Tag Archive for product design

Colorblindness Test on iPhone Google Traffic Map

2013 iPhone Traffic Google Map Colorblind Test

Google Traffic Map on an iPhone (or any other mobile device) is a great product… unless you are colorblind. Then, it’s a nightmare! 5% to 20% of the population has some kind of color processing disorder. Here is a simple test if you are one of those. Which of the following look the same to you? Click on the image above to enlarge. Red/green confusion — Protanopia: red/green color blindness, no red cones; Deutanopia: red/green color blindness, no green cones; Protanomaly: anomalous red cones; Deutanomaly: anomalous green cones — are the most common visual processing problems. But there is also blue blindness — Tritanopia: blue/yellow color blindness, no blue cones; and Tritanomaly: anomalous blue cones. The most rare cases are the monochrome colorblindness, the true loss of color — Achromatopsia: low cone function; and Atypical Achromatopsia: low cone function with some color. As designers, we have to be aware of our audiences’ limitations and strength. And visual processing and comprehension is no exception. In the past, I’ve written about colorblindness: . But unfortunately, the site that helped identify problems with design doesn’t seem to work. Here’s a new sit e for your reference: Colorblind Web Page Filter If you are…

Some Examples of Design Failure in Physical Space

square wheeled bike

Affordance is a feature of an object or an environment that suggests a set of possible actions/interaction that a user of such object/environment can perform with it. For example, if an object has a handle (e.g. tea cup), a user can reasonably expect to pick it up via that handle without spilling the contents of the cup. On the other hand, no one has an expectation of the wheels of the bike below turning… We all recognize the bike above as an art piece. As a connoisseur of design failure, I regularly get emails with collections of failed design objects or situations. When I get enough to share, I usually post them on this blog. Bathrooms design fails seem to be a favorite, but there are others… Enjoy! (or my personal experience in The Hague) Some problems arise when the design specks change over time, like the size of a toilet paper roll versus the toilet paper holder… Some problems arise when the maps are out of date… or Some are due to timing and lack of built-in error handling… But some design solutions are there to fix the problem of cultural differences:

Cultural Differences in Interaction Design, a few observations


A couple of months ago, I went on the business trip to The Hague and Amsterdam. There are always cultural differences, especially when a person visits a previously unfamiliar place. And so it was with me. Here are two quirky examples. The Room with a View I’m not particularly prudish or modest, especially when staying alone in a hotel room. But this feature of my room in The Hague was a bit puzzling. The shower and toilet were connected to the room not only by a door (with lock), but also by a picture window. The window coverings were controlled from the OUTSIDE of the bathroom — so effectively, if you were sharing a room, you were at a whim of your roommate when it came to your toilet privacy. But perhaps that’s how they roll in The Hague… I should also add that directly opposite of the toilet window was the window to the outside — if you haven’t considered what internal lighting does to your visibility to the outside world in time, you are out of luck. The Double Action As a designer, most of my work in web-based. But this doesn’t stop me from being annoyed at…

User Roles and Governance

2013-06-09 Role vs Governance Diagram for NIH Citizen Engagement Think Tank

One of the areas of discussion at the NIH Citizen Science Engagement Think Tank meeting last month was how to categorize the roles (and thus rules of engagement) for citizen scientists. There was a continuous pressure to call individuals who “donate” their medical data to scientific research patients. Let me start by saying that I find that unacceptable — aside from the fact that every human being on Earth has been or will be a patient at some point in their lives; the label patient implies a lower level on the hierarchy than doctor or scientist. The whole point of citizen science initiative is to break down the barriers to entry — we are ALL scientists! Being a scientist is not measured by the number of years in school or diplomas on the wall. It is the willingness to do science that is key. Thus we can all be scientists. With that said, what follows is the discussion on group dynamics — how do people work in groups and how we can support productive scientific endeavors through good design and social engineering. Think Different Collective Groups of people are not made up of homogeneous people — we are all idiosyncratically…

Build It and They Will Come…NOT!

NEXT logo

There’s a common misconception — a folksy wisdom, a p-prim, if you will — that in our many years of product design led many entrepreneurs astray: Build it and they will come! Oh, if only it was so… While this is a wonderfully optimistic world-view, it just doesn’t work out that way in real world. So rather than just say it isn’t so, I will give a few examples where I was personally involved either in the design of the product or the workings of the company. Please keep in mind that all of these examples were EXTREMELY well-funded, had a lot of design resources, and ALL believed that they were changing the world for the better. NEXT We all remember NEXT, right? If not, let me jug your memory… After leaving (or being forced out of Apple), Steve Jobs started NEXT — a computer hardware company to rival Apple. Even with Jobs’ charisma, talent, deep financial resources, access to the best minds in the business… he couldn’t make this work. Some say that NEXT is now part of Mac DNA, but it still stands that as a company is was a failure… Steve built it, and no one ever…

Long-term Strategy versus Fast Success

Divergent Road with low hanging fruit

NIH think tank on the future of citizen participation in biomedical research came to a closure on Friday night, and I had many hours in the airport and plane to think about all that was discussed. In the next few days, rather than writing a longish piece of my impressions of the meeting, I hope to get to each of the items that I feel I didn’t get a chance to fully explore while in Washington D.C. in a series of small posts. Low Hanging Fruit There is a strong temptation in any project to achieve success early (and often). The expression Low Hanging Fruit refers to relatively easy to accomplish tasks. But in the desire to get things done, it is easy to lose track of the overarching strategy — the main purpose of the enterprise. By chasing the Low Hanging Fruit, it is easy to get distracted and end up on the wrong path. Two Different Roads We’ve discussed two visions for the future: more of the same and a radical cultural shift. We visualized the first path as “turning the knob to 11” (aka Spinal Tap). More of the same (but with higher intensity) has many tempting…

2013 Think Tank Presentation on Socio-Technical System Design

I’m about to leave for Washington D.C. for a Think Tank on Citizen Engagement in Biomedical Research. I have only five minutes to talk during the introductory speed geeking event, where all of us get to know about each other and each other’s projects. I’m going there to talk about our lessons learned from designing complex socio-technical systems that required intense participation from their users. I’ve been working on designing such systems for many years now. Some projects were/are very successful, some not so much. I’m not sure I will be able to give a full account of what we’ve learned, so I’m putting up a long(ish) version of my presentation here — if I had 15 minutes, this is what I would say to our very interesting group of participants. I chose these four complex socio-technical systems because all of them were in some measure educational ventures and all required outside users to contribute large amounts of data. I will start with Ushahidi. Ushahidi was born during the 2007 Kenyan election. That election was bloody and the violence, in many cases perpetrated by the government, was not being reported. Ushahidi was a grass-roots effort to tell their countrymen and…