User experience is driven by content

Do you see the pattern?

  • Apple screws up maps by providing poor quality data
  • Healthcare.gov doesn’t let users have access to the plans they need
  • Blackberry creates a new tablet without building in email

In each case, the users couldn’t get what they wanted or needed: Content

In this always-on, self-service world, everything is about the content. When the user needs it, whether it’s bank balances, boarding passes, and refund instructions… the content on the site or in the app becomes critical. If we want to deliver great experiences for our users, we need to make sure we recognize the correct content to supply and then design for that critical content in a simple and intuitive way.

Content is still king

Content improves the bottom line. Done wrong, content can be frustrating and hurt business.

As a UX professional, you must have a firm understanding of:

  • How an expanded notion of content is critical to understanding the value of user experience
  • Where to tailor your design strategy with the priorities of C-level stakeholders
  • Emerging business model variations for content and how they map to specific businesses

Google Glass the new style of HMD

Google Glass is disrupting the industry by focusing on the user experience combined with social norms to create a mass consumer product that is socially acceptable to wear and incredibly functional.

Google does own a patent on gazed-based advertising and their core business is based around advertising, I can guarantee that there will be advertising opportunities. But, I’d like to clarify the difference between gaze and eye tracking. Google Glass currently does not have an eye facing camera that would allow them to track eye movement. But, Glass does have access to a magnetometer (compass) and your phone’s GPS. Knowing the location and direction a person is facing is very general in comparison to determining the specific item on which your eye is focused.

Keep in mind that Google Glass is an Android device, therefore it has a lot of the same restrictions and capabilities of your typical smartphone. With Glass, much of what you do with a phone is now right there when you want it, and out of the way when you don’t.

The new wearables are simple. Google Glass is simple… with a lot of hidden complexity.

See my full post on the On3 Software Development blog.


Offshore Developers Irony

It’s funny how a once brilliant idea can often turnaround and bite you.

Take off-shoring IT roles. What a brilliant idea! We can cut our costs on junior developers and only hire the senior/architect level guys for planning and oversight.

That is, until your senior guys leave and there are no junior level guys gaining the valuable experience needed to be a senior level architect. Now what are you going to do genius?!

This is exactly what is happening in the UK according to some research written in this article by Nick Heath.

So, if you think its tough to find quality development resources now… brace yourself.


HTML6 is the only way to do things!

This post is an email from a forum with which I subscribe. All I can say is, I could not agree more! Thanks John.

“I’m sorry but HTML5 isn’t actually an official standard yet and therefore it is impossible for any browser (even the most modern ones) to be compliant with it!

HTML5 absolutely does NOT offer all of the features of Flex. Flex (hosted in Flash Player or AIR) was a truly object oriented language that would allow someone to write code once and deploy to many devices and browsers in a pixel perfect way with little or no compatibility issues.

HTML5 + JavaScript has none of the above properties. Yes, people have faked object oriented like features with hundreds of KBs of JavaScript that you have to load on every page but in my opinion that is bending a technology further than it was meant to go. And yes, people have also built hundreds of KBs of “polyfill” JavaScript libraries but they only support certain brands / versions of browsers to a point (plus you have to load so much stuff so performance will be impacted).

HTML5 is landing us right back into the browser hell of the late 90’s / early 00’s where most of your code was concerned with detecting the browser and working around each of their little quirks (or just simply making it clear that certain browsers aren’t supported).

Even taking into account that the HTML version of Workspace is still in pre-release stage, you’d have to admit that you cannot open the application in Chrome, Safari, FireFox and IE9 and get the exact same user experience in all 4 browsers – conversely, you can open the Flex based Workspace in any of those browsers and you are unlikely to notice a difference. Moreover, you can open the Flex based Workspace in IE6 & IE7 with no troubles at all…you cannot even get past the login screen in the HTML version of Workspace using those browsers. As our current client requires us to support IE7, we have had to build our own HTML Workspace application using “traditional” HTML4 technologies.

Eventually HTML5 will become a standard and every browser will implement it in its own way with its own quirks that will – one day – hopefully converge into a manageable set of known issues that can be easily worked around. Then all we need to do is wait for everyone to get rid of their legacy browsers and we’ll be fine…by which point people will start saying that HTML6 is the only way to do things!

Oh well…at least it keeps us all in a job I suppose.”

-John Nesbitt


Thanks again John, I enjoyed your rant. :)


What do you want from Flash Builder 4.7?

As a long-time Flex developer, I’ve used several different IDEs for development. I have to say, I always find myself going back to Flash Builder. Sure, it’s an Eclipse plug-in, but it just does some much… I can resist.

On Tuesday, Adobe announced Flash Player 11.4 and AIR 3.4 along with Flash Builder 4.7. I’m excited to hear about some of the additions (and a subtraction) to the upcoming version of Flash Builder by Adobe.

Here are some of the new features you can expect to see in 4.7:

First, the long awaited 64-Bit Support has finally arrived in Flash Builder 4.7.

It will also integrate the next generation compiler, Falcon, into the IDE.

  • Falcon will greatly improve the build process and is faster

There has always been a multiplicity of shortcuts built into flash Builder, like “fore” ctrl-space to insert a “for each” block or ctrl-o to jump to an object/method definition. Well, Adobe has added more to improve productivity.

  • Improved organize imports (ctrl-shift-o)
  • Assign a parameter to a new or existing field
  • Convert a local var to a parameter
  • Create a new local var with a cast type
  • Shortcut for adding else/else-if/catch/finally blocks
  • Convert an anonymous function to a named function
  • Replace conditional with “if-else”
  • Real-time error highlighting using Falcon compiler

Remember how you used to have to create a Flex Library Project to create an AS library? Not anymore. They’ve added the ability to create an ActionScript Library Project.

Apache Flex SDK integration.

Flash Player 11.4 adds the new ActionScript Concurrency (ActionScript workers) feature which is also integrated into Flash Builder. Each worker is a SWF and handled for you by Flash Builder 4.7. This will be great for mobile games and enterprise apps.

If you’re targeting Apple iOS, you’ll love the new on-device (USB) and simulator testing and debugging support.

They added the ability to configure multiple build targets for multi-screen projects.

There is new support for customizing arguments to the ADT and ADL.

The new version, 4.7, will have one thing missing that you most likely will not miss. Design View.

Looking forward to the release!


Most Enterprise mobile apps suck!

The market, and need, for enterprise mobile applications is skyrocketing. However, most enterprise mobile applications that are available are not meeting the core enterprise needs, according to research2guidance.

“Following the successful adoption of customer-focused mobile applications, companies are increasingly deploying mobile apps to connect to partners and employees. Companies are mainly sourcing these apps through internal or external app development projects. Nonetheless, both established enterprise software vendors and emerging, mobile only vendors have been targeting this market segment by publishing “off the shelf” enterprise mobile apps and making them available on main public app stores. As a consequence, the number of enterprise-relevant apps has doubled from 100.000 to 200.000 over the past 12 months (Q1 2011 to Q1 2012), but as research2guidance has found only 14% of those address core enterprise needs.” Daianna Bassi

Although I don’t dispute Daianna’s research, I would add that many corporations already know this and have been seeking out custom software companies, like On3, to help them build enterprise mobile applications that focus on their business. More importantly, these applications are being build to work across platforms due to the acceptance of the BYOD movement in corporations.

Custom enterprise mobile and desktop applications are the best way to optimize ROI because they focus specifically on the business needs and have optimized usability to better suit those needs.



No one is moving from Flex to HTML5


You can’t make this stuff up. Someone sent me a couple of great graphics supporting my assertion. So please respond with anything that supports the contrary.


After getting a little splashback from some of my friends and colleagues, I thought that I’d add a little supporting evidence to my assertions.

“Moving” to HTML5 at this point is senseless gambling.

I’m not just blowing smoke up your pipe here either. Open your browsers to HTML5test.com and see for yourself. Come on… go ahead and do it!

The HTML5 support score on latest Windows 7 browsers that I have: IE 138; FF 330; Chrome 400. And then on the Mac OSX 10.6 that I have; Safari 319; FF 340; Chrome 400. That makes Chrome our top student with a whopping 80%. And I’m what many would call an “Advanced User.” Expect less from the general public.

Last I checked, 80% was a low “B-”. And with over 50% of the browser usage coming from browsers that have failing scores, you can see why I would not recommend HTML5 except in specific edge cases. And you thought IE6 was bad! (Browser stats from w3schools.com)

As a mobile or web developer, adding HTML5 to your list of skills is imperative. But with the severe lack of consistent support, moving an enterprise development project to HTML5 now is purely experimental or an exercise in ego.

If you think I’m wrong, please provide supporting evidence and I’ll gladly educate myself.


Original Post:

The fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) is being slung around by profiteers like folding chairs at a WWE event. The haters are still being haters. Nothing new there. But now I see JavaScript companies’ desperate pleas for Flex developers to start using their HTML5 software.
The context is all wrong here.  Very, very few Flex developers have shifted, moved, changed over, or whatever you want to call it… to HTML5 (or anything else JS-based.)


There is not a move to HTML5

I will go as far as to say that there is not a move to HTML5. The simple fact is that, developers are being developers. No matter the background, we are always trying to broadening our skill sets. This includes HTML5 since it started showing up a few years ago. For anyone to imply, or state outright, that there is some mass exodus from Flex is completely false!

The reality is still the same, Flash Player is still the most consistent cross-browser, cross-OS, and cross-device platform for software development.

It doesn’t matter if you are building business software or games, with one technology you are able to build for the desktop, Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Android, iPad, iPhone, Blackberry and Internet TVs.

What most haters fail to realize is how nice it is to go through your bug list and not find ANY bugs that are browser/platform specific. The only bugs I have, are actual bugs that I can fix. Not browser support related issues that you have no control over. For the first time in years I had to deal with browser specific issue when our On3 client embedded the application in a JSF, JSTL, ADF container. It reminded me of how good I have it. I don’t have to deal with this headache on a daily basis. In fact, it was one of the complete joys that drove me from building DHMTL development to Flex development.

So, the next time someone says, “Flex is dead” or “Everyone is moving to <insert tech here>,” take it with a grain of salt. In all likely hood, they have a hidden agenda.


Thank you Moai for this great graphic on the HTML5 Hype vs. Reality.


5 Reasons Why My Tweets are Better than Yours

How to Effectively Use Twitter

Writing good tweets is an art form.

Some tweeters use “Shock ‘n Awe” and others use humor (that’s humour for my Canadian friends.)

OT: Should I call them “tweeters” or “twits”?

Never mind, let’s talk about some of the things you can do to make the most of Twitter.
Just like the subject line to an email, each tweet should get to the point very quickly. In fact, many of us read email in the same way we read tweets (only the first 140 characters.)

Lets face it, if you’re not Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber, getting a bunch of people interested in what you have to say doesn’t come easy. But with a little advice on the subtlety of tweeting, you can grow your followers with fellow twits that are actually interested in what you have to say.

Here are 5 things you can do to get more followers that matter:

  • RTability: Limit your characters to 120 to make retweets (RTs) easier
  • Hashtags are themes: Have a theme or three that you tweet about regularly because people follow you based on like interests
  • Relevance is key: Be helpful or controversial or witty
  • Link Interest: Tweets with links should tease or pose a question that promotes the follower to click the link
  • Before you hit send: Review the tweet for better or fewer words

Get more advice on twitter: