Steven HooberStrategist, architect, designer for every screen

Steven Hoober wrote the book on mobile design patterns, and is best known for his ongoing research into how people really use touchscreen phones and tablets. He has been doing mobile and multi-channel design since 1999, designing among the earliest mobile app stores and the first Google mobile search.

Recent Answers

Designer. Specifically a UX "designer" as you say, who doesn't just draw screens, and won't draw any for weeks or months. They will not just use their knowledge but will go out and talk to users, observe how they solve the same problem today, and help create the scope of work, and design the basic functionality.

If you hire a developer first, they will build stuff that may or may not be of any value. If the company survives the first few rounds of building the wrong thing, you are still spending a hell of a lot in rebuilding, re-marketing, etc. etc.

I don't think anything much has changed, and the only result is tightening the business rules. Two codifed bits of CASL are similar to guidelines and regs in other countries:
• Responses to a current customer, or someone who has inquired in the last six months.
• Messages that provide information about a purchase, subscription, membership, account, loan, or other ongoing relationship, including delivery of product updates or upgrades.
So, you may already have noticed they bug you a lot every once in a while, to check your account settings, etc. That's to get you to come to the site, manage your account, and they call that an ongoing relationship. Make sure that's at least every 6 months and you are within the letter of the law. Probably.

Charities have a specific exemption. This may not be the exact wording of the law as I am using a general reference. I am not a laywer, so check with yours:
"Messages sent on behalf of a charity or political organization for the purposes of raising funds or soliciting contributions."
There are some others as well that might allow you to say, disclose where you got their name from, etc.

Show them a competitor. Usually, whoever they want to be like has got good branding, and that extends to their blog, their branding, their emails, etc. (ideally, you'd be able to find their business cards as well). Then you point out that it's not just (the website, the video, etc.) that they contracted you for, but everything your clients or customers see about you.

Assuming links work here, a couple good articles:

In short, everyone wants a piece of the ecosystem game. Some is poorly thought out (Leap Motion is doing it badly) but for the core concept I refer you to Motorola's mobile phone business. Several times they have been the absolute dominant force in the industry. But, when you sell consumer hardware only, busts can follow booms. And did for them, many times.

An ecosystem means ongoing revenue, not just periodic hardware sales. It means secondary market sales are the same to you, as the ongoing revenue is what you want, and it means increased stickiness. Apple lives by this, and embraces their customers being stuck on their products.

There is almost no such thing as an apples-to-apples comparison consumers can make when the get used to your ecosystems. Perceived or actual switching costs muddy the waters for them, so you have them longer. Xiaomi is getting this sort of loyalty.

There's other interesting issues having to do with their market. Play store, for example, is not really a thing in China. I can go on and on about this, so ask me if you have additional questions.

Strictly speaking, no. No one customizes anything. They say they want that, but this is a flaw in listening to users. If you watch their behavior, no one (I mean, 1/10th of 1%, at best) customizes.

Now, that isn't to say mapping is good, readable, or often applicable to contexts. Aside from increasing contrast across the board, I can easily imagine contextual changes to maps to make them work better. Let's assume mobile usage now, as that's the key for mapping. When driving, for example (and let's admit people look at their phones to navigate), the map you use sitting at your desk could:
- Get higher contrast
- Get larger labels
- Only label items you need, such as roads you are on, or which intersect the route, not others
- More clearly indicate your position, and the route

It could also do things like automatically turn on traffic status, and turn it off again when sitting and walking around. The user can over-ride these settings, but we know enough about user behaviors in various contexts, and can pretty well sense their context from sensors on the phone that we should give them a better experience, automatically.

I've done a fair number of mapping products, including some user research into this, so would be happy to discuss it further if you have additional questions.

As is my way, I have to answer tangentially: People hate reading documentation. Essentially no one will read the quick start guide, and those who do will have poor retention. This is not just a pithy quote, but driven by years of research into cognitive psychology. You cannot provide training around a complex (or bad) interface, and short training like onboarding guides have essentially no impact.

If your responsibility is only the support systems: Ask the users. Carefully. You can't run polls and focus groups as they are not accurate but you can run (or hire people to run) "card sorting exercises." These are participatory design tasks where representative end users can help you understand how they would organize, group and label the information. That makes it more likely for users to find the information they need.

Ideally, and if you have authority to mess with the design of the whole application, you don't even need help. No, really! I have designed complex applications (used millions of times a day) with NO help system. It can be done. For this domain, I would probably expect a help system, but one based more around digging into details, and presented in that way, instead of as help.

For the interface itself, the application should instead guide the user, and if possible (based on information already entered, what you gather over time if it is something using biometrics or synched to records, etc.) automatically create the needed widgets. Users are very, very poor at customizing, no matter what they say. To remain sticky, make it easy, and personalize for them.

I'd be happy to chat about this more based on your specific needs if you are comfortable sharing them with me.

If you mean the first time you run an app (or enter a website) the whole screen grays out and you get writing and arrows explaining it: don't. Users /hate/ it.

I have a little experience in this, but have talked to others who did a lot of research into it. In this case we're not just talking about reducing satisfaction, but actually increased abandonment. 4-8x more people don't finish the tour, then delete the app (similar issues for websites).

You are better off, always, just making the functionality of the site more apparent off the bat. You CAN demo stuff, but it has to be inline with their actual use. Help can work to allow users who want more info to pull it to them, but is fraught with peril also. Be careful not to imply they need help, because they aren't smart enough, etc.

That said, I have had to make them a couple times, so may be able to point you the right direction at least. Is the question one of design or coding?

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