Old News, New Application: “Slippy UX”

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Old News, New Application: “Slippy UX”

April 3, 2015

“Alarm sounds. Trying to wake up I check the baby monitor. Whew. Kids still asleep. Grab my phone. Eyes only half open. Glance at my phone to get a summary view of what’s transpired since I put it down. Six work emails already. Two text messages. No missed calls. Three Facebook notifications. What’s the weather supposed to be like? Cold in the morning, 70’s by afternoon.

I get up and make a cup of coffee. Time to wake up the Keurig 2.0. Notification – water is ready. Quick interaction to select the cup size – 10oz, cream, Splenda…and go.

Turn on the Roku, quick navigation to select our TV app. Turn on Good Morning America. Time to shower, get dressed. Get the kids up and ready to go. On our way out, check the Nest thermostat. Quick adjustment until I see the green leaf pop up indicating that the system is at a temperature for optimal energy savings.

I’m in the car now, pulling out of the driveway. Glance at the radio. What station is on? Turn to 99.7FM Atlanta. Bert Show. Glance at my dash, what speed am I traveling? The oil change light is on. Oil life is at 4%. Time to go to Tires Plus. First drop the kids.

Back on the road. Pull my phone out. Open Waze traffic app. ‘Am I going to work?’ Yes, Waze. Thank you for noticing. Feeling like some music, quick selection of the radio. Classic Rewind on XM. Led Zeppelin. Sounds good. Waze begins spouting directions to tell me the most efficient way to work. Give it a glance. Any cops tagged nearby? Road hazards? Traffic backing up? We’re good. Keep going. Traffic’s moving pretty well. What’s my speed? Glancing. Left mirror…right mirror…rearview…speedometer. Police spotted ahead. Need to slow down.

Finally get to work. Log into my email…Skype…check messages. Let’s get going. Calendar alert – meeting in ten minutes. Alert – Skype message. Somebody needs help.”

This activity continues with a constant array of “sticky” interfaces that require my extended engagement and “slippy” interfaces to help me get by, almost unnoticeable and supplemental to my day. Some of these don’t get more than 1 – 2 seconds of my attention so the glance-ability and ease of use are extremely important else frustration ensues often leading to an alternate product or application when possible.

“Slippy UX” defines the concept of user interfaces designed for use at a glace. Their intention is to supplement our processes, activities, and experiences. These interfaces need to communicate their purposes and messaging so easily and innate to our human instincts that they could be used to make decisions in high stress situations such as operating a car or a plane.

Although the concept of “slippy” user interfaces is not new, the application and relevance thereof in our lives has significantly evolved over time. We are now interacting with digital interfaces associated with products and services across multiple industries that we never would have imagined existing. For example, many people are not fond of the price tag that comes with the convenience of iOS devices however; Apple has a huge market share simply because it’s difficult to surpass the ease of use and ability to get information quickly from the interfaces they create. There was a time, not long ago, when cell phones were not handheld computers with voice call capabilities. The need to glance at your phone for any reason other than making a phone call was just not necessary. Because of this and so many other products incorporating digital experiences (Digital thermostats, refrigerators, coffee makers, touch screen consoles in our vehicles becoming a standard, etc.), the need for what is now being called, “slippy UX” has grown so much greater than the dashboards in our cars that only let us know how fast we are going and if the engine needs maintenance.

We are becoming as a society increasingly dependent on the digital space. Companies cannot get away with a bad user experience anymore. Who would have predicted that a thermostat would need an efficient and user-friendly digital interface? Or that vehicles would be available at an affordable price point with touch screen consoles to control music selections, volume, navigation, sync with phones to display calls and text messages, all in addition to managing the interior temperature?

We notice bad design now more than ever and have little tolerance for a sub-par user experience. Bad design can mean the difference between a business/product being successful or even as critical as a distraction impacting a life or death situation.

Good companies are creating and providing engaging digital experiences their customers like to use. Great companies are creating and providing “slippy” digital experiences that become a part of and supplement their customers’ lives. Imagine a world where you don’t receive alerts for birthdays, emails, and calendar events on your phone. These alerts that pop up on your smartphone aren’t crucial to your ability to make and receive calls; however, without them, would you now forget your mom’s birthday? Or would you be late to your 1pm meeting right after lunch? Take a step back and begin to notice all of the small digital interactions you have throughout the day. Although seemingly insignificant, we might become lost without them.

We notice bad design now more than ever and have little tolerance for a sub-par user experience. Bad design can mean the difference between a business/product being successful or even as critical as a distraction impacting a life or death situation.
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