Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 11th May 2010 23:11 UTC
Graphics, User Interfaces Ah, Jakob Nielsen. Anyone who has ever been involved with serious document design or web usability will know his name. If you've never heard of him, the best way to describe him would probably be this: he's the Richard Stallman of usability. He has a set of very clear ideas about user interface and document design, which more often than not get in the way of beauty. He has performed a usability study, with real users, on the iPad.
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It'll get better with time
by Nicholas Blachford on Tue 11th May 2010 23:55 UTC
Nicholas Blachford
Member since:
2005-07-06

The iPad is a new device and offers a new way of interacting with it. As such I think there'll be a lot of experimentation as developers figure out what works and what doesn't.

I remember on the Amiga many years ago the lack of guidelines lead to a lot of software with weird and wonderful UIs. A lot of this was bad, but there were also gems where the UI was amazingly good. I suspect the same will happen here.

I initially wasn't interested in getting an iPad (I seen it's benefit immediately but I also saw that it was not targeted at me). I've since thought of an idea for an app (with an interesting UI) so I've ordered one.

However it's only one aspect of the UI I want to make "interesting", for the rest, guidelines like these are very useful.

Reply Score: 2

RE: It'll get better with time
by Delgarde on Wed 12th May 2010 01:17 UTC in reply to "It'll get better with time"
Delgarde Member since:
2008-08-19

The iPad is a new device and offers a new way of interacting with it. As such I think there'll be a lot of experimentation as developers figure out what works and what doesn't.

I remember on the Amiga many years ago the lack of guidelines lead to a lot of software with weird and wonderful UIs.


The key being "many years ago" - the UI model has been pretty settled for over 20 years now, the basics having not changed much since the early days of Windows and Mac.

And in those days, one of the strengths of the Mac was that Apple provided guidelines to encourage developers to build UI that would be consistent with all the others - those guidelines weren't always followed, but they were there. That doesn't seem to be the case with iPhone / iPad apps. You'd think that given the myriad reasons why an app can be rejected from the store, not following the platform's UI conventions would be one of them...

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: It'll get better with time
by galvanash on Wed 12th May 2010 01:44 UTC in reply to "RE: It'll get better with time"
galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

The key being "many years ago" - the UI model has been pretty settled for over 20 years now, the basics having not changed much since the early days of Windows and Mac.


Thats just silly. Sure, certain conventions have been settled upon on desktops regardless of OS, but that is because nearly all desktop GUIs share the same input device - the mouse. The mouse and how it works is the reason most of these conventions exist - take away the mouse and everything changes.

Multipoint touch interfaces require different approaches to be successful. iPhones/iPads are essentially still in the experimentation stage - there is no "right" way to do UIs for them, people (including Apple) are still trying to nail down what works best. The LAST thing we want at this point is standardizing the UI to the point of discouraging experimentation - its way too early to nail things down that tightly. Its going to take a few more years in my opinion before the UI for these kinds of devices reaches the maturity level required to start thinking we no longer need to explore how best to utilize them.

Reply Score: 5

google_ninja Member since:
2006-02-05

what happens when you click on an image in safari, vs iphoto, vs photoshop? I think a lot of nielsons criticisms could be applied to any computer platform, include the mac.

Reply Score: 4

Chicken Blood Member since:
2005-12-21


The key being "many years ago" - the UI model has been pretty settled for over 20 years now, the basics having not changed much since the early days of Windows and Mac.

And in those days, one of the strengths of the Mac was that Apple provided guidelines to encourage developers to build UI that would be consistent with all the others - those guidelines weren't always followed, but they were there. That doesn't seem to be the case with iPhone / iPad apps. You'd think that given the myriad reasons why an app can be rejected from the store, not following the platform's UI conventions would be one of them...


…except Apple have published Human Interface Guidelines for developing iPhone and iPad apps http://developer.apple.com/iphone/library/documentation/UserExperie... *sigh*

Edited for clairity. The topmost level of quoting is broken.

Edited 2010-05-12 22:55 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: It'll get better with time
by daveak on Thu 13th May 2010 19:09 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: It'll get better with time"
daveak Member since:
2008-12-29


…except Apple have published Human Interface Guidelines for developing iPhone and iPad apps http://developer.apple.com/iphone/library/documentation/UserExperie... *sigh*


Indeed. Add to that a well known reason for rejection (not all of them are random!) is not following the iPad or iPhone HIG.

Reply Score: 1

RE: It'll get better with time
by Kroc on Wed 12th May 2010 09:03 UTC in reply to "It'll get better with time"
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

The iPad is a new device and offers a new way of interacting with it


Tablets have been with us since the ’80s.

The iPad is just the first such device to see success because Apple sweated the user-experience details where others were trying to force a mouse-based design to fit.

But yes, there will be an easing out period as developers get to grips with the platform. It isn’t easy designing a touch-based interface using a mouse-based development system.

Reply Score: 2

RE: It'll get better with time
by JAlexoid on Wed 12th May 2010 09:59 UTC in reply to "It'll get better with time"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

The iPad is a new device and offers a new way of interacting with it. As such I think there'll be a lot of experimentation as developers figure out what works and what doesn't.

I remember on the Amiga many years ago the lack of guidelines lead to a lot of software with weird and wonderful UIs. A lot of this was bad, but there were also gems where the UI was amazingly good. I suspect the same will happen here.

I initially wasn't interested in getting an iPad (I seen it's benefit immediately but I also saw that it was not targeted at me). I've since thought of an idea for an app (with an interesting UI) so I've ordered one.

However it's only one aspect of the UI I want to make "interesting", for the rest, guidelines like these are very useful.

Yet, most of the issues are carried over from iPhone. And iPhone is 3 years old.

PS: The inconsistent back button, is the thing I hate the most about iPhone OS(there is nothing more annoying) and love the consistency that Android phones give there.

Reply Score: 2

Chicken Blood Member since:
2005-12-21


PS: The inconsistent back button, is the thing I hate the most about iPhone OS(there is nothing more annoying) and love the consistency that Android phones give there.


Hmm, I used an Android Nexus one and a Backflip and there was nothing consistent about any of the apps. In particular, the photo Gallery app did not have clearly labelled exits (back buttons).

The thing is, it's really up to the developer to do the right thing. Many iPhone apps *are* consistent in this regards. The UIViewController navigation model even provides a firm foundation for putting breadcrumbs and back buttons into your app easily.

Edited 2010-05-12 22:51 UTC

Reply Score: 2

JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

Hmm, I used an Android Nexus one and a Backflip and there was nothing consistent about any of the apps. In particular, the photo Gallery app did not have clearly labelled exits (back buttons).


Now look at the hypocrisy. Not a single standard app in the iPhone OS comes with a close button. You have to press the home button to exit, back buttons are also not everywhere clearly defined as back.

Furthermore, you expect the device to work in the same way as iPhone(I will try to use my telepathy... You own an iPhone. Did I get it right?)

I got my iPod touch 3 weeks before I got my first Android phone(N1), therefore I will claim that I have less predisposition to a certain paradigm(be it iPhone's or Android's).


The thing is, it's really up to the developer to do the right thing. Many iPhone apps *are* consistent in this regards. The UIViewController navigation model even provides a firm foundation for putting breadcrumbs and back buttons into your app easily.


On Android phones, the back button IS the back button. Period. Only games override it(as far as I've noticed). On iPhone OS with most apps, you get to wonder how to return or look around to see where did they put that Cancel/Close/Back button.

Edited 2010-05-13 14:26 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Chicken Blood Member since:
2005-12-21


Now look at the hypocrisy. Not a single standard app in the iPhone OS comes with a close button. You have to press the home button to exit, back buttons are also not everywhere clearly defined as back.


No hypocrisy here. We are talking about a back button, but if you want to change the subject…You exit all iPhone apps the same way, by hitting the 'Home' button. You hit 'home' to go to the home screen, get it? It's simple consistent, recognizable and doesn't require any special UI or 'close' metaphor.

Back to the "back" button (no pun intended). Back buttons on most apps are located in the top left corner of the navigation bar pointing 'back' to the previous page you were viewing. They frequently contain the title of the previous page, because hey, that is more informative than just the text 'back'. Now I am not saying that all apps respect this convention, but it is clearly laid out in the iPhone HIG and CocoaTouch makes is super-easy to implement.

Furthermore, you expect the device to work in the same way as iPhone(I will try to use my telepathy... You own an iPhone. Did I get it right?)


Yes I own an iPhone. Well done with that telepathy thing. I'm sure you're very proud ;)
I certainly do not expect Android apps to necessarily work the same way, but the conversation is about the presence of a back button, that is what I was addressing. I made no assertion that it should work like an iPhone.


On Android phones, the back button IS the back button. Period. Only games override it(as far as I've noticed). On iPhone OS with most apps, you get to wonder how to return or look around to see where did they put that Cancel/Close/Back button.


I guess you're talking about a hardware back button here and that of course is going to vary from handset to handset, but as long as the handset has a hardware button and doesn't defer to the touchscreen, then it is going to hopefully be consistent. Sure, I'll give you that.

As I mentioned before, for iPhone the back button is always in the same place for HIG compliant apps and most of the apps I have used have been compliant in this regard.

Reply Score: 2

Talking of usability...
by Nicholas Blachford on Tue 11th May 2010 23:57 UTC
Nicholas Blachford
Member since:
2005-07-06

If there are no posts on a story and you click post comment you are brought to a page that says there are no comments. To post you have to click "post comment" again.

Reply Score: 8

RE: Talking of usability...
by Matzon on Wed 12th May 2010 06:10 UTC in reply to "Talking of usability..."
Matzon Member since:
2005-07-06

+ 1

Reply Score: 1

RE: Talking of usability...
by Kroc on Wed 12th May 2010 09:04 UTC in reply to "Talking of usability..."
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

And if you try log in when posting a comment, it just keeps going in a loop; you have to use the login in the top right to actually log in.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Talking of usability...
by siride on Wed 12th May 2010 14:25 UTC in reply to "RE: Talking of usability..."
siride Member since:
2006-01-02

This has bothered me for quite some time. It's especially annoying because the site has been "overhauled" many times in the past few years and this one issue is still present.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Talking of usability...
by sorpigal on Wed 12th May 2010 13:04 UTC in reply to "Talking of usability..."
sorpigal Member since:
2005-11-02

Furthermore, why are "Read more" and "comments" separate pages? It's almost as if you're inviting your users to leave when they're done reading more, rather than to continue in to the comments.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Talking of usability...
by David on Wed 12th May 2010 14:46 UTC in reply to "Talking of usability..."
David Member since:
1997-10-01

We're in the process of a long-planned overhaul that will fix that problem and others. Patience!

Reply Score: 1

Very UnMac like
by tomz on Wed 12th May 2010 00:43 UTC
tomz
Member since:
2010-05-06

On the Mac, I might not like some of the choices, but the apple, File and most other menus and actions are consistent.

It isn't a matter of experimentation - windows programs should be far better if it was just that. It is still developed for by geeks. It may be written ex-nihilo in Objective-C, but they don't ACT any better than Android apps. Sometimes worse.

Doing the same gesture should do the same thing.

Reply Score: 1

I agree...
by whartung on Wed 12th May 2010 00:58 UTC
whartung
Member since:
2005-07-06

With the gist of this. For example, in the USA Today app, swiping changed articles when I "expected" it to change pages. And the change was not glaringly obvious. Other areas of the overall page were "swipable" in a non obvious way.

I constantly bumble with my iPhone also. I tend to conflate the "home" button on the phone with "back", and I'm constantly exiting the iPod app instead of going back a screen.

Mind, they're not UI nightmares, but they can be a struggle as everybody applies the same gestures in different ways. Plus, there's no way to "discover" a gesture save by trying it. No indication whether a gesture is possible or not.

Not unreasonable on the iPhone, with limited space.

But each app is a new "toy" to play with to figure out how it works, and as "neat" and "fun" as it is right now, it still has its frustrations.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by t3RRa
by t3RRa on Wed 12th May 2010 02:36 UTC
t3RRa
Member since:
2005-11-22

The guideline is only a guideline. That doesn't prevent from developers to map different actions to one gesture in different applications. It is because each application has different goal.

If Apple prevent developers by guideline, it could hurt creativity quite seriously in certain situations I suppose. And if Apple has prevented, then you and/or others would criticise Apple for that. So for your clicking picture example, I cannot see any problems.

I know there should be certain standards, but it should be limited to few types of applications only IMHO.

Reply Score: 2

In summary this article says...
by SuperDaveOsbourne on Wed 12th May 2010 04:47 UTC
SuperDaveOsbourne
Member since:
2007-06-24

That the iPad is new, it breaks rules, developers are desperate for business, Apple is pushing users to think differently. Hmmmmmmm, and I'm supposed to read the 96 page report?

Reply Score: 0

In the beginning
by 3rdalbum on Wed 12th May 2010 05:18 UTC
3rdalbum
Member since:
2008-05-26

Apple provided a UI guideline in the beginning for the Mac because most prospective developers had never even seen a GUI before.

The situation is different here with the iPhone and iPad - all prospective developers have seen touchscreen phones before, I'd be willing to bet. They've at least seen GUIs.

Reply Score: 1

RE: In the beginning
by daveak on Thu 13th May 2010 19:13 UTC in reply to "In the beginning"
daveak Member since:
2008-12-29

And they provide a HIG for iPhone and iPad as well, and will reject apps that don't following them (if the reviewer is having a bad day at least)

Reply Score: 1

The "time to market" aspect ...
by pica on Wed 12th May 2010 09:37 UTC
pica
Member since:
2005-07-10

... beside the "featurism" aspect seems to be dominating.

But I think, spending a few month on developing a concise HIG (human interface guideline)is worth the effort in long term. Yes, the HIG has to be concise. Simply because, if it is not, no developer reads it.

A word on "featurism". I myself am a man. To be more precise, deep in me lurks a little child, that likes to play. So far, "features" are good to attract short term. But what I really need is "functionality" not "features", so in long term a lack of "functionality" is annoying.

Just my few cents,
pica


PS Hell, we life in a short term world :-(

Reply Score: 1

sorpigal Member since:
2005-11-02

Developers love documentation when it answers hard questions like "What's most appropriate?"

Reply Score: 2

Just one thing...
by Neolander on Wed 12th May 2010 15:16 UTC
Neolander
Member since:
2010-03-08

Oh, and bring back Platinum!

No. Please no. Never, ever, that classic Mac horror again ^^'
With its...
-> GUI lockups
-> Overloaded bar at the bottom (I just hid it as soon as I saw it).
-> Network configuration (sufficiently said)
-> Countless crashes
-> Foghorn sound on startup (actually, it got worse with time. Until ~2005, you could make it shut up by muting sound before turning the computer off)
-> Inconsistent app behavior
-> File management with improper icon alignment, making windows becoming huge unless you move all of the icons manually
-> Strange way of maximizing app windows, and desktop-cluttering way of minimizing them
-> Very poor task switching experience when using big windows

Used it for some years. Even with Windows 95's obfuscating IRQ and DMA settings (that OS literally burnt my soundcard eventually), I never experienced so much pain using a computer.

Edited 2010-05-12 15:20 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: Just one thing...
by stew on Wed 12th May 2010 15:53 UTC in reply to "Just one thing..."
stew Member since:
2005-07-06

None of the things you listed was part of Platinum. Platinum was the UI "theme" of Mac OS 8+ that was originally also part of Mac OS X Server/Rhapsody.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Just one thing...
by Neolander on Wed 12th May 2010 16:31 UTC in reply to "RE: Just one thing..."
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Well, sorry then ^^ It's just that seeing this screenshot brought back some bad memories...

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Just one thing...
by kaiwai on Thu 13th May 2010 00:00 UTC in reply to "RE: Just one thing..."
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

None of the things you listed was part of Platinum. Platinum was the UI "theme" of Mac OS 8+ that was originally also part of Mac OS X Server/Rhapsody.


Yeah, I would have loved that to be the GUI theme because right now the current operating system looks like a frankenGUI; half aqua, half graphite, half industrial, half candy coated girly colours. It seems to have an identity crisis as so far as it can't work out what it actually wants to be. Whilst Windows has moved forward in as so far as the various components of Windows harmonising the GUI, on Mac OS X things have either stayed the same or gotten worse.

Reply Score: 3

Tablet PC
by Haicube on Wed 12th May 2010 15:42 UTC
Haicube
Member since:
2005-08-06

Just a quick question. Since iPad is just a new TabletPC similar to concepts which have been around for 5-10 years or so. Beyond that it obviously lacks a lot of UI consistency. I think it'd be interesting to see this TabletPC (iPad) vs other tabletPCs from say 5-6 years ago up 'til today.

I'm fairly certain that even 5 years ago there were quite a lot more usable tablets than this one, even with flash on top.

Reply Score: 1

Tweetie
by badtz on Wed 12th May 2010 16:11 UTC
badtz
Member since:
2005-06-29

Personally, I think the Tweetie pull-down to refresh feature is one of the best UI enhancements they did over Apple. Simple and genius, and clears up the UI for other things.

Reply Score: 1

Web usability?
by righard on Wed 12th May 2010 22:51 UTC
righard
Member since:
2007-12-26

I don't want to flame here but... I guess I can't always have what I want...

I really don't understand; Is the website of Jacob Nielson considered to be a usability pinnacle? I think it to be very chaotic; it took me ages to find what the site was about, can't find anything and those clashing colours give my (literally) a headache.

Wikipedia, now there is a usable website. w3c should make in compulsory to use wikipedia's css ;)

Edited 2010-05-12 22:54 UTC

Reply Score: 4

and?
by PathagenX on Thu 13th May 2010 10:56 UTC
PathagenX
Member since:
2009-07-14

and what?

I can't use Motif spec anymore?

Hey everyone! The writer gets comments for saying something bad about Apple!

zOMG everyone help his rating by giving a crap and nibbling at his Windows devoted balls!

Reply Score: 0

Card Shark vs. Holy Scroller - MOOT
by itomato on Fri 14th May 2010 20:25 UTC
itomato
Member since:
2006-05-18

The 2-D paradigms from the '80's comparisons aren't entirely valid here.

It's a pincher's world - deep, sequential views are available, but don't make up much of the discussion, except for where expected results fail to appear.

Cover flow, pinching, accelerometer - all define the iPlatform, but factor into navigation little, if at all, and I think it's a shame.

Reply Score: 1