This month’s London Web Standards was on augmented reality, a hot topic a few years ago that is making its way back into people’s mindshare with projects like Google Glass. We had Dr. Paul Coulton talking about the current state of AR on mobile, Imogen Levy talking about how Westminster Abbey is using 3D and AR to improve the visitor experience, and Trevor Ward talked about how we can use AR now on current-generation devices.
We were also graced with the presence of Clare Sutcliffe, who came to talk to us about Code Club, getting kids aged 9-11 to learn to program using Scratch. The video that she showed is after the gallery.
Clare Sutcliffe on Code Club
Imogen Levy on Westminster Abbey 3D
Dr. Paul Coulton on the state of augmented reality
Last night was London Web Standards’ Semantic Web event with Mischa Tuffield and Jarred McGinnis talking about RDF standards, SPARQL, how it all works and how it works in the real work in the mainstream press.
We were also joined by a man showing us a quick look at Dreamweaver CS5.5 with it’s new HTML5 features. Unfortunately, the software had a few bugs which showed up in the talk, and after being burned by the very expensive adobe software for years, the crowd didn’t take to the UI very well, which wasn’t helped by a low-res projector. Still, it looks like a big improvement over the old version, but I’ll still use Coda when on my Mac.
Rob Hawkes: multiplayer gaming in HTML5
Sketchnotes of Rob Hawkes' talk Multiplayer Gaming with HTML5
Rob is a canvas and animation guru. He’s not far out of uni and has a book out this month! He gave a new talk on multiplayer gaming, and how it was possible in HTML5.
Basically: Canvas + Websockets + a server (rob recommended Node.js) = multiplayer gaming on the web.
Rob didn’t go into much detail as to how to do all this, just talked us through the principles of what you should be doing, what you should avoid, how to prevent cheating and simple tricks to improve performance.
At the end, Rob proposed a HTML5 gaming knowledge repository, a community wiki and tutorial site, so that it’s easier for people to learn. Someone at the event will take him up on the offer, so look forward to more things soon!
Sketchnotes for Creative JS visual effects – Seb Lee-Delisle
Seb then talked about performance, and how bad canvas is at the moment. DOM elements with hardware acceleration is easily twice as fast as canvas, especially on the iPad. The iPad’s saving grace is its touch screen, which can take 11 touch points (just in case we grow an extra finger). Seb created a simple asteroids game using touch events for input.
Seb finally talked about 3D and how using libraries was a great way to go from 2d to 3D very simply. He recommended Unity as a game engine and framework of choice, and they’re building HTML5 renderers on top of their regular OpenGL and DirectX methods. Exciting stuff indeed.
My sketchnotes for this are at the bottom of the page. This is only a brief write-up, hopefully the LWS guys will put the video up soon. Much of this is para-phrased. Andy, if you do read this, let me know if you want any of these answers changed.
Q: Good UX vs Good design? (the actual question was a lot more wordy than that)
UX is a quality attribute, it can be good and bad. An aspect of good design takes UX into account, though there are exceptions i.e. the Phillips Juicer. Good design does not imply ease of use, UX is a design philosophy or style. A good UI designer understands HCI, social, environmental and cognitive psychology .
Q: User-Centric Design or Persuasive Design?
Both together please.
Q: How do you manage difficult clients?
Clearleft tend not to get them thanks to their reputation. Basically, just manage expectations all the way through.
Q: What should you do if you’re told to design “for IE 6″ or “inaccessibly”
Ignore the request. You’re a professional (dammit) and you need to use the right tools for the job. Don’t just keep patching a crumbling building, i.e. if you have an intranet made for IE6, don’t just patch it up, start again.
Q: What tools couldn’t you live without?
Pen and paper. Oh, and sticky notes.
Q: What makes a good UX designer?
Unsatisfied with life (want to make things better)
Desire to fix the world
Q: How do you get clients to invest in UX even if they have a small budget?
Design on paper to reduce costs. Too many designers just go straight into photoshop. This will allow for more iterations and less money in the long term. Remember that you’re also in a facilitation role so its up to you to guide the process.
Q: Is any testing better than no testing?
Generally there’s lots of low-hanging fruit (if doing a re-design) so take that! You only need to do the deep level of thought if you’re solving a very specific problem.
Q: Are there any design patterns you use regularly? Should you make new ones?
Real-world patterns work very well, i.e. tabs. Most people don’t know that a site logo takes you to the home page, so always have a home link. If you’re making a new pattern, test test test, then think, would something else be better.
Q: Where do you get your inspiration from?
The real world. Architecture, a book called “Why people buy” (but not the section on the internet), the Disney Imagineers. Overall, it’s about how it functions, not how it looks.
Q: Is the user wrong? When does the designer know better?
Generally, the user isn’t wrong. It’s very rare that their opinion doesn’t count, so swallow your pride.
Q: How do you establish credibility in an organisation?
It’s difficult, very hard to do internally. You need to play the office politics game. Build a level of knowledge and use references as much as you can, so it’s not only you saying these things. Have confidence in you and what you are doing. Visualise it in your client’s language if possible.
Q: What should you do if a business objective creates a disjointed experience?
Andy can’t help on this one, this is an answer from the LWS crowd.
Switch it around, get buy-in from people and sell ti to them. Do it in the pub, many people are much more open there. With regard to “Dark Patterns” i.e. hiding a company’s phone number or directing through certain channels, read Dan Lockton’s post.