Archive for the ‘screen’ tag
Channel surfing got weird.
There was this episode of All-Star Celebrity Apprentice this season that revolved around each team’s ability to create a television ad for the consumer electronics company, LG. It wasn’t really about a particular model of television or kitchen appliance. It wasn’t about some new-fangled technology that would allow their washing machines to clean your clothes through some kind of micro-parcel technology. It was all about how connected these devices have now become. The television, the smartphone, the washer and dryer and yes, even the refrigerator are now "smart." Smart in a connected sense. Smart in not just being connected to the Internet, but in how each device now has a touchscreen that offers up all kinds of information – from operating data to content (like recipes based on what’s inside the fridge). Screens are everywhere. Screens are connected. Screens are mobile. Screens are increasingly getting cheaper and more ubiquitous.
Welcome to the one screen world.
Not too long ago, I was asked to give a presentation on the state of digital media and how well brands are intersecting the worlds of marketing and technology. Prior to my closing keynote presentation, there was a panel discussion about the state of media. One senior media executive was discussing the power of a four screen world. I thought that he had made a mistake. I was familiar with the concept of three screens (television, computer and mobile), but four screens was something new. Eventually, he unveiled that the fourth screen was the tablet. It’s still somewhat shocking to think that the iPad was first introduced on April 3rd, 2010, and we now live in a world where more iPads are being sold than any PC manufacturer sold of their entire PC line (and this has been a constantly growing trend since 2012). In fact, all of this shores up to the notion that it’s not about three screens or four screens. It’s about one screen: whichever screen is in front of me. In a world where screens are connected and everywhere, the notion of even counting them seems arbitrary, at best. Don’t believe me, speak to somebody who is currently sporting Google glass.
The true tale of a nineteen year old.
My niece is nineteen years old. When she was sixteen years old, she would come home school, take out her laptop, plop down on the couch, lift the computer lid, turn on the TV, plug in her earbuds, so that she could listen to music on her iPod, and her BlackBerry was always within reach. From afar it looked like she was running NORAD. Fast-forward a mere three years, and now she comes home from school, takes out her iPad… and that’s it. All of that core content is now readily available on the one screen (in one way, shape or form). From content (in text, images, audio and video) to communications (chatting with friends on Skype or via Google Hangouts)… it’s all readily available on this one device that rules them all. Yes, we are seeing a massive uptick in consumers who are using companion devices (meaning, they are watching TV but have their smartphones nearby), and while the industry does refer to it as a companion device, the truth is that you’re not watching the television with one eyeball and your iPhone with the other. The only screen that still matters, is the screen that is in front of you.
It’s bigger than you think.
While most people are busy paying attention to the fact that Yahoo just bought Tumblr for over one billion dollars, they’re forgetting something profound about the last acquisition of chaotic proportions (when Facebook bought Instagram for close to one billion dollars as well). In the Newsweek article, Instagram Will Take Facebook Into the Mobile Age (April 16th, 2012), journalist Dan Lyons so appropriately wrote: "The Internet was all about websites. Then came the iPhone and Android, and today the only reason anyone creates a website is to promote a cool new mobile app." And here we are, today, with over a billion smartphones in the world and they are outnumbering the PCs. Within the next decade, virtually all mobile phones will be smartphone, meaning 6 billion people will be constantly connected. And, as if the exponential growth of the one screen world is not scary enough, we currently live in a world where more individuals have a mobile subscription than access to electricity or safe drinking water (more on that here: Putting Global Mobile In Context).
So, how are the brands stacking up?
Not so well, thanks for asking. According to a recent survey by Adobe, 45% of marketers still don’t have a mobile presence, and this is happening at the exact same time that eMarketer is reporting that 15% of online retail sales will take place this year via a mobile device (sales will reach nearly $39 billion in 2013, which is up over 56% from 2012). If ever there was a time to embrace the notion of the one screen world, this would be it. Businesses are still splitting hairs of what is the Web, what is the smartphone, what is the tablet and what is TV in a world where consumers are shoring these screens up into one. They have a constant and consistent desire to simply have the content they want on the device they want, when they want it. Sadly, most marketers are thinking about how they are going to advertise on a mobile screen, instead of hunkering down and figuring out what the customer’s new expectations are when everything from their washer and dryer to their television and smartphone are hyper-connected to one another. Instead of curling up into a ball or sticking the proverbial head in the sand, what we’re truly seeing in this day and age is a massive global opportunity – unlike anything in business that we have seen before – to take the mobile lead. By the looks and sounds of the data and the exponential growth in consumer demands for these devices and the content on them, the one screen world is poised to make websites, social media and e-commerce combined look like a joke in comparison.
Are you ready? Is your brand ready?
The above posting is my twice-monthly column for the Harvard Business Review. I cross-post it here with all the links and tags for your reading pleasure, but you can check out the original version online here:
We’ve seen a lot of leaked iPhone 5 parts, including a new battery and longer cases, but so far we’ve had to imagine how they would all fit together. Thankfully, a new diagram from the folks at iFixYouri makes sense of the madness.
Using what’s supposedly a leaked version of the next iPhone’s motherboard, the repair firm was able to make educated guesses of where many of the other leaked components would fit in, 9to5Mac reports. While it’s far from conclusive evidence that any of these parts are legitimate (especially since it’s not scaled for size), the diagram certainly hints at some interesting connections.
Or maybe we’re just reading way too much into images of mystery hardware.
Don’t expect the iPhone 5 rumors to slow down anytime soon. The closer we get to the phone’s announcement, currently expected for September 12, the more gadget geeks will scoop up any crumb of new information. And the potential for juicy revelations will be huge, since the next iPhone will likely be a major revamp on the iPhone 4′s design.
The next iPhone (which will likely just go by “iPhone,” like the new iPad) will likely sport a longer screen around 4 inches (compared to the standard 3.5-inch screen), as well as a thinner body. Sharp has said that it will begin shipping displays to Apple this month, which should be enough time for Apple to make a September launch. Sprint has also lowered the price of its iPhone 4S models, which is a sign that it needs to clear out stock to make room for something new.
About a year ago, Google added a new rich snippet for prayer times, so when you searched Google for prayer times in a specific location, Google would return some responses depending on the search results marked up with those prayer times.
Of course, Jewish and Islamic prayer times differ, so technically, you would probably want to qualify your search for something like [jewish prayer times new york].
But those prayer time rich snippets seem to have been discontinued by Google.
Here is a screen shot of what it looked like:
I spent some time marking up the sites using the Synagogue software my company built and it was a waste of time I guess.
Going to the rich snippet prayer times support page returns a page not found error.
I emailed Google for a response on why this was removed but I have yet to hear back.
Forum discussion at Google Web Search Help.
Image credit fridgeuk on Flickr.
You don’t have to have a Samsung Galaxy S3, Galaxy Nexus, or Droid Razr to enjoy their boot animations. Androidbootanimations.com serves up these and several other custom animations in three different screen resolutions. More »
Google released Account chooser today, which lets you easily toggle between Gmail accounts without having to enter and re-enter your email or password.
Account chooser was first noticed by The Next Web, and undoubtedly excites any person that uses Gmail for both work and personal accounts. In order to enable the feature, you must first go to this link, which automatically signs you up if you’re logged into one of your accounts. That account becomes the default account from which you can add others. You must click “stay signed in” in order for the feature to work.
The new Gmail login screen is a small box that displays your name, the email address, and an image if you have one on your account. Multiple sign-on will be enabled across many of Google’s products, but the company notes that some of its products are not friendly with the feature yet. If you attempt to access a Google product that does not support Account chooser, then you will be automatically reverted to your default account.
Google does provide a set of suggestions on how to protect your accounts if you’re using Account chooser on a shared computer, but it’s always best not to have a signed-in account on a computer accessed by others.
hat tip The Next Web
Filed under: cloud
Editor’s note: Jay Jamison is a Partner at BlueRun Ventures where he focuses on early stage mobile and consumer opportunities. You can read more of his analysis on startups and Silicon Valley at his blog jayjamison.com and you can follow him on Twitter at @jay_jamison.
The highest flying of internet high-flyers, Facebook and Zynga, were laid low last week in public markets on weaker than expected guidance on their paths forward. What a difference public market scrutiny and forward-looking forecasts can make. Given the size, scope and importance of these two companies to the broader technology ecosystem, it’s worth analyzing what these reports might mean for industry trends.
According to Wall Street analysts, Zynga had a “dreadful” Q2 report. Several negatives converged to deliver an egg, reported the New York Times:
“A critical new game, the Ville, was delayed. Another new game, Mafia Wars II, just was not very good, executives conceded. The heavily hyped Draw Something, acquired in March, proved more fad than enduring classic. Some old standbys also lost some appeal.”
Zynga’s problems, however, could be characterized as broader than just a weak quarter. Financial analyst, Richard Greenfield of BTIG painted Zynga’s issues as more far-reaching, saying, “Right now, everything is going wrong for Zynga. In a rapidly changing Internet landscape that is moving to mobile, it’s very hard to have confidence these issues are temporary.”
Things weren’t much better for Facebook, which was reporting its earnings to the public for the first time. Given the symbiotic partnership between Zynga and Facebook, anyone paying attention knew Zynga’s weak results spelled trouble for Facebook. And as expected, Wall Street found Facebook’s earnings disappointing.
In coverage, three key themes of concern arose out of Facebook’s report. First, user growth is slowing. This is undeniably true: the growth of two key user metrics, Daily Active Users (DAU) and Monthly Active Users (MAU), is slowing. It’s unclear whether this is a useful concern. If the entire Western world is using Facebook, then Facebook probably is not going to showcase much growth in DAU or MAU until it cracks China. The land has been grabbed.
A second growth concern is revenue. Can Facebook convert all its social engagement into monetization? Facebook clearly has more to prove, but it’s a strong start. With a topline of $1.2B for Q2, Facebook beat analyst estimates on revenue. Its 32% Q2 revenue growth was equal to its year-over-year growth in DAUs. This revenue growth map to its DAU growth is where concern centers. On the one hand, having revenue growth equal to DAU growth shows that on a per-user basis, Facebook is monetizing effectively. At the same time, if DAU growth continues to slow, as it inevitably will, the question will be how Facebook can continue to grow it’s topline faster than DAU growth. The answer is not yet clear. Expect much hand-wringing here around the answer to this question.
These concerns around growth and revenue point to the third and most significant concern around Facebook (and Zynga): MOBILE. While we’ve known that mobile is the fastest growing technology wave the world has ever seen, it’s been a challenge to frame truly how important, impactful, and disruptive the mobile wave is. Last week’s reports from Zynga and Facebook make crystal clear the implications of mobile—two leading innovators and upstarts that basically created and drove the social computing wave are facing questions about their future earning streams on the basis of their execution on mobile.
So the broader story of what’s happening in technology is this: Mobile is what’s happening. Here’s one shorthand framework for the technology waves over the last roughly 20 years. Web 1.0 was about web connectivity, the giants of that epoch catalyzed by Netscape were companies like AOL, Yahoo, and Google. Web 2.0 was social, with Facebook, LinkedIn, Zynga, Twitter, and newcomer Quora as the foundational creators of the web’s ‘social layer.’ The power and impact of the social layer is difficult to overstate—existing industries and corporate giants (to say nothing of several repressive governmental regimes) have faced huge disruption on the basis of these companies.
Now we’re entering Web 3.0, which is mobile, and we are in the thick of it. The Mobile Web 3.0 has elements that build upon prior eras, but it also has several distinct and different elements from what’s come before. Some of these distinct elements of the Mobile Web 3.0 era include:
- ubiquitous (always connected, always with you)
- location aware
- tailored, smaller screen
- high quality camera and audio
These elements have two key implications for today’s leaders and tomorrow’s disrupters.
Let’s Get Small: Designing for Mobile First.The tailored, smaller screens of the Mobile Web offer new entrants the opportunity to deliver value and experience that differentiates from the existing leaders. Most leading tech companies today, with the exception of Instagram, were created with a PC web-first approach. Designing and building for the PC-centric web services packed increasing amounts of information onto ever growing screen sizes. Take a look at Facebook on your computer’s browser—it’s like a Bloomberg terminal full of fun—birthdates, events, status updates, advertisements, chatting. It’s a cornucopia of information laid out all around the screen.
For any company whose heritage is designing for the PC web, mobile is a big challenge in getting small. Compress a PC-web experience down onto a smartphone screen doesn’t work all that well. You may get the users—Facebook certainly has—but it is easy to overwhelm a user with an experience that packs in too much information into too small a screen size.
The challenge of mobile offers new entrants focused on a mobile-first strategy an opportunity to craft and tailor a user experience that is easier to use and enjoy on mobile. Instagram is the poster child example with its mobile-only, photo-centric social service. Rather than pack more information onto a mobile screen, for Instagram a picture was worth a thousand words (and a billion dollars). Instagram’s mobile-first, photo-sharing service created an alternative social network, and has since grown to over 80M users and its billion dollar acquisition by Facebook. Other mobile-first social services are following—Foursquare, Path, Foodspotting, Banjo, Pulse, and others—and each has an opportunity, through an approach that focuses on getting small to build a new audience and brand that stand out from the PC-web-based incumbents.
Getting Real: Mobile Will Drive MoreReal-World Commerce
Whether they’re a newer mobile-centric startup like a Path or an existing giant like Facebook, the key will be monetizing n a mobile world. Monetizing in mobile will likely evolve in new directions relative to what we’ve seen in the PC-web. Specifically: monetizing in Mobile is about getting even more real and concrete in the value delivered to customers.
Here’s why. In Web 1.0, Google achieved supernova momentum when it introduced its Cost-Per-Click ad model. With a dominatingly high quality search engine for users, Google gained share on search, and in effect knew what people were interested in. This was a break-through for advertisers in terms of measurability. Advertisers could escape the Mad Men world of spending on TV, print, OOH, and banner ads with their fuzzy efficacy and measurability. With Google, advertisers now could place ads in front of people searching on relevant terms. A huge step in terms of measurability, Google’s model had the added benefit of only charging when a user clicked on a specific ad. All combined to deliver a vastly more measurable and as such valuable approach to spending ad dollars.
Web 2.0 ushered in the social wave. Facebook now is showing ads of stuff we might like based on the interests we’ve indicated or based on referrals from friends. This embraces and extends much of the Google model, but provides potentially even more. Facebook knows what we like day to day (Graf Ice Skates, Breaking Bad, Crossfit for me), and what our friends like. Add to this the tremendously detailed demographic data that its users have willingly provided, and the opportunities for advertisers are pretty profound. While Facebook will continue to optimize its appraoch to ads, there should be little question that its current core business of ads is going to continue to grow.
With Mobile Web 3.0, the user experience opens the door for another level of innovation in advertising and promotion. Now technology services have the ability to leverage not just the social graph data from Facebook, but even more real-time / real-world information. Your current location, weather, traffic, local merchants other friends nearby, how often you’ve been to this specific store or location are available (or will be soon). And this in turn provides a whole new level of commerce opportunities for potential advertisers. Mobile brings advertisers and users closer to being able to close a transaction. It’s real-world commerce. Which leads to the question: Why pay for a click when you can get an actual customer? That’s the promise of mobile for advertisers, brands and merchants. The opportunity is huge: both in pure dollar size opportunity and for disruption. The internet advertising models of selling clicks to advertisers will need to evolve.
A few companies to watch in this new world are Waze, ShopKick and Foodspotting, to name just a few. Waze, the social mapping and GPS service, provides free turn-by-turn directions with real-time traffic information and routing to over 20m users. With users depending on Waze to help them find the fastest and least congested routes, Waze now shows offers for the cheapest gas prices along the way. Real value for users translates to real commerce for merchants.
ShopKick is a mobile app that gamifies retail shopping. Users who open ShopKick gain rewards for different tasks or quests they complete on ShopKick. What ShopKick is starting to show retailers is that ShopKick tend to spend more money when they’re in store, because of the interaction and engagement the ShopKick app can drive while the user is at the point of purchase. Again, real value for users leads to real commerce for merchants.
Open Foodspotting, a visual guide to what’s interesting to eat near you, and the app will locate where you are and show you pictures of the best food at restaurants nearby. Over 2m dishes have been submitted to Foodspotting at over half a million restaurants in the US alone. Users can express that they love certain restaurants and dishes. As it has grown its community, Foodspotting can now approach restaurants with promotional offerings for people who are nearby right now, who are fans of their type of food. Real value for users, real commerce for merchants.
So Mobile Web 3.0 is super exciting. But a word of caution: delivering value and driving monetization in the Mobile Web 3.0 era is hard. The answer will not be for web-first properties to scrunch their ad platforms onto mobile. Monetization via mobile advertising will require offerings that do more to close the loop of commerce. Advertisers increasingly will ask of mobile: why buy a click when what I want is a paying customer or user? The services with the best offers here will be big winners in this Mobile Web 3.0.
Going to the beach for the day is great, but dealing with the inevitable sand collection you bring home can be a pain. DIY crafting weblog Between the Lines offers a design for a mesh beach bag from window screen material that will last nearly forever and also greatly reduces the amount of sand you track home from the beach. More »
A guest post by Trace Anderson.
Many businesses think the route to increased readership is through pop-up ads. Pop-up ads are online ads that “pop up” in front of your website visitors. The pop-up ads actively engage your visitors, which is good, but the ads can also annoy them.
Pop-ups are a distraction that interferes with whatever your users were doing on your site. Many users are ignoring ads found on websites, and an increasing number of users are using pop-up blockers and other ad blockers. An entire industry has been created just to get rid of these things.
Bad in Theory
When a user lands on your site, and you have a timed pop-up, it signals to your user that you may be trying to trick them into doing something that they otherwise wouldn’t do. If information was that important, it would be on the page in front of them instead of requiring a pop-up.
Another reason not to use pop-ups is that over the years, users have built up what is called “ad blindness.” This is a phenomenon in which users don’t even see the ads you are displaying. They are completely ignored. The worst offenders are the flashing banner-type ads that appear at or near the top of the page. However, even text-based ads are being ignored. Pop-ups or pop-unders, whether done upon entrance to or exit from your site, are often viewed in the same way as banner advertisements. And because they are slammed in front of your user, the visitor is forced to look at them. This should increase clickthrough rate, right? Wrong.
Even when many users do click or fill out their name and email, pop-ups are more often closed out before they are ever fully loaded. A visitor then leaves your site thinking that the site is trying to install malicious software on his computer or is trying to sell him something. In a way, the pop-up is like an aggressive used car salesman. It screams “I’m desperate. Please look at me.” It also comes off as being somewhat unprofessional.
According to web-usability consultant Jakob Nielson, users hate pop-ups. In one study done back in 2004, a total of 95% of 605 users reported that they hate pop-ups in front of their browser window. And 79% of respondents hated pop-ups that float across the screen. Another 93% hated when pop-ups covered what they were originally viewing. Across the board, users hated things that tricked them into clicking on something, having things obstruct their view, causing content to move around, or lacking a close button.
What’s surprising is that companies today still violate Nielson’s guidelines about ads and pop-ups. Nielson’s latest research, done in 2011, suggests that websites still employ pop-ups as a marketing tool—and users still hate them.
Nielson suggests that companies simplify the site rather than use pop-ups. In a study of users viewing ABC news’ new website layout for mobile devices, site users thought it was “cool.” However, when given the option to switch to the regular, simplified view with just one story dominating the screen, users chose the simpler view over the “fancy” view. Translation: Simpler is better.
Again and again, users–on desktops and mobile devices—prefer simple layouts with no ads and no pop-ups. Instead of annoying users, place the most relevant content front and center. Don’t allow users to take more than four or five different actions on a page. Remove banner ads and place links to products and services in the navigation bar or showcase them on the homepage like Apple.com does.
If you must use pop-ups, make sure the user understands what will happen. Make it obvious that they are viewing a pop-up, and what will happen when they click links that trigger them. Don’t just randomly or unexpectedly throw a pop-up in your site visitor’s face.
Trace Anderson is a freelance writer working for Aimcrm.com.
(Photo courtesy of Bigstock: Annoyed Boy)
The accelerometer embedded in our smart devices is typically used to align the screen depending on the orientation of the device, i.e. when switching between portrait and landscape modes. This capability provides great opportunities to create better user experiences because it offers an additional layout with a simple turn of a device, and without pressing any buttons.
However, designing for device orientation brings various challenges and requires careful thinking. The experience must be as unobtrusive and transparent as possible, and we must understand the context of use for this functionality.
Nearly all mobile and tablet applications would benefit from being designed for device orientation. This article covers some of the basic concepts that designers and developers can use to add device orientation to their process. We’ll present some of the challenges when designing for device orientation, along with some solutions.
Using Device Orientation For A Secondary Display
YouTube’s mobile application is a great example of device orientation design. Portrait mode offers a feature-rich interface for video discovery and the user’s account. Landscape mode provides an immersive experience with a full-screen video player and playback controls. When the video ends, the display switches back to portrait mode, prompting users to quickly tilt the device back and browse for additional videos.
However, using orientation to display a secondary interface can be confusing for users. For instance, in CardMunch (a business-card reader by LinkedIn), users can convert business-card images into address book contacts using the smartphone’s camera. Rotating CardMunch to landscape mode changes the interface altogether to a carousel overview of all of your saved cards.
This interface lacks any visual clues about its orientation, and it has limited controls. You are unable to edit or add business cards, making the carousel screen somewhat frustrating and confusing, especially if you’ve launched the app in landscape mode. In addition, the lack of visual clues in this landscape mode will deter most users from rotating the device and discovering the app’s other features.
Categories Of Orientation Design
To help UX professionals and developers, I have categorized four main patterns of device orientation design.
This interface simply adjusts to the new orientation’s size.
Pocket’s mobile interface: same layout, different width.
This interface adjusts to the screen’s size, adding or subtracting layout components according to the dimensions of the chosen orientation. For example, IMDb for the iPad uses the wider screen in landscape mode to add a filmography on the left. This list is also accessible in portrait mode by clicking the “All filmography” button in the middle-right of the screen.
Providing visual elements and functionality in any orientation ultimately gives convenience to the user. However, not forcing the user to hold the device a certain way is crucial, especially if the desired functionality does not appear in the default orientation.
With this interface, a changed orientation triggers an auxiliary screen with relevant supplementary information. An example would be a mobile financial application that displays data in the default portrait mode, and then provides a visual graph when the user rotates to landscape mode. The orientations show similar or complementary data and depend on each other.
Like YouTube, a continuous design enables the user to access a secondary interface by a simple rotation of the device. An example would be using a smartphone as a remote control for a smart TV. Rotating the device to landscape mode would reveal a full program guide, while also maintaining functionality for changing channels, browsing programs and recording future episodes.
Considering The Default Orientation
Above & Beyond is an interactive eBook for the iPad about the life and work of the American caricature artist John Kascht. The beautiful art in this book is displayed in both portrait and landscape modes. However, horizontal mode shows important interactive elements that do not appear in portrait mode, such as a way to return to the main menu. Portrait is the iPad’s default orientation, so including this type of added interactivity only in landscape mode might confuse many users.
While portrait mode shows a detailed look at the art, and the interactive eBook provides some instructions at the beginning, a solution might be to allow users to tap the screen to reveal the menu. The default orientation for most smartphones and for the iPad is portrait. However, landscape is the default for Android, Windows 8 tablets and BlackBerry’s Playbook. To avoid confusion, remember that the primary orientation of your app should always serve the device’s default mode and functionality, not the other way around.
Understanding The Context
When designing an application for smart devices, consider the context and circumstances in which that application will be used, particularly when designing for device orientation. Case in point: interactive cookbooks have become very popular. Hardware and accessory manufacturers are creating devices to help us use the iPad in the kitchen, including a washable stylus for use while cooking.
We can use orientation to create a better experience in a cookbook. Using the iPad’s default portrait orientation, users can flip through the book and view the full recipe and ingredients list for a particular dish. Rotating the device to landscape mode will change the interface to a cook-friendly layout, with large buttons and step-by-step instructions. This cook-friendly interface would also prevent the tablet from auto-dimming, and it would allow users to flip pages by waving their hand in front of the built-in camera to avoid touching the screen with messy hands while cooking.
The Betty Crocker Cookbook for iPad is an example of a cook-friendly interface.
Understanding the context of the kitchen and how people cook with the iPad would make the interactive eBook much more functional. With the added consideration of device orientation, the user experience would be better overall.
Visual Clues About Orientation
An auxiliary screen or added functionality that depends on orientation can sometimes be counterintuitive. Without any visual clues in a particular orientation, a user might miss the added functionality altogether. A classic example of this is the iPhone’s built-in calculator, as pointed out in Salon’s post “How to Change the iPhone Calculator Into a Scientific Calculator” — functionality that many users do not know about.
When designing for device orientation, visual clues increase findability and makes the user experience intuitive and transparent. Below are a few examples of visual clues for device orientation.
Affixing the title bar to the top of the default position in either orientation is a subtle clue for the user to tilt their head (or device) to read the text in the bar. This technique is essential when using orientation for a secondary display and serves as a gentle reminder about the added functionality.
Note: This method will not give affordance to the added display in the default (portrait) orientation. In this case, I recommend coach marks, a quick tutorial or a walkthrough video (when appropriate) to illustrate that the application is using orientation for a secondary display.
Much like the universal icon for sharing or Apple’s familiar action button for sharing, I propose a standard icon to represent device orientation. You can download the icon shown below and use it freely.
The icon should appear at all times and be used as a toggle switch between orientation displays. Using the toggle would not require the user to rotate the device for the secondary view, but it would gradually encourage users to rotate the device to view the secondary interface without pressing the icon. Rotating the device back to the default orientation would automatically adjust the display. Ultimately, this icon would serve as a visual reminder for the added functionality; the user would not need to use this control to switch between orientation displays but would simply rotate the device instead.
Below are illustrations of this toggle icon in use:
If standardized, the orientation icon would give affordance and serve as a visual clue. Here is an illustration of this toggle icon in a corner triangle.
Note: The device orientation icon is not a proven idea, and the value of adding this somewhat redundant UI control is debatable. However, in my opinion, the idea is simple and effective and would enable designers to more fully rely on device orientation to enhance and extend their applications. Hopefully, the proposals here will spark a conversation in the design community and lead to a solution whereby, with a simple turn of the device, essential functionality is added to any application.
The idea here is to show a drawer-like control that users can tap or swipe in order to see the secondary view. Rotating the device would automatically open the drawer, much like a curtain opening. By using an animation to open and close the drawer, the designer can create a memorable effect for displaying data based on orientation.
Designing for device orientation is not new. For example, when rotated to landscape mode, smartphones open a larger virtual keyboard, and the email applications in tablets switch to a master–detail interface. However, device orientation design is widely treated as secondary to the main interface because it is often missed by users who stick to the default orientation, mainly because they are not aware of its availability. By adding simple visual clues to the interface, UX professionals can make the case for using device orientation to enhance their products and, ultimately, for providing more engaging and user-friendly experiences.
© Avi Itzkovitch for Smashing Magazine, 2012.
VYou launched a year and a half ago to let users ask each other questions, with answers posted by video. Since then, it’s and rolled out an iPhone app for answering questions on the go and attracted a fair number of celebrities to answer questions through its platform. (Hello, Oprah!) It’s also received more than a million video responses to date.
VYou’s been great at building its community to date and letting users interact with each other. Users could see a feed of videos from the people they were following, ask and answer questions of each other and the like. The thing it’s not been so great at is helping users to search the whole site’s content and find interesting users or groups of users they might not know about. With that in mind, VYou just launched a major site overhaul designed to make it easier for users to find users and answers to interesting questions.
One of the ways that VYou is doing that is by showcasing popular videos on the home screen. So you’ve got the obvious celebrity contributions (Hello Oprah on my home screen!), as well as those that the community found interesting. There’s also a running feed of public questions on the left side of the screen, letting anyone jump in and answer.
VYou has also redefined its search functionality in a big way. For one thing, there’s a big old search function at the top of the screen, letting you search for answers from individual users (or groups!), and refine the search by topic. So if you searched for “Deepak Chopra talking about love” you’re met with a whole wall of videos with him talking about that. It also works for groups, so you can do a search of NYC Ballet Dancers, for instance. Or if you just wanted to know what the whole community thinks about a certain subject, you could just search for it, leaving it open the everyone.
In addition to searching for content by group, users will now be able to ask questions of a group. So rather than asking a ballet-related question to the global community, you can pose the question just to members of that group.
VYou founder Steve Spurgat tells me that the site has pretty high engagement and a good return rate for users, but that most viewers will get stuck on a single user’s page and just watch multiple answers from that one user. The new design, and the groupings of users are meant to help nudge them to check out other users. Speaking of, have we mentioned Oprah? Other celebrities to recently join include TechCrunch nemesis Arianna Huffington, designer Nicole Miller, author Cheryl Strayed, Senator Chuck Grassley, and Congressman Keith Ellison.
VYou has raised $3 million in funding from RRE Ventures, Highland Capital Partners, High Peaks Ventures, Broadway Video Ventures, Kevin Wall, David Tisch, and Rick Webb. The company, which is based in New York City, now has 12 employees.