Good Design 9: Ubuntu


I am PC user and love Windows 7, but from time to time I’ll try out other operating systems. One of these occasionally used operating systems is Linux Ubuntu.  It is just surprising that more people including myself are not using Ubuntu when it is such a good operating system. Is it because it’s free? Do we like knowing that the operating system running on our computers cost us something?

Despite its lack of popularity when compared to Windows and Mac, Ubuntu has some great design aspects which I believe classes it together with these giants.

  1. It is open source and is therefore free to everyone
  2. Ubuntu has a beautiful user interface and aesthetics does make an object more acceptable to users
  3. I can decide to install Ubuntu to my computer or just boot and run it from my thumb drive. Windows can be installed from a thumb drive, but I don’t think we can run Windows from a thumb drive. It is another story with Mac.
  4. Having the ability to boot Ubuntu from your thumb drive and run it from any machine makes it truly portable. This allows individuals to carry their favorite programs with them anywhere they go
  5. Ubuntu comes with lots of useful prebuilt programs and tools, thus making using the operating system a lot easier
  6. The programs and tools provided for Ubuntu are also free, therefore this gives everyone the opportunity to use the best technologies
  7. Ubuntu has  a great community who is always there to help with technical problems
  8. Ubuntu is not intensive on system resources such as memory and hard drive space. In fact Ubuntu can be installed and run from a 1GB thumb drive
  9. The system responds very quickly
  10. Ubuntu does not throw error dialogs at users as we have in windows, well the older versions


Overall, I believe that Ubuntu is a great operating system, with design features to give users a pleasant experience when using the system.



Bad Design 8: Internet Explorer

If there was a time Internet Explorer could have been considered a great browser, it wouldn’t be today. I have nothing against Microsoft, in fact I love most of their products especially Microsoft Office, Windows XP, Windows 7, Microsoft Visual Studio, except Internet Explorer (IE) which I absolutely hate. I believe that everyone hates Internet Explorer, well not everyone, but just about everyone. I try to avoid using this program at all costs and have even attempted to uninstall from my system on many occasions, but Microsoft have not given us this option.

What do so many individuals by Internet Explorer? Here are just a few reasons:

  1. The loading time is too slow and today we are all concerned with speed
  2.  Just like Windows Vista, it is memory hungry and also takes too much processing power. In addition it does not perform for the amount of processing power it requires, and thus a waste of system resources in my opinion.
  3. Internet Explorer does not follow W3C standards and can be a pain for developers when coding or designing
  4. I mean most of the major are already supporting HTML5 local databases and yet still it has not been implemented in Internet Explorer. Firefox has not implemented it either, so I guess they’ve got some company in this regard.
  5. Basically it is difficult to develop web application using Internet Explorer
  6. JavaScript usually run differently across browsers, and it causes problems when trying to debug a program across those browsers, but with Internet Explorer it’s another story
  7. Internet Explorer crashes too often which can be quite frustrating. This especially happens with a new update or extension, which by the way comes through Windows Update

So here, I gave you seven reasons why most people hate Internet Explorer and why I think Microsoft need to do a better job designing this program.

Want to see how bad Internet Explorer can be? Visit this website using Internet Explorer (most versions of IE 9 and lower) and I guarantee you that IE will crash on you.

I leave you with a song written and performed by Scott Ward, a developer entitled “IE is being mean to me”.

Great Design 7: Windows 7

I may be late doing this, seeing that Windows 8 beta is already out, but I’ve got to give a review of my favorite operating system: Windows 7. I made the jump from Windows XP to Windows 7 not even looking below me to see whether I had trodden over Windows Vista in the process. I never liked Windows Vista in the first place because it was too greedy and hogged up all my systems resources.

I don’t want to be biased here, but if you searching for software with good design, please do not look for Windows 7. If you need great design, then I will recommend you to take a look and marvel at Windows 7. Everyone, well mostly everyone who uses Windows 7 will say that it well-designed software. So much that many Mac users have also jumped to the Windows 7 platform. So what qualifies the windows 7 platform as great design?

  • First and foremost is its ease-of-use. If people are going to use a product then it has to be easy to use and Windows 7 definitely fits this criteria.
  • I strongly believe in the aesthetical aspect of a product because I believe it makes users more acceptable of the system. We can all admit that Windows 7 is an absolutely gorgeous operating system. It contains a beautiful user interface with semitransparent task bar and start menu, and people usually love transparency.
  • Individuals multitask all the time and Microsoft has made this simpler for users in Windows 7 by allowing users to divide their screens easily. Gone are the days when I had to manually resize my applications in order to view two of them on the screen simultaneously. In Windows 7 users can simply drag their applications to the left or right of the screen and it would automatically resize itself to half the screen area.
  • There is also a feature which is very useful when my desktop is too cluttered with applications. I can just click on my desired application, shake it vigorously and all other applications would be automatically minimized to the task bar. Shaking the application again will bring them back to their respective positions.
  • I also love the level of personalization options that are offered to users in Windows 7. I spoke about the semitransparent taskbar and start menu in Windows 7, but if the user prefers the menus to be opaque, then the option is theirs. This is just one of the many personalization options.
  • On the technical side, the Control Panel has been redesigned to the basics features that users need to manage the operating system.
  • The system is a lot faster and does not use up as much resources as it predecessor.

Even though most people may not even notice these things anymore since they have gotten accustomed to them, I think that these things together make up for windows 7 as a well-designed operating system.

Good Design 6: YouVersion Live

The YouVersion Bible App is possible the best app I’ve ever download from the iTunes store. The 14,229 customer reviews and 22,493 five Star ratings of this app gives you an idea of how popular it is. Majority of individuals commenting on this app describes it as a perfect app. Well I don’t think it’s perfect because it contains some disappointing features, but overall I think it is an absolutely amazing app. The designers of this app have provided all the features an individual using this bible app would need at their disposal and have ensure that the app help users meet their goals.

Let’s take a look at some of the features making this app so incredible.

  1. Most importantly the YouVersion Bible App is easy to use, has a friendly interface with easy navigation,  and uses good neutral colors
  2. Contain all the major bible versions that people use regularly
  3. The most important feature of this app is the ease and speed at which it allows me to find a bible text or scripture. In some bible apps, users are forced to go back sequentially: from verse – chapter – book – contents in order to find a new text. I usually find this very time consuming and frustrating. The YouVersion Bible App allows the user to move in any order, which makes navigating the bible much quicker.
  4. The YouVersion Bible App provides the bible in both the written and spoken word, which makes it more useful. Want to read the bible while driving or jogging, then simply listen to it.
  5. Most people enjoy taking notes and bookmarking their pages while reading their bible and the designers of the YouVersion Bible App have provided them these features.
  6. There is also a search feature which allows users to find a text or scripture they desire. This comes particularly handy when I remember only part of the scripture text and need to reference it.

An app with such a user centered design approach can only be regarded as great designed.

YouVersion Bible App

P.S I have been using the spoken word provided through the YouVersion Bible App for my bible bed time stories many nights before I go to bed.

Bad Design: How about Updating User Guide?

Yesterday I had the worst experience with Apple iOS Developer Program. Why are the steps for installing code on an Apple device for development and debugging so difficult, I do not know? Probably it was difficult because it was my first time going through the process. Maybe it will become a lot easier after I’ve done it a few times, but should this be the case? Should I have spent approximately two hours going through this process and yet not meet my objectives?

Then again I may be wrong. It may be that usability principles are just for end users and not for programmers or developers. As developers, probably Apple expects us to figure things out the hard way.

Although I was quite frustrated with the whole process of requesting and installing my certificates, and setting up my device id and provision profile, the most unpleasant part was installing my application to my device which was what I really wanted in the first place. After doing everything to reach this point, I was unable to proceed further because the guide provided by Apple is for earlier version of Xcode, Apple’s IDE while I have the later version. The interface of Xcode 4 is radically different from previous versions and consequently I was unable to find the menus and panes they spoke about in the guide. After wasting some more time searching for the menu I gave up out of frustration, having felt I had wasted my time.

My request to Apple, Can you please update the guide for Xcode 4?

Can a developer guide for Xcode 3 be enough to guide me through an application installation on my device in Xcode 4?


Source: Apple University Program User Guide for iOS 4

XCode 4


(Bad Design)Whats with all the Lines  A quick review

Today I am going to do a quick review of an architecture website I stumbled upon some time ago.  Although I think it’s a good website, there are some usability issues, which I believe could be fixed to make the website more user friendly.

Here is a list of the usability issues I discovered on the webpage:

  1. The website takes approximately 10 seconds to fully load. In today’s busy and fast paced society, I think the loading time of the website is too long.
  2. Based on the website requirements, users need at least a 400 MHz processor with a high speed internet connection to properly run the website on their computers. Isn’t that a little too much to ask from a user?  After all it is just a website, not a computer game.
  3. The website loads with some groovy background music which I seemed to enjoy. I haven’t seen the reason for including background music in the website since it has nothing to do with the sites content. But users are given the option to turn the music off, which I think is very important.
  4. Hovering over the links also produces certain sounds, which if coordinated properly can be used with the background music to create a good music soundtrack.
  5. The website is very interactive containing series perpendicular lines which seem to follow the mouse movements. The problem is that these intersecting lines appear not just on the home page but on every page and the user has no option to turn it off. It is not practical to have such lines distracting and frustrating users as they traverse the webpage.
  6. The website requires users to have precision if they are to click a link. Link titles are hidden inside a 1cm x 3mm vertical bar and if users are not able to click this tiny area they aren’t able to visit the links.
  7. The back button on the page takes the user to the home page and not the previously visited page. If the user inadvertently clicked on a link, he/she would be required to return to the homepage and go through the many previous steps to get back to that webpage. The loading time to too long to require users to return to the homepage after every page visitation.
Torchia Website

Good design/bad design 3: Intrusive Update

While listening to a PowerPoint lecture from my professor, a McAfee notification suddenly pops up over the presentation immediately exiting the slideshow. How rude, I thought to myself. Why didn’t McAfee design this notification as a pop-under, which would wait until the user finished what he was doing? I cannot tell whether this design is McAfee’s or Microsoft’s fault, but this is definitely bad design.

Is the update notification so urgent that the user has to immediately forget whatever he is doing to attend the matter? What would be the repercussions if my professor had not immediately installed the update? Would his computer suddenly crash from a virus infection or exploded? How would this fare had this McAfee update notification suddenly popped up during a professional presentation?

What really got me was not the fact that the pop-up appeared over the PowerPoint slide, but it exited the slideshow. Wouldn’t it have been far less intrusive had this pop up notification appeared in the taskbar and wait till the user clicked it?

McAfee Update

P.S A few minutes later a java notification popped up resulting in the same thing.