#NYCUPA Event, a Couple of my Notes from Usable iPad Apps: HUGE Insights and a Case Study

Felipe Memoria talking at NYC UPA's Usable iPad Apps: HUGE Insights and a Case Study

Last night’s NYC UPA’s event wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t what wasn’t exactly as advertised either. On the NYC UPA website this was the outline: “HUGE Design Director Felipe Memoria will open the presentation by identifying key attributes of the most usable iPad apps launched to date. Creative Director Joe Stewart will then walk the audience through the design decisions behind the recently-launched Reuters app and invite the audience to evaluate the design.” Everything about Reuters was taken out of the talk. I understand how people are fluid and the story was that the person giving the Reuters part of the talk wasn’t available to attend, I just wonder if it was because A. the presentation wasn’t fully fleshed out, or B. legal reasons, they couldn’t talk about it or C. he really did have client responsibilities. (I’ve put a strike through the previous line after being assured that it really was about client responsibilities) Either way it looked bad because this event wasn’t free. They should have sent an email letting people know about the shift in tpoic. I suspect most people would still have attended but the information change should have been announced prior.

It was interesting in the Q & A that when Ralph Lucci whom I work with, asked at the end if Felipe could mention anything about the Reuters project. He was firm with no because he wasn’t part of the project. It just came off weird as all his examples in the talk were from other companies. It’s one thing to show examples of both good and bad and talk about why, but when there’s the opportunity to include their own iPad work and don’t—it comes off kind of bad.

The four points that Felipe talked about were billed as iPad lessons. I’m not sure I’d go that far, they felt like observations to me. Again without actually talking about their real work (when he probably could have) and pointing to other examples, the discussion moves away from experience to outside introspection. While I didn’t disagree with anything he had to say, the level of discussion didn’t go much further than personal reactions.

The four points talked about: 1. Slide or scroll? 2. Explore the large multitouch screen. 3. Don’t forget to explore photo and video capabilities, 4. Orientation changes can be delightful. There’s a number of good tweets that expand on those notions with the hashtag #NYCUPA. Of all the basic points, the one that got my attention the most was about orientation. Is it worth showing different functionality depending on orientation or keeping it the same? The traditionalist would suggest that it should be the same though for me I’m not so sure. Best practices would suggest that the design should flex whether landscape or portrait. However if the app has to be designed twice to fit the different formats, why not design it slightly differently? I hope as apps evolve those ideas of format will be pushed a bit further than just flexing.

The Q & A overall was pretty decent. The best question that I thought asked had to do with the examples shown. Most of what was talked about had to do with sitting at home. It’s a topic that should be explored further because the iPad isn’t just for home life. The last thing that surprised me had to do with the audience. A large majority of them did not have an iPad. For a city that prides itself on being forward thinking this wasn’t good. As was pointed out during the talk, the iPad is one of those things that can’t really be talked about with clients if the designer talking about it has never used one.

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