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Thread: Discussion: Best practices for sustainable UI design

  1. #21
    Mod - iPad Forums RipplingHurst's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by justchat_1 View Post
    I see improved driver safety as a two part process...assuming the idea of a visible screen remains:

    (...)

    Part 2)
    This area is not so clear cut. When rolling out a UI design, we do driver distraction research, which involves everything from button count, to user focus timing to real world testing. Now obviously counting the number of milliseconds a user is distracted and the number, size and position of where he needs to press a touchscreen can give a lot of info into how safe an interface is. Unfortunately, every users usage patterns will vary and while we try to optimize as many as we can, aesthetics can sometimes be tough to balance with "the safest design". Based on our research you can see that new skins:
    • do not use text except where absolutely necessary (universal icons used instead)

    • Sorry, I hate icons. I do agree there's some universal icons, but they're few or useless.

      Did you actually test reaction time from a button with a short word like NAV, compared to an an icon of -- wait a minute, what's the "universal nav icon really?

      When you have a google maps kind of app (locate stuff, send coordinates to navigation software), a traffic app, a navigation app; how do you differentiate icons then?

      I really rather see in big words, 3-5 letter words than icons anyday. I can ask some psychologist friend if he ever saw a reaction time study comparing icon x short text, but I bet the differences are negligible towards icons for some functions, but when it comes to more specific functions, I think the idea of universal icons fall short...

      And it's not only about maps/nav/traffic functions. Sat radio, Internet radio (many kinds, pandora, shoutcast, webradio, lastfm), plain old FM/AM radio...what are the universal icons there? Media library, playlist, video library? Hulu, Playon, Orb, AirVideo, are they that different they couldn't benefit from a little text?


    • the number of clicks to perform an action is significantly reduced (for any common task-no more then two)
    • rarely used functionality is moved away from the users focus
    • screen transition time, effect duration and especially load times have been significantly reduced
  2. Agree with most of that. I'm a bit scared of dumbing down the whole thing though. I do like to drive and do something else, it's not like I'm in a race or something! Driving is easy, specially at the dumb speeds we're forced to drive everywhere. I drove in France once at 100mph speeds in heavy rain - following 4 lane traffic, this sort of thing would get me arrested in CA for a long time...every little drop of rain and everybody slows to a crawl...so yeah, driving is super easy and boring, we're supposed to help make it more interesting with a carputer, RIGHT?

    Sometimes it could be better for the interface to transition slower on purpose to communicate something? I like when drop down menus animate back to where the button is, as if it was contained in it. This tells me where to find that stuff again, etc. I've never seen a front end do that. Most of the times you click on something (what's this icon doing again?) and the function takes over the whole screen unexpectedly, while others open a small centered dialog box unrelated to the button position, etc.


    If anything, a slow interface like that on the Keenwood video will help you get your eyes back on the road and off into the interface again...I don't know.





    Research is ongoing but the best way to improve driver safety is to get as many ideas and as much feedback as possible and try out some new ideas.
    Interesting stuff, keep us posted!
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  • #22
    Constant Bitrate chronoglass's Avatar
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    spare time at work... lol it's friday
    side note: it's been a while since i used gimp.. it's pretty darn functional

    Very rough visualization of a FE concept.. VERY rough.. and yes, i just grabbed the first picture that sort of kinda fit my idea and pasted that bad boy in there in case you couldn't tell
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  • #23
    Maximum Bitrate ws6vert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RipplingHurst View Post
    We should code with that in mind: that people will use voice control, and will have a hardware button for that, don't make a big voice button part of your design. Same thing with volume buttons (up, down, mute). I don't need that, I installed a pre amp with a big smooth round knob because that's the best system for volume control ever invented...and so on. Don't hard code things like that...put the code there and don't make it look like there's a hole in the design if the user have no use for it.
    I disagree with this. You can't design a skin for the masses expecting them to have additional hardware to make things like speech and volume control work with knobs and buttons. Thats a bad idea. On the other hand, it is best practice to design an interface that can be altered to suit these special situations. If you have a button for Speech or a knob for controlling the volume, or if you can tell time by the shadow of the car next to you, then excellent. The user should be able to reconfigure the generic layout to suit these situations. Car manufactures get the luxury of knowing exactly what buttons and knobs and things are going to be in the car that they are designing for. It's impossible for a skinner to know that tho, so they must first design around the majority.

  • #24
    Mod - iPad Forums RipplingHurst's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ws6vert View Post
    On the other hand, it is best practice to design an interface that can be altered to suit these special situations.
    I just said that, I don't know where the disagreement is.

  • #25
    Maximum Bitrate ws6vert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RipplingHurst View Post
    We should code with that in mind: that people will use voice control, and will have a hardware button for that, don't make a big voice button part of your design. Same thing with volume buttons (up, down, mute).
    This part. You cant design an interface to assume a user has a physical button.

  • #26
    Mod - iPad Forums RipplingHurst's Avatar
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    I am coding my first skin, actually, and it all started with this, the bing home page. I like that.



    Of course, this is just an inspiration, like the ones posted above. Of course the text should be bigger and with more contrast, and the search area should be optional and instead of "bing" you could have something like "Play" or "On next", whatever. A voice controlled search button could be displayed later as needed, and it could look like that, only voice input would be used, etc.

    My idea was to code a skin that would display more as the user needed, so if there's no music playing, no song title should be shown.



    What I like about this is the absence of icons, no fake 3D visuals, etc. Very simple and to the point. No frames, square, fake buttons (meaning, "realistic" looking, Photoshop embossed, shaded buttons) etc. Nothing pretends to be from the "real world" here, everything is digital, flat, 2D. That's the look I'm going for, or would, if I can...


    The wallpaper should be the focus, that it is actually (can be made to be) touchscreen friendly is a nice surprise. This is not a wannabe NAV option I didn't get in my car. It's way more than that. It says I got a computer in the car! People will expect, okay, where's the taskbar? That it's touchscreen friendly is a nice bonus.


    My vision required video background playing, like Vista's dream scenes or something like that present on the Android phones (or my iPhone's video wallpaper app). In the example above, the clouds could be moving for instance... Eventually if video is playing you should be able to see that, or album cover info, etc. But only as needed.


    Cf won't allow for most of this, this is the thread where I report my failures...But works is is progress, and I'll post an update soon.

  • #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by ws6vert View Post
    This part. You cant design an interface to assume a user has a physical button.
    You keep quoting out of context and missing the big picture, read my post again. It works both ways. You also can't design an interface assuming he hasn't, and if you remove the code, you have a black hole where those buttons were.

    Or what's your point, I'm a freak of nature that is not happy with a touchscreen only? Check the threads on input devices...people want that, like that and a lot of users do have that.

  • #28
    Maximum Bitrate ws6vert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RipplingHurst View Post
    You keep quoting out of context and missing the big picture, read my post again. It works both ways. You also can't design an interface assuming he hasn't, and if you remove the code, you have a black hole where those buttons were.
    I read it again, and it still sounds like you are saying that skins should be designed under the assumption that the users have physical controls such as knobs and buttons.

    You can design assuming they don't have these options, but should also have the forsight to allow these things to be configured. If you don't need a "speak" button, then you should be able to change it to whatever you want in its place (without needing to edit a text file or .ini file I will add). But designing a skin around an ultimately smaller user-base is not a good idea in my opinion.

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    As for UI, I would like to see more use of the beloved windshield projector screen. My dream would be to have my in-dash screen in the center of dash like normal, and my video card on clone mode with an equivalent or higher resolution projector projecting an image from the dash up to the windshield. It may have a default view of clone (of the main screen), but also have a quick toggle mode for 'dashboard' mode where your car's vitals would be quickly available. I envision a projector setup that can be retrofitted into cars easily, a universal design, in which a hole could be made in the dash and the device installed, focused, and calibrated without hassle.

    More voice recognition would also be implemented (on my dream system) in the OS so that every available function can be easily accessed with either a voice command, or by traditional touch screen input. A simple button on the steering wheel to enable voice command 'listen' mode would allow the driver to simply push the button and then enter in verbal commands. The user could either use a default voice command engine that is pretty good at deciphering his commands (for most any driver who jumps in the seat), or also has a better mode to teach it your exact voice and talking style of the regular driver, so that commands are never misinterpreted.

    And by having the clone mode on the windshield projector, maps and navigation screens will be easily visible without having to turn your head (only moving your eye a small amount). Other passengers will still be able to see the UI too, since the main screen is also an LCD in the dash. And if the sun gets too bright and the glare inhibits the driver from seeing the projector display in the windshield, then the dash LCD serves as a backup.

    Also, the beauty of an Android similar UI, is that it is completely customizable by the user. I do also know that the Launcher Pro home app (launcherpro.com) allows you to change the size of all your home screen widgets, and you can control how many rows and columns of home screen icons there are as well. This is why I always prefer Android based over Apple iOS crud, because iOS gives the user very little customization ability and the Android type system gives the user (and even more so the developer), infinite customization of the UI to be exactly how he wants it.

    I also like the idea of a market-based engine for software deployment since this gives the user a one-stop place to go and get all those apps to customize his system exactly how he wants without having to go on a scavenge hunt to find every cool thing he wants.

    There is a reason why Android became the most popular UI for smartphones in such a short amount of time. And if we absolutely couldn't get the proper licensing to allow us to run Android and Google services on a legal carputer release, then it would still be worth noting all of the many advantages of this OS that Google has optimized for smartphones, and build a system very similar in nature to the their Android system, because it is a very modular design (like Lego bricks), open source, with lots of documentation for developers, etc, and can be made to be any way the developer wants it to be. It is also very flexible based on hardware limitations, like if there is insufficient memory, it handles those issues like memory management with limited hardware resources with absolute grace (I speak mainly of the Froyo 2.2 with it's modified Dalvik JIT engine and ability to put unused apps on the back burner to free up RAM until needed again, to free up resources for other apps, but can be quickly brought back in an instant, by precompiling and caching busy code, reusing code more often, and thus eliminating wasteful use of precious cycles and memory, and apps all run in their own security sandbox for maximum security: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ls0tM-c4Vfo ).

    But the one roadblock that occurs is that this idea clashes with some of the interests whom participate on this forum, so there will be a croud who will want to shut down the idea, or nip it in the bud. Because this system is such a good idea, that for those whom do not choose to embrace the idea, would be left behind in bankruptcy. But for those who chose to embrace it, the possibilities are endless in how far the system will grow and find its way across the world.

    Just my 2 sense.
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  • #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by justchat_1 View Post
    Actually yes! The idea that just because a manufacturer does something means its a good or safe idea is rather flawed. BMW went through multiple redesigns for exactly that reason, customers felt the system to be to difficult to safely use and the number of accidents on iDrive vehicles actually increased. Other very high end vehicles don't produce enough cars to get accurate accident data relative to these more distracting interfaces.

    The Acura system has an advantage that allows for the multitude of buttons, tactile feedback. Not the fancy kind, the plain old you can feel the buttons/knobs without having to look approach. While yes, its tried and tested, this approach doesn't really carry over to carPCs or other far more capable systems.
    I agree very much with all of the above.

    It would be great to have physical buttons to launch each of the CarPC's main functions (nav, music, phone, etc). They would always be present, you could find them without taking your eyes off the road, just by feel, and they wouldn't take up any screen real estate. Same with the volume knob.

    Hardware buttons are rare for hobbyist CarPCs, of course. I think the next best thing would be a 'home screen' that has large buttons for each feature - not more than 6, so the buttons remain large, easy to identify at a glance, easy to poke with minimal time spent with your eyes off the road. One button might go to another screen with more buttons, necessary, but all of the most commonly used stuff should be accessible from the home screen.

    That home screen should be accessible with either a 'home' button that is in the same place on all screens, or by repeatedly pressing a 'back' button that is in the same place on all screens. The back button should be disabled on the home screen so that you can keep your eyes on the road, tap it a few times (doesn't matter how many), and know that you're on the home screen.

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