Date of Lecture: 2 September 2013
Summary and feelings of the day:
Facebook Seminar was held on this particular day with 12 teams giving their thoughts on their selected Facebook or iPad app. There has to be not more than 20 slides and each slide has to strictly adhere to a duration of only 20 seconds. My team consisted of Joel, Zetong, Yos and I. We almost missed the deadline for slides submission by a few seconds last Friday. Thankfully, Zetong submitted our draft version while I was still tying up some loose details. We were pretty lucky that the draft and finalized versions weren’t that different except for the lack of auto-advance into the last slide. Joel, Zetong and Yos put up most of the content while I am pushed to be represented speaker. Hopefully my time on stage did not put NUS Business School to shame.
As part of Assignment 2, I am required to give a critique on one of the application presented so here it goes…
According to Team 6, Flipboard is a modern magazine that was launched in 2010 with over 20 millions users now. The app allows its users to customize their content page and further engages them with intelligent layout and intuitive swipe gestures. There is also a seemingly deep integration with social networks. Team 6 resented Flipboard’s duplicated functions with two buttons doing the same thing. To improve the app, they suggested incorporating a pre-loading function because “nobody likes to wait”. In their opinion, Flipboard was developed through a dedicated RSS feed and its flip function was designed using Cocoa Touch. There is also an algorithm behind the deletion of other unimportant contents or advertisement as Flipboard drew contents from the webpage. To improve the business model, Team 6 recommended a subscription-based model.
During the question & answer session, someone questioned if encompassing a duplicated button is necessarily a bad thing. At the back of my mind, I was having the same thought. All this while, Flipboard’s main selling point lies in its beautiful and seamless integration of news, and the button definitely did absolutely no damage to the app’s reputation. I would think that a duplicated button is indeed not a big hindrance to my user experience too, as the key focus of the app is to act as a personal magazine. Also, there is validity in the questioner’s stand – the duplicated button could be dedicated to different user groups. It is possible to believe that the replica could be a mistake during app’s designing process and when the developers were notified of the problem, they decided to do naught about it. Or maybe it is an attempt to make their app looks more sophisticated. Having only one duplicated button is fine, but having many may confuse its users. This section allows me to sink into the importance of UI and how every button can have a possible impact on an app.
As I don’t possess the presentation files of Team 6, it is hard to ascertain if I heard them correctly. They said that Flipboard could be using an algorithm to facilitate the deletion of unimportant contents and advertisements before streaming them to their apps. I feel that it was done differently. Flipboard probably gets its data from the different media’s APIs and there is no need for any algorithm to delete any non-related content. /*add-ons*/ Actually after downloading the slides and taking a look at their implementation slide, I realized that content extractor actually do exist and most Mac users would find it as Safari’s “reader” at the URL bar. In essence, the algorithm does not facilitate the deletion of useless information, but rather, only sieve out the more important ones. Apparently, there is an open source called Readability project (created by Arc90) that functions in a similar way.
Last but not least, I would like to comment on the areas of improvement suggested by Team 6. I like how they recommended having a pre-loading feature and how true it is that no one likes to wait. This feature is easy to integrate and has been used by apps such as New York Times. However, it would be great if they considered other aspects of pre-loading. For example, how much space will be taken up in the phone and how this problem would be solved. /*add ons*/ The comment by Guo Xiang made me doubt my entry so I tried searching for “Pre-loading feature iOS” on Google. I realized that pre-loading feature has to be strategic. For example, does the app pull the data every hour or more? Will the feature drain the mobile’s or tablet’s battery? This feature is something that I should ponder about, especially when I’m learning to be a technical person.
In my opinion, Team 6’s presentation animations were superb and I enjoyed the presentation. However, I felt that they focused too much on the swipe gestures. It felt like I was given a tutorial on Flipboard instead of listening to their analysis of the app. They also did not discuss about the pertinent issue on the limitation of the feed loading. There is a limit on how far back a user can view a feed and that is definitely an issue that would bug its users, well, at least for me.
Gems of the day:
Colin’s strategy to send out our designated team to critique on only after the class is commendable. It forced me to listen to all 12 presentations, something that I would have never done if I was given a choice. Because of this, I picked up numerous terms that I would otherwise not hear of. Things such as XAMP server to broadcast messages, OpenGL for 3D maps, Cocoa Touch to create the flipping effects and other creative business models.
After the lesson, our group (for assignment 1) stayed behind for a short discussion which lasted for an hour. Not so short after all. And even though I am the team leader, I felt that Civics is the main driver behind the team. She is always there to remind us of the uncompleted tasks and the deadlines. I am very grateful for her contribution to the team and at the same time, felt ashamed at my incompetence. Guess that’s one good lesson learnt!