With a good dose of fun and plenty of team spirit, the running teams from Saarbrücken and Munich assembled at the start line once again for the B2RUN corporate running championships two days apart.
In cracking conditions, the runners from Saarbrücken showed just how fit Ergosign is, setting excellent times on the 5 km course around the grounds of the Dillingen steelworks.
Two days later, it was our Munich team’s turn. Not even the showery weather could dampen their spirits on the 6.2 km course through the Olympic Park, past the Olympic Tower, along the Olympic Lake and into the Olympic Stadium.
All the Ergosign runners made it to the finish line in top times. Congratulations to everyone who took part!
On 2 June, on behalf of Ergosign, I visited the CeMAT in Hanover, the leading trade fair for intralogistics solutions. The trade fair showcased transport and packaging systems. Small boxes and large boxes. Wheels and rollers. And, a smart software solution with a sophisticated UX design, the praises of which were sung in a musical.
“Simply Smart” - under this motto, STILL, the intralogistics supplier (more than 8,000 employees, 1.7 billion Euro turnover) presented its new software solution called „neXXt fleet“ at the CeMAT, highlighting the significance of digital solutions in the logistics industry.
STILL neXXt fleet consists of 9 individual applications and sets new standards in terms of availability, ease of use and visualization. ”
Not only the apparent result is interesting, but also the path that lead there. An extensive and close cooperation with Ergosign preceded this first public presentation at the trade fair.
Based on the existing requirements and strategic framework conditions, together with STILL, we developed an easy to use UI concept. This concept is scalable, and thus can be transferred to future applications, guaranteeing the expandability of the software. In the subsequent visual design process, we ensured that the UI meets STILL’s corporate identity design and colors and at the same time highlights the pioneering character of the product. The result is an individual and responsive UI design, with outstanding user experience, which can be used on various target platforms (desktop, tablet, smartphone).
The UI was developed in our in-house development department. Thanks to the close cooperation of the internal departments and the well-established processes, it was possible to efficiently and quickly implement the software at a high quality level. We used technologies such as e.g. AngularJS, HTML/CSS, SASS and REST. Here again, the close interaction with STILL and its developers was important for defining clean technical interfaces and optimizing the end product according to the customer’s requirements.
The result is a modern, responsive user interface, which is currently implemented in nine different applications. In addition to the high demands on the UI design and the implementation, the medium-term time frame from ideation, specific design of the different applications to the final implementation, presented a challenge.
THE TRADE FAIR
The ultimate ending, was STILL’s presentation of „neXXt fleet“ at the CeMAT, on huge screens, iPads and touch tablets, and with an actual specially scripted and extremely effective musical - wow!
Maybe the next CeMAT in 2 years time will have another great reason to travel to Hanover. I would be happy.
Senior UX Designer
The 2016 Tour de France started on Saturday, July 2 with the 1st stage from Mont-Saint-Michel to Utah Beach Sainte-Marie-du-Mont. After 3,519 kilometers in total, distributed over 21 stages, it ends on the Champs-Élysées Avenue in Paris.
As a constant companion of the cycling race across France, Ergosign developed the Liveticker for the 2016 Tour de France on behalf of Saarländischer Rundfunk (SR). All the fans and those interested could therefore always stay engrossed and access route information such as altitude and the current position of the field at any time.
Ergosign undertook the complete development of the tour ticker, this means both front-end and back-end. In an analysis carried out at the beginning, the editors of SR were questioned in order to optimally adapt the new back-end as far as possible to the work processes and requirements. The resulting system is highly flexible: Thus not only can a number of editors work on the same ticker (e.g. field updates and ticker notifications), but a number of tickers can also be operated simultaneously, in case this is necessary. The different aspects of the ticker can be updated individually such that all information can always be kept as current as possible. Additionally, an XML interface was prepared by means of which the teletext is similarly always kept up-to-date.
The administrative area is fully decoupled from the front-end display. The front-end is lightweight, robustly updatable and is completely statically generated. It therefore offers very good performance with regard to the desired scalability by way of a caching server. State of the art technologies such as HTML5, CSS3 (SASS), Java Script and JSON were used.
Shortly before the tour Sportschau launched a new design. The Tour Ticker is adapted to it with its reduced design. All information can also be readily retrieved via mobile device. The responsive design is optimized using vector graphics and specially-designed SVG icons for mobile devices, tablets and desktop.
A particular challenge was the adaptation of the altitude profiles in SVG format, the content of which should adapt dynamically to the space available on the different end devices. Ergosign also overcame this through close cooperation with designers and the development team.
Five brave Ergosign colleagues defied lion-hearted lots of mosquitoes, pretty high grass and a downpour to build a new fence around the big outside run for the dogs of Bertha Bruch’s animal shelter in Saarbruecken. The first part is finished and after another day of work next Saturday, the dogs can finally play and romp around for all one’s worth – with no leashes at all.
At the San Francisco developer conference on 6/13/2016 Apple introduced new features and improvements aplenty for its platforms tvOS, watchOS, iOS and macOS - formerly OS X. In addition to the countless more or less practical app modifications on show, take for example the now fully “featuritis”-ridden, totally-overloaded iMessage or the much-needed redesign of Apple Music, there are three topics of interest from a UX perspective that I would like to highlight.
AppleWatch - the wait is over
The second generation of Apple Watch may not have been pre-announced, but it has significantly improved the performance of the watch app. In future, all relevant information will be pre-loaded in the background, facilitating a (long-overdue) fluid interaction and putting an end to staring at a loading indicator. Apple has also done away with Glances in favor of a Docs app, thereby simultaneously creating two practical functions for the “side button”. In addition to doc opening (comparable to the Switch app in iOS), there is now the possibility of making an automatic emergency call in any country. Personal health information is transmitted simultaneously too.
This feature is of particular interest to the field of medicine. Various different types of information might for instance be conceivable depending on environment and user role. I.e. both patients as well as doctors or nursing staff could use this feature to varying extents.
Performance optimization and improved navigation between apps could now lead to a rise in corporate interest in the use of the Apple Watch in productive environments too. The tactile responsiveness and functioning of the new Scribble input feature - letters can be drawn on the display with your finger - remains to be seen.
iOS 10 - context is King
iOS 10 has become more intelligent and offers the user information in certain situations without the latter having to explicitly request it. Apple refers to this feature as “contextual prediction”. Examples of this include proactive suggestions of phone numbers if a name is used in conjunction with the word “phone” in a message, checking the calendar for free dates or route suggestions for recognized destinations. Apple has already taken the first steps in this direction with iOS 9 and is now - as demanded in my blog post from February 17th in 2016 - in the process of further developing this.
Apple wants to use improved, more interactive rich notifications on the lock screen, more content in the 3D Touch Preview and, more specifically, “contextual prediction” to reach its users on the level of their own personal environment. All the relevant information should be offered immediately without the need for much interaction. This is an approach which, in my view, is very promising, and an insight into exactly how interaction with digital systems will look in the mobile sector in future. Of great significance to productive environments is that our applications automatically detect what is important in which situation and alert the user to this accordingly. Data is processed in such a way that is easy to understand and respond to promptly.
Siri is everywhere
Now Siri has made its way onto the Mac too in the form of the desktop operating system macOS Sierra, recently renamed in the interests of consistency. What’s more, the voice assistant is now capable of communicating with third-party provider apps on the Appstore. That, and the fact that Siri understands a lot more commands based on context, could finally give the feature some real added value. Looking at the ECHO from Amazon, Apple has had some catching up to do here where multimodal interaction is concerned. There are actually two Apple use cases that exist in conjunction with HomeKit and CarKit that require an effective voice control function.
Out of all the innovations on display, and potential privacy concerns aside, it is the improved and now-omnipresent Siri which I feel offers the greatest potential. Multimodal interaction can be used in countless different forms across all sectors, it’s the future. Even where new technologies which do enable hands-free use are concerned (e.g. augmented reality), there is a need to move past the notion of classic mouse / touch interaction.
Conclusion - everything is merging into one
Apple has produced an impressive amount of new features, but not a single one of them is new or innovative. Some areas where the competition was performing better were optimized and significant markers were laid down for the future. A key issue for Apple is the interaction of all its platforms. This is demonstrated, for instance, by the fact that a Mac can be immediately unlocked with an Apple Watch or the fact that content on one device can be copied and pasted to another seamlessly.
Apple has come to the realization that the focus needs to be drawn away from individual devices and steered towards the optimization of the integrated workflow experience. In the future we will use several mobile devices depending on our current environment and the tasks at hand. Dealing with multi-device applications has become an important task for UX designers. Apple has taken a step in the right direction with its new updates.
A beta developer is now available for all platforms and the release has been scheduled - as ever, without any exact indication of the specific date - for Autumn.
A list of all the new features and the video of the developer conference can be viewed on the Apple site.