onsdag 18 december 2013

Coffe Guide update live (plus statistics!)

The latest version of the Coffee Guide is now up on the Google Play store! Typeface change and two more coffee types are now live: Caffè Mocha and Caffè con Panna.

When checking out the developer console I noticed I've gotten three downloads in Iran, and quite a few more outside of Sweden, which is really cool!

söndag 15 december 2013

Coffee Guide mini-redesign

When I first outlined the sketches for The Guide to Italian Coffee, I wanted the feeling to be a little notebook that you kept in your pocket. The typeface in the logo was supposed to reflect this with an old-school serifed typeface.
Since then I've become more and more unhappy with the look of the application, and after being inspired by the creators of Pocket Casts on the Iterate podcast (via Android Central), I wanted to explore using Roboto as the typeface for all parts of the application. Throughout this morning I have tested different font weights and sizes to get the right feeling in the application, as well as been amazed that the Roboto typeface, after what I can tell, still is not included in the Android SDK, and has to be added manually.
I also did a tweak to the left margin for the descriptive text, which I found didn't work out at all.

On the above image, the current Play Store version is to the left, and the adjusted version to the right. I'm now waiting to write up and make assets for two more types of coffee (Caffè Mocha and Caffè con Panna for those who are curious), and then I'm ready to upload a new version.

It's really interesting to see the two screens side by side like this, and the complete difference in colour reproduction: it makes me wish I hade more cash so I could get a bunch more devices to test on.

tisdag 26 november 2013

Work sample, and more excuses....

I'm now doing project work for a Malmö-based company during the days (and sometimes into the nights), which has unfortunately slowed down the speed of my own projects, as well as the update frequency on this very blog.

Throughout the weekend I finished up a work sample that I did for a company to which I have applied. The task was to identify critical flaws in the design of the Internet Explorer 9 view called Organize Favorites, and to propose a design iteration.
My process ended up as two separate suggestions, one for the short term, and one more future-proof. In general the bookmark managing view seems to be forgotten, so one of my proposals enabled you to do all of your managing tasks in the bookmarks bar instead:

(Click for larger version). (Sorry about the formatting!)

I also had a more conservative design suggestion, in which the view more acted and looked like a regular file explorer. I removed duplicate functionality, and suggest using single-click on arrows, double-click on folders, to expand, in comparison to the single-click to open that's still there even in IE10:

If you're interested in more details on this project, including a detailed account for the process, please read the document linked HERE. Preview below!

torsdag 14 november 2013

I'm still here

Life has gotten in the way of more blogging for the moment, but work continues nonetheless.
Below is a screenshot of the application developed by me and Thomas for displaying altitude information.

The thought was to use the sea level, the darker blue area, too indicate your altitude. The higher you are, the lower it gets in relation to your phone. We think of the phone screen as a window through which you can view the world and this relation, and that's why the level is low at an altitude of the (quite) high level of 113 metres.

See you soon(er!) again!

fredag 1 november 2013

Status update

Blogging slows down when work picks up, but I still want to share some status updates.

Ball Game
The ball game prototype is now abandoned by us, as the game engine we used didn't handle bouncing(!) very well. This came up as one of the main criticisms during play-testing. Instead of moving on to another engine we decided to move onto other projects. I still think this was a interesting concept in its simplicity though, and would like to come back to it one day, but for mobile.

Coffee Guide
I did some updates to the application during the week - one of the things that I was least happy with after the last layout change was the bad user experience on larger screens like tablets. The application has now been updated with a tablet interface, similar to the first version of the app (with a sidemenu for picking coffee type, and a main view to the right for showing information).

Screenshots of the Coffe Guide running on Nexus 7 (2012) hardware (sorry for the messed up layout)

Mobile website redesign
This has been ongoing throughout the week, but with no major overhauls, just a lot of smaller adjustments and fixes. The devil really is in the details!

We decided that, after abandoning the ball game idea, we wanted our next project to be for mobile devices, mainly due to the fact that we both think it's the most fun and interesting area to work within. One of my main draws toward mobile is their context awareness - you really need to design for so many varying use-contexts. You can also let the user and context influence the software in a totally different way than on our other digital artefacts.
Thomas mentioned his fascination with the simplicity of the new spirit-level in the iOS7 compass app, something I also have appreciated. After some discussion we decided to do something with a similar - take a simple data value, but present it in an elegant and interesting way. The data of choice fell on altitude above sea level: it's a value that is easily comprehended, but it does not at all have a significant place in most people's lives. Can we make something that can make this topographical property interesting to people?
Today has been spent sketching different ways to convey altitude in relation to a smartphone, but also to dissect the different components that are involved when actually being at a certain altitude, e.g. the earth, topographical features, the person itself, but also how you hold the phone in relation to the earth's surface.
One of many pages of sketching from this morning

We think we have dialled the design down to a couple of alternatives, so now comes the next problem. How do we test this successfully in a paper prototype-state? Is it even meaningful? Do you care about altitudes that you've never visited, if you just get them served to you in a test setting?
Our instant feeling is that we'll perhaps need to make this a longer test period, with a digital prototype, so that people can look at actual values, and to test how close we can get to the elegance of the aforementioned spirit-level app. We see this as a rarely used application, that mostly will be used when you're at an exceptional topographical feature (e.g. the top of a mountain or bottom of a quarry), so the testing procedure will need to allow for that as well in some fashion.

See you again on Monday!

måndag 28 oktober 2013

Mobile website make-over, reconsidering

After a discussion with Thomas earlier today about the pros and cons of responsive web design, and the possibilities of implementing my mocked-up layout from last week in merely a CSS redistribution of content, I've decided to keep my current website, but make a lot of smaller tweaks. To quote myself from last week:

I've divided up my initial critique into three points:
1) There's too much vertical scrolling going on. The first view just contains an image of me until scrolling down. The situation is even worse with some of the subsections, with Where's Malibu standing out as especially aggregeous. The image resolutions and layout, together with the large amount of text about each project, definitely lead to a sub-par experience.
2) The menu situation is not very good for visitors not familiar with my projects (and who really is except me?). Why would anyone consider visiting any of the links? This shows that just making separate CSS for mobile does not get the job done, as you can't explore in the same way. The user cost of clicking the "wrong" item in the list is huge (in the form of a bunch of vertical scrolling, or taking a chance on another menu item).
3) A common problem across platforms is the lack of visible and understandable contact information.

Considering it, I realized that the amount of vertical scrolling was probably too much on my desktop version of the site as well. The amount of text for each project has now been severely shortened, and images have been replaced or resized to make the website a lot "shorter" on both platforms. This should alleviate some of the problems under bullet point #1.

For #3 I decided to add a standard footer to the website, in both versions, which now contains all relevant contact info, whereas before it was mashed up into the "About Me" segment.

As for #2, I think it still is the weakest point. However, with the shorter format the cost of clicking the wrong item is reduced, and the urge to use the menu at all should be reduced as it' should be fairly easy to scroll through the site.

torsdag 24 oktober 2013

Mobile website make-over, part 2

Work on my mobile website continued today, with a number of layout sketches. The main goal here is to minimize vertical scrolling while not introducing a series of clicks (slideshow-style).

After about ten different concept sketches, tested on Thomas, I decided move on of the concepts on to the phone instead, in the form of a .png mid-fi prototype:

I'm not certain about this layout, as there might be too much going on, with the text overlaying images. It'll be interesting to get some more input on it though, as it makes for a compact layout.

One of the more difficult things is to determine how a elegant solution for switching between mobile and desktop versions can be done - along with the best way to display what is the current view.