James Bach – A Man of Many Talents

It would seem that James Bach is not only a great tester…

Greenlees1

…he’s also a great artist!

This is Zukoh, my 8 year old Dalmatian. I took this picture – well, a picture exactly like this – of him last year and had it framed for my wife. During OZWST earlier this year James was showing me some of his drawings (of other dogs) on his iPad and I mentioned that I had the perfect picture for him to draw… and he nailed it.

The picture was taken with a 25mm lens so the foreground is focused while the background is not. James captured that brilliantly.

Well done, and thank you James.

Bruce Lee – Enter the Game

Many of you would know… I’m a big fan of Bruce Lee. So a little while ago I was pleased to find out that a new mobile game was being developed named; Bruce Lee – Enter the Game.

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Screenshot from the game 

Despite my excitement I only downloaded and commenced playing the game yesterday, and being the usability nut that I am I noticed a few things about my initial interactions that I thought I’d share.

Upon initial loading (which is indicated to the user quite nicely) there are several different Bruce Lee quotes displayed for a few seconds a piece. This is a fantastic way to provide the user with some interaction while waiting for the game to load; especially helpful in this game as the load times are fairly lengthy compared to other games I’ve played.

Jakob Nielsen -“Visibility of system status: The system should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within reasonable time.”

 

After this initial load period I stumbled across my first moment of confusion…

1 BL would like to

It appeared that Bruce Lee wanted to do something; however I wasn’t quite sure what. My initial assumption, using the visual prompts displayed, was that he wanted me to follow him on Google+, but because I wasn’t really sure I hit CANCEL. Perhaps if this was explained a bit better I would have taken a different path. Left with no explanation I didn’t want any of it.

Jakob Nielsen – “Consistency and standards: Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing. Follow platform conventions.”

 

The next few screens were similar to the above however they each provided an explanation of what information was going to be shared with Google and I was happy to proceed with most if it. One particular part that I didn’t want to share was easily updated through the UI with a few simple steps; that was pleasing.

Continuing into the game the majority of actions I took for the first time were joined by an explanation dialogue that guided me in my decision making and explained what I was doing as I did it. My assumption is that these will not be displayed the second and proceeding times I execute the same actions, but I have not tested this.

The great user instruction continued into the actual game play. Each of Bruce Lee’s moves were explained in the same way; by providing an explanation dialogue and then allowing you to undertake the action required for the move. As learning by doing is my thing, I really appreciated this when compared to other games that provide instructions via a help section outside of the game play.

Jakob Nielsen – “Aesthetic and minimalist design: Dialogues should not contain information which is irrelevant or rarely needed. Every extra unit of information in a dialogue competes with the relevant units of information and diminishes their relative visibility.”

 

After successfully dispatching all of Bruce Lee’s enemy’s, I was presented with my 3 stars…

2 exit 1

Oh, and a new life! Awesome. At this point I realised that my bus stop was nearing and so decided to quit the game. Ah, how do I quit? I spent a bit of time on the above screen trying to find a way back to my phone’s home screen, but couldn’t. After some thought I decided to lock my phone and unlock it to see what might happen…

3 hidden menu

Success! Some explanation as to how I get out of full screen mode. After seeing this I did recall it being displayed earlier, when I first started the game, but I hadn’t thought about it when I needed it. So I hit OK and then swiped down…

4 exit 2 with menu

More success! My phone’s menu now displayed and I could get back to the home screen. While I got to the point I wanted to in the end, my preference would be some sort of constant visual representation that a swipe down would reveal the menu (exit full screen mode). It could be a simple little downward pointing arrow using the same style as the rest of the game so it doesn’t look out of place. Looking at the screenshots above I think there is plenty of available real estate for such a button.

Jakob Nielsen – “Recognition rather than recall: Minimize the user’s memory load by making objects, actions, and options visible. The user should not have to remember information from one part of the dialogue to another. Instructions for use of the system should be visible or easily retrievable whenever appropriate.”

 

Overall I would rate it as a good experience so far. I have plenty more game play ahead of me, and perhaps if I notice more while doing so I’ll add to this post.

This has been a good reminder of how much I use Jakob’s Usability Heuristics without really being aware of it.

Update – This evening my daughter was playing the game on the bus and said to me, “Dad, how do I get back to the main screen?” I was more than happy to show her how (by swiping down), but it has since occurred to me that anyone playing the game on a smart phone where it has been played before could face the same issue. Even more evidence for the need to resolve it.

WTANZ… You so Need a New Bike

WTANZ 25 is happening this weekend (Saturday afternoon for those of us Down Under).

I don’t often get the time to be involved in these; always full of excuses (legitimate of course). I think Ale Moreira got sick of them, so she made me host one. Hard to get out of it when it’s your gig!

I’m joking of course. I’m making it sound like I want excuses; I don’t. The few sessions that I have been a part of have been great. I’m just hoping this one can be as well.

I enjoy usability, I find it fascinating. I’m looking forward to finding out what others think about it. I hope you can join us.

You are in the market for a new bicycle. You’re a conscientious member of your community so you’re keen to buy from a local retail shop and do your bit for local business. You’re also a savvy shopper and know that you need to try before you buy. You therefore set out to explore the local bicycle shop websites to see what they have available before making the journey in on foot.” 

Let’s all come together at WTANZ and be that buyer. We will use Jakob Nielsen’s 10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design and discuss how the local bicycle shop websites shape up!

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