Omega Mobile: Mobile Experience Design Blog
We’re Passionate about Mobile User Interfaces, Experiences, Interactivity, and more!

Archive for February, 2010

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Full disclosure: muvee is a client of ours for whom we recently completed an Android mobile design project. muvee makes video creation fun, simple and easy to share with underlying algorithms. The muvee video editor lets you select video and still pictures, add a soundtrack and pick a presentation style. Add graphic elements with templates then push a button. You instantly have a personalized video that you can immediately share with family and friends.

Design For Muvee

I tend to be a fan of anything that enhances creativity and inspires sharing – which was our main goal in designing their mobile user interface. Some very useful features include automatic face and motion detection, different style choices, and syncing photos or videos to the beat of the music the user chooses. For example, you can choose a high-energy theme that would effect the pace, presentation and style of your creation.

The muvee video editor is a pretty compelling case for OEMs as well as carriers. Today’s consumers shoot tons of video but what do they do with them? The underlying algorithms take most of the work and thinking out of the creative process, making this a greatly useful tool for designing a mobile experience. Rather than spending hours attempting to create a professional video, creating and sharing can be accomplished within minutes. In this way, consumers will be more likely to create and share more often, especially on the go. Also, due to their patented algorithms muvee has a natural edge in the industry.

muvee will present this Android project at Barcelona Mobile World Congress the week of February 15th. Visit muvee at Mobile World Congress in Hall #1, Booth 1F06 to check out their cool product and see the Android prototype we designed for them.

Mobile user interface designs need to be user and client friendly. The best way to keep this a top priority is to be able to easily present and adjust the design throughout the creation process. One difficult hurdle is not having access to a devise or designing for hardware that isn’t complete. When we’re working on a new mobile user interface design without access to hardware, there are a few things that make the process run smoothly and ensure our success. One key step is printing variations of what we’re doing on photo paper. 

Design Tip Photo Paper

We print out designs on glossy photo paper to mimic the look of the screen and to see our design with pixel-level detail. Spending time on the details in the beginning of a job is paramount in designing a successful mobile user interface.

Viewing an image of a mobile device on a computer screen doesn’t give an accurate representation of the finished mobile user interface design. The pixel density (pixels per inch) are much higher on a mobile device. When we don’t have access to hardware, our solution is to design the mobile user interface at real size in terms of pixels on a computer and then scale it down and print on photo paper at the real size the screen will be on the hardware. This gives us the real size that an image will be on a mobile device.

Using this method we can see if the layout and fonts work. It’s critical to determine if the user interface will be functional with big enough fonts and clear user interface elements.

This is also very handy when we’re designing for touchscreen mobile user interfaces as spacing is another issue that is distorted on a large computer monitor but solved by printing out. We can test to see if any user interface elements overlap and see if we need to adjust them for the mobile device.

Printing out our design also makes it possible to present our mobile user interface concepts to our client to give them a more accurate feel for the design. It also helps them in their presentations (remember the missing hardware…) We’ve seen our photos used in the past presented on plastic model prototypes. It was cool to see as people would dissect the interface and analyze it as if it was digital.

I’d love to hear any other User Interface Design challenges you face and you solve the problem.

A FastCompany post announced that HarperCollins has launched –an “interactive writing platform for teens.” Inkpop allows members to post books, short stories, essays, and poetry for review and critique by the community.

Interactive Teen Writing

The website copy claims that will connect “rising stars in teen lit with talent-spotting readers and publishing professionals.” And that “members play a critical role in deciding who will land a publishing contract with HarperCollins.”

Pretty brilliant on the part of HarperCollins – they enlist the help of a narrowly targeted community to vet aspiring writers. My guess is that a teen who totally into literature these days might feel slightly isolated. So I’m happy to see a social networking site bringing kids together that promotes reading and writing.

This is perfect for mobile. Teens today can’t imagine a world without their mobile device and if this catches on, mobile apps to enhance the site will probably happen quickly.

HarperCollins is also benefiting from the ability to grab key demographics and has a perfect forum for targetted advertising. If the inkpop model catches on, I image it will move beyond a teen-only site. After all, it’s just teens that are reading a certain off-the-charts popular vampire series, right? And those books weren’t written by a teen but by a stay-at-home mother of three.

It will be interesting to see how other companies create interactive forums and social networks that enable their future suppliers as well as consumers.

Brian Duffy filed a great report for CNN about a bulletproof tailor in Bogotá. The tailor combines high fashion with body armor. Duffy ended up getting shot in the gut while wearing one of the garments – it worked. What does Colombian tailor Miguel Caballero have to do with mobile design and user experiences? Caballero knows his target audience, he knows what works and he delivers a quality product. Here are some quotes from Miguel Caballero and lessons that can inspire mobile user experience design.

Miguel says “We have to study what the aim of the user of this type of clothing to design the better option to these people.” Sometimes stakeholders in projects have difficulty in distinguishing what they want in an app versus what a user wants. A user-centered approach is frequently the key to the success (and profitability) of an application. Do you constantly put the user in the forefront when designing for mobile?

How will your app be used in a variety of situations? Our bulletproof tailor does. Caballero looks at how the garment will be used – internally, externally, in a hot climate and a cold climate. What’s the context of how the user will be using your app. Walking? Driving? In a loud restaurant? In a quiet location. In a bright park? In a dark theater? In emergencies? In the car or at the office? Think about every possible situation and consider every option. Do you think about multiple contexts when designing for mobile?

Miguel involves everyone in his product testing. He requires all employees to wear the clothing and then he shoots them. Are you utilizing feedback from all your stakeholders for mobile design?

Shooting his employees is the way Miguel exercises “quality control”. It’s a great idea to involve everyone in your process. I’m a big fan of kaizen from a design as well as business standpoint. Are you always trying to improve your mobile design projects?

Being on top of social and lifestyle trends is critical when designing mobile user experiences. Miguel has plans to expand and market to the hip-hop community. Are you leveraging social trends when designing your mobile user experiences?

So take a lesson from a Columbian tailor – know your audience, design for them, involve everyone in testing, keep up on trends, and think outside the box.