May 31, 2012

Learn something new to find new ideas

One way to find new ideas is to learn something new, so yesterday I decided to learn more about html5 game development. It's often easier to learn something if you make a game of it since it's more fun and easier to experiment. The first thing I did was to try out a remake in html5 of the old game Command and Conquer. The result was that the computer screen broke down while playing the game, and deleted 1 week of work which I had forgotten to make a backup of in Dropbox.
The question is however if it was the game that destroyed the computer, or if it was a random thing. One thing learned from the book "Design of everyday things" was that it is easy to connect events that doesn't have a connection. I'm currently too afraid to try that game again with my new computer...

If you are interested in html5 game development, you might want to watch this tutorial:

May 26, 2012

The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman


I've just finished the book: "The design of everyday things" by Donald A. Norman. The book is considered to be a classic if you are interested in design from a usability perspective - not how to design good-looking products. It was written in 1988, so some parts are quite old from a technological perspective. For example, the author explains the functions of a computer mouse - a then revolutionizing product. However, the largest part of the book is timeless and is still useful in 2012.

Here are some important points from the book:
  • Well-designed objects are easy to interpret and understand. They contain visible clues to their operations.
  • Warning labels and large instruction manuals are signs of failures, attempts to patch up problems that should have been avoided by proper design in the first place.
  • Designers know too much about their product to be objective judges: the features they have come to love and prefer may not be understood or preferred by future customers.
  • Touch a computer terminal just when it fails, and you are apt to believe that you caused the failure, even though the failure and your action were related only by coincidence.
  • New products are almost guaranteed to fail. It usually takes 5-6 attempts to get a product right – but a new product is “dead” if it doesn't catch on in the first 2-3 times the product is launched (everyone believes it to be a failure).
  • The paradox of technology: The same technology that simplifies life by providing more functions in each device also complicates life by making the device harder to learn. But the principles of good design can make minimize complexity and difficulty.
  • If an error is possible, someone will make it. The designer must assume that all possible errors will occur and design so as to minimize the chance of the error in the first place. Errors should be easy to detect, they should have minimal consequences, and, if possible, their effects should be reversible.
  • The reward structure of the design community tends to put aesthetics first – not function
  • The best computer programs are the ones in which the computer itself disappears, in which you work directly on the problem without having to be aware of the computer.
  • One important method of making systems easier to learn and to use is to make them explorable – to encourage users to experiment and learn the possibilities through active exploration.
  • Don't take away control. Automation is dangerous when it takes too much control from the user. It can eliminate a person's ability to function without it – a disaster if the automated mechanisms of an aircraft fails.
  • To make something easy to use, match the number of controls to the number of functions and organize the panels according to function. To make something look like it is easy, minimize the number of controls. Hide the un-relevant controls.

May 14, 2012

Chris Poole speaks about content aggregators

Chris Poole is the founder of the company 4chan where you can upload pictures and discuss them with other users. Please don't visit the site if you have a weak heart since the content could be a little bit on the edge - but that's what many users around the world likes. Anyway, here he is giving a talk about content aggregators on the Internet. The essence of a content aggregator is that the website collects content from around the web and distributes it in some form to the users of the site.

Since Trejdify is a content aggregator, it's interesting to see what we can learn from the talk:
  • "Forums are the dinosaurs of the modern web."
  • "You need to create more value than you capture." Trejdify collects content - and adds value since our users can vote on that content to find the best content. I think this is why Twitter fails as a news aggregator - with Twitter you get this almost endless stream of tweets without any chance knowing which of the tweets are the best. You have to go though them all. Also, older tweets seems to disappear in the twitter-search, so you don't have a chance to revisit old discussions. At Trejdify, it is possible to save the news and watch the old comments. 
  • "We are bombarded with so much information that we need ways to filter the content." 

May 7, 2012

Trejdify at Google+

It's time to test and learn if Google+ can contribute with some value to Trejdify. There's a rumor at Google that a new part of their search-ranking-algorithm is going to give a higher rating to pages people have shared with social buttons such as the +1-button.

The current Google+ page is quite empty, but we will see what we can add to it in the future. Visit it here: Trejdify at Google+

Don't forget to link back to your Google+ profile from your website with this link type with a rel="publisher":
<a href="[id of your g+ page]/" rel="publisher">Write something proper here</a>