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Re: [agile-usability] Product Metaphor

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  • Joshua Kerievsky
    ... Thanks Jared. (BTW, I loved your keynote speech at Agile2009!) ... Yes. Here s an example: For our eLearning software, we used to have a book metaphor.
    Message 1 of 12 , Jul 25 9:20 AM
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      On Sat, Jul 24, 2010 at 9:14 AM, Jared Spool <jspool@...> wrote:
      Great article. Nicely done.

      Thanks Jared.  (BTW, I loved your keynote speech at Agile2009!) 

      I'm curious, though. Have you thought about what happens when you have functionality, features, or user needs that extend beyond the metaphor?

      Yes.  Here's an example:

      For our eLearning software, we used to have a book metaphor.  We had several "interactive" books and would teach with these "books."    One day one of our instructors said "I want a playlist."  He needed a way to create a pathway through several of our books, for use in classrooms.   Books don't support that idea, so the metaphor didn't fit.  His need prompted us to reflect on our current metaphor and realize that a music metaphor would be a far better fit.

      Now that we have a well-established music metaphor, we've had a few requests for "bookmarks."  :-)  

      ...(to be continued, with responses to the rest of your response -- gotta back and leave for a trip now). 

      --
      best,
      jk

      --
      Joshua Kerievsky
      Founder, CEO
      Industrial Logic, Inc.
      Web: http://industriallogic.com
      Twitter: @JoshuaKerievsky, @IndustrialLogic

      Amplify Your Agility
      Coaching | Training | Assessment | eLearning
    • Joshua Kerievsky
      ... Hi Jared, I m not sure. I think it depends on how dogmatic one is. For example, we re likely going to experiment with a save this (or my) location link
      Message 2 of 12 , Jul 26 10:31 PM
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        On Mon, Jul 26, 2010 at 7:31 AM, Jared Spool <jspool@...> wrote:
        Now that we have a well-established music metaphor, we've had a few requests for "bookmarks."  :-)

        I guess that was my point.

        If you're using the metaphor as a way to brainstorm functionality and features ("if our software was a car, what would it be like?"), that works, because you don't have to be dogmatic by sticking with the metaphor.

        However, if you try to build it out as a UI, you run into issues where the metaphor doesn't support the innovation (because if you did, you wouldn't be replacing it).

        Hi Jared,

        I'm not sure.  I think it depends on how dogmatic one is.  

        For example, we're likely going to experiment with a "save this (or my) location" link on pages in our eLearning.  Will that break our music metaphor?  A bookmark symbol would surely break it, while a simple link may be just fine (though the users will ultimately be the judge).   
         
        This is the current argument many designers have against Apple's iPad & iPhone design, where elements, like the calendar and notebook, have real-world metaphorical references to their traditional form factors (think the spiral "binding" and yellow lines on the notepad). Their argument is that it's holding back on what the design could be.

        Not sure about calendar, but notebook feels refreshingly simple and so easy to use for quickly storing/pasting notes on iPad/iPhone.   I don't see what kind of innovation one would need from it, though I am low on sleep.

        The counter to their argument is that you need to ground the design in something users are familiar with. If it's too novel, then they can't grok it, because none of their previous experience helps them with the new interface.

        I do wonder why we can't "save locations" in music - why is that only limited to books and bookmarks?   Maybe because older music players couldn't support such a feature.  Surely iTunes could easily record a saved location inside a song (or sound file) and store that location for easy retrieval.   Seems to support the idea that the metaphor is holding the designers back, yet it need not be the case, at least in this example. 

        So, it's a hard line to tow: make it like existing real-world elements (the metaphor approach) or innovate?

        Tough choice. Both would be nice! 

        best
        jk

      • William Pietri
        ... iTunes certainly could do that if they wanted, and some other audio players definitely do. Not just modern MP3 players, either; some CD players offered
        Message 3 of 12 , Jul 28 10:36 AM
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          On 07/26/2010 10:31 PM, Joshua Kerievsky wrote:
          > I do wonder why we can't "save locations" in music - why is that only
          > limited to books and bookmarks? Maybe because older music players
          > couldn't support such a feature. Surely iTunes could easily record a
          > saved location inside a song (or sound file) and store that location
          > for easy retrieval. Seems to support the idea that the metaphor is
          > holding the designers back, yet it need not be the case, at least in
          > this example.
          >

          iTunes certainly could do that if they wanted, and some other audio
          players definitely do. Not just modern MP3 players, either; some CD
          players offered bookmarking features. Even the first CD player had A->B
          looping, a primitive bookmarking, and it also had track indexes, a
          system for in-track skip points that has since fallen into disuse. I
          think that suggests why iTunes doesn't have bookmarking: most people
          don't want to do that with music.

          With novels and other linear reads, people will use a placeholder, so
          the iPod does keep track of where you left off in audiobooks and
          podcasts. Serious bookmarking, though, mainly happens with non-linear
          books, like textbooks and references. Those aren't popular as
          audiobooks, presumably because of audio's essential linearity.

          So I don't think it's the metaphor that is holding the designer back in
          this case. It's the medium, and the user's desire.

          William
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