Look beyond Flat and Skeuomorphism

A lot has been debated, said and again repeated about Skeuomorphism vs Flat design grammar. Designers at Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have embraced the more flat look and Apple is now (trying) joining in.

I look at it from 2 aspects.

The real definition of Skeuomorphism

For me skeuomorphism was not limited to Apple’s iOS. Think about it. Real meaning of skeuomorphism is to borrow or replicate the real world reference in to the interface even when the functional need for it doesn’t exist. This isn’t limited to visual design only. It also applies to sound and touch. So now think about it. Do we really need to hear the shutter sound while we click photos using our smartphones? or even the page flipping while reading e-books. Let’s accept it skeuomorphism is all around us in different forms and its difficult to even identify it most of the times because it has gone too deep in our habits.

We just need to look through it to see it. For me both the calculators, whether the Apple version or an Android version are skeuomorphed in some way or the other.  Because both are still borrowing the real world calculator design form.

What they do to differentiate themselves is to add a layer of aesthetic that we perceive as Design. No, aesthetic (how something looks) aspect of the interface do not wholly describe the overall design of it. “Design” in its real sense is a descriptor that represents the process, intentions, engagement and execution of an idea. Aesthetics makes up a very small part of that. This thinking discredits the most important considerations we as interaction designers must make in order to create good design.

Aesthetic is also subjective and you will find that everyone has a view about it. Well see it for yourself. You will find at least 5000 blogs talking about this (You can include this one, too).

I am just trying to find an answer for myself and validate my view, which goes beyond this debate.

Design should be about ‘How it works’

Unlike self-expressing fine art, design is meant for a particular task. Design is an answer to a problem. So it’s only objective should be to do so. The interface and the design should facilitate interaction and should not become a part of it.

There are many usability related articles on this topic, discussing both design grammars. Most are in favor of ‘flat’ style. Although, there might be some merit in it, it doesn’t prove that the skeuomorphed designs fail miserably.

My view is simple.

The designer should look beyond these style / grammars and think about the final objective of the design.

While he’s doing that ‘skeuomorphism’, ‘flat’ or for that matter ‘almost flat’ any grammar or a mix of more than one grammar should be looked at as mere tools and not as a trend which needs to be followed. Designing is more than following a trend. It’s about enabling the user to perform the desired task efficiently and effectively, again and again.

The goal of visual design should always be to facilitate usability. Beyond mere functionality though, the presentation layer serves intangible, instinctual, and emotional functions as well. The chosen design style is an aesthetic choice, not a functional choice. It is meant to communicate something deeper about the character of the product.

Consider two houses. One a royal retro looking and the other one, contemporary. They each perform the same function equally well. They both keep us dry, have a place to watch TV with our loved ones, and let us sleep well at night. I prefer the modern one, while others would be more comfortable in the retro one. Both are acceptable solutions, but they are undeniably different in their visual grammar.

Don’t get me wrong: I am not advocating or defending or even damning the ‘skeuomorphism’. My point — is something most debates miss — is that Flat or 3D styles are an aesthetic choice for emotional reasons, not an accessibility choice for functional reasons. When you discuss these two things, you are discussing styles and you are not discussing the design.

There is an interesting quote by none other than Steve Jobs himself in Fortune magazine:

“In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer… to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service.“

Whatever I have seen of the iOS 7, I have noticed more than one place where the ‘flat’ design is forced and that the earlier version was more capable of doing its functional job.

User Experience and/vs Usability

Lets accept that both the terms are new to this market. So it’s not a surprise that people get confused and mix these 2 terms. Although both are linked conceptually there is a distinction on a broader level
In simple terms-

Usability is the measure of ease with which users can use the product, interface, or any other man-made object to achieve the assigned goal

User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the brand, its services, and its products as explained by UX guru Neilson Norman
So, from these definitions one can arguably say that Usability is part of the overall User Experience.

Let’s see an example:
You are planning to order a camera from a local ecommerce website. The ease (or difficulty) with which you are able to use their website to find the product, get the information, place an order and pay online is Usability.
Now, add to this… whether your order reaches on time, its packaging, response from their call centre executive, after sale support and all other communication points build the overall user experience about the brand.

Here’s another example:
You are not able to understand the instructions and interface of the new washing machine you have bought is the matter of usability but the way you bought it, the way it washes cloths, customer service support is the overall User Experience.

Now, you can see that Usability of a product is just a small part of the overall User Experience.
Although there is a science to all this but ultimately it comes down to highly logical common-sense.
Usability of any product, interface or physical environment can be then put down to these 5 components
•    Learnability
•    Efficiency
•    Memorability
•    Errors (Prevention and correction)
•    Satisfaction
The usability of the product, site/app (or any other interface) involves only those people who directly influence the design of it.  Whereas to get all elements right in the overall User Experience is much more difficult and pain staking.  It involves people from all over the organization, including those people dictating how the operations are designed and implemented.
But just like any other bigger change, positive User Experience results have far better impact.

Let’s make it relevant for this region now.

Both terms are new here to most people and thus we should look at easy wins, which in my view is fixing the Usability issues and then get on to the boarder User Experience problems.

Suddenly in last few years there is an internet boom and many ecommerce businesses have come up in the region and I wonder how many of them know the importance of usability and user experience? Even if they have remotely done something about the issue, how are they measuring it? In terms of ecommerce usability there are few quick checkpoints.

1 – Conversions: Sites spend lot of money in bringing people to the site but in most cases they do not monitor the conversions from the homepage to the actual transactions and the steps where users dropout and most importantly, the reason behind this dropout.
2 – Conversation: Successful ecommerce site creates a bond with the user by talking to them in their language. For all the errors, messages, instructions and everything that is written on the site.
3 – Checkout your checkout: Data shows that most users dropout at the checkout stage. It could be because of many reasons. Payment options, Difficulty in filling out the registration form or the fact of an account to order, number of fields, error prevention or correction methods or just the navigation of the shopping cart.
4 – Don’t develop the site, Design it: Most are developed by programmers. With due respect to these people one should understand that designing an interface is a specialized task. Let alone programmers even your print graphic designers or creative directors are not fully eligible to design an interface. Get professionals!
5 – Effective product search and filters: If the user knows exactly what they’re looking for, they will opt to use a search instead of browsing through categories and filters. The search feature on your site should enable them to reach to the desired location and should have all relevant filters to let them refine their results and give more controls/freedom.

Apart from these there are other things like Good Customer Service/Support (online), Product images and description go a long way to ensure better Usability of the site.

If you take a broader look at digital, overall in this region we feel the most important issue is undelivered brand promise: Agencies and brands are very good in creating a brand and its personality with the whole communication around it. They create a perception about the brand with their services, products, physical environments, etc which in most cases is true to the brand promise. What they neglect or fail to deliver on are their digital interfaces. Their website, mobile app, OOH interfaces (ATM/kiosk, etc) lack the same personality and promise with fundamental design and usability problems.

Which Tablet is Right for You?

If you have landed on this magazine it’s very unlikely that you already don’t have a tablet with you. Let’s assume for the sake of this article and for a reason for me to write one, that you don’t. Tablets are spreading like a wild fire. There’s one available for every need and every budget. But when there is such a vast choice there is bound to be confusion and a dilemma. Which one is right for you? In my capacity, I will try to make this decision easier for you. But, yeah, I am just putting all the cards on table, so read through and decide.

First things first

  • Don’t buy one just because everybody around you has it. There is no worse feeling than having to regret after your spending money on it.
  • Make a list of things from your lifestyle where this tablet can help you. Which means the tablet should complement your lifestyle and not change it.

Now that you have sorted these couple of things and have decided to buy one, which one should you go for? It is very important for you to first identify your needs from this tablet before you select one. Along with this you should also look at your current setup at home/office. If you already have a mac/iphone or own a blackberry or most of your computing happens with Google, etc. No matter how efficiently these devices try to promote seamless integration, selecting devices from same family always makes sense.

1.  Another common family device for those spare moments in the living room
a. As a entertainment center for home photos, movies, etc
b. For casual browsing
c. Gaming in spare time

Well, here the choice would be simple, go for an iPad. With its hundreds of thousands of apps and connectivity features iPad would be ideal for you. But wait, did you say browsing? With most of the rich media sites still running Flash you are then better of going for a Samsung Tab or any other Android device. The decision will be also easier if you already have few entertainment devices from Samsung in your living room such as your TV and a home theatre/DVD player. With allshare, it becomes very easy to share media on Samsung devices. Also in this case you don’t need to go for a 3G option. Wi-Fi only versions of the tablet will be enough for your indoor needs. If you have a Mac or any other Apple device then iPad will make more sense.

2.  Purely as a travel tool when you are outdoors
a. Emails / Chat / Social
b. Computing / Document Editing

I would strongly recommend having a 3G device in this case. You might think that there are many wi-fi spots around the city. But believe me once you get in that culture and habit of being connected then it’s difficult to be disconnected. And of course no Tablet will allow you to add this 3G feature at a later stage. Sorry, no upgrades here!  My personal choice again would be something that gives me seamless connectivity with my other devices.  Are you going to use your tablet as a computing device for mails, documents, etc? Then you also need to look at your mobile phone. Are you on iPhone? Or Blackberry? If you are on Blackberry then go for Playbook tablet. Easy bridge through you Blackberry makes it an obvious choice. If you have an iphone then go for iPad. Don’t forget you need to buy the app only once and it will be available for your other device, too. If most of your computing happens on Google docs, etc. then go for an Android device. Google is seamlessly weaved in to most of the Android devices. For emails, both iPad and Android devices fair almost same. But if you are from a Blackberry culture then stick to the Blackberry Playbook.

3.  Purely as a book reader

First and most important thing in this case is to feel all tablets one by one in your hand and see if you can really hold it for a long time to read a book. Right, it’s not easy. Tablets are not meant for this. But yes, try Amazon kindle fire, you will be pleasantly surprised to see it. You almost have entire Amazon on it. But now that’s not a good enough reason to go for it. You also have kindle app which you can download on your iPad and also on Android. So you get all those books on these platforms as well. Consider Sony Tablet, too. With its unique shape it’s easier to hold and distributes the weight nicely.

Now if you don’t want to decide based on these simple usage terms then read further to know other details and factors which will help you take your decision.

Operating system:
There are two main contenders for tablets. The first is iOS, which runs the iPad and also iPhones and iPods. The other is Android, which is made by Google, and is used on just about every other tablet.

Blackberry has its own OS which is catching up with these two. But still has a lot more do be done to really make a difference.

Or you can wait for Windows 8 to reach the market. It looks promising at least from the previews. But let’s talk about the main two options.

Tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy, Motorola Xoom and the Asus Eee Pad Transformer all use the latest version of Android, 3 (Honeycomb). This is the first version of Android designed with tablets in mind. But be careful, many Android tablets, especially cheaper models, run on older versions of Android (codenamed 2.1 Éclair, 2.2 Froyo or 2.3 Gingerbread). These versions were designed for phones and scaling them up to work on tablets doesn’t work very well. If you’re going for an Android tablet, then, avoid anything older than version 3.

Usability:
Cheaper tablets tend to compromise on the quality of the touchscreen. This can have an impact on the viewing angle and the overall user experience. Cheaper tablets can be unresponsive and slow. It doesn’t matter how fast a tablet’s processor is or how much memory it has if it takes half-a-dozen attempts to respond to your touch gestures.

The operating system is also linked to the usability of the tablet. But even after this usability can be a matter of both taste and need.

Apple iOS, for instance, has a slick look and feel and, because Apple controls every last detail of the iPad’s make-up, it is consistent throughout and runs smoothly. However, the user’s ability to customize the experience is far more limited when compared to Android because Apple doesn’t want anyone interfering too much with the iPad’s interface – even the owner.

Android can be customized in a many ways, from customized home pages to applying ‘skins’ that give the operating system an entirely different look. Android also appears different with different tablet brands because it’s an open source and manufacturer do customize it for their own device.

Apps:
Both Android Market and Apple’s App Store have a huge number of apps, now in the range of hundreds of thousands.

So, there’s an app for everything and everyone. Most, apps are available in both stores. So these days apps cannot be your deal breaker.

The Android Market has fewer rules for developers compared to Apple App Store, so quality control is as good as non-existent. Apple imposes tight regulations on iOS developers and, if Apple doesn’t approve an app, it doesn’t get into the App Store.

Connectivity:
Another common criticism of the iPad is that there are no USB or HDMI ports, with the only connection being Apple’s proprietary connector that is used to charge the unit and connect it to a computer.

There are a range of accessories that extend the connectivity options, including an HDMI adapter to connect the iPad to a modern TV – but these carry premium price tags.

Most other tablets are equipped with USB ports, along with HDMI sockets and memory card slots.

Wireless connectivity is more important and also a bit more confusing. Many tablets, the iPad included, come in both Wifi and 3G versions (or both combined), so decide carefully based on your needs.

Storage space:
Just like a computer, the main purpose of storage on a tablet is for software (apps), music, photos and movies but not really so much for documents. Most tablets are offered with either 16GB or 32GB capacities.

Now, this might sound tiny compared with modern PCs, however, tablet apps tend to be smaller than their desktop computer equivalents and, unless you’re planning to install an awful lot of media, then the capacity isn’t something to worry about too much.

Everything else:
There are a few other features to look out for in a tablet depending on what you want to do with it. Most have one or two built-in cameras, but these tend to be pretty basic – for use with video-chat software such as Skype and other chat apps, etc.

So, with all this information hopefully, you will be ready to buy the tablet with confidence. Enjoy the year of tablets – 2012.

When clients start dictating design…

OK, most clients will hate me for this but I need to just get it out of my system. Guys, how many of you have faced this problem before? All clients, especially people in marketing team think they know design better than the agency they have hired to do it. I thought of writing my thoughts when I heard many of my colleagues and peers in the industry saying this a lot these days.

Now, I do agree that in this part of the world, quality of design is really not at its best but that doesn’t give any right to these marketing gurus to comment and dictate things on design. I don’t see these people going to the clinic and suggesting doctors on what medicines they should prescribe. I don’t see them going to a lawyer or an architect and give their suggestions. They don’t tell a mechanic how to fix the car, or lecture an electrician how to re-wire the house, so why does everyone think they can dictate agencies on how to design? Why don’t they accept or rather we all accept that design is an also a specialized skill. These people who you have hired to design your website or an app or an ad or packaging or anything else for that matter, are trained to do so. They have done their stint at a design school and/or are experienced to design these solutions for you, just like you have spent years learning marketing.

“This color doesn’t look good, replace it with red!”
or
“The Font is too normal, its boring, Use a funky one.”
or
“Move this button to the left and align it with something”
or
“There is so much empty space here, put my logo there and make it big”
or
Can we “Jazz” it up a little more? (Do they think that there is a ‘Jazz’ filter in programs that we use?)

Now, Don’t get me wrong I have no problem at all taking criticism or suggestions, especially from clients as I will never understand their markets or products as well as they do, so creative collaboration, suggestions, discussions and co-operation is fine in that respect. I also fully appreciate that design is very subjective and as humans we are all creative beings in our own right and each have an individual sense. However I can’t help but think that design as an industry is one that everyone thinks they could dip their toe into if they wished, therefore devaluing the whole industry and effectively the quality of design.

Now, as a marketing/brand manager, you have hired these people to design for you. Why do you want to undermine their design skills? Then why pick them at all? You can save time and money both if you design everything yourselves.

So where’s the problem?

I have used Photoshop and Illustrator

It is very easy for everyone now a day to open up Microsoft paint or Photoshop and play around with it to create some sort of design. Or take a camera and start clicking pretty pictures. This for me doesn’t necessarily make that person a ‘designer’, but having instant access to this kind of software and tools makes people believe that they could hold a design title if they want.

I think the problem starts where many people think that design is just a job that requires an understanding of graphics software alone instead of ideas, understanding of color, and its psychology, navigation, usability, division of space, typography, contrast theory, concepts, and techniques of delivering a message. You should at least look at the experience and background of the designer before you start dictating things and undermining his/her skills.

I am creative

All of us are told by our parents as a child (and sometimes even as an adult) that our pencil/ chalk drawings / creations are fantastic and that we are ‘ever so creative’. So if you are constantly told this by the people who mean the most to you, you are going to think you have a heightened sense of design which may be hard to shrug off even when you go on and not take any formal training or experience in this field.

What is the Solution?

For all you marketing gurus and self proclaimed design experts:

Let people do what they do best

You have hired them, so let them decide because they are the best people to take design calls in the given situation. Make it a collaborative process. Give your inputs in what you know best. You could have a brilliant marketing idea but the design idea is designer’s responsibility. Would you take their word for any marketing decision of yours? I guess no.. right? Then give them the freedom to give their best. They are not in this to please YOU. Their job is to make sure it works for your clients.

Constructive feedback

I don’t like it. It’s not working. It doesn’t look exciting. – This not a feedback. It’s your subjective view. You need to put your views in a very objective and constructive feedback to reach the ultimate result.

Its not you, its users

Most of the times, it’s very easy to become self-centered and dictate designers to follow your aesthetic considerations. You often think what you like is what will work for your users too. Designers with their education and experience are trained to be neutral to think on your user’s behalf. So, it’s better to keep your personal likes and dislikes aside and let them work for your users.

For my fellow designers

We must learn and be able to explain our design to the non-designer. Especially to the client, you must have a reason for every graphic element is affixed on each design, including color, texture, form, layout etc.. This will make your client understand that there is a method in conveying messages visually instead of randomly placed any graphic elements into the design.

Be firm. Even though ‘the client is always, right’ sometimes, you need to stand your ground.

Digital in the Middle East – 2010



Few weeks back I was at “webwednesday.” Event was conducted by our friends in the industry ‘Clique Media’. I must say that the event was a good initiative and most importantly different as compared to other events that I have recently seen in the industry, as was evident after seeing the attendees as well. The discussion was about ‘Digital media in Middle East – 2010”. Now, the topic itself is very interesting. After working in digital media for 15 years (out of which 5 years in the region), I have asked myself this question many times without a clear answer. I think the region is unique in the sense that it is a melting pot for work cultures, expertise, quality parameters, ethics and dynamics of audiences that results in a very contrasting picture. I don’t think we can draw a clear conclusion here. This year the region saw a few brilliant digital campaigns and also a few absolutely rubbish ones. There are certain things few agencies and most clients from the region need to look at and more importantly act upon it. So here are my observation from 2010.

Short-lived microsites without a permanent platform

Tactical microsites are dying, only ‘most’ clients and (traditional above-the-line turned digital) agencies are not accepting this fact yet.

These microsites are usually a part of the silo’d channel marketing that clients (and some agencies) still seem to love. For them the “Big Idea” has to be in a microsite. So what could it be? A game or a competition, if you give them that then they are happy. They seem to think that the agency that can not give you a microsite idea is not creative at all.

So both agencies and clients end up having a big brand campaign, that is to put out a TVC, some print ads, outdoor and yes we have some budget left over, then online. So online is usually the “matching baggage” banner advertising, and the microsite. A place to enter a competition, a place to go to when you’ve clicked on a banner to “find out more.” Sometimes it’s a story that continues on from a TVC. But in most cases, there is not enough story to keep people engaged after all. More often than not, these microsites are forgotten after the campaign is over.

Content hungry visitors: In June 2010, Middle East’s internet penetration has crossed the world avg. This means more and more people from the region can now consume content. If you can not offer more than your product information, TVCs, few wallpapers and screensavers and a short lived competition with gift vouchers as prizes, then your visitors will never bother to consume it. They come and register on your microsites for prizes but that’s all. They will not remember anything else from that microsite. Is that what you make these microsites for? So have clear objectives before you suggest a microsite as an agency or accept a proposal from your agency as a client.

Social Media: Social media pages, tabs and channels are functioning more like campaign microsites. Yes, we all agree that social media is growing so why not go fishing where the fish are? Facebook has more than 500 millions users. YouTube is the no. 2 search engine behind Google. And so on.

Tons of great examples of brands like Nike, Sprite and Dove that realized that it’s easier to make the most of the millions of social network users, instead of chasing consumers to go on their own site.

Looking at Social Media means FB fan page or a twitter profile

Many clients till now think that if they have a FB fan page and run a competition on it, they have included Social Media in their campaign. But just like microsites they again forget that although their interaction with consumer is limited to that campaign. That FB profile or twitter handle will always remain as a channel of interaction with the brand. The biggest mistake you can do is to open that channel and then show your hand to your audience by not interacting with them. So if you are not committed to manage it yourself or brave enough to pay your agency to manage it, please stop creating it.

Another important factor is understanding the social sphere and picking your social interaction channels even beyond FB and twitter. It could be groupon or gonabbit, foursquare, a simple forum/blog, popular local content aggregator app or a website, industry vertical like expedia. Social media interactions are not and should not be limited to FB and/or twitter.

Be patient: So if you do decide to go out and get involved with smaller niche communities or even facebook and twitter, don’t expect to just answer a few questions on a Q&A site or put up a thrice a day twitter feed and boom! you’re famous. This isn’t an hour–a-day job. Just like any relationship, the more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. Be sincere, be transparent, get involved, and you’ll find that these two-way relationships are good for everyone.

Quality v/s economy

This is another important factor that most clients here tend to neglect. I agree that quality is very subjective when it comes to digital. There are many freelancers who can do the ‘same’ job for less. But then why don’t these same clients choose to take the same approach when it comes to their ATL agency? There is a certain value, experience, accountability that comes only with a certain price tag. So either do it right or do without it.

Educate clients rather than give up

This is important for the agencies. After the first few meetings, most agencies give in to client’s lack of knowledge. If the client has selected you as an agency, it is your responsibility to fight for what you think is right for your client. If you believe in it then stand for it and have enough conviction to refuse to do the wrong thing. Here agencies fall in to a trap where they don’t want to upset their clients and lose out on possible revenue which they can easily get by accepting the client’s demand.

So, let’s hope that Middle East’s digital creativity will see many more meaningful endeavors.


Rise of users and usability

Flashy designers (bleeding-edge) and simplicity gurus often don’t agree when it comes to interaction design. There is a fundamental difference between designing for a client and designing for a client’s client.

What is the objective of the design? Is it to satisfy your client’s design eye? Many of us would say that to get business, their piece of design has to be what the client wants to see. While doing this they often do not design what they need to. So their design may make perfect sense to the designer or even to the client, but a design which a mere reflection of designer’s or client’s personal likings and must haves often does not solve the problem for which the very existence of that design is required. Design, whether for interaction or non-interaction media, has absolute, scientific measures of success that has nothing to do with the opinions of its creator or creator’s client. Most often than not, both these parties have opinions that are personal and intangible.

Usable design always revolves around the user who is going to use it. This design does what it’s meant to do for its users without overwhelming them with fancy stuff and also doesn’t require users to find ways to complete their tasks. Such a design is always based on user’s needs, objectives behind that design, tasks that design is meant to facilitate and/or the message designs’ host wants to convey.

Signal vs. Noise.

Most often than not, every successful design turns out to be a very simple signal. After all, every solution for users’ requirement is made of a simple signal. It’s either the designer or the client and their personal choices that make it a noise. Those unnecessary elements or gimmicks they try to force on the simple signal which turns it into a noise. In all successful designs, usability takes precedence over “cool.” All they need to ask themselves is “Is your user going to gain from these elements and gimmicks? Isn’t the objective of your design to give user what he wants? How foolish you think your users are that you have to write ‘apple’ and draw one too (most of the times an animated one).

Now many would say what about the ‘wow’ factor? Noise gets that ‘wow’ in the first impression – no doubt. But that ‘wow’ normally sounds like this “Wow! This is great” Then there is a pause, admiration and then… “Let’s move to the next one”. So this ‘wow’ is very momentory. Signals also get a ‘wow’, the difference is that it comes after the user uses the design. It sounds like… “Wow! This really works for me.”

When interaction design was in its primitive state in early 90s, poor designs were commonly seen. But then people were more committed to learning due to expense, obligation and limited choices, they were forced to adapt to poorly designed user-interfaces. But things have changed. When it comes to interaction design on digital channels, choice is the users’ ballot, and their votes can be costly.

As interaction design evolved, agencies who understood users and usability by putting users before their own assumptions, have taken design and their own success to all new levels. We all would agree that Apple creates arguably the best user experiences when it comes to interaction design. Careful observation and you would notice that there are no bells and whistles to their designs. They still user the age old mantra of ‘keep it simple’. Many of us find it difficult and believe that it’s easier said than done. I have read somewhere during my art school days, “Try going through all of your design elements and removing them one at a time. If a design works without a certain design element, kill it.”

While beautiful, engaging, impressive, and compelling designs are important for a variety of reasons (including creating brand identity, entertaining and drawing people in, and establishing credibility), design choices need to be weighed against meeting the user’s needs in order for the goal to be achieved.

Isn’t that the ultimate objective?

iPhone wannabe blackberry

Last evening I had a chance to get my hands on BlackBerry storm and instead of getting blown away I was just puzzled and wondered what the hype all about was. In single line I feel blackberry storm is like a person caught between split personalities from within.

Considering that the market is really heating up with technology giants trying to compete with the iphone, it’s hard to overstate how important the BlackBerry Storm is to RIM. It’s RIM’s bold effort to fend off the iPhone…

It’s good —RIM clearly put a lot of thought into this design. But I think it falls short of what they were aiming for, and ultimately what all the hype is driving people to expect.

It’s well established by now that “touchscreen” is the code for ‘iPhone competitor’. You’ll see that in terms of hardware, the Storm is much more competitive with the iPhone than the underwhelming and overpromising G1 (google phone).

It feels surprisingly heavy … It feels thick, too, thicker than it actually is, because of its squarish shape … On the other hand though, all this substance also makes the Storm feel really robust … It has sleek and very well sized contours. I may sound confused myself but yes that’s true. Storm has this capacity to confuse people with its first impression.

Interface of Storm breaks away from all of blackberry’s previous releases. Though the usability is still not at par with the iphone, it’s the best attempt done in that regard. No Wi-Fi is a huge negative. That’s the major area where iPhone has an advantage, although BlackBerry smartphones are typically aimed at enterprise users, who primarily use their smartphones for e-mail — so they may not mind. Still, quite a big omission from a handset that features a web browser and multimedia capabilities virtually identical to the iPhone.

I feel the Storm needed a little bit longer in the oven — it still feels a bit half baked. It just lags all over the place in performance, which is a sin with a touch-based UI where response time holds the key to overall experience. It really needs to be more stable. I guess it won’t be long before there’s a software update, it needs one badly. G1, I have heard scores very well on that aspect.

Overall, the Storm appears to attempt to strike a balance between “business” and “casual,” allowing serious enterprise users to take a breather every once and a while and watch a video, for example. However, it would be interesting to see whether enterprise users will appreciate the lack of a physical QWERTY keyboard and that all famous roller. That would be the most important feature these high-fliers will miss. That has actually made a huge difference between using a smart phone and the smartest business phone – blackberry.
So, to conclude: Storm neither threatens to dethrone the iphone nor has the capability to force all blackberry users to upgrade. Young entry users in to enterprise usage would have a very good option though.

>Slumdog v/s millionaire

>After a long time I saw something extraordinary. Not only picture perfect in terms of storyline but also the execution was impeccable. Every frame, every move, every character was well thought of. This may be because Danny Boyle did not have any big wigs of Bollywood to please by giving them more screen space than others. Movie, getting its well deserved accolades and praise could be a surprise for all associated with the film but not to it’s viewers who I think, would agree that they knew it as soon as the first half was over.

What followed after that was a shame. Everyone was ready to give their opinion about the film. Some called it “The underbelly of the third world”. Some called it “Wrong image of India”. I just have few things to say to this. We are all used to living in that dream world created by few cash rich producers of Bollywood who make glorified wedding videos. These families never have to work; they all live in palatial houses, always wear picture perfect make-up and dress like ramp models or cocktail party attendees. It’s like landing in Mumbai with eyes closed till u come out from the aircraft. They just make us believe that that’s India. It doesn’t take too much to just get to know the real India. So what’s wrong in showing the reality?

Let’s accept that we have this Slumdog v/s Millionaire situation in India or for that matter in all developing countries. Towers are growing higher and their shadows are covering the darkness that is growing deeper and deeper.

Yes, Bollywood should be shameful about this film. But not because of what’s shown in the film, but because it took somebody from UK to pick up a novel written by an Indian, come to India; hire an Indian co-director and an entire Indian cast to create a masterpiece which Bollywood can only criticize.

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