Suggestions by Chris Zhang

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This topic contains 5 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Henning 5 years, 7 months ago.

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April 20, 2012 at 8:00 am #752

Henning

The following comments were in response to a blog post. We moved them here for public discussion.

Submitted on 2012/04/19 at 10:02 am:

Hey, as many iDevice users, have become used to the way that iOS handles text in apps ie. in reminders or say, notes, text entered will automatically be saved and processed if ignored or dismissed, such as touching an empty space or hitting the back button while typing text, however, this is not the case in Steps – I type up a reminder and just close the app or tap elsewhere to look at other lists and poof the reminder I just set disappears. This seems quite annoying to me, considering that due to the positioning of the “done” button on the keyboard it impacts on the functionality of the app during one handed usage. The same goes for the + button for left handed people, perhaps a gesture (a left swipe?) on the list title will improve productivity as the other actions do?

Submitted on 2012/04/19 at 10:04 am:

Oh and being able to sort lists would also be nice

Submitted on 2012/04/19 at 10:16 am:

Sorry for the third comment but I agree with ronen about the done button for timed reminders – a tap on the reminder itself should be sufficient, or integrated/being the same as the clock icon the bought up the interface in the first place.

My last complain is that the + button should be abolished – the way that a reminder is created when a list is opened when it is empty is an awesome feature and the something similar should apply when there are reminders in that list eg. An empty reminder that automatically enters editing mode when single tapped.

Submitted on 2012/04/19 at 10:19 am:

On a side note – blue light disturbs sleep patterns and natural rhythms after sunset, so themes might not be such a bad idea

Submitted on 2012/04/19 at 1:18 pm, In reply to Chris Zhang:

The common practice on iOS is, that when you enter a text and tap somewhere else, the text will not be saved, but you close the editing mode. Tapping outside the editing area is like canceling the action. Steps follows this paradigm and it is also part of the Apple iOS user interface guidelines. We built Steps for single handed usage and we tested it extensively. The majority of our testers had no issue with the positioning of buttons and icons, because everything can be reached with one hand. One issue we recognize – and this goes for all iOS apps – is the use with a left hand. Most apps are designed primarily for right handed users.

Submitted on 2012/04/19 at 1:19 pm, In reply to Chris Zhang:

You can sort lists by adding a number upfront, like 1 Work, 2 Personal, and so on.

Submitted on 2012/04/19 at 1:22 pm, In reply to Chris Zhang:

We are getting into details of UX and UI design here – but to make this a short reply: it is not a good idea to assign two different functions to the same button or icon (like opening the task and confirming the editing, for an example). Second, we don’t follow a philosophy where you have to learn a lot of gestures in order to use an app. Usability guru Jacob Nielsen recommends to always show visible indicators for an action on a screen interface. If there is no button or icon, you don’t know the function is there. Hiding a function and making users learn a gesture is defying the purpose.

Submitted on 2012/04/19 at 1:22 pm, In reply to Chris Zhang:

You are kidding, right? Does Mail have themes, or Calendar, Safari, Weather, iA Writer? Steps is not a game and we want to keep it distinct from too playful apps in this field.

Submitted on 2012/04/20 at 7:18 am, In reply to Henning:

“You are kidding, right? Does Mail have themes, or Calendar, Safari, Weather, iA Writer? Steps is not a game and we want to keep it distinct from too playful apps in this field.”

No they don’t, but they don’t have a dominant colour either(other than white). Neither are the colours used in them highly fluorescent. And as a matter of fact, the native weather app does change colour depending on the time of day/night and other apps such as the iBooks app indeed have different themes for different purposes, Safari has a black theme for incognito mode, and the Notes app has alternate fonts. Themes need not be colourful, childish or playful as you imply, but maybe some would like a more business or professionally orientated look about the app.

“We are getting into details of UX and UI design here – but to make this a short reply: it is not a good idea to assign two different functions to the same button or icon (like opening the task and confirming the editing, for an example).”

Hmm, but according to the basics of UX the app should do the work for the user – if the user has opened the time selection interface shouldn’t it be natural that the button also saves this selection?

Also, the “Done button (for time)” seems to be out of place, the design is not consistent with the other elements of your app. Perhaps the reason that the “Done” button is missed is because it appears out of the blue? (forgive the pun) It has little relevance to the rest of the interface, unless editing the top reminder in the “Open” list.

“As for the done button, it has the exact same size like the send button in iMessage (SMS).”

But the position of the send button actually correlates to its function, and follows the same design as the rest of the interface.

“Hiding a function and making users learn a gesture is defying the purpose.”

This I agree with, but the entering of reminders is too slow in my opinion – say you are creating a list for a picnic – you don’t want to be pressing “Done” then “+” in-between every item when you have ~10 things to enter, especially with the animations as well.

“Second, we don’t follow a philosophy where you have to learn a lot of gestures in order to use an app. Usability guru Jacob Nielsen recommends to always show visible indicators for an action on a screen interface. If there is no button or icon, you don’t know the function is there.”

You are kidding right? This app incorporates more gestures than the average app on ios, and differ greatly from the native gestures. Edit should be tap and hold on text. Delete should be swipe left and press the delete button. Re-arrange should be tap and hold on the icon or empty part.

“You can sort lists by adding a number upfront, like 1 Work, 2 Personal, and so on.”

Doesn’t this defeat the purpose of the app being simple and not having to ” flag them, tag them, prioritize…”?

I also remember you commenting somewhere that it is only logical that lists can be sorted similar to the way that reminders can be sorted, but you were working on it due to the way that ios handles headers or something.

“The common practice on iOS is, that when you enter a text and tap somewhere else, the text will not be saved, but you close the editing mode. Tapping outside the editing area is like canceling the action. Steps follows this paradigm and it is also part of the Apple iOS user interface guidelines.”

Actually, there is no place in the native apps to cancel the typing action, but at least when the app is closed, or when the text is submitted, the information is saved and processed – spelling is corrected etc. (This can be confirmed in many apps) Shouldn’t the same go for Steps, due to user habits) even if it doesn’t follow your design philosophy?

“We built Steps for single handed usage and we tested it extensively. The majority of our testers had no issue with the positioning of buttons and icons, because everything can be reached with one hand. One issue we recognize – and this goes for all iOS apps – is the use with a left hand. Most apps are designed primarily for right handed users”

Perhaps so, but that isn’t really a reason to exclude left-handed people. It is also funny and ironic that all of your press shots and images are taken with the left hand holding the iPhone.

“providing a list to work off throughout your day”

Really? When it cant even let us sort the most important things? Are you trying to say only the most important things should be on the app?

And could you take the time to respond to those in the forums? It helps to know if you are considering it or not, instead of ignoring all of those people while continuing to post in the very same forum.

Submitted on 2012/04/20 at 7:47 am, In reply to Chris Zhang:

Thanks for this essay, Chris. Please post suggestions to improve Steps in the Forum. The comment section of articles is not the best place for it. We are also responding to posts in the forums where we see fit, but the main purpose of the forums is to provide a discussion board for users among users. We are watching it and reading everything that happens there. Your condescending note is completely unnecessary.

As for your comments on user interface design, we took great care with this. It took us several months of testing different variations in the field. The solutions we came up with were not out of the blue, they are the best option we could find to fulfill the expected behavior. We believe it is the right path and we will continue to improve the user interface, but we won’t discuss our decisions any further in public.

Steps was tested with left handed users and it worked fine. We had zero complaints from them. I take it you are left handed. With which hand do you hold a camera when you take a picture of yourself holding a phone? Where is the camera shutter release button positioned? Designing devices and apps means to find the best compromise.

On list sorting: unfortunately iOS development limits the option to sort list titles. The function of these titles is the same like artist titles in iTunes, and we cannot change the order. Using a different way to apply lists will mean to rewrite a great portion of the code, so for the time being we focus on improving other parts of Steps before we get back to list sorting. We have a number of apps to develop ahead of the road and we are not done yet with Steps for iPhone.

April 21, 2012 at 1:12 am #767

Henning

“the + button should be abolished – the way that a reminder is created when a list is opened when it is empty is an awesome feature and the something similar should apply when there are reminders in that list eg. An empty reminder that automatically enters editing mode when single tapped.”

If there is no + icon, how do you add another task to a list?

April 21, 2012 at 1:17 am #768

Henning

Regarding list sorting: we are aware of the issue and working on a solution. However, it means rewriting a great part of the core code, so it may take some time until we can test and finally release this function.

April 24, 2012 at 9:48 am #769

Chris Zhang

Thank you for reading my long post – my apologies.

On list sorting, maybe an option to switch between automatic list sorting and custom listing could be used?

I’ve taken a look at how your app works, should be possible. (Don’t worry, it was out of curiosity)
Out of curiosity, may I ask what “isSticky” is? And “displaystate”?

Also, I don’t get why the header section in settings is faded instead of being solid, it doesn’t follow rest of the design?

April 24, 2012 at 10:05 am #770

Chris Zhang

Few other things I’ve noticed – Your website has a few things – the nav bar at the top is not rounded when highlighted (when mouse hovers over or is currently in “http://stepboard.net/what-is-steps/” and those screenshots, I believe contain a mistake – the lockscreen statusbar appears on top of the in-app statusbar.

One of the things I saw you considering – location based reminders, I was wondering this – is it possible to have them based on networks? I believe its been done before, but not too sure. In iOS 5 beta, it was enabled for iPod touch (for native reminders app), but its not available anymore, is it still possible? (I’m not too familiar with apples guidelines)

April 24, 2012 at 12:07 pm #771

Henning

List sorting: the current limitations of iOS don’t allow us to sort lists. There is no way around it, unless we rewrite a great part of the code of the application. List titles use the same functionality like artist titles in iTunes, or letters in contacts. They are sorted alphabetically.

Location based reminders: We are working on them. I am not sure what you mean by “network based”. Location based reminders remind you when you leave or arrive at a defined location.

Developing apps costs time and resources. We are a very small team and we need to cover our costs. So far Steps is doing ok in the market, but the potential is much greater.

I’m sorry, but we don’t discuss code elements in public.

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