Running a successful solutions workshop isn’t something you can do off the cuff, and it’s not about standing in front of a group of people, and talking at them for a couple of hours. You need engagement, interaction, encouragement and creativity to come up with design ideas and solutions. But how can you try and achieve that? Here at SimpleUsability we run lots of workshops to help our clients, so here’s my five top tips to help you run a successful one!
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An in-page tab is a go-to method to categorise content on a page, without overwhelming users with too much information at once, however, this functionality is commonly misused on many websites and apps. As a UX practitioner, this UI element is something that I witness users struggling with when implemented poorly. So in this article I will review and give 8 examples of best practice regarding in-page tab design and guide you on how to implement these successfully.
1. Clearly indicate the active tab and ensure this is connected to the content below.
On Wednesday 24th May 2017, it was great to see the digital community come together to learn and be inspired by this year’s Camp Digital event in Manchester. Many great talks were given on topics of usability, design and accessibility, but the one session that stood out for me was the workshop I took part in, given by Molly Watt and Chris Bush, about using and understanding assistive technologies.
Chris Bush kicked the workshop off by giving us an insight into the vast number of people that suffer from a long-term illness or disability, equating to around 15% of the UK’s population. With this striking figure in mind, the question ‘Why design for inclusion?’ was proposed. To help us understand why, Chris introduced Molly Watt, who began by sharing her story on why she is so passionate about this subject.
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The anticipation for a new Nintendo console was long overdue, so when I heard the announcement in October 2016 about the release of the Nintendo Switch, I knew it was something I had to get my hands on. The Nintendo Switch is a gaming console with a new concept; allowing a quick transition from a home console system to a portable on-the-go gaming experience. The Flexibility of three different modes; TV, Handheld and Tabletop mode mean you can take the console anywhere, and play with anyone. Providing new gaming user experiences makes it stand-alone from other gaming consoles.
The user experience of playing the Switch in TV mode has a sense of familiarity. In order to play games in this mode, the console is put into the dock, and linked up to the TV via HDMI. The games appear as they would on an Xbox, but with the Switch you have the flexibility in choice of how to hold and use the controllers. The Joy-Con controllers for the Switch have a unique controller design; they detach from each side of the console to make either one game controller or two separate pieces that can be used independently. This allows users to configure controllers for the best experience for different games.
For example, as you can see in the pictures, when playing a game such as ‘Just Dance’, users can detach a controller and use it as an individual piece, allowing them to wave this around to follow the dance moves.
In contrast, ‘The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’, is a classic adventure game, and therefore the user experience is best with a one-piece game controller.
The Joy-Con controllers also have a feature called HD rumble, which offers users a haptic user experience, to feel different types of vibrations through the controllers. Games like ‘1-2 Switch’ have been specifically designed for the Switch, to incorporate these features into game-play. On a game called ‘ball count’ users estimate how many balls are in a box by tilting the controller and ‘feeling’ the balls move around in it. The closest player to guess the amount wins.
One downside of user experience on TV mode is that the games are designed for a smaller screen in Handheld and Tabletop mode, so switching to play the game to a larger screen such as a TV, causes the frame rate to noticeably drop and the game appears to lag compared to other modes. I found this can be off putting and for some may defeat the point of being able to play in different modes.
The unique feature about the Nintendo Switch is the new user experience element, that allows users to take this console anywhere and continue gaming on the move. by switching it into Handheld mode. To do this, you slot each Joy-Con controller into the side of the console to make, what appears like, a Wii U gamepad and then remove this from the dock. There is no need to shut down the console and reboot it to switch modes, as the game switches instantaneously, undisrupting the flow of gaming from one screen to another.
As a daily train commuter to and from work, it is great to be able to pick up from where I played the game the night before, and continue playing this on a journey. The Switch is also very quick to load, after turning the console on, no time is wasted waiting for the console to turn on and select a game, meaning users can get quickly engrossed in the user experience.
Another feature that enhances the user experience is the touch screen element that the Switch has on the user interface, which replicates a tablet like experience to navigate through the menu, select games and change profiles. Although most games on the Switch do not incorporate this touch element into the game itself, it is something I hope to see on games in the future.
A drawback of playing the game in Handheld mode on the move is that the Switch has a limited battery life and can’t be charged independently. The Switch can only be played for around 3-6 hours in Handheld mode, so users need to be wary about how many hours they can fit in gaming, without the console running out of battery.
Tabletop mode combines the mobility aspect offered by Handheld mode, as well as flexible controllers. What’s great about this mode is that you can take the Switch to a friend’s house or to family gatherings, and continue gaming together with multiplayer. This new user experience encourages multiple game play, as opposed to the familiar solo game play at home in the TV mode.
At the moment though, the kickback stand that props the console up on a surface is not very stable, especially when placed on an uneven surface. This limits where you can play in Tabletop mode, as standing the Switch on a surface like a bed or a sofa may cause this to fall over.
Overall, the new concept of the Nintendo Switch is something that is unique in design, and provides a fascinating new user experience for gaming. It has only been a couple of weeks since release date, and the advantages of being able to play games in various modes are evident. However, at the moment, there are a limited number of games available for the Switch, meaning we can’t see the full potential of the gaming user experience. Despite the drawbacks it currently has, we look forward to how Nintendo will fix these, as well as the games revealed in the coming months.
Whether you have or haven’t booked a seat reservation on a train, finding a seat is a frustration for many passengers. As a daily train commuter to and from work, this is something I, and many others around me, struggle with every day.
There are broadly two types of train passengers; one who has bought their train ticket in advance, along with a seat reservation on a specific train and one who has not got a reserved seat, or has been automatically given one in the booking process, but isn’t bothered about finding that specific seat.
Finding a seat should be a straight forward process for both types of passengers, either finding their reserved seat or finding an unreserved seat on the train, but it is not. And one of the key problems is the way reservations are displayed on trains. It may seem a small problem but with millions of passengers travelling by train every day the impact is huge, so how could current display methods be developed to improve the user experience?
In the article below we review the two main current display methods, electronic and paper, and consider ways to improve them.
With electronic displays, the users’ seat reservation along with their seat number is shown above the seat, for example, Fig. 1, displaying ‘Reserved from Sheffield- Newcastle’.
Six of the team at SimpleUsability attended #NUX5 on Friday 7th October at the Northern College of Music in Manchester, which featured seven inspirational speakers from around the world sharing a variety of different UX topics.
Instead of the usual note-taking, SimpleUsability decided to try a more creative approach to capture the key features of each talk: Sketchnoting. Sketchnoting involves taking notes in a visual form that helps bring the notes to life, and helps people to remember the talk afterwards. Sketchnotes are also fun to share. In this article we share our Sketchnotes that were taken at NUX5, with key summarised points to explain the take away message from each talk.
As a child I had the full works when it came to game consoles; the Mega Drive, the PlayStation followed by the PS2, and the various Nintendo gadgets; the Wii, Gameboy Advance and the DS. Hours were spent sat in front of the TV in the living room with a controller in my hands. Some will say time well spent, others may not.
However, a recent SimpleUsability project in which Bartle’s Taxonomy was used to profile research participants led me to think how Richard Bartle’s theory could be used to improve the user experience in the new world of multi-platform, play anywhere and on any device gaming.
Bartle’s Taxonomy, in a nutshell
In a nutshell, Bartle’s Taxonomy (1996) states there are four types of gamers; achievers, hunters, explorers and socialisers. So what’s the difference between the four gamer types?
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Caroline Jarrett, a form specialist and noted author, met the team at SimpleUsability on Thursday 11th August and gave a very insightful talk about how to design better forms for users.
Caroline got interested in form design, and the impact of poor form design, while troubleshooting optical character recognition (OCR) problems while scanning incoming forms. The problem was, people didn’t understand what the form was asking, or it didn’t fit their situation, so they didn’t fill in the form in the ‘right way’. Caroline realised that form design was behind the problem and that good form design was important whatever the media. She now focuses on how to design online forms and surveys, so that people can fill them in correctly; ensuring good language, content and interaction design.
Surprising people is never good.
states Caroline, as the discussion moved forward onto certain features of forms, in particular accordion forms. Lucy Buykx, a Senior UX practitioner from SimpleUsability, said that she has seen some accordions which take users through the form process nicely. However, Caroline discourages the use of accordion forms, stating;
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