IBM’s Quest To Design The “New Helvetica”

IBM is no stranger to icons. Over the years, it’s created quite a few: the mainframe computer, the ThinkPad laptop, the Selectric typewriter, the Eye-Bee-M logo. The company hopes its new bespoke typeface IBM Plex, which launched in beta this week (though the official version won’t be released until early 2018), could become just as iconic–a kind of Helvetica for this century.

“When I came to IBM, it was a big discussion: Why does IBM not have a bespoke typeface? Why are we still clinging on to Helvetica?” Mike Abbink, the typeface’s designer and IBM’s executive creative director of brand experience and design, says in a video explainer. “The way we speak to people and the conversations we need to have and we’d like to have, is that still the right way to express ourselves? We should really design a typeface that really reflects our belief system and make it relevant to people now. Helvetica is a child of a particular sect of modernist thinking that’s gone today.”

To uncover what the typeface should express, Abbink and his team took a deep dive into IBM’s archives. They were especially interested in the company’s history in the postwar years, when its design-led business strategy first took shape and the legendary practitioner Paul Rand, who defined design as a system of relationships, created its famous eight-bar logo. In Rand’s logo, Abbink and his team saw a contrast between hard edges–the engineered, rational, and mechanical–and curves–the softer more humanistic elements. It’s a reflection of the man-and-machine relationship that runs through the company’s history–a dynamic that is reflected in the final form of IBM Plex. Each of the letters and glyphs has those hard “engineered” edges and soft “humanistic” curves, just like Rand’s logo.

The Plex family includes a sans serif, serif, and monospace versions. The designers also created a rigorous style guide that’s akin to a digital standards manual and includes a type scale, which plays into responsive displays; eight different weights (a nod to how the IBM logo is composed of eight horizontally stacked bars); and usage guidelines, which dive into everything from information hierarchies to color and ragging. All together, it’s easy to see Plex as a gentler, friendlier, more casual Helvetica for a broad range of uses both digital and print-based.

[Image: IBM]

Historically, IBM has used design to distinguish itself, whether it’s creating a better typewriter by introducing the “font ball” or defining laptop computing through the “TrackPoint nub.” Now the company is throwing its weight behind its $1 billion artificial intelligence unit Watson and is–in an effort to allay fear about this technology–positioning it as an assistant to humans rather than a replacement for them. A design tool at its core, IBM Plex is an expression of that same intersection between humans and technology. IBM will make the typeface free for anyone to download and is encouraging its widespread adoption. “If shoe stores or coffee shops or small businesses are using it for their identity, awesome,” Abbink says in the video. “They’re agreeing they want to be part of a discussion around machines and how they’re going to evolve and progress our world.”

So far, the response has been mixed: a thread on Hacker News reveals that many commenters agree with IBM’s decision to create its own consistent visual language. “I think this is all about establishing a new distinctive look,” commenter Ged Byrne writes. “The current one screams ‘1990’ at anybody reading. Now they need something that is distinctly IBM while gently whispering ‘2020’ into the reader’s ear.” Others argue the execution isn’t as sharp as they would like. Some don’t agree with the decision never to use true black, some believe the lighter weights won’t work on screens with low resolution, some nitpick on the 75-character-per-line limit.

The typeface is still a work in progress, but the company is sure about what the end result will be, at least–as Abbink proclaims in the video, “IBM Plex is the new Helvetica.”

from Sidebar

How to Effectively Measure UX with Google HEART Framework

Gut feeling is good but data-driven UX design is better. Still, the collectible data can be overwhelming, and the product teams might be working toward conflicting goals. The problem here is not in data since people have more data now than ever before. The whole problem lies in managing that data.

And it’s not that only startups are facing this issue, large enterprises like Google also have to deal with this. So, Google’s UX research team has come up with the Google HEART framework to measure the quality of user experience. The framework is described as a set of user-centered metrics for web applications which can help measure progress towards key goals and product-related decisions.

Fact* Google HEART can be applicable to mobile apps and enterprise software too.

Fact* Google HEART can be applicable to the whole product or a specific feature!

It is a good way of measuring the quality of user experience to get actionable insights. User experience does not only need to be designed well, it should be measured well too.

Image source

Let’s now dive deeper into what Google HEART is and see how it can help you measure UX.

H for Happiness

Happiness is a measure of satisfaction and attitude towards a product or a feature. It gives insights into how people feel about what you offer. You can measure the satisfaction on large scale through conducting user surveys. More specific things to measure here include the user’s satisfaction, net-promoter score (NPS), the perceived ease of use.

One of the simplest scenarios of calculating happiness is conducting a satisfaction survey after a major redesign. NPS surveys can be a really good tool for doing this. An in-product survey can depict the satisfaction level more vividly than a survey conducted through email.

E for Engagement

Engagement measures how much a user interacts with your product in a given timeframe. Some specific things to measure include the regularity and the intensity of use, and the level of interaction over a period of time. Some examples include the number of visits per user per week or the number of videos/photos uploaded per user per day e.g. for a photo editing app.

But note that the right metrics will vary depending on your niche. For example, a QR code scanner app is unlikely to see the same depth of engagement as an email app. But still, scenarios might differ depending on different circumstances.

A for Adoption

By adoption, you measure the number of new users of a product or a feature. For example, at Inapptics, when we successfully added a new feature of creating visual funnels from existing user flows, we started measuring the number of users who ended up using that feature during the next two weeks of its launch.

However, there is a little controversy about this too. Some of you might argue that adoption is not so much related to user experience but rather marketing activity. We agree that a heavy investment in marketing can overcome UX problems. But in the longer-term, a poor user experience is very likely to prevent new users from installing your app or using the new feature since they read reviews and ask their friends. Thus, for adoption, it’s best to combine your UX and marketing efforts.

R for Retention

Making people return is one of the hardest tasks ever. By R, you will be measuring the rate at which your users return. For example, you might be measuring how many of your active users at a given timeframe are still present at some later time. The failure to retain or the so-called churn is another metric you will want to measure. In fact, it’s one of the most heated topics among apps.

Similar to adoption metrics, the retention metric is going to be pretty useful when coming up with a new feature or rolling out a new release.

T for Task success

This one looks like a more technical metric since you will be measuring the time to complete a task or the error rates in a specific task. Some more things to measure will include the time to create a profile or upload a photo e.g. in the case of Instagram.

Now that you know all the categories in Google HEART framework, make sure you choose one or two of them based on your product. But how can you decide which metrics to measure and which ones to skip? Everything starts with Goals. It is one of the GSM (goals, signals, metrics) processes that you need to identify. Also, make sure everyone on the team knows the direction you are moving to.

For example, everyone wants to have a high number of mobile app users. However, they should decide which metric they want to measure: engagement or new users.

The next step in the GSM process is mapping the Goals to Signals. Signals should echo the users’ actions. For example, a failure signal in the Task success category for Instagram can be selecting a photo from the device, adding a filter to it but not publishing it.

And lastly, you can refine the signals into Metrics. In the Instagram task success example, we might implement “users upload images, add filters on them but do not post the images” as “the average number of cases when users upload images, add filters but do not post the images on Instagram.”

Summing up

If you want your product’s design to be backed by large-scale data, Google HEART framework can be the answer. But how to collect the data you need? A good in-app analytics tool such as Inapptics can help you not only gather relevant data but also analyze it in order to get precious user behavior patterns.

Have you tried using HEART to measure UX? Or maybe you have your own methods for doing this? Feel free to add responses below.

Found this post useful? Kindly hit the 👏 button below to show how much you liked this piece of content! :)

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Originally published at on November 3, 2017.

Read Next: 14 Mobile App KPIs to Take Your App to the Next Level

from Sidebar

AI and human understanding will win the war for talent

One of the most well known tropes in startup and tech culture is that your business is only as good as the team behind it. You can’t do anything without having a strong team, and the most important job for every manager is to hire quality talent that fits into the preexisting team dynamics. The HR and recruiting industry has dedicated itself to finding the people who are right for your company, but the process of skimming resumes and calling in highly rated candidates for an interview hasn’t changed for the past decade or so.

However, the newest trend, AI, is infiltrating all industries. While it might be a very good thing, you shouldn’t put all your hiring eggs in that AI basket. The best solution combines the strengths of HR and AI.

AI in the hiring process

We’ve all been hearing (and reading) about how AI will completely take over our lives. We’ve also been frightened into thinking it will soon replace all of us. While the job of getting people jobs will not be replaced by AI anytime soon, the tech can offer major improvements to the process.

To find the right talent, you need to have the ability to scan resumes quickly, read people immediately, and imagine the future of the applicant sitting in front of you. While some of that work can be replaced by AI, currently we are nowhere near an AI that can read people and assess their fit within the culture of the workplace. But some of the processes for finding the right people to join your company — such as immediately asking for more information, screening, and highlighting special candidates — can be done more quickly and efficiently with AI.

The integration of AI is not just about saving the company time and resources. It also saves time and uncertainty for the candidate. Getting back to top talent to set up an interview a week from now is the best way to have them move on to the next opportunity. If you can provide instantaneous feedback on every application, you get a leg up over other companies looking to snag that candidate, instead of wasting their time and missing a hire.

Onboarding with chatbots

The optimal way to maximize efficiency is combining human and technological resources. A chatbot can onboard new candidates as quickly as possible, as opposed to a form that might never get filled out. If you build a real AI chat bot, you can give candidates real-time feedback on their applications and ask questions to gather information before any interview is scheduled. The bot can even automatically analyze the candidate’s resume and information while onboarding and give them real-time responses relevant to them, making sure that the right people get called in for an interview and that the interviewer has the right information before even asking the first question.

After the chatbot has done its job and flagged the relevant candidates according to your parameters, the human element kicks in. Hiring managers don’t have to read the whole resume, supporting documents, and answers to a questionnaire because AIs can create a personalized summary of documents. The AI behind the hiring process can create a five-bullet summary of everything that’s important to know about each candidate. It can even set up the interview on its own. This means even small companies where C-level executives do the hiring don’t waste time on pre-interview screening, and interviewers have concise information about each candidate before they walk in the room.

The interview is where the human intelligence and expertise shine. Things like a candidate’s cultural fit, connection, and ability to work with others, along with the hiring manager’s overall impression of a person, are vital. Humans can focus on what they do best and automate the rest.

The future of AI in recruiting

At the end of the day, hiring a person doesn’t just hinge on facts and figures, it depends on who they are. And that’s something AIs still can’t assess. But the process of going through those facts and figures to see if someone is qualified can certainly be automated by an intelligent bot. The value is increased by the fact that you can onboard and convert candidates quickly, meaning top talent will be more likely to work for you and you’ll take less time filling important positions at your company. The combination of AI and human understanding is what hiring managers need to win the war on talent — and save a few dollars, as well as time.

Moritz Kothe is the chief executive officer of kununu, a place to find and share workplace insights.

from VentureBeat

Blockchain courts will offer effective dispute resolution in smart contracts

Arbitration is a fundamental aspect of human relationships be it social, professional, or business relationships. The emotional and psychological composition of humans cannot be absolutely prevented from interfering during the execution of contractual agreements and processes.

Contractual disputes

Disputes over contracts aren’t always caused by ulterior motives or deliberate intentions to short-change another party. Sometimes, they may be as a result of honest mistakes or inadequate understanding of the original contract.

However, no matter the reason behind eventualities and disputes during the execution of contractual agreements, there is usually the provision for settlement systems that are supposed to interpret the terms and conditions of the given contracts and deliver fair judgment.

Weaknesses in existing systems

Traditional dispute resolution systems have been exposed to several deficiencies that make them inadequate for today’s business environment. Modern technology and the pace at which business processes move these days, do not permit the luxury of the relative setbacks inherent in traditional systems. This has led to the development of a decentralized arbitration platform that suits the ecosystem of emerging technologies as we have them today.

Some of the disadvantages of traditional arbitration systems that make them inadequate for emerging systems include:

• High price
Professional legal services are extremely expensive, with preliminary consultations alone costing hundreds of dollars, while lawyer’s fees for civil lawsuits can run up to thousands of dollars.

• Duration of proceedings
As a rule, it takes several court sessions at intervals of 1-2 months to solve a case. That, of course, is too long for most disputes.

• Judgment execution
Even if a judgment is delivered, its execution takes time and is carried out by third parties. The losing party may abscond, declare bankruptcy or otherwise avoid fulfilling its obligations.

• High entry requirements
Most often, only big cases are heard in courts, and few people are ready to start serious litigation for disputes over everyday matters like a poor-quality product or service. The cost and complexity of proceedings do not depend too much on the subject of the deal.

• Jurisdictions
Public courts administer justice under the laws of a certain state, which vary significantly between countries.

• Political engagement and bias
Courts are not always independent — they are often influenced by other institutions and people.

• Complexity
Few people can protect their own interests; for the rest, trials are very complicated.

• Lack of choice
There is no way to choose the specific rules to be used for dispute resolution. Usually, it is the national legislation of a certain country, which cannot be altered by the parties.

The blockchain solution

By implementing a decentralized arbitration system on the blockchain, issues are resolved by a panel of jurors resident on the Jury.Online platform. This system serves to eliminate the above-listed setbacks which are detrimental to business operations in the fast moving technologically empowered societies of today.

Users on this platform can create deals and have them registered on the blockchain as immutable and transparent smart contracts. This enables every fact and detail of the deal to be available and traceable in case of any dispute.

To settle eventual disputes, judges are chosen randomly from a pool of judges, unless the involved parties unanimously select a particular judge over themselves whose decision will be binding over the issue at hand. Anyone can apply for an arbiter within or without a pool to Jury.Online project with background and experience description and get a chance to become a professional arbiter.

A typical example

A simple real-life example of implementing the Jury.Online system can be in a deal involving two individuals, a business owner and a website designer where the business owner contracts the website designer to create a website for his business.

Assuming that both parties only agreed on the creation of a website without the mention of hosting it, a dispute may arise when the business owners assume that hosting is automatic and complimentary, while the designer thinks otherwise.

Jury.Online simplifies and speeds up the settlement process of such a case because every fact and detail of such a contract would be placed as a smart contract from the beginning on the open source protocol of the Jury.Online blockchain. These details remain constant and immutable and when jurors are chosen from a pool of arbiters by the disputing parties, they carry out their investigations independently on existing facts and details and deliver judgment immediately.

Once judgment is delivered, the execution aspect which involves sealing up the deal is carried out immediately and everyone moves on.

Lead developers

The Jury.Online project is pioneered by Alexander Shevtsov and Konstantin Kudriavtsev. Alexander is a mathematician and a high-qualified specialist in cryptography, who has a background in abstract and theoretical areas of mathematics, engaged in cryptography, and has written several educational articles for universities.

According to Alexander, his interest in blockchain technology and cryptography lies in the reality of its application in the real world.

“First of all I’m interested in blockchain because this technology, and cryptography in particular, are some of the very few spheres of abstract mathematics, its matchless beauty and elegance can be applied in the real world”, he says.

For Konstantin who holds a degree in Technical Cybernetics, and work experience in some of the world’s largest banks (PrivatBank, Alfa Bank, UBS London Bank), the innovation that blockchain brings into the technology circle should be embraced by everyone.

Konstantin says;

“In general, all the technologies separately (p2p Protocol, encryption, etc.) were already known, but by combining them together, the technical world has been disrupted with blockchain technology and this is a breakthrough which should not be missed by anyone.”

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from The Next Web