The UX Critic: Alaska Air Inflight Entertainment

For this inaugural edition of The UX Critic, I’m going to show how Alaska Air could do a little better with their inflight entertainment. And by “a little better” I mean “actually useful”. Earlier in the year I took two trips with them, and neither time was I able to get their service to work. The second time was even more irritating because I already knew of one of the blockers to the system.

Part of the reason I’m picking Alaska Air for the first critique is that I really like them. There’s a few airlines I actively avoid. In May this year I actually paid quite a bit more to fly with Alaska – partially because the whole family was going, including my two & six year old kids. Having traveled often for business, I knew Alaska’s service could easily make the flight be enjoyable while other airlines have proven to me a track record to the contrary.

Alaska Air is always improving. I hope this critique will help them continue the pattern of great service. Continue reading

Announcing The UX Critic

What’s the purpose of The UX Critic?

This is an ongoing series to help create better designs for experiences with which I have no formal input in refining.

I’ve often said that one of the easiest jobs in the world is a critic. My goal with this project is not to tear down, mock or otherwise insult others who’ve put an unknown amount of effort into something. Instead, it serves two purposes:

  1. Provide valuable UX feedback to a company about their product
  2. Solve real-world UX challenges as examples for others to learn and grow

Continue reading

Starting a “visual refresh”

If the site looks a little unfinished to you… it always is. Add to that, right now I’m making some incremental tweaks to it. I started using WordPress about a decade ago and had some favorite design techniques that others weren’t using. Now they’re pretty common. Having been an early adopter of DSLRs, back then I also wanted to showcase my photography. This designed showed a lot of that.

Now there’s mobile, responsive, even better web typography (I was using sIFR back then)… Previously I was having to do PNG hacks to get alpha transparency to work in IE6. As I refresh, I already have plans for techniques that will “gracefully degrade” in Edge.

This site is always a testing ground for me. Hence the SVG mask over on the side. But I wanted to make a special mention that I’m overhauling some stuff.

7 Ways Facebook Can Make Money, Without Invading Your Privacy

Facebook privacy concerns reached a new warning level a couple years back when their product, Instagram, released new terms stating “you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service” That effectively paved the way for them to use your photos however they want, outside of their service, for profit… including the potential of selling users photos as a stock photography service.

Instagram later recanted and revised the terms. They cite needing to generate revenue as a reason for the changes, and that’s reasonable. Since then, privacy issues continue to rise. The issue has even sparked a competing social network to spin up, with goals to:

  • never sell user data to advertisers or third parties
  • never show advertisements
  • not enforce a real-name policy

However, there are many ways for Facebook and Instagram to generate revenue without expanding their license on user generated content or pushing the privacy limits to a new low.

These ideas are not innovative and rather plain. (If Facebook wants more ground breaking ideas, they can hire me 😉 Some of these ideas may invade the space of Facebook apps. That does pose a problem, but I think many users are in the same boat as I – we don’t need more third-party data sharing. With users losing trust in FB, the external apps are even less likely to be accepted.  Continue reading

Google’s Chromebook, are my expectations really that high?

Asus ChromebookWhat I’m comparing it to

My wife often uses an old 2006 MacBook Pro for web surfing, Google Docs, YouTube and a few other tasks that are generally considered lightweight by today’s standards. The MA610LL model came with a 2.33GHz Core 2 Duo (dual core for those who’ve forgotten that processor), 667MHz system bus and even one of those spinny things that dies and has to be replaced. A DVD player, yeah, one of those.

To be fair, I did upgrade it to 4GB of RAM and put in a pretty snappy HDD – 7200RPM and can do well over 100MB/s r/w. Well, snappy by 2009 standards when I put it in there.

The screen is old, yellowed and looks like some of the backlight might be out. The CPU often runs at about 75%.

A Chromebook, that can run all Google’s stuff, right?

It would only make sense that a Google Chromebook could play 720p video off of YouTube. I mean, if this over eight year old Mac can do it, shouldn’t a current model Chromebook? Continue reading