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

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.

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!

‘Rising Chair’ by Robert van Embricqs at the Geffrye Museum, London

Emma and I went to the Geffrye museum near Shoreditch over the weekend and saw a great exhibit on “useful and beautiful contemporary objects for the home.” There was one chair in particular that caught our attention, the Rising Chair by Robert van Embricqs. We both loved the way it folded up flat for storage and then expanded out into a pretty comfortable and very nice looking wooden chair.

See the rising chair in action on YouTube

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Simplicity of Paris’ #5 Metro Train Map

When we were in Paris last week, it was nice to see such a simple and usable map onboard the #5 metro line. It tells you exactly what you need to know and gives good visibility and feedback to the user:

  1. The next stop blinks – in this case it’s “Richard-Lenoir”
  2. Illuminated dots indicate stations coming up
  3. Stations visited are disabled
  4. Closed stations are also disabled like “Oberkampf”
  5. Underneath,  a Circular “M” indicates which Metro lines you can change to or “RER” for other train services

Simple and effective.

More feedback while on the Tube

Although the London tube map is easy to read, it had something to learn in terms of feedback to the user. On the Paris Metro, I found the “blinking light” indicating the next stop an especially useful feature.

Feedback is about sending back information about what action has been done and what has been accomplished, allowing the person to continue with the activity. 

From Don Normans’ Design Principles