UI&us is about User Interface Design, User Experience design and the cognitive psychology behind design in general. It's written by Keith Lang, co-founder of Skitch; now a part of Evernote.  His views and opinions are his own and do not represent in any way the views or opinions of any company. 

External Articles


On Intuitive Design


We're practically useless at birth. We know maybe a very few things. We can hear sound. We have some inbuilt smell and hormonal detectors wired up. We might even know how to breath if the rude shock of being born inspires us. We have some vague idea of how to position ourselves on a nipple, maybe. We know we like the warmth and smell and sound of our mother's chest.

Everything else is learnt.  Newtonian physics. Sharp vs blunt. Light vs dark. The very same object can look different in different lighting, and from different angles. One object can occulde another. Objects can be interacted with. There are self-directed things. Etc. The best we can do is apply our learnt knowledge/sense to new situations, with possibly some experimentation on the way.

My take on the definition of Intuitive Design: The maximum intuitive design requires the minumum cognitive abstractions to parallel an existing model and mininimum experimentation, resulting in an understanding which contains the maximum truth with maximum confidence, delivered to the the maximum diversity of people




Universal Terms of Purchase - A Consumer Version of TOS


  • Disclaimer 1) I'm no expert on licensing, open sources licences etc.
  • Disclaimer 2) I'm not a lawyer and have never been the stunt double for one on TV
  • Disclaimer 3) This post is on the boundary of User Experience, right at the edge of the experience 'do I buy/use it or not'. So.


Leverage the concept of BSD-style (etc) licensing 

All of us who use software, online services, and many other non-technological services are familiar Terms of Service, or similar. A huge length of text, which is generally optimized highly optimized for the company providing the service. 

What if we could take the concept of the GNU/BSD etc. style licensing and offer that to consumers? A 'Universal Terms of Service' or UTOP, written for the benefit of consumers/customers, which a service or product provider could adhere to.


Types of things the UTOP would cover:


  • That ingredients and full source of ingredients would be listed
  • Definitions for all "features" numerically. For example "Free Range" = Max of 10,000 chickens per hectare
  • That personal data would not be traded with other companies
  • That the company complies with some defined employee work conditions
  • etc.


"Complies with Universal Terms of Purchase 1.5"

How I imagine this would work: on the box/website/posted at place of business is this term. Breeching of this contract would enable a single person, with this clear legal document in place to seek compensation or other mechansim. The incentive for companies would  be to online marketing driving savvy customers to products that adhere to the UTOP, and a general preference to purchase stuff under this license.




  • To my understanding, MIT/BSD etc licenses were driven by the creator/consumer community. There may be less incentive from the pure 'consumer' end.
  • A pessimistic view would see industry impersonate and confuse consumers with similar labels; Imagine the box saying "Complies with UNOPE 2.0 (Much better than UTOP 1.0!)"
  • It's easy for big industry to sue a single consumer (think piracy cases). The other direction takes organization, and expensive cross-country legal muscle




Making a better touchscreen experience by lowering latency


Kinect Hacking a New Musical Interface


The Rise and Rise of the Indie Mac/iOS Developer Conference


A good friend of mine is on the team of an upcoming indie-run iOS developer conference called Swipe.

It looks great. And it seems like a worldwide trend:

Melbourne, Australia: Swipe Conference  - Sep 5th

Brighton, UK: Update Conference  - Sep 5th

Denver, USA: 360iDev - Sep 11th

Edinburg, Scotland: NSScotland  - Oct 1

Massachusetts, USA: Voices That Matter  - Nov 12


Introducing Prototypes for Mac


If you design, code or have ideas for iPhone or iPod touch, you may be interested to hear about a brand new Mac application I worked on: Prototypes. Sexy icon by Wolfgang Bartelme btw :)

Prototypes is a Mac desktop app that Duncan Wilcox built (with some help from me) to allow you to quickly take your existing mockup images (made with Photoshop, Illustrator, a crayon etc!), and link them together to create a navigable mini-site that runs on iPhone.

Some nice writeups already: 

No Code, No Problem. Prototypes Turns Ideas Into Working Apps. (gigaom.com)

Prototypes (Lukas Mathis at ignorethecode.net)


Point your phone to ptyp.es and use the PIN 1234 5678 to see an example of what it can do.

Please do let me know what you think — it's definitely a 1.0 with lots of room for improvements and new features. Some of those planned are…

  • Support for landscape
  • iPad resolution support

Oh, and you can buy it from the Mac App Store: 



Only Show Dock Badge on mouseOver

I try to have Dock notification badges for Twitter/email etc. off to avoid distraction. But then when I do want to check quickly, I need to open the entire app window. What if we could choose to only see the notification badges in the Dock when mousing over them?



Got a Project?


Hello! It's been a little while…

I've just tidied up UIandus.com a little with some new design. Hope you like it.

Also, I'd  like to let you know I'm looking around for some projects to work on — could be Interaction design, graphic design, iOS, Mac, Quartz Compositions.

Find out how I can help your project.

And Yes — more blog posts coming soon!


PlayStation Move demo


Minority Report Coming Soon

There's a bunch of companies working with 3D cameras and gesture/anatomy analysis, including of course Microsoft's Natal. Control of TVs with this technology seems the first best fit.