Tue Jul 18, 2017
Sometimes there are things that are so good it actively makes me angry, because it presents a version of the form that seems unimpeachable.
Money Things is like that — it is such a good newsletter, so dense and interesting and funny that it makes me mad, because having to read, like, Hot Pod or Pro Rata or other industry newsletters after it is just an exercise in dwindling returns.
Lincoln in the Bardo was like that — it was such an interesting and beautiful and novel piece of work that it retroactively invalidated so much of what I had consumed beforehand. It was my first audiobook, too, and it basically ruined audiobooks for me, because how do you top that?
And now, this. This product page for Transmit 5.
Let’s run through all the things it does well:
- There’s a really dope spinning truck on the top. You can move it with your cursor. It captures the eyes, it is pretty, it is neat. It is a great truck.
- The copy is clear, concise, and large.
- There are screenshots of the product front and center, because obviously there should be.
- It’s got those nice little infographics about why you should upgrade (answering probably the third most important question this page has to answer, which is Why should I upgrade?)
- The page flows nicely, with the little arrows between each content block that lends a little flow.
- All of those features! And the nice snippet screenshots for the keynote features (but the nice little icons for all the features.)
And the subtler things, too:
- It is dynamic, but not busy. There is only ever one thing to look at at once.
- Super responsive, and not in a “uh, I guess everything is gonna be in a smaller font now” kind of responsive way.
- The way it repositions the entire product from most folks’ perception of it:
Now, long ago we’d call Transmit an “FTP client”, but today, with Transmit 5, we connect to lots of different server types and cloud services. For example, Amazon S3 dramatically changed the way files are served on the internet, and Transmit is a great way to manage your Amazon S3 buckets.
- Seriously, that truck is so cool!
This is like a heat check of a product page. I have bookmarked it and will revisit it every week or so when I need reminding that these types of things can be so much better than they usually are.
Sat Jul 15, 2017
Jakob Nielsen wrote in 1993 about the three important demarcations in response time. This is a terrific article that I come back to every year or so and see how my interpretation of it has evolved, like reading an old book to see how your perspective of the narrative changes over time.
0.1 second is about the limit for having the user feel that the system is reacting instantaneously, meaning that no special feedback is necessary except to display the result.
1.0 second is about the limit for the user’s flow of thought to stay uninterrupted, even though the user will notice the delay. Normally, no special feedback is necessary during delays of more than 0.1 but less than 1.0 second, but the user does lose the feeling of operating directly on the data.
10 seconds is about the limit for keeping the user’s attention focused on the dialogue. For longer delays, users will want to perform other tasks while waiting for the computer to finish, so they should be given feedback indicating when the computer expects to be done. Feedback during the delay is especially important if the response time is likely to be highly variable, since users will then not know what to expect.
Those three benchmarks were set in 1968; Nielsen was commenting on how remarkable it was that 25 years later they still held mostly true.
Now it’s a bit more than 25 years after 1993, and even now these seem pretty accurate, right?
You can argue that web applications (and, even more so, native apps) demand a certain level of vivacity that you can’t achieve with a full second or even a tenth of a second, but I think Jakob precisely nails the important way to look at “sluggishness” in his 2014 update to the piece:
0.1 second: Limit for users feeling that they are directly manipulating objects in the UI. For example, this is the limit from the time the user selects a column in a table until that column should highlight or otherwise give feedback that it’s selected. Ideally, this would also be the response time for sorting the column — if so, users would feel that they are sorting the table. (As opposed to feeling that they are ordering the computer to do the sorting for them.)
Sorting the table, as opposed to ordering the computer to sort the table.
It’s not about the speed: it’s about the directness — about the frictionlessness — about the sensation that there are no layers or conduits between you and your task.
Thu Apr 6, 2017
When Facebook launched Messenger for iOS in 2011, I was a little skeptical – this was before the brief and mighty wave of unbundling – but grew to be cautiously optimistic, because Messenger was a good and simple app that removed most of the cruft from Facebook and focused on what I cared (and care) about most: talking with people.
Here’s Messenger in 2011:
Here’s Messenger in 2017: