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Tuesday, February 19, 2013


HTC did it! The launch of the latest flagship HTC One, brought changes to HTC Romania front page, which is now highlighting the latest addition. The message that HTC wanted to display was "What will inspire you"(Romanian: Ce te va inspira) and on the green button below should have read "Try it! Click here"(Romanian: Incearca-l Click aici). Instead of that the website actually displayed "What will inpire you", but that's not the icing on the cake. The fail can be seen on the green button, which said "Incearca-l Fa". If you translate that from Romanian you'll get "Try it hoe!". The message that was supposed to appear was too long for the green button, so it was trimmed that only this Romanian slang appeared on it. The issue has been corrected after a couple of hours, but still, a fail of this magnitude is worth noting.


Monday, February 18, 2013

SN Upload review - Sharing, sharing, sharing

Social sharing is a big and integral part of Windows Phone, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have it's shortcomings. Photo sharing is one of those shortcomings. It's easy to post a message on all your social networks but when it comes to pictures, you have to manually upload it to each social network at a time. Did you ever wondered what you would do if you had two Twitter or Facebook accounts? Windows Phone only supports one of them. How about posting to your Facebook Page? Windows Phone has no support for that whatsoever.

This is where SN Upload comes to the rescue. The app allows you to choose or take a photo and upload it to all your accounts at once. You can have as many Twitter and Facebook accounts as you want. SN Upload supports Facebook pages too, not to mention Flickr and Dropbox.

For each photo you upload you can select the accounts where that photo should be uploaded to. For capped or slow data connections the app offers the ability to resize the photo before uploading it which improves the upload speed considerably.

SN Upload started as a Twitter and Facebook only uploader, but has evolved the past few months to now include Facebook Pages, Flickr and Dropbox. And it's only at version 1.7(pending approval).

The application is pretty simple to use, has a tabbed interface, just like any other Windows Phone hub. The first panel greets you with a photo slot, a message box and an upload button. The accounts you have selected to upload to, are displayed above the message box. Tapping the accounts label takes you to the accounts panel.

In the accounts panel, you can see all your accounts and select which ones you would like to upload to. Adding another account is just one step away. All you need to do is tap the "…" menu and choose which type of account you want to add. In case your Facebook pages have changed(you became admin to new ones, or removed some page) you can use the same menu and tap the "refresh facebook pages" option to update the pages you administer.

Next comes the settings panel where you can select the dimension you wish to resize your photos to before uploading. Here you have 4 choices Small(640x480), Medium(1024x768), Large (1600x1200) and Original(original file resolution). You should note that if you choose the original resolution it may take some time before SN Upload posts your photos on all your accounts, because the photo in question may be large. If you choose to resize your photos, your uploads will take very little time to complete, because the size of the resized image is around 90% smaller than the original image hence increasing the speed of the upload.

SN Upload can be used by opening the app and selecting a photo from the gallery by tapping on the image slot, or by simply using the Pictures Hub share menu when viewing an image.

The app is available for all Windows Phone with version 7.5 and above. It and has a 3 days trial and can be downloaded from here: SNUpload for Windows Phone.


Saturday, February 9, 2013

RANT: The Above The Fold myth rebunked

Last week I read an article that left me scratching my head in wonder. It made me ask myself existential questions and wonder if I've been living under a rock for the last 32 years.

First of all, what is this above the fold?. Well, it's basically the first thing that you see when you open a website, the index page, the face of the website. The name comes from the printed paper industry and refers to the headlines shown in the first half of the paper cover, the part that is always visible even with the paper folded.

The author implies that it is not necessary to put your most important content and call to action in front of the users, and that users have gotten used to scrolling web pages in the last 20 years. The scrolling part is entirely true. Yes, we have evolved. Yes, we are scrolling. But do we like it? The answer is no. Anyone would rather have the things they are looking for right in front of them. We all want what's easy for us.

No, I'm not lazy if that's what you're asking yourself, I'm practical. I don't want to waste time on a website scrolling and looking for the thing that I need instead of having it in front of my eyes. The author of the above mentioned article wants you to believe that your visitor is smart enough to scroll down and find the product or whatever you're selling by himself, but the truth is, nobody wants to do that. I do it all the time, and I hate it. The author presents a best case scenario, that is likely to happen in 5% of the cases at most. Anyone in their right mind should be looking at the 5% visitors that define the worst case scenario, the scenario when someone opens up your webpage, sees nothing of interest and leaves immediately. If you can convince these 5%, you've got it. The truth is you can't convince these 5% so easily, but you can damn well try. In order to try you need to show those visitors as much as you can in a small window of time and pixel space.

So you're gonna wonder why the hell am I reading this article here, on a technology blog? Well, because it's all about technology.

In my 10 years as a developer and user interface designer I've tried to put the most important features right in front of the users, so they won't have to look hard for them. No too many, but not too few. You have to find the balance. We, the developers, we have issues, problems. People think that we're weird, crazy, geeks. They think we know little about usability, which is false. We work with multiple platforms and encounter countless issues that most people are not aware of, until they encounter such issues. As a developer, I have to think about every potential user of an application that I develop, be it desktop, web or mobile. When developing desktop apps, things are simple. You design the app to look well on the smallest resolution and that's it. But when it comes to web, we have a whole different matter. Not only is a website restricted by the same issues that a desktop app has(resolution), but it's also restricted by the devices it can be seen from. A website can be accessed from mobile phones, from tablets, where screen estate is a premium.

My point is this: how easy is it for a visitor of your website to reach your desired call to action if it's positioned in the second screen of your website? There are three answers here:
1) For desktop browsers: easy enough(by scrolling) but confusing(why wouldn't a main action be in the first page?)
2) For tablets, hard. You first have to zoom in to read the text, and then scroll down to see the action(and we all hate scrolling down on mobile devices don't we?)
3) For mobile phones, hardest. Besides the zooming in for a decent read, you have to scroll endlessly down for the action.

So IMHO, the industry is not trending towards more and more scrolling, but towards an easier to access important information on a small screen. Just take a look at Apple's website. Everything they want to sell is on the top row. The second row of information consists in the latest devices they rolled out, still about sales. They don't even have a second screen to scroll to. Next example is Google's website. First row, is all you can get from Google, while the second row is the actual search. No fuss, no blazing graphics. All you need is simply before your eyes. Next, let's get a negative example, Yahoo. On their website you got links all over the place: left, right, top, bottom, we've even got tabs within tabs. Do I need to tell you that Apple and Google are making billions while Yahoo is drifting?

P.S. I wonder how many more comments are in the quoted article that never saw the light of day.