Posts Tagged "design"

A much more usable way of visualizing product reviews

Posted by on 1 Jun, 2010 in Articles | 0 comments


I was just using Google Product Search and noticed they have this rather ingenious way of visualizing the totality of all the reviews that have been submitted. Instead of averaging everyone’s scores together, a bar graph shows how many people gave each ranking of 1,2,3,4 or 5, with each person’s vote counting for the same “length” of the overall bar. The ratings are colour-coded so you can see at a glance what the general consensus is.

A simple but highly effective improvement to rating summaries that I’d like to see all review sites (including the likes of IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes) adopt.

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Good advice for writers and software designers alike (from Neil Gaiman)

Posted by on 6 Mar, 2010 in Writers' Corner | 0 comments

Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

Just came across these handy writing tips by Neil Gaiman. The one I’ve quoted above is particularly interesting, I think, because it can apply to both creative writing and software design.

It’s fine and right that readers, or users of software should tell you when there is a problem, and what problem it is that they are experiencing (perhaps how their expectations were not met, or how they felt).

But it’s definitely not alright for them to tell you how to fix it. That is the job of the writer, or the designer. Understand how what you have created is affecting people, and use that knowledge to adapt, tweak and improve so that it affects them in the way you intended, or in a way that doesn’t cause them the same problems.

But never let them tell you exactly how to fix it. Take their input by all means but do not be swayed from doing what you think is right to fix it. You are the creator, you are the designer, and it’s your skills that will make the work a success.


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How to harness user power

Posted by on 24 Feb, 2010 in My Stream | 1 comment


Having discovered that Google Chrome now supports extensions (Hurrah!), I had a go at installing the rather excellent Cool Iris image previewing plugin, and was greeted with this screen, which basically advises anyone wanting to use the plugin on Chrome that they can’t implement it until Google add additional functionality.

What I like about this is that rather than just not listing a Mac OS X version on their website, they’ve gone that extra step to say “We’ve done everything we can possibly do, it’s out of our hands” – thus redirecting any potential user disappointment at the one group who can actually do something about it – the Google Chrome development team. 

There’s definitely a lesson here for anyone designing software. If a third-party dependency is blocking a much requested user feature, harness that user desire and get them to pester the third party for you!

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Thumbthing – A brilliant new invention for reading books

Posted by on 22 Jan, 2010 in My Stream | 0 comments


The most innovative products are often the simplest!

The thumbthing lets you hold a book open with one hand.. perfect for reading while standing and holding the pole with your other hand on a crowded tube/metro for example.

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Awesome new UK plug design

Posted by on 5 Jan, 2010 in My Stream | 2 comments

I really hope somebody picks this up and makes it a reality. It’s sheer genius and solves a lot of space problems with UK plugs. And it allows sockets to be reinvented while remaining fully backwards compatible too. Great innovation!

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