Tag Archives: design

Il problema del numero civico nelle app di navigazione

Quando progetto app e siti per la navigazione, cerco sempre di fare in modo che le ricerche degli utenti siano sempre veloci, efficienti e corrette.

Per esperienza, anche come utente finale, la ricerca dell’indirizzo è un momento molto critico nell’utilizzo di queste app per due motivi:

1) Errori di digitazione causati dai nomi delle strade che in alcune situazioni sono anche in lingue sconosciute. In Italia tra l’altro abbiamo l’ulteriore complessità legata alle variazioni dei nomi delle vie (viali, vicoli, corsi etc) e delle piazze (piazzale, largo etc).
2) L’inserimento del numero civico utilizzando la funzionalità del completamento automatico/suggerimenti

Ma mentre il punto 1 può essere risolto in autonomia dall’utente con un po’ di attenzione, il punto 2 mi fa davvero impazzire.

Di seguito è possibile vedere cosa succede quando cerco la via dello studio di massoterapia di mia moglie in “via Durini 15” sulle app di Uber e Here.

Quando seleziono l’indirizzo dai suggerimenti la ricerca viene brutalmente conclusa posizionando il mio pin-point in un punto standard che solitamente è il civico numero 1.
Ma se invece io stessi cercando il numero 299?
In questo caso sarò costretto a tornare indietro per modificare il testo rischiando di invalidarlo, oppure dovrò digitare nuovamente indirizzo e numero civico ignorando i suggerimenti.

Questo è il problema del numero civico nelle app di navigazione.

Nelle scorse settimane ho scoperto che Google Maps ha risolto il problema dei numeri civici in maniera semplice e geniale inserendo un bottone dedicato all’interno della tendina dei suggerimenti.
Nel video che segue un caso d’uso.

Questa soluzione è disponibile sia in casi di disambiguazione quando sono presenti diversi indirizzi, sia quando le lettere digitate sono sufficienti per identificare l’indirizzo corretto. Ecco le due casistiche.

Grazie al nuovo bottone dedicato al numero civico, adesso su Google Maps per cercare “Via Durini 15” mi basta seguire questa semplice procedura:

digitare “dur” > tappare su ” + add street number” > digitare “15” > tappare su invio > visualizzare la posizione esatta!

L’unico miglioramento che potrei suggerire a Google, dopo aver scelto di inserire il numero civico, è sostituire la tastiera completa con la tastiera numerica. Capisco che questo potrebbe causare dei problemi con i subalterni tipo 1/a, 1b etc, ma solitamente la distanza tra questi punti non è tale da causare posizionamenti errati.

Spero di poter riprodurre questa soluzione nei miei prossimi progetti anche se sono sicuro che a breve diventerà uno standard per tutte le app di navigazione. Questo forse ne diminuirà anche il costo di sviluppo, ma nel frattempo non mi resta che ringraziare Google per il suo lavoro.

The navigation apps street number problem

When I design navigation apps and sites I always think how to keep users researches fast, efficient and correct. In my experience, even as common user, the address research is a real complex phase for two main reasons:

1) Typing mistakes caused by complex street names, sometimes even in languages that users don’t know. In Italy for example, a part from the Italian language, we call streets and squares in different ways depending on their dimensions (street= via, viale, vicolo, corso etc; square= piazza, piazzale, largo etc)
2) Inserting the street number using the autocomplete/suggestions drop-down list

While regarding the point 1 I could imagine that a motivated user could type or paste the correct address, the point 2 drives me really crazy.

Watch below what happens on Uber and Here when I use the suggestions typing my wife’s massotherapy studio address in “via Durini, 15”.

When I tap on the suggested address the research phase ends brutally locating the pin point in a default position of the map that usually is the street number 1.
But what if I’m searching number 299?
I must go back modifying the text and risking to invalidate the address, or I must type again everything, street number included, ignoring the suggestions.

That’s the navigation apps street number problem.

In the last weeks I discovedered that Google Map solved the street number problem in a brilliant and simple way. They indeed created a dedicated button for the street number directly on the suggestions/autocomplete drop-down list. Watch the video below.

This solution is available both when the user must chose between a lot of similar addresses or when he/she already typed enough letters for having the correct address. Following the two examples.

Thank to the Google Map new street number button, now I can search “via Durini 15” following theese simple steps:

type “dur” > tap on “street number button” > type “15” > tap “enter” > see my perfect location on the map!

For improving this process I could only suggest to switch to the number keyboard when typing the street number. I know that sometimes, like at our home, street numbers are like 1/a, 1/b etc, but usually these subordinates are not as far to compensate the experience of seeing just numbers when you asked to type the street number.

I hope to use this kind of solution in my future projects, but I’m pretty sure that soon it will be adopted as an industry standard from all the navigation apps decresing the adoption cost.

In the meanwhile, thank you Google!

Tesla Model 3 agile car development framework

When I wrote about the Tesla Model 3 I focused on design , infotainment system and its pre-order success. Today indeed I write about the production approach that, reading the recent news about skipping the beta testing, is going to be assimilated to the agile software development framework.

In the last days I read many articles about the Model 3 pre-production beta testing skipping. This news was so curious that I needed to retrieve the source, so link after link I landed on the Anton Wahlman articles on Seeking Alpha “The Secret Tesla Investor Call To Which You Were Not Invited” and “Tesla Selling Model 3 Test Cars: Accounting Questions“. Considering that at the moment none knows how these “test cars” will be sold, which quality level they will have and what kind of refinement will be done by the testers/customers, I’ll focus on what I define the Tesla’s agile car development framework.

First, what does agile software development is? Wikipedia says:

Agile software development describes a set of principles for software development under which requirements and solutions evolve through the collaborative effort of self-organizing cross-functional teams. It advocates adaptive planning, evolutionary development, early delivery, and continuous improvement, and it encourages rapid and flexible response to change.

For understanding how this applies to Tesla and Model 3, you don’t need to be a Software Engineer or a Digital Product Manager like me. Read just the words that I put in bold and then think how normal is buying a videogame or a smartphone and immediately update it online. Is it possible for a Tesla? The answer is yes, but why?

Tesla isn’t a traditional carmaker, not only for the charismatic presence of Elon Musk and not only because its investors are continuing putting money in. Tesla actually is the unique car producer that together with a car produces a software Operative System that, thanks to the car’s hardware, can manage remotely things that any other carmaker couldn’t control neither at its official assistance network. The most impressive Tesla OS back-end updates are: the battery capacity, the engine power and the self-driving functions.

Whatch this overview video where the deep hardware and software integration is demonstrated.

Reading the Tesla OS official page is easy to understand that the Musk’s car are disrupting the automotive industry because they shifted the core of their products from mechanics to software development. It doesn’t mean that the Teslas hardware (chassis, shocks, body, glasses etc) aren’t good enough the other carmakers or that they didn’t need the same R&D and pre-production tests. What Musk said is that the knowledge-base that they have accumulated from the development of the Model S and Model X will give them the opportunity to jump directly to the production lines skipping the beta test and leaving the “final testing” to the first users (read this Wahlman article for in-depth analysis).

Skipping the beta testing for a traditional car-maker is a sort of suicide, but if you are Tesla it is the first application of its agile car development framework approach. The Tesla’s cars are really different from the other cars. Its engines, chassis, interiors and all the other components are a way simpler from the other cars so, once tested and standardized, they don’t need to be tested again for all the models. I suppose that the electric engines and the batteries can be scaled in a easiest way than the combustion engines, and that the chassis architectures simpler and less stressed than traditional cars. Moreover the Tesla Model 3 will be really more simple than the Model S like this official press release states and the dashboard (absence!) suggests.

Above this, for sure Tesla has other three big advantages. The first one is the big amount of real usage data that users need to share with the company for having the OS updates; the second is the capacity to absorb a lot of physical/software recall/updates thank to its low volume production, its dealers network and its over the air OS updates; the third is the customers base that is composed by engaged and motivated fans that are healthy, techies, early-adopters, green contingent and sports car lovers (read “Elon Musk and the cult of Tesla” by Hope Reese).

So the Model 3 beta test skipping shouldn’t be interpreted like a dangerous move for accelerating the mass production and keeping the investors happy (during the investors call Musk admitted a delay in the mass production plan). It is more like an iteration of a product with the most important hardware parts already tested, while the easily replaceable components and the less critical front-end functions are still in development.
To be simple. Tesla is like Facebook launching its new app. The core is always the same but the design improves fast and in an iterative way. For this reaason Tesla presented the Model 3 as the next company model, not as a concept car.

Tesla has commoditized the cars hardware focusing on user experience, green technology, autonomous driving, products distribution and customers engagement.

That’s agile, but it is even a strategic move for conquering the electric vehicle supremacy and restarting, in 5 or 7 years, the traditional research and the tests for a real new product.

Photo credits: MatrixSoft, BGR, Carscoops.

The led headlight innovation by Mercedes-Benz Concept A Sedan

Looking at the recent Mercedes-Benz Concept A Sedan, I was impressed by the led headlamps colour. At first I thought that it was only a show car like other concept at the Auto Shanghai Motor Show, but then its design was so evolutive that I understood that Daimler was introducing and testing a relevant design innovation.

The headlights are one of the most important part of the car’s design. Since when led technology was incorporated in headlights introducing the “day-light” concept, I was pretty impressed by the light signatures that the automotive companies were creating. Today any modern car in any advanced market could be sold without day-light led in the headlights, but even if the lighting market has a multitude of technologies, what puts in common all the solutions is the color. All led lights are white. No exception. No creativity. No innovation.

I think that this decision is obvious because the “white ice” color is the most visible, but considering that leds today have more a design function than a functional function is time to innovate.

The Mercedes-Benz Concept A Sedan indeed isn’t just a concept car: it is a beautiful led headlights innovation test that will change all the automotive industry. I’m pretty happy that finally an automotive company disrupted the evolutive lighting design, bringing a new concept in one of the most visible design part of their car. It is one of the more interesting “ready to production” exterior design innovation that I’ve seen in the last two years and the fact that a luxury company like Mercedes-Benz launched a project like this, make me really confident about the creative future for the cars led lights design.

Following what Merceded-Benz writes on its website talking about the core innovation of the Concept A Sedan:

Guideline: “Stimulating Contrast”.

The headlamps with their eyebrows as a typical feature of the brand as well as the striking grid structure on the inside guarantee a confident look – and a simultaneously high recognition value. The structural sculpture that has been broken down in detail represents a technically based counterpole to the sensual exterior – “stimulating contrast” is one of the six guiding principles of Mercedes-Benz design. The grid structure in the lamps has been coated with a UV paint and it is exposed to ultraviolet light. As a result, the headlamps “glow” in different colours, depending on the light medium – the daytime running lamps, for instance, are white

In my memory, recently only Suzuki and Chevrolet put colors in the headlights, but not using the led technology. Instead they just put some coloured plastics inside the headlights giving to the car a really differentiating design that indeed is helping the commercial succes of the Suzuki Vitara and of the Chevrolet Onix.

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The inspiring “Driving Paradox”

I work in Digital Communication and I’ve worked on the functional & user experience design of websites, mobile applications, advergames, digital signage systems and info kiosks.

I love cars and motorcycles since when I was a child. I remember very well the “procedure” that my parents had to apply first to start our old Fiat 500, the incredible internal design of the Renault 4 of my neighbour and the unintelligible fashion of the Motobecane Mobyx parked in my garage.

back-to-the-future-delorean

I think that cars and motorcycles are the most impressive demonstration of the humankind power of imagination and adaptation. Imagination because who put together the technology necessary for an “autonomous run” of a 4/2 wheels object for me was an artists, not an engineer. Adaptation because driving a car or a motorcycle is one of the most complex mixture of unnatural gestures that we have on the earth.

That’s the point. That’s the Driving Paradox.

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How to design for visual impaired people

This is the post that I wrote after the event “Design beyond design boundaries” for the Milan’s group of the Interaction Design Foundation.

Last Saturday September 20th, IDF Milan organized its 4th event “Design beyond visual boundaries” in collaboration with the Italian startup Horus Technology. The main objective of the workshop was to start designing the User Interface of their product.

Horus is a device that supports visually impaired people like a virtual assistant. It will be positioned on normal glasses and it will interact through audio bone conduction and a manual controller with buttons. Horus will have two 5mpx cameras, a separated battery pack and it won’t rely on internet/bluetooth connections to be functional.

occhiali1-1100x400

 

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Designing my new Google Reader

Are you one of the last desperate Google Reader users like me?
Don’t worry, you can still read your feeds using other readers and then, Google Reader wasn’t that great service that we think.

I work in digital communication and I’ve three different accounts that I use for my personal branding, for the Transport Company of Milan online buzz, and for the Shopping in Italy news hunting and social monitoring.

Is Google reader enough for me? No it isn’t!

For my job I need an application that browse, save, organize, discover, edit and share contents on my social media and with my social media team.
Does Google reader have all these feature? No it doesn’t, so stop crying and being romantic!

GoogleReaderAntonioPatti

The Google Reader closure gave me the opportunity to think about my feed reader perfect tool. I thought to all my needs as a social media manager, as a project leader and as entrepreneur. Ironically I understood that I don’t need a simple reader, but a Corporate Content Aggregation and Management Application.

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