Friday, January 18, 2008
Thursday, January 17, 2008
We're always blabbering on this blog about code this, program that. Well, having a working and functional map is good and all, but what about having a map that users actually enjoy using? Translating geospatial information into a small 2-d space on a webpage isn't trivial and comes with lots of questions, such as: What do you do when some of your markers are distributed across the world, and others are clustered in one tiny area? How can users navigate logically through a space where panning left/right/up/down and zooming in/out are all options? What do you do when you have too many markers? How can you have the map UI be consistent with your site's current design?
Unfortunately, I don't have the answers to all those questions. But, when I was asked to give a talk at the Silicon Valley Web Builder User Experience Bar Camp last fall, I figured I'd put some of my observations about Maps UI/UX into a presentation and share it with that group. The slides are embedded below, or you can view them in full screen glory. The youtube video is here (and yes, I know, I need to learn to not let my elaborate hand motions interfere with the mic). This is a short presentation -- so help me add to it. If you have opinions or relevant links on this topic, please post them in the group or trackback to this post. Now that we've mastered the technical side of Google Maps mashups, let's move on to improving the usability side.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Recently, on a trip to Shanghai, I snapped a bunch of incredible street photos for my friends and family back home. When I logged into my iGoogle page and was greeted by my iGoogle theme, I suddenly wished I could create my own theme out of my Shanghai pictures and share it with my friends - wouldn't that be a great way to personalize iGoogle even further? It turns out that many of you have been asking for this feature for a while too, and we've listened to your requests. I'm excited to announce that after today's launch of the iGoogle Themes API, we can all get started on making and sharing our own themes.
Creating your own theme isn't rocket science. If you can create a webpage, then you can create a theme. There are only three steps involved: designing images for the header and footer, entering metadata and color information in an XML file, and submitting the theme. To find out more about the API, start with the developer guide. You can also take a look at the terrific example themes (shown below) built by designers Yves Behar, Mark Frauenfelder, Troy Lee, and John Maeda that showcase different parts of the API. These themes, along with themes you submit, will be available in the new themes directory for the millions of iGoogle users. So try it out and let us know what you think!
Earth-light by Yves Behar, founder of the San Francisco design studio fuseproject:
Adventures in Lollipopland by Mark Frauenfelder, writer, illustrator, co-founder of Boing Boing, and editor-in-chief of Make Magazine:
Supermoto Mayhem by Troy Lee, designer and founder of Troy Lee Designs:
Simplicity is Complex by John Maeda, graphic designer, artist, Associate Director of Research at the MIT Media Laboratory, and recently named as the next President of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD):
On Wednesday (tomorrow!) Six Apart will be hosting an OpenSocial Hackathon at their office in San Francisco to let people get their hands dirty with OpenSocial, Shindig, and Caja. In addition to the Googlers working on OpenSocial, you'll be able to chat with engineers from at least hi5, MySpace, Oracle, Orkut, and Plaxo. The event starts at 4pm PST and will be going deep into the night -- so it's okay if you can't make it right on time. The office is conveniently located near Macworld, not to mention Caltrain, BART, and MUNI.
We'd love it if you could RSVP on Upcoming, though it isn't formally required. Be sure to bring your laptop and perhaps a few friends.
Of course, there will be copious beer and pizza.