Audiobooks

If you have read the Tolkien classic ‘The Hobbit’, chances are that you have seen the Hobbit movies too. Would you head to an audiobook that narrates the book? If you do, would you buy a book from an audiobook company?

The digital publishing industry is made up of e-books and audiobooks. They complement, not compete with the traditional books. Audiobooks offer different kind of experience – you can hear the books on the walk, on the drive, while cooking or any other activities that do not ‘demand’ attention.

I recently reviewed an audiobook application and bought an audiobook. The app experience was underwhelming and I was amazed to see the difference of treatments to the Android app vis-a-vis the iPhone app. So, here is my design concept that will give an enhanced experience of an audiobook app.

Audiobook Mindmap

Audiobook Mindmap

Audiobook Concept Page 1

Audiobook Concept Page 1

Audiobook Concept Page 2

Audiobook Concept Page 2

The Conference Calls

How does your average work day look like – are you engaged in office calls / conference calls? Twice, thrice to the max? As your responsibilities increase, you daytime is divided mostly in the calls. You don’t keep a count of the calls, you just join them.

The app that I am presenting is in the works, it will be launched soon. The app will help the user to join calls over voice and Wi-Fi calling.

This app takes away the pains of joining the conference calls – once it is installed on your mobile it scans the inboxes, collates the calendar invites and keeps a sequence of conference calls ready to join. It prompts you before the call, dials in 10 digit toll free / call numbers, pin codes automatically (dials intelligently the country codes as per your phone number). It gives you an advance information about upcoming calls.

If you want to patch in someone, it gives you a dialer / recent calls / favorites list to call and allows you to merge the calls. Its coming on iPhone, Android and Apple Watch.

iPhone App - Page 1

iPhone App – Page 1

iPhone App - Page 2

iPhone App – Page 2

iPhone App - Page 3

iPhone App – Page 3

Android App - Page 1

Android App – Page 1

Android App - Page 2

Android App – Page 2

Android App - Page 3

Android App – Page 3

Android App - Page 4

Android App – Page 4

Apple Watch App

Apple Watch App

 

The Electric Generation

We are indebted to the scientific society of the 1900s who invented technologies we take for granted.

One of the inventors happens to be Nikola Tesla. Elon Musk is redefining the electric cars through his venture Tesla Motors. Major automobile manufacturers have taken their steps building electric cars – Nissan, Chevrolet, Toyota. Those who are genuinely interested in understanding the electric car history can read about Better Place (started by Shai Agassi, now closed) and watch the documentary “Revenge of the Electric Car” on Netflix.

While the electric cars’ evolution is on, it has not stopped the automobile world to leverage their technology to the most ubiquitous form of transportation in most countries – the bike. One of the companies that is manufacturing an electric bike in US happens to be Mahindra, naming its electric bike as “GenZe”. If you happen to be in Bay Area or Los Angeles, chances are that you might have seen that bike on the road.

I designed a mobile app concept for GenZe. The users of the mobile app are students, pizza delivery guys. The idea of the app was simple – know the bike’s essential parameters before turning the engine on. 100+ parameters of the bike are up in the cloud. There are sensors on the bike that give crucial data about the bike’s mechanics, electrical, tire pressure, etc.

The iOS and Android app offer the similar experience, with one exception. Android phones have a desktop widget of the App – no need to launch the app. There is also a micro-website that gives detailed analysis of bike’s usage.

GenZe iPhone app

GenZe iPhone app

GenZe iPhone app

GenZe iPhone app

GenZe Android app

GenZe Android app

GenZe Micro Website

GenZe Micro Website

The travel bug

Raise your hand if you love to travel :). Both for work and pleasure.

Being a designer has taken me to new places like US, UK, Malaysia and India. I love to travel.

Its easy to travel in India, my native country. The modes of transport are easy to understand and arrange. Same is the case with UK – great country for public transit. Malaysia is good too. It is in US where I struggled with – by using public transit. The fault was entirely mine.

I was in California after a good gap of 7 years. I should have started driving the car in US by now. It was my second visit to the country, longer than the previous one. The right-to-left wheel transition was a bit baffling to me, initially. I tried driving once and then gave up the thought. I relied on friends to tag along in their cars on weekend outings and sometimes choosing the VTA trains to roam around.

Weekend agenda was simple – explore new places. The downside of using the public transit was time – a simple journey from San Jose (CA) to Gilroy (CA) is a 40 min drive. A public transit journey (combining train and bus) taken around 2 hrs.

Back then, we did not have smartphones. The iPhone was 1yr old. Google was touted to release its first Android device. There was no blazing internet on the phone that we have now. No question of maps on phone.  It was July 2008.

On one of the weekend trips back to home, I missed a bus. Me and my friend waited for the next bus to come, which did not arrive as per schedule. The printed bus time-table at the stop told a grim story of weekend bus gaps. There were relatively less number of buses plying on the roads on weekends.

I thought, we are in the one of the most advanced places on earth, i.e. California. How come we do not have any service / tool / application that helps me travel with public transport? Mobile apps were just beginning to appear on devices. What I was thinking as a concept was a mashup of public transit data, mobile phone capabilities and real time information.

In 2009, I sketched a concept – a public transit app that any tourist, or any city dweller can use to travel. The app is called ‘Ghumiyo’ – a slang in Hindi language, which translated means “travel”. Notice the template I used 🙂 – The Nexus One and the HTC Sense skin used as the Android launcher. 

Here is the app I designed:

Ghumiyo_1

Ghumiyo_1

Ghumiyo_2

Ghumiyo_2

Ghumiyo_3

Ghumiyo_3

Ghumiyo_4

Ghumiyo_4

Ghumiyo_5

Ghumiyo_5

Fast forward to today – I now live in Texas and I drive a car :).

Design for food

Let’s step away a while from the telecom domain :). I am going to present sketches I did for a pizza restaurant in Pune (India), Greens & Olives.

A brief history of Greens & Olives (G&O) should be told here. G&O was started in a place that was perceived as jinxed. The earlier occupant was a restaurant too. Before that, there was a retail outlet. The locality is brimming with 70+ restaurants. Moving to an already crowded competitive space was necessity. G&O decided that the food menu will be vegetarian, no liquor will be served. With odds stacked against it, it was going to be swimming with the sharks for G&O.

In the last two years Aditya Nilangekar, Pavan Iyengar and their team has excelled in creating G&O an exciting restaurant in Aundh, Pune.

Food and ambience is great. Chef’s recommendations are superb too.

The mobile app I designed complements the customer experience G&O team has created in 2 years. The iOS app and Android apps are being designed.

Here are the sketches of the mobile app (mind map and app UI):

Mindmap

Mindmap

Mobile App Concept - Page 1

Mobile App Concept – Page 1

Mobile App Concept - Page 2

Mobile App Concept – Page 2

If you are living in Pune, head to Aundh. Here is the address (opens a new Google Maps window) – Opposite Tangent Furniture Mall, Nagras road, Aundh Pune, Maharashtra. Call: +91 20 3267 3030

Step 4) Understanding the target devices /platforms – PART 2 of 4

“Do not get trapped in tools! Focus on the design problem & apply the best design practice”- was one of my mentor’s guiding principles on user experience design.

I believed in him. That was 2004 then. Web 2.0 had not yet hit Indian shores. The designers had very limited digital tools for wireframing. Microsoft Excel & Visio were the de-facto tools for digital wireframing. I never visualized that the mighty Excel could churn out interactive prototypes. I found a new respect for Microsoft Office applications.

Couple of years down the line, Web 2.0 was in everyone’s slidepacks, the social networking phenomenon caught attention of users (Orkut was the cool place to be), and mobile apps ecosystem made a grand debut. The digital product design required new set of tools, new hands & minds of the designers. New interaction patterns were designed & published every day.  Some designers of 2004 had to take a ‘T-shaped’ approach towards design. I am one of them.

Tools – old or new, the way to reach a digital prototype has not changed. Paper prototype is never omitted :). Digital prototypes are created after the paper prototypes mature.

What has changed is the way the tools / stencils / templates are used, in creating paper prototypes. Earlier, I used a blank canvas for sketching user journeys. Now, I use the following templates –

1)   Designing a web based application / portal / enterprise dashboard

Browser Template

Browser Template

The result of using this template is –

Usage: Browser Template

Usage: Browser Template

 

 

2)   Designing an iPhone application

iPhone Template

iPhone Template

The result of using this template is –

Usage: iPhone Template

Usage: iPhone Template

3)   Designing an iPad application

iPad Template

iPad Template

The result of using this template is –

Usage: iPad Template

Usage: iPad Template

4)   Designing an Android application

Android Template

Android Template

The result of using this template is –

Usage: Android Template

Usage: Android Template

Of course, there are multiple templates that you can choose from. Sample this: http://www.geekchix.org/blog/2010/01/03/a-collection-of-printable-sketch-templates-and-sketch-books-for-wireframing/

Remember, as the saying goes, “let’s not get trapped into tools” :). Achieve a fine balance between the UX design tools and the design philosophies. Get the job done :).

In our next post, let’s see how to sketch on the paper – how to conceptualize the user journeys.