Blur effect to raster images and combine with transparency for cool reflection.  This new feature does great things for album art, inactive objects, and more.  (Video coming soon!)

New Targets. Altia DeepScreen can now automatically generate code for the Renesas DX-4H, Freescale Rainbow and Renesas SH7268 targets.

Freetype Fonts. Get smoother fonts, both in Altia Design and on the final target.

External Image Processing. This new release will offer increased flexibility to optimize image formats for load times or memory usage.

Follow our blog for more on each feature in the coming weeks – including demo videos where noted for the features above.

Altia Design 10 arrives August 16, 2011

Webinar Q&A: How does the process change across industries?

*** On June 28th, our User Experience Director, Steve Tengler, presented a webinar entitled “User Experience vs. User Interface”. This post features a question asked by an attendee.

QUESTION: How does the process change across industries?

STEVE: Sometimes it changes within industries too! The biggest thing is probably the industry’s cycle time and the ability to test once you’re in the market. For example, Google or online systems they have a short cycle time. They very little time to iterate in the middle of a project, but they also have a great flexibility to recall any problem children they put out into the real world. So they might do more of the iterations as a beta test than as early rounds of usability tests.
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Webinar Q&A: Does the experimenter throw off the results?

*** On June 28th, our User Experience Director, Steve Tengler, presented a webinar entitled “User Experience vs. User Interface”. This post features a question asked by an attendee.

QUESTION: Aren’t there risks with drive-alongs (ie distracted driver)? Wouldn’t the presence of the experimenter throw off the results?

STEVE: Are the risks to the experiment or the experimenter? 🙂 Valid points, there are always risks, absolutely. 1) You can mitigate those risks and 2) It’s riskier to *not test them in the real world at all before production.  If you don’t test it ahead of time, it’s heading out to market and you might deal with change requests after…all sorts of money you’re going to dump into your product.
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