The Best Applications: Installment 2

This report reviews the designs and usability of 13 applications that were chosen from a much larger number of nominated designs. The 305-page report is richly illustrated with 228 full-color screenshots, giving readers the unique opportunity to see good user interfaces from highly specialized applications that are usually not available to the public. 

These applications represent both mission-critical applications and apps targeted at a broader audience. The bulk of the report consists of detailed case studies of each of the winning applications, including discussions of the main problems they faced and how these problems were overcome in the design process.

Topics

Find out what the winners are doing right

  • Applications design for different types of users
  • Making top tasks obvious for all
  • Presenting  various options and views to meet needs
  • Multiple paths
  • Preferences and customization
  • Wizards
  • Linked controls
  • Downloading or sending data to another app to review and manipulate
  • Making the most of limited space
  • Safety nets
  • Help (inline)

Best practices for applications design

  • Progressive disclosure
  • Dialog boxes
  • Lightboxes
  • Modal vs. non-modal dialogues
  • Error messages
  • Help text and user assistance content
  • Contextual help
  • Tooltips
  • Super-tooltips
  • Progress indicators
  • Modes and modeless interactions
  • Status change notifications
  • Selection
  • Forms
  • Toolbars
  • Icons
  • Buttons
  • Toggle buttons
  • Labels and command names
  • Expandable and collapsible dialog elements
  • Tabs
  • Presenting complex features
  • Wizards
  • Linear vs. freeform task flow
  • Pop-up messages
  • Hover info / tooltips
  • Dashboards
  • Drill-down
  • Filtering
  • Search
  • Alerts
  • Customization
  • Data collection
  • Metadata
  • Mobile apps
  • Tablet apps
  • Mobile versions of PC apps
  • Multi-platform applications
  • Visual style
  • Color-coding of complex data
  • Data visualization
  • Charts and graphs
  • Audio
  • Navigation within applications
  • Footer links
  • Portals
  • Innovative controls: When to break from accepted standards
  • Zoom
  • Maps
  • UI for real-time resources
  • Building on top of SharePoint
  • Collaboration
  • Usability process for application development

Winning Applications

Complex Applications

  • The BondWorks wealth management platform (BondDesk Group LLC), a system where financial advisors trade fixed income assets.
  • GEN2i (Hottinger Baldwin Messtechnik GmbH, Germany), a portable device for recording engineering data in the field.
  • OEConnection (OEConnection LLC) allows auto dealership parts department to process original equipment parts transactions.

Lightweight Applications

  • CycleStreets Mobile (CycleStreets Ltd. and Anna Powell-Smith, UK), helps cyclists plan safe, fast routes for bicycle journeys using crowd-sourced map data.
  • VitreaTeach (Vital Images, Inc.), an educational tool for radiology residents to save, manage, and share medical images.
  • Wakelicious (Utopian Army, The Netherlands), alarm clock that wakes you up by playing YouTube videos sent by your friends.


Workflow Applications

  • Climate Action Planning Tool (National Renewable Energy Laboratory), helps organizations reduce their carbon emissions.
  • eReview (International Monetary Fund, IMF), an intranet application that integrates complex business functions.
  • Eventbrite (Eventbrite Inc.), a self-service software tool used by event hosts to organize, sell and manage tickets for events.
  • Hobsons CRM product (Hobsons, Inc.), a product suggestion portal tool where customers can make comments/suggestions.


Multi-Platform Applications

  • Dixio (Semantix Group SL, Spain), multiplatform lookup technology.
  • Highlight (Cohdoo, LLC), lets users with iOS devices make audio recordings, mark interesting points, and share recordings.
  • Mobile Unified Communication (UC) client (Verizon Wireless), allows business customers to link phone numbers with their mobile phone.


Related

Research Reports

Training Courses

Articles

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