ux Blog

4 years ago

Do You Speak Human, Software?

A while ago we shared some thoughts about software apps as the living systems. This concept opens up a huge space for insights in human-friendly software design.

As software apps evolve over time, they are getting closer and closer to people. The challenge here is diversity of people's minds. The diversity of contexts in which people live and act. Given the diversity of mental extensions, something more important is always in common. It's about emotions. Emotions can do a lot more than logical reasoning. Remember Apple fans, buying more of Apple products out of "I just like it". Emotions are responsible for these just-like-its, when there's no rational need to cut a $XXX, or even a $XXXX,  hole in someone's bank account.

We feel very good when a software app tells us, "thanks for taking your time to tell us what you think" (that's what Skype does). We feel good when a software app cares for us by saving our time with clear instructions, what-to-do's and error messages. Lame language can be a source of bad mood, it throws people out of their flow, instead of helping. Visuals and words create this interactive landscape together.

Here's the list of basic human emotional needs:

approved of
believed in
cared about
clear (not confused)
in control
listened to
productive / useful
safe / secure
treated fairly

As I tried to map them to digital experiences, it turned out that software could cater for about 60% of them (what's your take?).

Let's see how software does this job.


Mint is a personal finance tool. They pay much attention to the feelings of safety and security.

"Remember kids, safety first" is a strong emotional caller. The lock with the mint leaf is smoother, but still emotional. The part on bank-level security appeals to logical reasoning.

Next one:

The ban sign says it all. There's no real $$ here, rest assured, no one will touch your money, including you.

You're cared about when you see this:

The concept of mint (mint leaf) is very smart. Which association do we usually have with mint? It's something comforting, soothing, something that makes us free from worries and anxiety. That's a great emotional token for a personal finance app.


What I liked right away about Trello, the collaboration tool, is the Husky dog icon. Well, maybe it's not exactly Husky, but I like those dogs, and for some reason I thought it's a Husky:

What I liked even more is the message of serving humans. The 500.000 number looks reassuring to a new user.

Trello means business, and cares for your time. You don't linger even an extra second on their sign-up page:

Speaking of sign-up and login pages, bad captures totally kill good emotions. They make you reload and reload the capture image, and still wouldn't let you login. You can live with a login capture, as an app usually remembers you. But anyone who has a capture on their sign-up page is committing a slow suicide:

Back to Trello and to their sign-up process. When I see this:

I have a mixed feeling of approval, empathy and regret. Here's why. I can see that these guys are trying to know my real name, that's why they have put up a message about the full name length. But I know too well (as we have a sign-up form on our web-site) that if someone wouldn't want to give their name, they wouldn't give it, and this note would be of no use.

Their account activation message:

I feel reassured and in control.

As Trello welcomes me, I can see that they have taken one step further in serving humans. They want to guide based on how people evaluate their previous experience with collab tools:


The most emotionally insecure app that I've tried lately is Evernote. They have a good message on their web-site, but what you see inside the app and during the sign-up is confusing.

First, the elephant logo:

I don't understand what an elephant has to do with my notes and images put to one place. Maybe it is supposed to be a symbol of everlasting wisdom. But there's no emotional appeal for the app from my side. Elephants are nice, but they don't fit in here.

Evernote's sign-up is severe like a Quaker. Here's their unhelpful "user name not available" message:

It says nothing to me, accept that the name is not available. No hint on which available mods I can try. I had to mess a bit with figures and underscores, until I got this:

Evernote uses machine language. There's no feeling that you're welcome here.  Sometimes it's the opposite, sign-up forms can be too off-hand. I don't want to be tapped on the shoulder like that guy, for any single line:

Back to Evernote: it had even more confusion in store as I tried to make the first note. Here's the screenshot:

The Set URL context action. Which URL? For what? I typed something in there, but when I tried to access the note later - no success.  Then Done and Auto Save on top. Hmm. Why Auto Save when there's Done there? Which goes first? Should I rely on Auto Save, or should I click Done? Maybe Done is supposed to work when Auto Save is off? Then why keep it there when Auto Save is on? Questions like these rushed through my head, and the app did not offer any answers.

The "Set the note's location" screen was a bummer. Am I supposed to know the latitude and longitude of my whereabouts in every new location? Maybe they have the auto define location feature somewhere (I can't imagine that they don't), but I was not offered this option, and guessing the latitude/longitude is too challenging a task for simply taking a note.

I don't think I will be using Evernote. It's too confusing and insecure. Well, they must have more options than taking just notes, as they position themselves as "capture anything- remember everything", and maybe the other features in Evernote work great, but I don't care now, as my first emotions about this app were negative.


Now let me show you my favourite. What if I forgot password? This piece from Ebay is a beauty:

Sensible display of case sensitivity. I like words and everything about playing on words, so it's like a candy to me.

We have so many exciting options to make software speak human language. We can do it with visuals and words, as long as we keep this thin line balance, where software approaches people gently. Like a professional English butler.

Related articles:

Why People Don't Understand How to Use Your Software?

Help People Understand How to Use Your Software

The Paradigm of Project Management Tools

5 years ago

The Future of Agile Software Development

Software penetrates every pore of human existence. We look up the weather info over the web, giving up on outdoor thermometers. We’re driving to destinations with GPS navigator (forget paper maps with their G7 sections on page 59). We turn on RunKeeper when riding a bike to calculate the average speed and run and boast in Twitter. We’re using software every single day of our lives. It seems we’re hugging our dear gadgets a lot more than our loved ones.

No one knows the exact how-to of writing great software fast, that’s the problem. Waterfall passed away at the crossing of 2 centuries, whereas new software development methodologies (agile) fail at solving the fundamental problems so far. We’re living in very interesting times. Software development industry grows fast right here, right now, and the foundation for a quantitative leap is building up.

——— Read the full article ———
5 years ago

Inner List Design in new Views

We are designing Views in TargetProcess and this is how Inner Lists look like.

We took the first concept from our last post — https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/uxtargetprocess/zCiquWLM_N0

I would like to highlight a couple of things.

Quick Add of Tasks and Bugs

Now you can quickly add a bug or task to the User Story without leaving a page.

Drag and drop to prioritize or change state

 You can easily change the priority or state of bugs and tasks using drag and drop.

Inline Edit

Change name or effort on the fly!



People assignments

Assign, reassign and find people quickly.

Effort Control

Time spent/remain indicator shows a relative size of tasks and bugs. You can clearly see what task is the largest and how much time is spent and remains.

All actions

You can use action popup to add time or convert a bug/task.

Collapsing Block

You can hide a large block to access relevant content quickly.

ID Indicator

In the inner list we combined entity-type indicator with the entity ID to use space better. 

We’ve already started the implementation and are going to release it in a month.

5 years ago

UX In Action. Why New Views in TargetProcess are sofa king cool

How does a great design differ from a good or mediocre design? Often the difference is just in the smallest details. These details shape user experience and greatly affect the way we feel about a product. The product may look great, but people remain cold using it. They don't feel it is designed for them.

Views functionality in TargetProcess is not a rocket science. There are thousands of applications with views. View is such a boring page to work with usually .

New Views in TargetProcess are crafted with great attention to details. Every single detail is thought out. Every single decision was debated. Let's dig into details. I will show and explain all of them.

Inline Edit

Inline edit (edit-in-place) is a huge thing. It allows you to edit everything very quickly. These two words are important: everything and quickly. In our new View you can indeed edit everything and do that really quick. But this is not all. Watch these two very short videos.

Inline edit in JIRA

Now compare it with inline edit in TargetProcess

The difference is clear. When you are editing something in JIRA, the effort value jumps back and forth. It is somewhat confusing and unpleasant. Effort in TargetProcess stands stone still as you edit it.  This produces a totally different feeling. When everything is still you feel that things are under control.  The jumps, on the contrary, are quite distracting,  and you feel that something is not good (but often can't say what exactly).

People assignments

People assignments component has all the small details that make it just awesome. Avatars enable quick recognition. You may think that avatars are not important, but with time you're so used to them that you identify a person in a split second. Humans recognize image patterns much faster than words. With first and last names only you have to read. With avatars you just scan.

Quick filter is the fastest way to find someone  if you have a large development team.

Popular actions are available on the top. Quite often you want to assign work to yourself or un-assign work. It is always a good idea to put popular actions to a visible place.

Moreover, potentially dangerous actions are marked red on mouseover, which secures them from accidental clicks.  Also, the red mark builds up quick memory for actions. For Unassign, you will point mouse cursor and click quickly if the button is red without reading.

Links and Actions

There are two types of links: some links represent actions and some links are usual links. There should be a clear distinction between the  two types of links, thus action links have a different underline style (dotted):

If you can perform an action (like edit), you miss an opportunity to jump to entity. This problem was resolved by adding a tiny icon. The icon is an idiomatic pattern to navigate away from the current page.

When a property is empty, it is not clear if  you can edit it or not. You point cursor to an empty row and think something like "Hmm, is it possible to edit something here?" Then you click, and it appears that it is indeed possible to edit this value. But why make people think? The clear message is shown in an empty row when you move mouse over it:

Hidden Stuff

It is a good idea to show only relevant details. For example, you want to change release or iteration. Releases and iterations have end date, you have many releases and iterations that are already done. Most likely you don't want to assign a user story to an old release. Thus, old releases are hidden by default.

Mouse over pattern is everywhere. So, all actions are hidden by default. You need to move a mouse cursor over a comment to edit or delete it. Thus interface is clean and not burdened with repeated buttons. There is one disadvantage in this approach: available actions are invisible by default for new users, and they might not be actually aware that they can edit something. But we consider this a good trade-off. We don't design for new users,  we mainly design for people who continuously use our product.


How often you do you need to upload several files, one by one? It is intolerable in a modern web application. People should be able to upload all the files at once:


The general layout is pretty straightforward. You have a content area with title, tags, description, attachments and comments on the left, and more details area with miscellaneous information on the right. This separation is logical.

The layout of the area on the right is beautiful. The most important information is on top. For example, status of a user story and its progress. Then you see all assigned people with estimated effort. Everything is lined-up and there are no unclear labels or weird information. Only relevant information is visible. You can also hide information blocks if you want to.

This is it. New views are in beta and more improvements are coming. Stay tuned and give us your feedback. We live by it.

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