The UX Archive observes where design has been and where it’s going

uxa 1

Try explaining UX design to someone who’s unfamiliar. It’s tough. Unlike the typography or colors that make up an application’s aesthetic, user experience is invisible when done well. That’s why for mobile app makers and designers good UX can be a tough thing to nail down. How do you implement design ideas when the best ones are fundamentally unnoticeable?

For designers Arthur Bodolec, Chris Polk, and Nathan Barraille, the answer is in observation. Observing how others have tackled user actions, and making note of what’s worked and what hasn’t. To do this, they created the UX Archive – a site meant for logging examples of popular apps and identifying how their design goes about certain challenges.

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October 16, 2013 / By

Clear, the App with Timeless Design

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Back in the iOS 6 days (man, remember those days?, there were a few apps that might foreshadow what was to come in the fabled “flat” iOS 7 redesign. One of the most prevalent was a to-do list app called Clear. It was gorgeous – simple color gradients, bold typography, and dead obvious gestures that made the app a delight to use. In the context of the rest of the OS’s awkward linen textures and embossed buttons, Clear stood out as the indisputable way of the future.

So now that we’ve arrived at this less-skeumorphic landscape, how does Clear hold up? Better than ever. In fact, it didn’t take much to return the app to its lead among other iOS 7 redesigns. With the just released Clear+, the typography was lightened, a few UI elements were added, and iCloud syncing was introduced to support a new iPad version.

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September 30, 2013 / By

Phonebloks: The Phone Design Dream

phonebloks 1

As Apple released its iPhone 5C last week, buyers had the opportunity to personalize their phone unlike never before. Five color variations as opposed to the standard two? Man, the choices.

Color variations aren’t much of a customization feature – in the end, your phone does the same things, has the same features, and even falls short in the same areas as everyone else’s. Dutch designer Dave Hakkens, however, has come up with a concept that would truly make your phone customizable.

It’s called Phonebloks – a name that might remind you of Megabloks or Legos. And thinking along those lines would be right on. The Phonebloks concept takes phone design to users as Legos do for architecture. Every functional component of a phone is contained in its own individualized block. The battery, for instance, would be one block; while the camera would be an other. Combine all the right blocks, and soon you have a working phone.

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September 23, 2013 / By

Orée Touch Slab Trackpad

Orée Touch Slab Trackpad

As a person who’s quite interested in wabi-sabi, the idea of the beauty that exists in things that have aged naturally, the Orée Touch Slab is quite intriguing. Despite it’s wooden frame this is actually a sophisticated, Bluetooth equipped trackpad. What I think is really neat is how the wood would start to wear as a person uses it, the subtle gestures of their fingers wearing familiar grooves into it’s surface. It’s kind of nice to think of our technology aging gracefully, hopefully we start to see more thoughtful designs like this in the near future.

Bobby Solomon

September 19, 2013 / By

Twinkind, a 3D-printed life-like photo figurine

Twinkind, a 3D-printed life-like photo figurine

The image above is a nice photo of a man standing on a street corner, except something is off, like his features are too flat, it’s hard to tell, but something isn’t right. That’s because what you’re looking at is a miniature, 3D printed model of a man which is only about 6 inches tall. That’s the crazy innovation coming from Twinkind, a Hamburg, Germany based company which can make a mini-me of you for only $300.

All you have to do is book an appointment, get scanned by their “custom-engineered photogrammetry 3D scanner” (which they liken to the technology that was used in The Matrix), then they touch it up in post-production, print it, and ship it. It’s pretty amazing that they can get the colors so perfect, that seems like some black magic to me, but based on all of the examples I’ve seen it looks totally legit.

You can read more about Twinkind and their process in this Wired article.

Twinkind, a 3D-printed life-like photo figurine

Bobby Solomon

August 13, 2013 / By

Review: Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H6 Headphones

Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H6 Headphones

Since 1925, Danish innovators Bang & Olufsen have been creating well-designed products that have filled a void in the drab world of consumer electronics. I remember the first time I came across B&O in the pages of Dwell magazine, and the first time I visited their physical store at Union Square in San Francisco. This was in the early 2000’s, and all I could think was, “Why aren’t all electronics built this well?”

Recently, Bang & Olufsen released the BeoPlay H6, a stunning pair of headphones which unites the classic form with cutting edge design features.

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Bobby Solomon

August 7, 2013 / By

National Geographic Turns Their Massive Archive Into A Tumblr

National Geographic Photo Archive

Last week, Bobby tweeted: “‘Remember when images didn’t move?’ – Our grandchildren.” It’s exciting to imagine such a future; one where your grandkids’ friend would reply “What?!” with bewildered astonishment that people ever lived without moving images being the norm. So what does that mean for the billions of still images lying around? Who knows. But before theirs get too dusty, National Geographic is releasing a small trove of previously unpublished still images on a Tumblr simply called Found.

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Alex Dent

June 24, 2013 / By

Meet the Smallest Flying Robot: the RoboBee

RoboBee a tiny flying robot inspired by bees

Earlier this week, we talked about a bee habitat designed by Architecture students in Buffalo, and now we are bookending the week with more about bees and the design of the world’s smallest flying robot. But what do bees have to do with tiny flying robots? A team of science folk from Harvard has spent more than a decade trying to build a swarm of tiny, biomimetic robots that are inspired by the industrious insects. And if bee populations continue to decline, we may one day depend on buzzing swarms of these mechanical wonders to pollinate crops.

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Alex Dent

May 10, 2013 / By

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