Speeding up by slowing down and animations

At the moment I’m learning User Experience design and how it can be used to dramatically improve the experience of the product, improve the workflow of an application or website, get people to ‘want’ to use your product and to ultimately save and make money. Today I put my own relationship with the tools and applications I use under the microscope and took a look at animations.

Anyone who has ever seen me work will find that I when I’m really working I work very quickly. I’ve configured Windows and my Android phone so that I can find things and get to things fast, my computer has been optimised to be fast, all of the Window animations has been turned off so that windows appear quickly, I work in a fashion where things whiz around my screen quickly and where there is a constant buzz of information. This is great, but can easily lead you down to path of becoming mentally exhausted and on edge.

The solution slowing things down. I recently tried turning Window animations back on, and turning back on many of the visual elements of Windows which to begin with used to annoy me. The result? More time to think, more time to more carefully consider what I’m doing and ultimately produce better results. Sometime animations are put in there because, well it looks cool (to the designer / hacker coder at least). But other times the can be used to not only provide visual feedback to what’s happening but also to relax you and to help to give you time to more carefully consider what you are doing, and what the results of your actions may be.

I’m not saying here that every application should include animations, or to animate for animations sake. Instead to use animations to illustrate the information being presented on screen, to provide visual feedback and visual cues to their actions and also to help relax the user to use the application, whilst at the same time not being an obstruction to the user or the task they’re trying to do.

Software Update, what are the priorities?

UpdatesSoftware updates are increasingly becoming the vogue. It almost seems like each week there is an update for the operating system, software or services running on your computer or mobile devices. For someone who uses computers every day for work software updates are one of my biggest pet hates.

Starting up a piece of software to find a dialog box insisting upon allowing it to update itself to the most recent release are intensely annoying. I started the application for a reason to perform a task or check information, time is precious but it instead insists that I wait for several minutes whilst it downloads then installs the updates. In the meantime time is ticking away, including my patience.

The worst of the worst is Microsoft Windows Update, I use Windows 7 though I’ve had this problem with all older versions too. The default setting is to download and install updates automatically, it will also restart your computer automatically too. So all those important documents and website you painstakingly found and had open on your computer, or that download which had been going on for the last hour due to a slow internet connection are all gone in the time it takes to get a cup of tea. Instead you get a new shiny icon appearing on your desktop for a piece of software you never use, or ever needed. This has in the past cost me dearly and set me back several hours whilst I refound or had to reset up the computer.

At the end of the day a computer, mobile or other devices are a tool for the user. The user is king and their data is important. A lot of automatic update software seems to forget that, instead putting the focus on getting the task or the update software completed, taking the user out of the loop and putting the user at an inconvenience.

I would love it it software development companies would take a leaf out of the book of companies like Google. Google Chrome is constantly being kept up to date, but I never know when this is happening. The Chrome updater puts the user at the centre, performing updates when it will inconvenience the user least.

I think it’s about time software puts the user back in the driving seat, realise that software is merely a tool and that data is important.