Color Labs just released a new version of Color, its location-based photo sharing application for iPhone and Android smartphones. Noticeably, the latest version 1.0.2 comes with a much better set of primary navigation buttons.
When Color was launched on March 24 2011, many complained about its confusing user interaction design. Version 1.0 of Color was indeed overly minimalistic. The release of this latest version is addressing some of the design shortfalls.
Previously, each button on left / right side was used to navigate to two different pages. This is compounded by lack of description text on the buttons and the use of new jargons – Multi-lens, Visual Bulletin, Visual Diary, and Elastic Network. Now, Color use one icon to link to one page. With this minor tweak, navigation is much simpler and easier (especially for first-time users). See below the New & Old navigation buttons on Color (click for full image).
Old Navigation – New ‘Jargons’ plus Confusing Icons
Explanations of Color’s concepts/buttons (extracted from Color FAQs):
Multi-lens: patent-pending technology that lets you collect and share photos and video being taken by people next to you. If a person next to you has Color on their smartphone and you are both taking photos or video together, you will automatically share the created content. The content is always stored and accessible in your Visual Diary.
Visual Diary: All photos and videos that are captured during a Multi-lens you are involved in will be saved here. The photos and videos will be sorted by day and always accessible. If you click on a thumbnail, you will be taken to the thread containing all comments, likes, and people involved.
Visual Bulletin: a collection of Multi-lens albums posted from people in your Elastic Network. (Your Elastic Network is automatically created for you based on your levels of interaction with other users… The more you interact e.g. by taking Multi-lens photos together, liking, or commenting, the stronger a connection becomes.)
New Navigation – Less Cryptic, More Palatable
Unlike the previous version, button name now will appear appear when you tap on the button. From left to right:
- Nearby: formerly Multi-lens
- Feed: formerly known as Visual Bulletin
- Color button: this eye-candy is for photo-taking
- History:, formerly Visual Diary
- Inbox:, formerly
Aside: Let’s look at other competing products’ primary navigation:
Besides the primary navigation a few other notable enhancements are:
- Delete photo icon besides each photo. Previously, user is required to swipe on a photo (iPhone) or tap-and-hold (Android) to delete a photo,
- Kite image to represent the sharing button. Previously, it was heart-shaped.
- Better control: Easier to block or control what you want to see from others. Tap on the profile picture of a user to access the control buttons.
- Able to change profile picture from camera roll. Previously, user can only use picture captured from the camera.
- Localization: Color now support Japanese, Chinese and French languages.
With this latest iteration, Color is much less frustrating to use. Buttons are less cryptic and it is easier to access key functions within the application. Version 1.0.2 should have been the launch version.
In the location-based social networking space, Color is quite a groundbreaking product, in terms of concepts and underlying technologies. But coupling it with novel navigation flows is probably not a good move. Color should dumbdown its navigation design, in order to aid learning curve among its users and building up traction.
Amidst the uncharted water of new social networking experience offered by Color, its users need to be anchored to familiarities. Such familiarities can be in the form of navigation designs.