B. Esin - Designing For Touch


StreetSmart - Final Video

— 1 year ago
#designing for touch 
Final App Reviews

1. Mixology
As a person who doesn’t drink too often, I’m fairly unacquainted with the millions of delicious cocktails and mixed drinks that exist. While I was browsing the app store for an app that would hopefully solve that little problem, I stumbled upon Mixology, and decided to download it, partly because of its icon and partly because of the name. Upon launching it, the animated background is a bit irritating, but also promising in the fact that there might be really nifty little animations here and there throughout the app. It’s not a particularly well designed app, probably because there is a lot of information to cram into a tiny little screen, but the overabundance of icons is overwhelming. They try to offer so much, but end up annoying their audience. The feature that I find most helpful is the first option, “Search All Drinks”. It’s practically a giant library of cocktails I can just scroll through and randomly select the one that sounds best. I also find the bartending option to be very interesting and helpful, and it just shows how much effort the developers / designers put into the research. If it were organized and designed better, I would give it a near perfect score.


2. Fix-it Felix Jr.!
For those of you who have seen the movie “Wreck-it-Ralph”, this app will sound pretty familiar. Yes, this is another app that’s the offspring of a movie, but it’s much, much better. The designers really captured the spirit and style of retro arcade games, and even added little old school controllers for the gamers to tap and swipe away to control Fix-it Felix Jr. The game is pretty much the same as it is in the movie; Ralph comes in and breaks a bunch of windows, and goes up higher and higher as Felix comes to the rescue and starts to repair the broken windows. The difficulty increases as the game progresses; Ralph starts beating down more bricks to injure FIFJ, certain windows can only be accessed in certain ways, birds start appearing as the gamer climbs higher and higher. Overall it’s a joy to play, especially for people who grew up with arcade games.


3.Foodspotting 
This app is a bit of a cross between Instagram and Yelp. I have to say right from the start the graphics are beautiful and simple, they’re very light hearted and appealing. What the app does is ask its users to take photographs of the foods they eat, tag them with the restaurant / cafe / place they got them from, give it a rating…etc. For some places, it even let’s the user choose which item it was by providing the menu. The user can also read other reviews from restaurants, browse photographs by other users, or select food guides if they’re unsure of what to eat or where to eat. it also encourages users to add each other as friends on the app so they can share and browse faster. The only thing keeping it from becoming the new hipster accessory is probably its lack of vintage filters for the photographs.  
 

— 1 year ago
#designing for touch  #App review 

Script Draft (click for full images, the previews are being weird for some reason!?)

— 1 year ago
#designing for touch 
Weekly Quote

"The sliding panel opening animation in WeightBot, the humorous copy in Everyday, the satisfying ascending charms when you check off items in Clear; though offering little utility, these tiny details elicit a powerful emotional response. These apps exhibit a personality. You either love them or hate them, but you definitely don’t forget them and you are much more likely to share them. Usability isn’t good enough anymore. The best apps go the extra thousand miles to pay attention to the details that make the app enjoyable."

-How to Succeed with Your Mobile App, Jeremy Olson (http://mobile.smashingmagazine.com/2012/11/07/succeed-with-your-app/)

Olson makes a good point in highlighting the different ways designers can experiment and enhance their mobile apps to make them more appealing visually. Usability will always be #1 priority in creating a successful app, however, the visual representation is just as important, because it helps market the app better. Some visuals details are annoying, and not every part of an app should be moving/wiggling/making sound. However when functions like touch, sound and animation are used in moderation, they can take a plain app with great usability to the next level.

— 1 year ago
#designing for touch 
App Reviews

1. Songza
The market is chock full of fresh new music apps, Pandora being one of the royals (at least, in my opinion). While Pandora’s wide selection is appealing, its ads are annoying and sometimes the repetition of the same songs over and over gets a bit redundant. This is where Songza comes in; an app that caters more to mood/ day / time of day, let’s you choose from 3 different playlists AND has no annoying ads right after your favorite song, Plus, it has a mascot with crazy eyes. When the app is first launched, the screen that comes up let’s the user narrow by day & time of day, and then choose a mood such as Studying, Relaxing, Cooking…etc., and then offers 3 playlists. If the user isn’t very happy with the playlist choices, s/he can select a different genre. The app is very user friendly, it has a list of popular hits, and let’s the user save their favorite playlists. While I slightly disapprove of their font choice, I think the design of the app is compact and easy to use.
 

2. Thunder LITE
I’ve never been much of a gamer. In fact, I played more video games when I was a kid than I do today. And one of my favorite games was Pajama Sam, the blue little dude who went around fantastical quests in his footie PJs and red cape, which you had to find in order to start the game. I recently discovered that there was an iPhone version of this old favorite of mine, and as reluctant as I was, I decided to try it out. I was sure that the animations and whole atmosphere of the desktop version wouldn’t translate well into mobile. I could not be more wrong. It’s exactly like I remember it; from the animation of every single object to the commands. When you tap something, a cursor actually appears on screen and clicks whatever was just tapped. It’s a delightful, nostalgic trip with great controls.
 

3. Tap Atom
This simple game of tap & destroy consumed a few hours that could’ve been spent in a more productive way. There really isn’t a whole lot to say about it; the interface is pretty standart, nothing too exciting. It’s actually very similar to Candy Ninja’s interface except with more floating panels and transparencies. There’s nothing wrong with sticking to a standart. The game itself is at points a little frustrating, because it demands the user to destroy atoms with a limited amount of swipes. Different atoms have different ways of dying; some explode and send out itty bitty atom shrapnels, others just have a megaboom…etc. But it’s very tough to destroy a screen full of atoms with a single swipe. It has its easy moments, it has its hard moments, overall it’s an average game with very cute graphics that make it worth playing.
 

— 1 year ago
#App review  #designing for touch 
Weekly Quote

"The best apps give users elegant solutions to precise needs - the more focused, the better. As you plan your app, think in terms of actual use cases and scenarios - brief story-lines that cast the user as hero completing specific tasks in specific contexts."

It’s good to read things we’ve learned over and over again - it really drills the essentials in a person’s brain. The author manages to flip through the main points of application design in a quick and efficient manner, and render them memorable, mostly by making them sound like taglines from an ad campaign. In only two sentences, he summarizes what an app should be, and the buzz words/phrases he uses(“elegant”, “precise”, “user as hero”) that stick with the reader. The idea of turning the user into a sort of superhero, giving them a sort of “power” they didn’t have before, is a brilliant idea, especially when it comes to pitching the idea. Who doesn’t love superheroes, superpowers, or designers who claim that they have the power to distribute such titles? Of course, with great power comes great responsibility, and the designer’s responsibility is to clearly assess the situation at hand and cater to a very specific niche in a very specific way, all through research and development. 

— 1 year ago
#designing for touch 
Improved app architecture based on the feedback of last class.

Improved app architecture based on the feedback of last class.

— 1 year ago
#designing for touch 
Weekly Quote

"Low-fidelity methods have received a great deal of recognition in the field for their ability to validate designs and predict large problems at an extremely low cost [2,13,16,18,19]. Indeed it may seem counterintuitive, especially to software engineers and developers, that a paper sketch could provide such valuable insight, but several years of experience and sound methodology has validated the approach."

This reading was very enlightening in the fact that it highlighted the key points and the necessities of high and low fidelity wireframes. Before reading this, I had a vague idea of what the two concepts were, and didn’t give much credit or thought to low-fidelity methods because of several reasons. One was because low-fidelity meant less accuracy and more vagueness. Another was because I prefer pixel-perfection to sloppy sketches on paper. However, after reading this, I noticed the hidden value in low-fidelity methods. They really allow for the developers to expand their ideas, stretch the possibilities to their maximum capacity and change components quickly without wasting hours and hours of work. 

— 1 year ago
#designing for touch 
App Reviews

1. VectorRunner
This game is pretty simple, and in no way a brand-new concept, but it’s very well-designed and fun to play, especially while sitting in the passenger seat in a car speeding down a highway. The entire game constitues of a faux-3D rectangle that the player controls while speeding down a straight road and avoiding big and small triangular structures as well as land mines that make the entire screen go white for a few seconds and then fade away very slowly, leaving the player panicked and blind. The goal is to rack up as many points as possible; there are certain bonuses along the way of course. The green dots are worth 500 points, the purple dots 1000, the blue dots increase shield strength, and the white dots grant the power of phasing through the triangular structures for a limited amount of time. The soundtrack is pretty repetitive, but it is very energetic and keeps the player excited.


2.Grimm
This is another game app; the goal is to get the baby in the stroller safely across the various gothic-Victorian inspired levels. The illustration style is very gorgeous, almost a more detailed version of Katy Towell’s style. There is a story to the lost baby at the very beginning, but the levels take so long that by the time the player makes it to the end, the story is forgotten. The objective of the game is to keep the stroller out of harm’s way while weaving through landscapes filled with angry people chucking objects, drunkards, baby-eating crows and many more dangers. The controls are very iffy; the player has to tilt their iphone in order to make the stroller move, and tap to make it jump, or hold for a few seconds to aim and launch the baby in order to push levers and whatnot. This game gets an A++ for style and soundtrack, but a C for gameplay. The levels take too long, and the whole thing gets tedious after a while.


3.Pandora
There really isn’t much to say about this app. It’s the same exact Pandora that’s on the web, except on a smaller scale. The designers most likely optimized it for mobile devices, which was a good call because the scales of the buttons and the whole layout is actually quite user-friendly and easy to navigate. And it gets brownie points because it doesn’t stop playing music and asks “Are you still listening? We don’t want to broadcast to an empty room!” if the user doesn’t pay attention to it for a while.
 

— 1 year ago
#designing for touch  #App review