Cognitive Friction

User Experience Design

Hey, UCD! Check your spelling

Hey! UCD! if you are going to advertise on Facebook, at least check your spelling before posting:

Conficius Institute? I\'m Confused.
Conficius Institute? Doh!.

This is a cheap shot, I know, it’s so easy to make this sort of mistake. But these details matter, especially in Ad copy, and it’s just as easy to get it right.

XSort now available for free download

If you’ve ever done any card sorting, you’ll know what a pain in the ass it is to make notes during the session and to analyse the data afterwards. There are a few decent spreadsheets for data analysis in circulation, but if you want a fancy dendrogram from the data too, then you’re going to need more than Excel. I’ve used XSort for card sorting, as it does away with the index cards, the note-taking sheets and the spreadsheets, while providing excellent stats on the sessions and a dendrogram to boot. Today, the app was released for free download, so if you are running OS X, go get a copy. It was always pretty cheap, but now you have no excuse.

Design Thinking for Innovation lecture

Today I’ll be heading up to the Black North to attend a lecture at the Queens University of Belfast entitled Design Thinking for Innovation: Treat Your Company, Your Team, Your Products as Prototypes. It will be delivered by Michael Dearing, an associate professor at the Design School at Stanford University. Michael Dearing has an impressive track record at eBay and a lot of fascinating research interests around design innovation for new product development, web-based businesses and user experience design. I must say I am really looking forward to this, as design thinking and innovation in organizational behaviour is a real interest of mine too. I’ll be sure to blog my notes on the train home.

The iPhone 3G in use

I’ve had the iPhone 3G for about two weeks now, and patterns of use are starting to emerge, apart from the obvious: making calls, sending texts and checking email. Although, even here, buying the phone has led to some changes. For example, I made an effort to rationalise, synchronise and update the contacts in the address books on the two Macs I use regularly. NetNewsWire sees heavy use on my commute and in any downtime during the day. The associated Newsgator service keeps my read/unread feeds synchronised on two macs and the iPhone. The upside of this is that I’m ready to start work when I get to my desk, aside from getting a coffee that is, whereas previously the first thing I’d do was to scan all of my news feeds. If I come across a story I want to come back to in NetNewsWire, I can’t flag it on the phone, so I’ve been emailing the link to myself, and that seems to work fine. I’m updating Facebook and Twitter more often than previously, and I’ve even started uploading images to Facebook from the iPhone camera. I have been making a lot of use of Evernote and the camera to photograph the covers of books I want to buy later. Evernote makes the text of the book cover images searchable, but I have created a notebook called ‘Stuff to buy’ that I upload these images to, so they’re all in one place anyway. It’s not all rosy, though, as I’m damned if I can get OmniFocus desktop and OmniFocus for the iPhone to sync. I did have all of this working through WebDav on the BingoDisk service, but an update a few weeks ago broke it somehow. OmniFocus desktop crashes frequently when syncing or when you run software update and the iPhone app gets locked in a cycle of asking for your login details when you try to sync. The desktop app is still a beta release, so I’ll be patient, but they are clearly having trouble getting this to work with the many and varied WebDav services that are out in the wild. The lack of cut and paste on the iPhone is a pain. Enough said. I’ve added a few new apps lately: Pennies, to try and stick to a budget; DataCase, which should have been built into the iPhone software and 1Password. I got 1Password in the MacHeist bundle back in January and never used it, but I put all of my stuff in there recently and have found it a real boon given the number of sites I visit that require login. They’re launching a sync service too, so your passwords can be stored in the cloud, encrypted, and accessible from wherever as well as synchronised between machines. I may have a look at that soon, I’m reviewing all of the various applications and services I use (or subscribe to and don’t use) in an effort to tidy up the worst excesses of my curious mind. Finally, after much shopping around, I’ve decided to go with Zagg’s invisibleSHIELD for iPhone 3G rather than buy a case for the iPhone. I’ve ordered it already, though I must say I am not looking forward to fitting it to the phone. Still, it comes recommended (and with a discount code from a friend), and the demo video on the product page is impressive. I have two discount codes for this product to share with anyone who wants them, drop me a line and I’ll forward a code to whoever asks first.

Report of the death of print wildly exaggerated

I came across Jeff Gomez’ book Print is Dead: Books in our Digital Age while browsing through Hodges Figgis the other day. I couldn’t help but savour the irony that Gomez’ work came as a rather large chunk of dead tree. Reports of the death of print are frequent and often wildly exaggerated. Print is Dead? Not yet, apparently. To be fair to Gomez, his book is also available in electronic format. But, I find ebooks insultingly overpriced, I don’t have an ebook reader, I wouldn’t buy one just to read a single book, and I don’t want another device to hump around, recharge and synchronise. That’s the problem for eBooks in a nutshell. Having said that, a quick flick through this book in the bookshop and a brief wander around Gomez’ blog makes me think that he might have something intelligent to say on this topic. And there are undoubted shifts in the print industry – most apparent in the newspaper and periodical business at the moment. Perhaps ebooks are an example of the sort of change that Larry Keeley famously characterised: We always overestimate the amount of change in the short term and we underestimate the amount of change in the long term. I may give this book a go when my current book pile shrinks a bit.