A month ago I moved to a standup desk, mainly because my friend Rafael Mojica talked me into it. However, first I needed to get a couple of things to adapt my desk as a standup one. The legs could be extended but not enough so Rafa told me that with two sets of bed lifts the problem could be solved. Next, a mat anti-fatigue. This is the second most important thing. No matter how comfortable are your shoes, they will feel flat and hard by the end of the day. A mat anti-fatigue helps you be up for more hours. Finally, some books helped raise the monitor a little bit for a more ergonomic position. This is the list of things of my low-budget transformation:
1. Ikea Galant Desk
2. Bed Bath & Beyond bed lifts
3. Sublime Imprint Anti-Fatigue Comfort Mat
Extremely tired. The first day was the hardest, every day after was a little bit less hard. This week I would come home and jump onto my bed and rest.
Started to feel legs much stronger and less tired. I could go for longer periods of time without sitting down and felt much comfortable getting work done. I could actually focused more on my work rather than on my feet or legs.
Started to dominate this. I now feel that I move my feet and legs unconsciously during the day and I don’t get distracted much about the fatigue. I don’t get home feeling tired and even my wife told me I have stronger legs!
People thing I did this for different reasons, some think it was to improve my back position, to do excercise, as a response to a column problem, to follow a trendy thing, or to avoid prostate cancer. I don’t have a specific reason other than being healthier, but I wanted to try it myself and learn what it is to have a standup desk.
After a month or so, I feel stronger legs (and feet), much more energy during the weekends, and even better digestion.
Give it a try!
Here are my thoughts about some creative UI elements that were coined during the last 5 years, from the small details to those that changed the way we interact with our devices.
Pull to Refresh
One less button to tap. Invented by Loren Brichter, the man behind Atebits and Tweetie. One of the most significative innovations in UID that had happened since touch screens came out, and here I mean since 2007 when the iPhone was released. It’s hard to imagine ourselves hitting a refresh button in every app we want to update its content. Now, in iOS at least, we simply pull to refresh instinctually, and it’s rapidly becoming a common pattern in iOS.
Twitter acquired Tweetie in April 9, 2010, and filed a patent for this gesture which apparently will not be enforced.
Swipe to [action]
Let the user discover. Additionally, Tweetie introduced a new swiping to display a menu ‘behind’ the tweet. iOS had already swiping for delete, but Tweetie used differently.
Today many apps use this same gesture to display a menu with actions, others, like Tweetbot have used it in a very clever way: Swipe right to see the tweet they are replying to, and swipe left to see the tweets that replied to this tweet. It’s genius. One can follow a conversation easly and jump to other conversations that developed in the way. This gesture-based feature alone makes Tweetbot a winner in my list.
Look mom, no hands! It is repeatedly said by Jen Simmons, the devices we hold in our hands, are now more capable than the PCs we have on our desktops. Our phones and tables have now GPS, Cellular data, accelerometer, gyroscopes, vibration motors, HD cameras, Retina displays, compass, and everything else a PC has. The question is how are we taking advantage of this?
Instapaper makes a great use of the accelerometer. It detects the inclination of your iPhone or iPod Touch and atomatically scrolls up or down just by tilting your device. Genius.
GPS & Maps
(Image from A Book Apart – Mobile Fist, by Luke Wroblewski)
New search for new type of input. Yahoo! (yes… Yahoo!), made a great use of the map in the app Sketch-a-Seach (not available anymore). Instead of displaying the list of items based on a filter or radius around your current location, the app allows the user to draw the boundary where he/she is interested in discovering local businesses. Again, mobile wins over desktop.
The invisible UI. The Status Bar in iOS is 40px on the iPhone and 42px on the new iPad. These smart-pants at Apple decided to leave that area “unused” to allow space to a very-well-done 3D effect when flipping the page. This effect is perfectly noticeable with the black iPad as the screen color continues seamlessly into the iPad frame. Do you want to blow your mind? Turn off the lights and start turning pages.
Slide to Unlock
2-year olds really appreciate this. Remember the old want o unlock a phone before 2007? Every phone had its own way to do it, but there was always a screen modal that would tell you what keys you needed to press in order to unlock the phone. In most cases the passcode was Any Key + #. There was not one single 2-year old that could unlock those phones because they would need to know how to read! Today every 2-year old can unlock an iPhone or iPad, and these will never accidentally unlock while in your pocket.
Pinch to Create item
Getting rid of the buttons. Buttons are a hack, says Josh Clark. It seems that at Clear took it very seriously. Why tap a ‘+’ button to add a new item? Simply pull to add a new one to the top of the list, or pinch two items apart to create one between the two. So far the only utility app I know of without buttons at all.
Provide clues. The challenges with menus is that they can be long lists, and that sometimes they can’t remain visible to the user at all moments. So, what is the most common practice to let the user know there is a menu? Usually this is a button at the top left corner. Kara McCain suggested that these buttons should be like sparklines, ”data-intense, design-simple, word-sized graphics”. Translated to a GUI, the icon in the button should represent the way the items will be presented on the list. Best solution so far, and provides visual feedback to the user on what to expect. Here are four examples:
Five years laters the iPhone was launched seems we are starting to understand the importance of mobile, content and UX in these devices, and as these become more powerful and capable, I am sure new UI elements will be born.