UX Challenges: Teaching Users

Most apps are relatively familiar, even if you’ve never used them before, because they’re building on the same patterns that other apps use. If you’ve used desktop apps before, you’re already familiar with toolbars and menus and even hidden actions such as right-clicking for contextual menus. You’re probably familiar with a few of the more common keyboard shortcuts such as copying and pasting.

Mobile apps have building blocks that are becoming more familiar as well such as tabs and scrolling lists. Even less obvious ones like the hidden navigation drawer associated with the hamburger icon are increasingly common and more expected.

Of course, every app is necessarily different in some way. That means that, while many of the building blocks are similar, some will be different or entirely new. Users have to learn these in order to experience the advantage one app has over another; however, apps do a terrible job of teaching users. New users are bombarded with disconnected tips and unfamiliar overlays, while experienced users are left to fend for themselves. Continue reading

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The Gender Wage Gap And The Need For Good Data

It is easy to draw bad conclusions from data, despite how well-known the phrase “correlation does not imply causation” is. Let’s say we want to determine whether lightly colored hair results in higher pay than darkly colored hair. We could gather wage statistics across all of North and South America, creating a median wage for people with lightly colored hair and comparing it to their darker haired counterparts. Using this method, we’d likely find a significant difference in wages, which could lead to the conclusion that hair color is a major factor in wages. With just a little more analysis, we would see that a disproportionate number of individuals with lightly colored hair live in the United States and Canada, which have much higher wages than the rest of the countries being compared. While wages might correlate well with hair color, that does not imply that the wage discrepancy is caused by hair color. Continue reading

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Why I Dislike Apple

I haven’t posted anything for a few months, so I thought I’d revive things with a little bit of controversy. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not an Apple fan. Occasionally I’m asked why and I usually just pick one of the many reasons to explain, but there are actually quite a few reasons. Continue reading

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Some Thoughts About The Moto X (2014)

Moto X among friends

I have been living with the Moto X (2014) as my primary phone for about a week now. The tl;dr is that this phone is great, and I consider it the best phone of the year (I don’t think there are any surprise devices left). This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive review; rather, it’s a bit of rambling about the best and worst aspects of the device.

Right away I have to say I love how much you can customize the Moto X. Android has always been extremely customizable from the software side, but the hardware customizations of the Moto X allow you to make a device that’s truly yours. I broke my normal preference and went with a white front. I picked the walnut back, a shoutout to the woodworking I’ve been doing this year, and put it together with a bronze trim. Continue reading

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Don’t Go Card-Crazy

There are a lot of decisions that go into design, but people new to design or with limited experience (such as most developers) frequently don’t know which factors are important. They tend to stick to defaults or simple solutions that should be good enough. Sometimes, people look at what other successful people have done as a starting point. They might look at Google Now and suddenly think that using cards to represent all types of data is the ideal solution, and they abuse that style of presentation. Continue reading

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