Mac OSX Help Menu – The way help should be

Using the help feature on Mac OSX applications is a thing of beauty. It’s inspired me to write a post because it saves me time and helps me learn the application better. When I search for a feature and it’s in the menu bar, the menu location is automatically expanded and displayed. This does two extremely helpful things for me:

  1. Shows me where to find it – helps train me on using the application by showing me instead of having to read and follow a bunch of text instructions with screenshots (if I’m lucky)
  2. Allows me to run the command immediately – no need to navigate through the menu following the instructions, I just hit ‘enter’ and it’s done!

This is application help designed perfectly for humans.

mac_help_awesomeness

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Thinking human – observations of physical and digital experiences

I had a moment of inspiration this week for a new name for this blog: “Thinking Human”. It describes my design approach: solving human problems by understanding human needs. Through design observations in this blog and my work as UX designer and developer, I’ve learned that great physical and digital experiences are created when humans are at the centre. Often we get it the other way around and create technology that’s not based on a real human need.

My goal is to learn. Through this blog, I will capture my observations from a human perspective of good, enjoyable, well designed experiences as well as poor, annoying, badly designed experiences. By writing about my observations and deconstructing designs, I hope to learn the genetics of good and bad design.

The featured image is my first made in Adobe Illustrator

Beautiful wood table design at Nandos Gatwick

Whilst waiting for our flight from Gatwick to Seville, we stopped at Nandos in the South Terminal for lunch. We were sat at a beautiful wood table that had a lovely circular grain through length of the table and a white stripe at the edge. It was a gorgeous goldeny, red colour that really took my eye.

Red wood table at nandos 2

I’ve been trying to identify the type of wood to satisfy my curiosity as well as add to the collection of wood and tree knowledge in my head. My best guess is rosewood but it could also be walnut or others.

During my search for wood, I came across some great resources for wood which could be useful in the future:

  1. Google search by image – click on the camera icon to link to or upload and image. Google will search for matches
  2. The wood database – clever use of Pinterest for cataloguing different woods
  3. Wood periodic table – great reference for wood typesPeriodic table of wood
  4. Pieces of wood has a good collection of wood by example

 

Another great piece of design at Nandos was the egg shaped, wood phone charger on each table. A fun and practical addition to the table and also very convenient for an airport (Toby took full advantage of this).

Nandos egg phone charger

Hidden Helper: Garmin Nuvi’s Junction View

During our week’s holiday in Spain, we had a new guide with the Garmin Nuvi 3597 GPS replacing our old but trusty GPS from 2009. I found the Junction View the most helpful feature of the new version but it wasn’t immediately visible. As I was driving, the hidden helper popped open and helped solve the classic question of navigating: “what lane should I be in?”. Overall, very useful for the driver with a clear view of the road and even the road sign you should look out for.

Brushing up on my Spanish with DuoLingo

Ahead of our trip to Seville next weekend, I’m brushing up on my Spanish with DuoLingo. I really like the app, its simple, responsive and gives a nice mix of listening, translating and writing.

There’s one feature that I particularly like which I discovered whilst doing my lesson on a busy train in the morning. There are speaking questions but I don’t want to embarrass myself or annoy others on the train with my poor Spanish. DuoLingo designed for this scenario. For any speaking parts, they have a button at the bottom ” can’t talk right now” which skips the question, mutes the speaking questions for an hour and skips to the next question. Very nice!

IMG_6425-1.PNG

Easy pizza customising with Oregano online

Emma found this one when ordering from Oregano pizza online. it’s quite a simple but cool feature for ordering a pizza.

I’ve attempted to capture it in an animated gif (first one I’ve made). After choosing a pizza, the toppings on that pizza are checked automatically. This makes it very easy to see what’s included on the pizza and then customise to your liking, checking or I unchecking toppings as you wish.

oregano-pizza-choosing_v2

This approach of designing for customisation and alterations makes it very easy to get the exact pizza you want. I think Oregano knew that people liked to make changes to pizza toppings and added this as a primary scenario.

BusCheckers’ skeumorphic design is very intuitive

I took the bus last week to basketball practice and while I was walking to the stop I wondered when the next bus was. I had a quick scan of the App Store and found BusChecker. I found it incredibly easy and intuitive to use.

Things I liked

  • Skeumorphic design made it intuitive to read e.g. digitally represented a physical bus stop sign
  • Buses that stop there are all listed on the sign
  • See bus arrival times in grid below which mimics the sign at an actual bus stop
  • Touch a bus number to filter arrival times for just that bus

Overall, very simple and easy to use. I’ll be using it again!