some thoughts concerning usability, interaction, and experience design by david evans

Multi-touch in 2011

This is an exciting time. The sensor technology that brought us multi-touch has made huge leaps and now lives intimately with the display in new tablet form factors. This allows us to reduce weight and size and now tablets are becoming what every netbook wanted to be but wasn’t.

But more exciting perhaps is that combination of incredibly accurate sensors and screen allows a level of direct manipulation that is far easier for people and much more expressive. And because of their precision, our minds quickly forget that we are interacting with a representation of things and almost immediately being to play with it. That discoverability and direct interaction will I think make these new interaction styles the norm eventually. Tablets will supplant personal computers both because of price but also because of their easier interactions. And that easier interaction is primarily because it is direct and the software must provide seamless and instant feedback from touch. Read more »

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netflix’s on migrating to amazon ec2

john ciancutti of netflix posted an article this morning about their migration to using amazon ec2 from their own data centers. i was surprised to hear about the failure rates and latency they encountered, but glad for the forewarning. I appreciated their chaos monkey tool; if you want to survive failure make the software fail intentionally. it’s probably the only way to have confidence that you can handle it.


just read a candid article about the failure of wesabe, a competitor to mint, where CEO Marc Hedlund credits certain aspects in the competitor’s design as key reasons why they were beaten. Very interesting read.

rear differentials

gotta love this 30’s instructional film, especially the motorcycle acrobatics at the start. good explanation of how a rear differential works. wish i had films handy like this when i was studying physics – to make the learning process more fun.

you’ve got to be kidding me

I just received this gem from fring after I failed to figure out how to change my password:

Thank you for contacting our support team.
Unfortunately, currently it is not possible to change the password you registered with.
We apologize for the inconvenience.
If you are not satisfied with the password you used, we suggest opening a new account.
If you have further queries, please do not hesitate to contact us again.
Thank you,
fring Support

open a new account to change my password?!

time to rethink passwords

i just wrote on another blog about a time my identity was stolen and my subsequent switch to a password management tool.

i’ve also whined about password restrictions before. But a larger, design question is why we still use account and password combinations for the internet. The security of that solution is long in the tooth. And because so many sites have accounts, it’s only natural that people share the same password across multiple sites.

Longer term, I’m not sure what the whole answer is. But a short term solution would be to build password management tools — with strong encryption — right into the browsers or better into the operating system. Help me, the customer, generate strong and random passwords for each site, and then protect them for me.

Then a next step would be to standardize the html for authentication and accounts, instead of leaving that somewhat random for different sites based on how they want to render a sign in form. This is something so many sites do and need, and they could still maintain a form but perhaps add an API or even just tags that then help browsers identify the credentials for signing in.

photo realism

this 20 minute short film is really well done. aside from its beautiful production and editing, it asks the question — for me at least — what will games be like when they’re truly immersive?

modern video games are arguably already immersive, in that some of these genre already become major past times for people who identify strongly with their in game persona. but i can only imagine that will increase as the realism of the experience increases.


there’s something so simple about chatroulette, click “next” and you’re face to face with a new stranger. i still expect video phones to take over some day for regular phones. oh when will they take over? but in the meantime, we’re slowly getting used to seeing each other on video via youtube and skype and the like.

and now there’s chatroulette…

i’m loving the youtube clips of people using chatroulette to create unique experiences. like this one with the now famous Merton thanks to his recordings:

devo branding

help devo out, by answering their quick color branding survey

mad libs style forms

Luke Wroblewski just wrote about registration forms styled like mad libs and how in a recent A/B test with them they increased participation rates from 25-40%. I guess it’s a range because of separate tests?

Very interesting result and innovative, plus more fun. I wonder if the style feels more brain balanced as well as being more childlike. The current neatly-organized rows and columns of most web forms feels more stereotypically left brained. Whereas mad libs might feel more right brained and emotional, hence the sense of fun. But then if the form in question is not intended to be fun, it would be better in organized columns.