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One of irks I have with "slight visual cues and subtle animations" is that they assume all users will give the same amount of attention and have the same reasoning process as the designer does. They then call the design "obvious", as if that is an objective quality---but even a short conversation (or usability study) with a sample of their users will tell them it's anything but.

Nothing wrong with being bold and trying new ideas but obvious is only really qualifiable via user testing. It's simple thing to do to see if your product is actually usable.

My method is to get 3 random craigslist people and pay them $50 bucks to play with the app for an hour. Record them struggling and have them talk through their thoughts and how they use your app. You will learn more from that experience than anything else.

Rather than going through Craigslist, at my last startup we used http://www.usertesting.com/ - $39 bucks and the user testing video is all yours. Pretty decent.


The 'obvious' lock screen camera thing on the iPhone is a perfect example of something that I haven't seen anyone figure out on their own. It doesn't look or behave like anything else on the iPhone, including the only other interactive element in that same lock screen. Once you DO know, the cues are nice reminders.

The Pudding Monsters example is terrible too, as it precisely a UI walkthrough. Minimal, because well, the UI in that game is minimal, but it is explicitly telling you what to do and how to do it. (BTW the game is wonderful)

When I read the part about how the iPhone camera icon worked, I pulled out my iPhone and tried it. I didn't understand before then how to get directly to the camera from the lock screen.

I think I had even read about it, but never bothered to try it until now.

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