Technology at your fingertips. Literally.
That was Hewlett-Packard's lofty mission when its stakeholders first approached us in the mid-2000s. Ahead of its landmark release of the first mass-market touchscreen desktop PC, HP needed help designing applications to work with its TouchSmart technology.
The stakes were high. HP's TouchSmart technology had the power to transform how people interact with their computers. The TouchSmart ecosystem just needed intuitive apps that made it easy for users to learn and embrace the new, interactive power of touch technology.
From discussions with HP's stakeholders, we knew the designs for the apps would need to adhere to strict requirements. HP wanted to deliver a pervasive experience across all its TouchSmart applications, so the user interface and corresponding elements for each app would need to align with established visual style guidelines.
Additionally, HP had plans to ship the TouchSmart PCs and techonology to markets around the globe, so we were looking at user personas from geographical areas covering more than 30 different languages. We knew every design decision-from UI elements to tactile interactions-needed to account for cross-cultural differences.
Once requirements were established, we began the groundbreaking process of designing the applications. Apps designed included Notes, which allowed people to create messages and to-do lists with the scribble of a finger, and Canvas, which gave users the power to move and re-size images by dragging and pinching-interactions now viewed as commonplace.
Given that touch technology was in nascent stages, very little existing user research was available to inform our interaction design decisions. Frequent scrums and checkpoints of user testing were performed during this stage to ensure that interactions we designed were intuitive and easy to learn. Out of this process came patented technology for an interaction known as "the lasso effect," which allows people quickly select multiple note or images by drawing a circle around the content items.
With the design strategy for the applications set, we made sure each element and interaction was compatible with languages used with Microsoft's operating system (OS)-WPF, .NET, and XAML.
Additionally, we performed early quality assurance testing to ensure that every UI element and control automatically scaled to fit localized content. During the develop stage, we worked closely with HP's engineers to ensure that all designs and interactions seamlessly integrated with their code.
After the built-in apps shipped to PC customers, we continued to work closely with HP. As the TouchSmart platform and the Microsoft OS evolved, our team ensured that the quality of the touch apps remained consistently high and we continued to improve the design with feedback from ongoing user testing.
The TouchSmart line of PCs and its applications lived up to HP's decades-long reputation as a technology pioneer, thanks in part to great design.
In collaboration with HP, we relentlessly designed and tested touch interactions to find finger movements that were intuitive and simple enough to become second nature to people, and ultimately stand the test of time.
Today touch technology is indispensable. As is our commitment to innovation.