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Why Flappy Bird Is / Was So Successful And Popular But So Difficult To Learn: A Cognitive Teardown Of The User Experience (UX)

Promised simplicity, delivered deep complexity 

One of the fascinating conundrums in the science of man-machine design is the human mind’s complete inability to accurately assess the operational complexity of a given user interface by visual inspection. It turns out the human operating system is hardwired to judge the complexity of almost anything based on visual/spatial arrangement of elements on whatever you are looking at. This is especially true for screen-based interfaces. Simply put, the more elements presented to a user on the screen, the higher the judged initial complexity. The opposite is also true. A very simple screen leads to an assumption of simplicity. The key point here is that the actual cognitive complexity of a given UX solution cannot be judged by visual inspection… nothing is actually further from the truth. Yet we do it every time we open a new app, visit a website, or load new software. Continue Reading…

Breaking Bad vs. Facebook: 10 things Walt’s meth lab and Zuck’s Facebook have in common

Some comparisons are simply too compelling to pass up, especially when they seem so unlikely, yet under the covers, turn out to be startling in their alignments. Such is the comparison between the creation and maintenance of Walter White’s successful meth lab business as depicted in the hit AMC Series “Breaking Bad” and the creation and maintenance of Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook. It turns out that Walt and Zuck are, for the most part, on the same page. For those who take offense to such a comparison, think again.

Common Factor 1: Both business models are based on the concept of the ultimate HACK.

At the core of Breaking Bad is the story of how a hapless high school chemistry teacher with terminal cancer emerges as a meth lord by cooking his own special form of crystal meth – all in the interest of leaving money for his family when he is gone. Walter White achieves this objective with amazing dramatic effect by employing a mind-bending combination of creativity, terrorizing behavior and constantly morphing meth production and distribution techniques where the only thing that really matters is getting his meth on the street and cash in hand. This is a story about makeshift chemistry, not about real chemistry. Walt is exceedingly capable at this form of makeshift mayhem.

breaking-bad-walt-jesse-cooking
Copyright AMC, All Rights Reserved

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Why Candy Crush Saga is So Successful and Popular But Will Never Be an Angry Birds: A Cognitive Tear Down of the User Experience (UX)

The Big Question  Why are certain computer-based games so compelling, while others fail entirely to draw us in? The answer to this persistent question, a question game designers struggle to grasp every day, is complex, but also on a certain level surprisingly straightforward. I have written and spoken on this topic at conferences and explored this question in a long-form blog post based on a cognitive tear down of the astoundingly successful game Angry Birds. Over 2 million readers have viewed that analysis. Continue Reading…

User-Centered Design in the New World of Complex Design Problems

Click the image below to view a recent article by Charles Mauro entitled “User-Centered Design in the New World of Complex Design Problems,” published in the Winter 2012 edition of Innovation.  The article focuses on the ways that user-centered design has changed and continues to change in the context of our increasingly connected digital world, highlighting particular trends that have an effect on this shift.

Apple v. Samsung: Impact and Implications for Product Design, User Interface Design (UX), Software Development and the Future of High-Technology Consumer Products

Background: The following long-form post is based, in part, on the seminar sponsored by the New York Technology Council / UX Design Track titled: “Apple vs. Samsung: What the case means to software development and UX design2 . The session was held in New York on October 23, 2012. The session featured presentations by Christopher V. Carani Esq.3 , Robert S. Katz Esq.4 and Charles L. Mauro CHFP5 . The seminar was created and moderated by Charles L. Mauro.

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Measuring Your User Experience (UX): 12 methods for ensuring user acceptance and business success

Data and More Data

Everywhere we turn in the development of technology-based business models the world is focusing on data. Big Data, Structured Data, Unstructured Data, Fast data, Slow data, even Data about Data. This transformation to a research and data-driven decision-making process started with web analytics and has now migrated to the design and development of all manner of user experiences for high-technology products and services. Continue Reading…

The Science Behind User Experience UX Design and Usability Testing

A recorded interview with Charles Mauro CHFP conducted by Robynn McCarthy

Our newest post is a recent in-depth live interview recording of Charles L Mauro covering his more than 30 years as a leading usability scientist. If you are wondering why some products are easy to use and others much less so, why Apple products are so successful, what does it take to create a world-class user experience you will find the interview eye opening if not highly thought provoking. Continue Reading…

Why Angry Birds is so successful and popular: a cognitive teardown of the user experience

The usual question: Over the past 40+ years as a consultant in the field generally known as human factors engineering (aka usability engineering), I have been asked by hundreds of clients why users don’t find their company’s software engaging. The answer to this persistent question is complex but never truly elusive. This question yields to experience and professional usability analysis.

The unusual question: Surprisingly, it is a rare client indeed who asks the opposing question: why is an interface so engaging that users cannot stop interacting with it? This is a difficult question because it requires cognitive reverse engineering to determine what interaction attributes a successful interface embodies that result in a psychologically engaging user experience. This question pops up when products become massively successful based on their user experience design – think iPhone, iPad, Google Instant Search, Nintendo Wii, Microsoft Kinect.

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Alert: migration to new navigation system using Google maps draws serious usability concerns for massive package delivery program

Breaking news: Sante Oftrax, the CTO of NPE (North Pole Enterprises) spoke last week at the annual meeting of the International Society of Web 2.0 Rich Internet Applications for Global Package Distribution Conference (W2.0/RIAGPDC). He indicated that his firm’s recent migration from the human-based, dead-reckoning global navigation system, used for the last 500 years, to Google Maps point-to-point navigation interface was causing serious concern based on a recent usability test conducted by the main package delivery crew last month in Norway. He summarized the recent findings from the aforementioned usability testing study as follows:

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