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Software Stories (6)

 

Making a good interface is essential to enhancing the user experience on a website. Many of the technologies we use and choose to implement on our websites we choose because of the effectiveness of the user interface.

 

 


 

 

 

01

Simplicity

The design should always keep in mind the function. The function of the interface, be it a graphical representation of data or to move an input from the user to something actionable like a contact form, has to be top priority. Lately the "flat" style has been the trend.

02

Clarity

The interface should be clear in its intent and in its function. It should inform the user as to "what does this thing do" without getting in the way of the function. So in designing graphic user interfaces (GUIs) the interface itself has to be self-evident.

03

Brevity

Over complicating the design with guides and finely nuanced prompts gets in the way of the overall goal which is the function of the GUI. Development should be brief and great thought should be put into the most concise way of explaining things.

04

Playfulness


Remember, your users are just like you and like to explore and discover. So there has to be an element of fun and play involved. This is what some people describe as "cool" or "neat." Simplifying the experience to those two words is proof that you have a playful design. There should be motion, cause and effect, rewards for actions that are stimulating but subtle.

05

Familiarity

One of the worst things a design can incorporate is being too off the wall or revolutionary. If there is no known analog to "how it works" then the user is likely to become confused and give up interacting with the GUI. There is a reason why we use "sliders" and "buttons" and "pins" (not to mention "desktops, folders and files"): We have a real-life tactile substitute. This makes designing and developing the software for GUIs challenging to say the least. You have to walk a fine line between pushing the envelope and pulling the rest of us along with you.

06

Speed

If you click on something and it doesn't "just happen" then you're sunk. As a GUI designer you have to understand that the way you want things to work is the way people want things to work. In the real world, there are often nearly instantaneous interactions with the environment. Strike the knife against the stalk and it cuts, leaving you with an ear of corn. Cause and effect. Reward for stimulus has to be incorporated into the interface.

  

07

Responsive

Does the interface "talk back"? When a user starts an action, there should be some response by the interface. Haptic controls give you touch, the sound effects give you sound, and of course the eyes see "what happens" when a user (you)  take an action. Responsive also applies to the platform that the interface will be seen on. If you see it on a laptop, that's one thing. (See this article). If you see it on a tablet, that's another. It's not a turn of phrase, the screen size varies and the relationship of the elements of the interface have to be responsive to the platform that the information is seen on. That often times means creating different platform regimes with your style/css and hierarchy of priorities for each expected device resolution.

 

08

Clean

Clean is a cousin of Brevity, but this is a word that is often used but most of the time...misused. It doesn't mean no graphics, in fact that's the quickest way to boring. Studies have shown that people love graphics and artwork, and respond in the same ways that they respond to other media: It elicits emotional responses. Clean means an appropriate balance between visual and coded information (graphics vs. text). We're pattern seekers, and crave balance and so clean means in correct balance.

The problem with Clean is that it is subjective. Everyone's idea of what constitutes this design metric is different. The best way to proceed here is developing the aesthetic that comes from application of the other principles. If it does come together, then it becomes clean to most users.

 

09

The Sizzle-Sexy

The wow factor has to be there. Great interfaces make users happy. If the application of the previous principles are deft then the interface will be hot...

...or not.

It has to at the very least live up to the current expectations for the audience/user. If the interface is going to be blah then at least it has to be modern-blah. "Modern-Blah" is when it meets expectations but doesn't give any additional stimulus or thrill of discovery.  "Modern-Blah" is the status quo right before it becomes passé

 

10

Succinct

Get to the point should be the point of the interface. If it's too cute by half then it's a waste of time to design or to use. There is rarely anything more annoying than unnecessary or superfluous functions or tricks. Page turned corners, aggressive use of sound effects, and self-starting media distracts from the function. Each design should be simple and succinct.

 

11

Comforting

The interface should be comforting enough so that the user doesn't feel that if they DO something that they can't UNDO it. No one wants to make a mistake or do something they didn't want to do. Giving the user the option to correct their mistakes within a certain period of time allows them to change their mind. It's forgiving. Above all, it's there to aid the user.

 

There are designs for interfaces all over the place. Just about anything you use as a tool, in essence, is a user interface. It's important to a designer to keep in mind that it's a tool. A tool has to be functional and work as designed. There are many tools out there, from awesome open source interfaces that are plug-n-play to custom interfaces like the ones we design for clients. We love the availability of tools that are out there, and we use a mix of our own and other's designs. A good tool is a good tool. If it follows the guide above, it will likely be "cool" enough to be used again and again.

And that's what makes a great graphic user interface design.

Ever get angry at a driver for weaving all over the road like a drunk, only to find out that they are just merely trying to text message someone or checking an email? We do too. Every 23 seconds someone dies due to distracted driving, and most of the time that's because of a text message.

 Get the Application HERE

Well we're not going to be giving up our text messaging anytime soon...so what would be a solution?

A few months ago, PNP Technologies (a part of PNP Engineering) came to us with an idea to do something about the problem. Our ideas came together, and we created an application called "Thumb Tied" which inhibits your use of text and email messaging while you drive!

How does it stop texting while driving?

The application "shuts out" your phone to only the most important features--like calling 911 or using the phone hands-free. The screen will darken with a graphic that shows you it is enabled and working. Once you get driving Thumb Tied senses your speed and at a certain MPH it cuts off your access, allowing you to focus on the task at hand: Driving!

anti distracted while driving appstop texting while drivingAnti-Distracted Driving Appdriving distracted no more

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have younger drivers, employees, or people you supervise their is an option for you to pair your phone with other phones, allowing you to set a schedule of when the app is working (like during a school or work day). The app also gives you a report about any violations of the texting policy--say if someone tries to uninstall the app or creates a work-around. 

We're proud to announce that this application is in the Google Play Store and you can follow the link to get it.

 

Tucknologies is very excited and proud to announce our Strategic Partnership with Liquid Web. As part of the IT service's incubator program, Tucknologies has been blessed to work with the Lansing, MI headquarters. Liquid Web has always been a place for entrepreneurs to turn to for their hosting and services since they started in 1997. We have been using Liquid Web servers and hosting for years, and have recommended our clients use their services because of their impeccable customer service and support.

 

Liquid Web’s 24/7/365 Heroic Support® and 24 hour Proactive Sonar Monitoring service have been recognized as the best and most responsive in the industry time and time again, and is the reason we are excited to offer our clients the best hosting experience available.

Lansing is now one of the top connected cities in the country, much of it due to entrepreneurs and companies like Liquid Web and Tucknologies. 

We're very excited about this program, which will allow us to produce better websites, mobile applications and custom software for our clients; with a piece of mind that only comes from a top-level enterprise host.

Contact Tucknologies Today to see how we can leverage these resources to accomplish your goals!

 

UPDATE: Liquid Web has published a blog about our inclusion in the Incubator program. Check it out:

http://www.liquidweb.com/blog/index.php/supporting-innovation-through-incubator-programs/

I am here to talk about the obvious everyone (if not most) has become more dependent on technology over the past six years. We have become used to “tweeting” our feelings, sharing our experiences through countless social media sites, and using nothing but screens to compose everything we want the world to know about us. It only makes sense that technology developers would come up with new concepts on how to make our lives easier via web, and that is exactly what they have done with the idea of “a cloud”.

 

The first thing I asked myself (and admit it, you probably did too) was the simple question of, “How does this work?”  Cloud computing is a concept that developed back in the 1950's, and since the technology boom in the 1990's, companies have been trying to perfect the software.  The way your computer and devices work is that you save content directly to your computer's hard drive.  With a cloud, you directly save your content on a server , where it is stored and directly synced with your other devices.  This is also software that people can use to share easier and a backup in case any files get lost or devices get stolen.  All in all, the software is a helpful device and couldn't have came into our lives at a better time.

About a year ago Apple introduced their version of the cloud called iCloud (how original).  “Your content. On all your devices” is their tagline, and they couldn't have picked a better one to describe what it does.  Essentially, the concept is that you put your content (music, photos, calendars, contacts, documents, etc.) on their server instead of you computer, and it will automatically be on your iPad, iPhone, and iMac.  This was a genius move for Apple, since this software is only compatible with Apple devices.  

Now you may ask, “What did the competitors do in response?” Well, it's called competition for a reason, so of course other companies developed something of their own.  Microsoft SkyDrive is the “PC” of cloud computing, with the tagline “Building from the cloud up”.  Unlike the iCloud, this software allows content sharing with not only Windows 7 and 8, but also Mac OS.  Google created Google Drive, which they have already integrated with their other programs like GoogleDocs.  One feature that is quite impressive is the fact that only non-Google Docs files consume allotted space. Now, you can have as many Google Docs files, or convert and upload your Microsoft Office and iWork files without taking up a single MB.  Fascinating, isn't it?


 

Like everything that has a lot of pros, the cloud does have its cons.  

Since files will be on another companies's server besides their own personal computer, security is one of the main concerns people have when using a cloud.  According to a new study commissioned by PEER 1 Network Enterprises, 23% of people surveyed said they didn't want to use a cloud because of the lack of security perceived by it (not even by trying it, but perceiving it).  This shows that people are skeptical with this technology, and that there are some big issues companies should address with their consumers.  

In our opinion, we believe the cloud brings nothing but positive attributes to companies, people, and the web.  People use some sort of a cloud everyday without even realizing it.  Facebook, Netflix, and Gmail are all examples of clouds, and according to various technology blogs, most agree that this is the future of content sharing.  Pretty soon companies will be able to create their own cloud for their own business, and who knows what else they will be able to do with this concept.  Cloud computing proves that the sky isn't the limit for clouds anymore.

 

Our question to you is: What kind of cloud services are you doing? Are you keeping up with this new concept or do you find this “magic” too much?

 

 

What you should do for designing your website is a very important decision for your organization, or you as an individual. You’ve seen in our previous blog of what not to do, but what should you do? Well you have to begin with the end user in mind. This isn’t what you want, it’s what your customer, or audience wants. They are spending their time on you, which in today’s world time truly is money.

So what is there that makes it worth their time?

International Heat-Seeking Web DesignDo you have anything that you use in talking with potential clients or use in promotions or advertising that work?

Those things are the two first considerations. Because getting someone to your site is like they walked through your door. You have to provide them with a unique value proposition, or simply put “reason for using.”Designing a website should take into consideration what customers and users want from you, and going from there.

Tucknologies LLC is proud to announce a partnership with Mokasoft to produce an iPhone and Android application of Mokasoft's design. Tucknologies will be doing the software development for both the Android and iOS systems, based on Mokasoft's criteria. We are looking at launching right before Christmas 2013, so look for announcements in the coming months!

 

What is it?

Well, we can't really say at this point. It's an application that will very helpful and make work a lot more efficient for someone using the app. We'll be revealing more about the application as we move through the process.

 


 

Have an idea for a mobile application?

Tucknologies is always looking to produce new applications. If you have an idea, and don't know where to go, a good place is starting with a consultation. We have a booking feature on this webpage, simply look for the tab "Contact" on the lower right hand side of your page. Click on it, and enter in your message and schedule a time to talk to us.

Who knows, yours might be the next project we work on!

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