Software Development is all about coding… NOT!!

Well, at least not the UI part, which I’ll be focusing on in this post. Yeah software development requires a whole bunch of soft skills other than just technicality, especially the design process. I guess that’s also why Microsoft always recruit 3 different types of Software Developers:

  1. Program Manager (PM): this one is in charge of designing, writing requirements, communicating with customers and other departments.
  2. Software Development Engineer (SDE): the main coding team, in charge of actual programming and writing some basic unit tests
  3. Software Development Engineer in Test (SDET): basically QA, writing system tests and providing feedbacks

Each position is equally appreciated. But anyway that’s not the main point. So I’ve been reading this book called Designing the moment (gotta exploit the library before I graduate) and it’s been pretty interesting.

Designing the moment

Designing the moment

It’s not 1 of those “you should do this do that” sorta book since it explains the rationale behind certain design. The scenarios mentioned were pretty good as I haven’t even thought of that.

First of all, remember the tag cloud? Yeah the thing down at the bottom of my blog (Category Cloud) where some texts are bigger than others. Those categories are bigger cause I have more post in those so it’s pretty common that things with more focus demand more attention, right? But that’s not how the idea comes from. It’s actually from Japan. Yeah Tokyo Japan that is.

The idea is that Tokyo trains are always packed and waiting on a long train you’d rather do your stuff than consciously checking the map to see whether you’re there yet. Therefore, they use chime with different melody to notify train riders of the next station. If it’s your usual route to work, you’ll be pretty familiar with the sound and as the train gets closer to the station, the sound does also, which makes it louder. It’s called “ambient signifier”.

I think this is pretty cool. It’s a cool way to provide navigation as well as concentration and sign of age. Multiple birds with 1 stone.

Another thing is, remember I was talking about tradeoffs and everything when it comes to design? Yeah there’re a lot, more than I can think of. Some design choices present certain effects that I didn’t think of.

For example, options! Options are great, you get to choose which one you want. However, options also imply limitations, which mean you can ONLY choose from them since there’re no option called “Make your own option” (well you can, but that defeats the purpose).

Then people start switching to a kinda combobox (if you wanna make 1 in jQuery, see this), which is a hybrid of text input and options, or autocomplete (like Google search). The whole point of of autocomplete is to “guess” what the user wants. However, again the options itself affect the mentality of the user, sometimes not for the better.

My keywords might produce 1M quality search results, but instead I choose Google’s suggested keywords, which yield 10M results. Now I’m thinking since Google presents this, a lot of others have searched for “similar” things so I guess I should choose it. Dang I was wrong! Should have gone w/ my previous query!!

Chinese People... eat babies??

Chinese People... eat babies??

The percentage of people making this sorta mistake is pretty high especially for people who ONLY LOOK AT THEIR KEYBOARD when typing. Yeah my parents do that cause they can’t type very fast. In fact a lot of old people do that (No disrespect oldies, you guys are cool!!) That’s when laziness kicks in and “whatever!! I’ll go with the suggested query” got thrown around the room.

Those scenarios don’t mean whoever thought of that is paranoid (maybe a little bit). It’s 1 of those tradeoffs people make when incorporating new features or new designs. It’s based on human perception expectations, or how people would use the features. Well, just my 2 cents!! Have fun and keep in designing guys!!

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