Category Archives: Reviews & Promotions

Review: UX Recorder for iOS

Full disclosure: Foraker Labs, the creators of UX Recorder, contacted me requesting a review of UX Recorder in return for a promo code to test the application. This has not influenced my overall positive or negative impressions of the application.

What is UX Recorder?

UX RecorderUX Recorder, created by Foraker Labs, is a screen recording iOS application that records user activity on mobile websites in addition to audio and video of the user’s face via the device’s camera. The application can only be used to conduct usability tests of websites, not other iOS applications. UX recorder is a universal application for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad devices running iOS 5.0 and above that have a front facing camera (given heavy CPU usage, an iPhone 4 or 4s, iPad 2 or 3, or iPod Touch 4 is recommended).

UX Recorder currently costs $59.99.

This review will focus on the iPhone version of the application, tested with an iPhone 4S running iOS 5.1.1.

For more information about the application, visit www.uxrecorder.com.

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World Usability Day: 74% discount on UX tools

As a follow-up to the last UX tools bundle offered through UX Heroes, the third annual Optimal Workshop World Usability Day bundle is now available consisting of 8 great tools and subscriptions worth $5,000 for $1,370.  However, if you use the link in this post, you can get an additional $150 discount and get the bundle for $1,220.

View the bundle here.

  • Usability Professionals’ Association: 4 video seminars and a live webinar
  • OptimalSort: 12 month subscription of this remote card sorting
  • Treejack: 12 month subscription to test and validate your IA
  • Loop11: 2 projects to conduct remote usability tests of any website
  • OpenHallway: A 12 month subscription and 3 TryMyUI credits will help you record a/v screencasts of user testing sessions
  • SnapEngage: 12 month subscription of this service that lets you live chat with your site visitors and customers
  • ConceptShare: 12 month subscription to markup visual designs collaboratively
  • HotGloo: 12 month suscription to do rapid collaborative wireframing

Since this year’s World Usability Day theme is “Designing for Social Change”, $100 from each bundle sold goes to support the work of The Mekong Club, a business-led initiative to fight modern day slavery.

This is only available until the end of World Usability Day (Thursday, November 10), so check it out quickly if you’re interested!

UX Heroes Visual Prototyping Bundle – Name your price on 3 great prototyping tools

UX Heroes has a great offer available on several tools for UX Designers.  The UX Heroes Visual Prototyping Bundle offers a deep discount on three visual prototyping tools to help you diagram, wireframe and prototype. You can choose your own price using the slide control at the bottom of the page. This bundle only runs until September 27th, so act quickly if you’re interested in it!  You can get the following tools worth almost $200 for any price you choose:

  • Gliffy Online: Create diagrams such as flowcharts, UI wireframes, floor plans, network diagrams, UML diagrams, web site maps, or any other simple drawing or diagram.
  • HotGloo: Collaboratively create low and high fidelity wireframes or prototypes.
  • Mocksup: Share your mockups on any desktop, tablet or smartphone, collect feedback via comments and sticky notes, and create quick UX prototypes by linking mockups together.

Plus, you can get Chalkmark (worth $109) if you spend $40.

Get the bundle now!

If you use the link in this blog post for the offer, you will be able to get a discount if you go on to buy the main bundle when it is launched in a couple of weeks. That bundle will offer even more UX tools for a fraction of their retail cost.

Tapworthy: The best book you can buy for iPhone design

I was recently tasked with planning the user experience of a rather complex iPhone application.  While I’ve been involved in iPhone projects in the past and use the device (well, an iPod Touch 4g) regularly, I knew I needed a little help in the nuances of iPhone design in order to design for an optimal experience.  For that I turned to Josh Clark’s Tapworthy: Designing Great iPhone Apps. It has been incredibly helpful.

Full disclosure: I haven’t read any other iPhone design books, so perhaps I’m not entirely qualified to make the statement in the title of this post. I came across Tapworthy when the book’s author sent me a copy.  Regardless, I maintain it’s a fabulous resource and should be a must-read for anyone who is working on designing iPhone applications.

Tapworthy is one of the most useful and practical User Experience books I have ever read.  The book begins by explaining when and how iPhone apps are used as well as the characteristics of the majority of iPhone users.  Josh explains how to focus your apps on helping users accomplish a primary task, and to encourage long-term use of your application.

The detailed interface advice outlined in Tapworthy is what makes it truly special.  Josh covers every possible consideration when it comes to iPhone application design, ranging from where to best position screen elements to make for the most comfortable ergonomic experience, to the detailed nuances of application navigation design, to when to use standard vs. custom icons within the application.  He even covers how to best name your application and make it stand out in the App Store.

Some of the tips and tricks that particularly stood out to me included:

  • When to use flat pages vs. tab bars vs. tree navigation
  • “Don’t be different just to be different; be different when you believe you can be better.”
  • Icons should emphasize clarity over personality, and make sure metaphors are appropriate to the device.

Many of Josh’s tips are supported by numerous case studies throughout the book.  Interviews with designers from Facebook, USA Today, Gowalla, Twitterrific, among many others, help to support the book’s techniques as well as give insight into the detailed decisions that designers had to make in order to create exceptional experiences.

If I were to offer some critical feedback of the book, I’d point out that the book primarily focuses on productivity and utilitarian applications, and not as much on unique applications or on game design, which is one of the most popular uses of the device.  While there is a chapter on how to create a unique visual identity for apps whose purpose is best suited for a non traditional design, the chapter is relatively light on specific techniques for how to best branch outside of the standard design elements.  If you’re looking for tips on how to best design games for the iPhone platform, you probably want to turn to other books or resources for guidance.  But if you’re looking for how to build a great mobile tool that extends your brand, Tapworthy is as good as it gets.

Be sure to pick up a copy of Tapworthy. Also consider following Josh Clark on Twitter.

Tapworthy apps draw people in with both efficiency and charm. – Josh Clark

SXSW Voting Request (Shameless Plug)

It’s that time of year again, SXSW PanelPicker voting time! I know how annoying it can be to receive endless requests for votes, so I apologize in advance for contributing to the bombardment.  The fact is, though, that with the public’s vote contributing 30% to the final speaker decision, and with 2,347 panels to choose from in the voting, posts like these help draw your attention to proposals that may get lost in the crowd.

Note that in order to vote, you will need to create an account. It only takes a few minutes.

My SXSW Presentation Proposal

This is my first time submitting a proposal to SXSW.  I decided to submit a proposal based on a recent blog post (“Challenging Conventional Assumptions about User Experience Design“). Below is a short description of the presentation. If the topic intrigues you, click on the thumb to vote, or the title to view more details.

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Mental Notes: A Must-Have Addition to Your UX Toolkit

Psychology and User Experience Design are by nature highly intertwined fields.  In order to effectively design for our users we must understand their behaviors and motivations, which is something Psychologists have been studying for far longer than User Experience professionals.  However, how often when we design for certain user experiences do we mindfully consider psychological factors that may contribute to how users interact with our designs? We may think in terms of tasks, or the best way of communicating a message in an easily understandable manner.  We may consider high level motivations for using a product, but not necessarily what motivates people at a more micro level.  Since Psychology focuses on the study of behavior, and UX focuses on changing/influencing behavior, we would benefit from developing a closer connection between the two fields and incorporating psychological concepts into our design thinking.

A new product has been launched that helps us do just that – think about how to merge psychology and design.

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