covecube.com Launched

covecube.com went online on June 21 2010. It’s an intentionally simple site. For now, we want this site to be an introduction to Covecube and later be a central hub for all of our projects.

Let’s talk a bit about the home page, the idea there was to get across the spirit of Covecube. There’s a bit of symbolism there, a UX cube, software cubed, 3 facets of UX, and of course the whole thing is running in 3D.

We took a little bit of liberty with the formal definition of User Experience and changed it to get the point across. So what’s the point? I think when people generally hear about UX, they think, well it’s just another fancy name for UI… and we know what UI is, it’s pretty shiny things. Well we think a little differently. UX doesn’t represent the look of a technology, it represents the user’s opinion of the technology, based on their experience using it.

Think about it, technology is made to be used, to accomplish a certain task, and it’s effectiveness at accomplishing  that task defines a user’s experience with it. Three things, all equally important, define its effectiveness. Look, Feel and Function.

Look is not purely an aesthetic quality, it’s not just how good something looks. For example, if you create a piece of software where all your buttons are triangles, is that an effective interface? What if the triangles all look great? Of course not, users have certain expectations of what a button is. You can take some artistic liberties, but can’t stray too far.

Feel can best be described as Interaction. Think about it, is it more effective to use a precision device to control a pointer on the screen, which you have to navigate to a thin strip on the right side of the screen, then push and hold a button, move the device (in proportion to the size of the total content, which by the way is invisible and can only be estimated by the relative size of the bar)… or to take your finger and swipe the content in the direction that you want it to go? This is one thing that defines Feel. Also, it illustrates why we call this Feel and not interaction. It’s interaction with a human aspect.

Finally, Function. This is actually crucial to get right. How technical something is can make or break a product. When I say technical, I don’t mean how many check boxes you have in your applications, or how many buttons you have on that panel. I mean something entirely different. I mean how tech savvy the actual system is.  For example, say you want to build a program that lets a desktop computer roll back its changes instantly to a known good state. This problem has been solved, many many times over. We call this backup. But think about it, traditional backup is difficult, time consuming and error prone, all in all not a good user experience. What if all computers came with built in functionality that could rewind your computer to a known good state effortlessly. Why don’t we have this? Is it not possible to design such a system? No, it’s definitely possible. Some even have attempted this. The reason why this is not commonplace is because is’s difficult to do. There are countless examples like this, the point being, you have to try to provide the best user experience when designing the inner workings of something, and in order to do that, you absolutely need to have a full and thorough understanding of the technology that you’re working with.

Well, this turned out to be a little long-winded, I’ll try and keep it shorter from now on. No promises though.