Cross-Post: “Business Chat for iOS is coming: here’s what you need to know”

I enjoyed researching and writing this blog post at The Nerdery on the soon-to-be-released Business Chat for iOS. Really curious to see the reach and impact of this new platform.


Cross-Post: The Growing Importance of UX in Enterprise Software

This tweet from Sarah Doody and this mention in her newsletter reminded me that I never cross-posted my blog post at The Nerdery about UX in enterprise software. Almost a year later, it still feels relevant, though I’d like to think at some point soon UX’s role in enterprise software will be so self-evident that this post could be seen as an artifact of a past time.

And for posterity’s sake, I’m also including a copy of the post here.

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“Radical Candor” Book Notes

I am not a manager, nor do I aspire to be one anytime soon. Radical Candor by Kim Scott was a book that I saw repeatedly being read at The Nerdery and I had heard good things about it. After listening to a podcast interview with the author, I realized that it wasn’t only about management, and that it could apply equally well to general workplace relationships. Here are some notes – abbreviated and not by any measure a thorough representation of the book, but nevertheless potentially helpful to others considering reading the book (and of course to my future self trying to remember what the book was about ?).

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“Floating action buttons” on iOS (yes, they’re here)

The floating action button (FAB) is one of the most distinctive components of Material Design.

Its intention when it first came out was to offer easy access to the primary action on a page, and it was positioned near the bottom of the screen in order to make it easy for smartphone users to utilize. There has been debate about its merits among designers, but it has stuck around and become more prominent, even in apps that aren’t designed by Google or that aren’t based in Material Design.

I’ve been collecting some examples of the FAB and FAB-like buttons on iOS. I find these particularly interesting because iOS does not offer a FAB or anything like a FAB as an out-of-the-box component. But with tall screens becoming more of the norm (first the iPhone Plus and now the iPhone X) I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if iOS 12 or a later version offered something like that for third-party apps. First-party iOS apps have traditionally placed common or primary actions in the navigation bar (see the Calendar app as an example). These aren’t very thumb-friendly.

But iOS and first-party iOS apps have made “thumb-friendly” changes in recent years. “Swipe to go back” is one of them (it debuted in iOS 7). The Maps app in particular was redesigned as of a couple years ago so that most of the UI is within reach of your thumb. And in two apps, Apple seems to be dipping its toes into what looks awfully like a FAB as defined by the Material Design guidelines.

Let’s a take a closer first at some of these first-party iOS apps that have adopted FABs.

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UX and Automation

I have been thinking about the role of user experience design in the ever-increasing automation of everything.

Previously, when I thought about automation, it was in the context of manufacturing, where robotics were and are supplanting human labor. But when you think about it, any technology or tool is really the amplification of human labor: the hole that two people can dig with their bare hands in one hour, could be dug in half that time by 1 person with a shovel. When we talk about designing software that is more user-friendly, more usable, more efficient, we are essentially faced with the same equation.

Two examples. Example 1: an information management system for a national grocery store chain is redesigned to be more user-friendly and lets the data team get work done more quickly. Example 2: A website for a utility company is reorganized so that customers can better find information, resulting in a reduction of calls to the call center.

Faced with such gains in productivity (aka less human labor needed to get the same job done) enabled by better software, where do the gains go? Who benefits and who loses out? Well, there is a number of scenarios that you could imagine.

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