Chris McLay.

Interaction designer and user experience consultant.

Author Archive

Steve Jobs dies

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Steve Jobs dies…

and I am mourning.

I am at home today. Earlier I was sitting in my kitchen writing, when I saw the hint of a note in the background – I can’t quite believe what I’m seeing. I really, really didn’t want to. But the Apple home page wasn’t lying.

Not only did Steve change the world in so many ways, his success opened the world to see that great design, great craft and great experiences were not only popular, but profitable. Without his early successes, I doubt that I would have become a designer, and without his later successes I certainly wouldn’t have the work that I have now.

This is a very sad day for us all, most of all for his family and his colleagues. Steve has left us an amazing legacy, and I intend to do the absolute best I can with it.

Steve Jobs steps down, and I am relieved?

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

When Steve Jobs announced his resignation earlier this week I was listening to a presentation on leadership in a conference ballroom. It was about an hour later, between sessions, that someone told me Steve had resigned. For a few seconds I thought they were having me on, but there were the press releases in Reeder waiting for me.

After living through the dark days of the late nineties, when it looked like I would have to give up designing on my Mac and start working permanently in Windows, I expected to be more shocked and much more concerned about this day. I was surprised, and a little shocked, but oddly that was quickly replaced by a sense of relief. I was genuinely relieved that Steve had stepped down, and it’s taken me a few days to unpack exactly why.

Perhaps I was simply in a happy place so that the resignation just didn’t seem that bad?

I was definitely feeling good, and the UX Australia conference is definitely a happy place for me. Jon Kolko’s workshop the day before was invigorating and left me excited and full of the challenges ahead. I had just walked out of Kim Goodwin’s keynote presentation encouraging us all to take on leadership roles within our community and organisations. (I should point out that Kim was focused on developing our leadership skills and capacity, and not on us taking on management roles.)

Perhaps it was the lack of commentary I was seeing?

This had just happened, and I think the tech press was mostly in shock. I was also about to see another presentation and this was only the start of my day, so I didn’t have an opportunity to look around for comments during the day. Twelve hours later when I did sit down to look, the obituaries were everywhere, but they didn’t have much I didn’t already know.

Perhaps I was just distracted? Perhaps it didn’t matter? Perhaps…?

None of this seems to account for my sense of relief, and even two days on that feeling is still there.

I should make it very clear before continuing that I’m not happy that Steve Jobs has stepped down. I do think it will have an impact on Apple and on the rest of us, but it’s certainly not the end of the world and it’s certainly not the end of Apple.

So why am I relieved? I think there are a few things there…

Steve has already changed the world. He made the computer personal. He raised the profile of good design, and good user experience. He changed the mobile phone, and brought us a new era of technology and computing that is about people and not about megahertz or megabytes.

He has also given us Apple, the worlds second largest company. A company focused on designing and building only the best products. Products that are designed for people. Products that are designed to enrich and enhance our lives, not just to empty our wallets.

While Steve has stepped down at Apple, Apple is still here. All of the amazing people that design and make these products are still here. Steve built the Apple of today many, many years ago, and it will keep doing great things for many years to come. I believe that Apple is still Apple, even without Steve Jobs at the helm, and this is a big part of why I am relieved.

I am relieved because for many years, many people have handed the credit for Apple’s success to one man. So many books, articles, magazines, essays, etc., have been dedicated to Steve and his one man reality distortion field. Many, if not all of these miss the point. So many have tried to replicate his success without truly looking at what has made Apple and its products such a success. Many fail to understand what sort of success Apple has had, and the scale of their success.

I am relieved because now, hopefully, people can start to look at Apple and its products without Steve. They can look and see behind this one man, to the broader company, to see the many men and women who make Apple a success.

In Melbourne? Got an iPhone? Please help…

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

I’ve spent a lot of my time recently reading, playing and generally getting more up–to-date. Part of this has been learning how to build my own iPhone app. As part of designing the app, I  have built a prototype web app that I would love your feedback on.

This simple web app provides up-to-date weather forecasts and observations for the Melbourne metro area. At the moment, that’s it. You load the app and you can see the current forecast for the next seven days, and the most recent observations (temperature, wind speed, etc.). Here are some screen caps from the app:

As you can see it is pretty simple, but that’s the idea. I wanted something on my phone, that didn’t make me wait half a minute or more just to get the weather forecast.

As a web app, you have to visit the site ( on your iPhone, then click the plus button in the bottom toolbar, and then choose “Add to Home Screen.” This will save the app for quick and easy, full-screen access when you need it.

What’s good about it now?

  • It’s fast, about 5-6 seconds to load the current conditions.
  • I got “fixed positioning” to work in a web app.
  • It’s clean, quick and simple.

What’s coming?

  • Use phone’s GPS to get observations from the closest station.
  • Add more iPhone-like momentum to the scrolling.
  • Add the ability to see the rain radar.

After that I’ll probably focus on the App-app, but this seems like a good way to get feedback while I’m learning.

Please take five minutes to install the app and try it out over a few days. I’d love to get you’re thoughts.


Note: The app may well work on Andriod or other good webkit mobile browsers, but I don’t have anything to test this with…

The first Melbourne UX Movie Night

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Over the last few weeks I have been helping to put together a new evening of talking, drinking and sharing of ideas for Melbourne’s broader UX community – Melbourne UX Movie Nights. The nights have come about from the combined efforts of CHISIG, IxDA and UX Book Club here in Melbourne.

The first monthly movie night will happen on Monday 7 June at Horse Bazaar in the CBD, with Jon Kolko’s keynote from Interaction 10, My Heart is in The Work, presented in Savannah earlier this year. The evening kicks off from around 5:30 with the keynote screening at 6:30 PM.

The event is free, and there are lots more details here: and of course there is a Twitter account to follow @uxmelbourne.

I hope to see you there!

Bant: Great interaction for data entry

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Bant is a free iPhone app developed by The Centre for Global eHealth Innovation for people with diabetes. I discovered it on Daring Fireball the other day, but only just had a chance to play around with it.

For some context, I did quite a bit of work with some diabetes meters and recording systems about a year back. People managing diabetes take their readings several times a day, and recording these readings is a difficult habit to maintain. What I love about Bant is that it makes the task of recording three points of data for every reading into a single efficient interaction. With a single drag on the phone, you have entered the meal, the time and the reading. It’s such a quick and efficient way of entering and tracking data, much faster than writing in a diary or using a mouse & keyboard could be.

One final nice touch is the use of the yellow line which represents now. This is makes it very easy to enter a record right now, because you can’t drag any further down than the yellow line.

I think this is the first time I have seen this specific interaction – noting that it should work just as well with a mouse – has anyone else seen something similar before?