October 17, 2014
A UI Treat from Yosemite
This may sound silly. In fact you may laugh at this but I have to share it anyways. Recently as some of you know I had to send my laptop back to Apple because the video card in it went kaput. It just quit working and was making the computer constantly shutdown. When I got it back I found out they had completely wiped the hard drive. I was going to have to start completely over setting up my environment. Oh the pain. All the work I’d done configuring multiple versions of PHP and my local development tools. Oh well, the screen looked amazing and the video card was working.
I decided as long as I was having to start fresh I might as well download the latest release of OS X and play around with Yosemite. I had previously watched the keynote when Yosemite was announced and I must admit I wasn’t taken by anything spectacular. Nothing made me catch my breath or decide I had to have it (obviously as I hadn’t downloaded it before). But now that I was starting fresh I had nothing to lose. So off I went to download the beta.
The Search Command
While I still don’t see huge change or differences which make me really amazed there are a few things which I have found I absolutely love. I’ll share two very quickly. First for those that know how I work I am always on the keyboard. I rarely use the mouse and try to do as much as I can without moving my hands from my keyboard. As a result the CMD+Space shortcut to launch search and then type the program I want to use is a huge favorite of mine. It’s almost second nature to hit the key combo and look to the top right to begin typing the app name. Well, with Yosemite they’ve brought this feature front and center – literally. Now I can look in much larger font and much more detail as I enter the program name. It’s pretty cool.
The Context Menu
The second feature is much more subtle. It’s incorporated in several different layouts but I notice it most when using the right click. I think they’ve called it the frosted glass look. It’s subtle, but I love it. Something about the semi-transparent nature of the context menu just feels right. I don’t know quite how to describe it or quite what I would say is the reason for my love. But I enjoy it. Now I admit I don’t see it much because I use the keyboard mostly (refer to the point above), but when I do find myself using it I like it.
Yosemite and You
If you have the opportunity to try Yosemite take a look at these features and see for yourself. Sometimes the little UI treats are the most important. I think that’s a great lesson to take away. It’s not the next game changing operating system and it doesn’t do something completely revolutionary, but the little things matter. The little touches which make something stand apart are critically important. Remember this as you’re working on your next project. What is your frosted glass moment? What can you add to make your users’ experience unlike anything else?
September 9, 2014
Should Apple Change Their Presentation Style
The date is the 9th of September 2014. It’s a Tuesday. We’re about to experience in a few short hours the annual Apple event. As we get ready to once again revel in the anticipation, the excitement, and the thrill which has accompanied each of these occasions I think it’s a good time to discuss why or when you might change a good thing. When should you change a good thing?
Apple’s Presentation: A Good Thing?
The good thing I refer to of course is the standard presentation style that Apple uses to deliver its product announcements. I assume most of you (if not all) have seen an Apple product announcement at one time or another. In case you haven’t here’s a few samples.
Yep, there’s some definite similarities. In fact you might see a very distinct pattern and wonder if that level of repetition is a good thing or if it’s time for a change. Regardless of your belief of Apple’s particular product announcements, here are 4 quick tips to consider when thinking of change.
1. Repetition can be overdone
As you can see from the above videos there is an opportunity for competitors and other market leaders to capitalize on the repetition by mocking the similarities between videos. Here are a couple of the most humorous.
Yes, repetition can be overdone and can be dangerous (if you’re not the size of Apple) and even when you are the world’s most valuable business. Be careful that your repetition doesn’t leave you vulnerable to your competition.
2. Innovation requires change
Innovation usually takes the form of new products, new ideas, or something revolutionary to an existing market. These innovations come in the form of a change to an existing status quo. The best way to help innovation is to encourage change. When you don’t encourage change you stifle the possibilities for innovation.
Yes, I realize we watch those Apple videos and each is announcing an “innovative” and “revolutionary” product. But innovation covers more than just the product. Innovation must also occur in the marketing message and in the sales strategies. When you innovate be sure you innovate everywhere.
3. Stagnation means death
Stagnation is the third thing to consider when trying to determine if change is necessary or need. If you’re not moving, you’re drowning. It’s a popular expression and one which frequently means if you’re not changing and improving then you’re business is destined to fail. While there is absolutely something to be said for consistency and for remaining stable this does not mean you cannot continue to improve your product. You should always be looking for ways to improve and grow because as my last point suggests…
4. Nothing is perfect
That’s right. Nothing is perfect. There is always room for improvement and change. Everything created, no matter how wonderful, how innovative, or how revolutionary the product might be. You must always be looking for what will make your product, your idea, or your business better. Don’t lose sight of your vision or the reasons you are in business. If you have not achieved those goals then your vision compels you to continue improving your product. This improvement requires changes. Don’t become lazy or accept mediocrity in your business.
Change can be difficult, there’s on doubt about that fact. There is an element of fear involved in change. Don’t be afraid of change. Also equally important is be sure you know when and why to change. Consider that repetition can be overdone, innovation requires change, stagnation means death, and nothing is perfect. I hope those 4 quick points are helpful as you consider Apple’s grand announcements today. Enjoy the presentation, appreciate the experience, and learn from the best (whether it be a good or a bad example).