2015 in Review: Top 5 UX Developments

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Here’s my shortlist of improvements in user experience design for 2015.

  1. Micro-interactions (Apple Watch) – There have been enough articles criticizing the Apple Watch, but I think the potential that Apple Watch brings to the table is unmatched. In time, Apple Watch will do for wearable technology what iPhone has done for smartphones, and what iPad has done for tablets. I can remember a lot of criticism of both of these products the year they were first released. But they’ve proven to be revolutionary products. Obviously, Apple has had its share of failed products, but the world (and Apple as a company) is very different now. Micro-interactions allow us to interact with our technology much quicker, and therefore less often. And Apple has brought popularity to this category.
  2. Material Design – I don’t know which is better: how clearly the standards are presented or the design of the operating system itself. No longer will Google be seen as tone deaf when it comes to design; this was the perfect follow up to their logo’s redesign. I’ve always found that it is usually a good idea to build on the existing platform that users are already familiar with than to completely start over from scratch. And that’s exactly what Google has done here.
  3. Adobe Project Comet – Finally, Adobe is releasing a program specifically for user experience design. One where we won’t have to render the assets in Photoshop, mock up the screens in Illustrator and try and create the interactions in InDesign (which seems to be the furthest from interactive design of the trinity, but still has the capabilities). Perhaps this shouldn’t be mentioned in this list because it hasn’t been released yet, but I simply couldn’t resist.
  4. Adobe MyPortfolio – there is a school of thought that believes designers should design their own portfolio website, everything from the front end to the back end. And I understand why. I would be willing to bet that a lot of those who subscribe to this philosophy do so because there are so many bad templates out there, whether they’re free or paid. But Adobe managed to create a portfolio builder that takes the difficulty out of creating a portfolio so that a designer can focus his/her time on other, more important things (like getting a job). If you have a Creative Cloud membership, as most designers these days do, it is included with your membership and integrates with your Behance profile. It is a smarter, responsive update to Behance’s Prosite, which will be discontinued in the Spring of 2016.
  5. Windows 10 – I know what you’re thinking. But hear me out…
    [tweet 557967271784480768]
    Of course, we all know that the benefit of a hardware upgrade means the company gets more money and the consumer gets that warm and fuzzy feeling of having a new device. But what about those who can’t afford a new device (or those who simply don’t want a new device)? Are they now locked out of all of the latest improvements? Doesn’t this sort of defeat the purpose? Even though, everyone has not (and probably will not) upgrade to Windows 10 (and we can’t blame Microsoft for that), they’re still addressing a major issue and attempting to get all its users on the same page (screen?) once and for all.

So that’s that. Enjoy your New Years celebrations but before you go, let me know what developments I may have missed in the comments.

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Terra Wright-Deloatch’s GIS research is gaining ground.

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"Crowd Sourced Analysis and Social Media" by Terra Wright-Deloatch of Fayetteville State University

Recently, I had the pleasure of working with Terra Wright-Deloatch of Fayetteville State University in creating a presentation she gave at the CaGIS/ASPRS Fall Conference in San Antonio on 29 October 2013; her presentation discussed the relevancy of social media to geospatial information. Since then, she’s continued gaining exposure for her research by participating in World Geography Bowl (GeoBowl) in Roanoke where she was selected to represent SEDAAG in the national GeoBowl in Tampa! Great job and keep up the awesome work, Terra!

view the presentation (PDF)

NYC Beacon

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NYC Beacon (Reinvent Payphones) from Frog on Vimeo.

What an interesting look into the future of what might replace payphones. I’m not so sure about the voice recognition feature as there are lots of different accents and dialects in New York but this is a well thought out project with built-in solutions for existing problems (like power outages during storms). I can also see this being coordinated with an app on mobile devices for on-the-go information.

Enjoy!