Monday, March 17, 2008

In "reverse"...

I will openly admit to being fairly new to the blogosphere and it's accompanying tools. I haven't done much other than commenting to various blogs and a savage amount of blog-reading. I use Google Reader as my aggregator for RSS-based content so I can have a consistent user experience whether I'm on my Mac at work or my Windows system at home. Again, being a blog-newb I'm not privy to all the small nuances of the different tools available.

I just happened to stumble across an interesting user experience juggle for lack of a better term, while perusing some feeds. Normally, when a user taps the space bar while viewing a web page, the browser will scroll down a portion of the page, while holding down the shift key along with the space bar will move the page in reverse. Not so in the Google Reader product. When hitting the key combination shift + space bar, the reader hops back up to the top of each blog/news entry in the page. Neat!

This isn't some kind of ground-breaking change and I'd assume that there are plenty of UI experts who would staunchly oppose this change due to breaking user expected patterns of behavior. But I applaud the Google team for their focus on the user experience. It doesn't hurt me at all that I might need to scroll back down to a particular section of a post if I happen to be keyboard navigating the page. How much more valuable is it for me (and perhaps time-saving), for the Google Reader to hop back to the top each entry? I thought this a great example of putting the user, and their current task, first in the experience - kudos to the Google Reader team.

The Palm OS tends to really get this right, at least in my mind. Rather than having to save my progress, a Palm device automatically does so because I'm moving to a new task. Just got me thinking about how we, as developers, could sincerely focus on the user experience and the particular task they might be involved with at different points within an application...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I need to find my digital voice.

So after posting to a solid handful of blogs I've realized I need to make a more significant effort to build my social net. Of course, my life isn't exactly some kind of enormous void - I work in state government and it functions excruciatingly slow for my tastes, but I am gainfully employed, happily married, and I have a career in a field I really enjoy. Everyone should be so lucky. ;)

I've had an awesome time at the South By Southwest festival here in Austin, TX. Even though I wasn't able to find time to meet up with the parental units (Dallas to Austin is still a 3-hour drive - kind of rough for them), was just an awesome freaking time. Met several new people, not only in-person, but had some great discussions with other attendees via the Meebo chat rooms. There's something awe-inspiring about live conversation with others who are sitting in the same room about the presentation - all concurrently. This type of dynamic interaction is great and I really hope that the presenters/panelists are able to plug into that kind of feedback on-demand next year. Hell, sooner than that if possible... We shouldn't have to wait a year - there are some other great conferences coming up!

I also started throwing myself headlong into Twitter and I think it's got phenomenal potential. Messages are short and sweet and it's awesome to be able to follow someone via mobile phone updates. Chris and I had options for nightlife in a town neither of us had been to in years. I'm in love with the ability to seamlessly move from my computer (even though it's wireless), to my mobile phone (which I always have with me). Now I just need to delve a bit deeper and make sure that I'm using it's features and functions.

...and I need to get my ass in gear and re-skin this blog if I'm going to finally break down and use it. :P