Of User Experiences

Two quick notes this morning — in part to continue to hammer home the idea that the humanities continue to need to reframe our thinking in terms of the user experience:

The first is to point out that there is running, all this year, [“52 weeks of UX.”](http://52weeksofux.com/) Subscribe and you get an e-mail once a week.

The second is that the [Y Combinator](http://ycombinator.com/rfs6.html) has just released its latest request for proposals and it’s all about the iPad:

> Most people think the important thing about the iPad is its form factor: that it’s fundamentally a tablet computer. We think Apple has bigger ambitions. We think the iPad is meant to be a Windows killer. Or more precisely, a Windows transcender. We think Apple foresees a future in which the iPad is the default way people do what they now do with computers (and some other new things).
Programmers may never want a computer they don’t control, but ordinary people just want something cheap that works. And that’s how the iPad will seem to them. Many will never make a conscious decision to switch. They’ll get an iPad as well, then find they use their Windows machine less and less. When it dies they won’t replace it.

> Will this future happen? It could. And if it does it will bring big changes. There will need to be iPad alternatives for all the things people now do on PCs. That could mean more than just replacing all the desktop software, because there may be things PC users now do with web apps that might be better done with native iPad apps.

> Plus like any new platform the iPad will allow new types of applications that don’t have any present day analogues. And no one knows now what most of them will be. Only people who become iPad developers will even think of these ideas, just as only microcomputer developers were in a position to think of the spreadsheet. Education and games may be areas where there are a lot of new ideas.

> One particularly interesting subproblem is how to introduce iPads into big companies. This will probably have to be done by stealth initially, as happened with microcomputers. They’ll have to be introduced as something individuals use, and which doesn’t really count as a computer and thus can’t be vetoed by the IT department. Don’t worry about this; it’s just a little tablet computer.

Styling for the Mobile Device

The age of the mobile device is upon us. Smart phones, or smartphones, be they iPhones or Blackberries or Droids, are everywhere and making sure our users can access our content in a way that respects the full functionality of their devices and, at the same time, the limitations of their screens is becoming increasingly important. As many web developers already know, the problem is that the browsers on these devices often don’t announce themselves very well, and so you have to guess a bit — or, rather, make it possible for your website to guess a bit.

Here’s the `` code for guessing the iPhone and sending its browser, Mobile Safari, the right style sheet:


A good place to begin, as always when it comes to CSS, is [A List Apart](http://www.alistapart.com/), which has an article entitled [Put Your Content in My Pocket](http://www.alistapart.com/articles/putyourcontentinmypocket/).