November 5th, 2009
For optimal usability in software design, there’s nothing more powerful than developing a laser targeted profile of the people who will be using it and discovering their particular needs and wants.
In the highly competitive smart phone market, a new breed of phones based on Google Android are doing just that, going head-to-head with the Apple iPhone.
Whether or not you’re interested in smart phone technology, this video, comparing the new HTC Hero with the iPhone 3GS (courtesy of PhoneDog.com), contains a great example of taking a specific user profile and creating a targeted user experience for them.
In many respects, the two phones are similar, but see how the folks developing the HTC Sense UI have focussed their efforts on provding a far superior interface for people who need to communicate through email and social media. This is a very specific (and growing) target market and a key distinction for HTC when the Hero lags behind the much more mature iPhone in many other areas.
Parts 2 and 3 of the review are less interesting from a user interface design and usability point of view as these are more concerned with performance and comparison of like-for-like application features.
However, it’s worth watching Part 2 from around the 7 minute mark for another great example of how the HTC keyboard interface and the spell checking facility has some really well thought out advantages over that of the iPhone.
From a hardware usability perspective, it’s interesting to note how the ‘chin’ of the HTC Hero causes the device to flip up when it’s placed on a flat surface and the buttons are pressed. This may have become an issue for early users because newer versions seem to have dispensed with the chin and adopted the more streamlined, flat form factor.