Polar, stylish and inspiring

Jan 04, 2013

A look at Luke Wroblewski's voting app.

I have meant to write this blog post in a while, but have struggled with time (despite a long winter break), and I wanted to show pictures on this post. It may seem strange that the latter point is an issue at all, but I am keen to be as bandwidth friendly as I possibly can, and so I wanted to explore all avenues.

Before I talk about Polar, I just want to mention those avenues!

For the time being I took the middle option. As this post discusses, I had great success in reducing some NASA images considerably, from 223kb to 34kb without any noticeable difference.

I don’t like the thought of the web being populated with large low quality images, however as I don’t think these images will be re-used then I feel it is a safe option for now. I definitely do look forward to the <picture> element though.

On with the show

With that rather lengthy aside out-of-the-way, I want to talk/rave about the Polar app by Input Factory Inc.. When you see the stunning simplicity at work, then it will be no surprise to find out that Luke Wroblewski is the CEO and Co-Founder.

Luke wrote this excellent article on Smashing Magazine, about new approaches to log-in forms, which led to a few personal thoughts about how we (at Europeana) presently tackle log-in forms. Before I discuss that, here is a solution I can really buy into.

Login screen for Polar
Log in form on the Polar app, showing passwords hidden and shown on push

The one thing that I love about the sign-up procedure was the fact that you can select whether to show or hide the password. This puts the user in full control, rather than the designers. If I am alone I would quite happily unmask the password, so that I can make sure that there aren’t any typos. However, when a colleague is peering over my shoulder, then I’d prefer to make sure that my password was only known to myself. The latter has happened I should say.

Not discounting the excellent work done by colleagues, I do think that the Europeana 1914-1918 sign-up form does neither. You first type in an unmasked password, and then type in a masked one. When signing in you can only sign in with a masked password.

Confusing sign-in form on Europeana 1914-1918
Europeana 1914-1918 sign-up form

I’m all for options!

As for Polar itself, it is better to download and use the app to see why it is becoming so popular. According to a recent article on Mashable about the app, it says that 30-35 polls are taken each visit. That is a huge amount!

A poll on Polar
Poll on the Polar app

As the image above suggests, polls do not have to relate to questions such as Which is the best film between these two?, Who will win this sports match?, or Which is Justin Bieber’s best song? but they can actually be simple A/B tests, which get a huge reach.

Looking at two polls I took recently, one has over 200 replies, and the other has almost 300. These are great figures for quantitive data.

As for the design, you can see that so much thought has gone into how the user interacts. I recently did some tests on how the Off Canvas design approach could work on a mobile. I found that the navigation at the bottom of the screen felt nicer to use, rather than placing the navigation at the top of the screen. I need to investigate this more, but you can see from the video below that there were obvious considerations made as to how a device is being held, and how touch could be made natural.

The final thing I want to mention relates to the Justin Bieber question above. If you don’t want to receive questions like this, then you can simply change your preferences to receive adult polls only. The way that they have integrated this is actually in the same format as the rest of the questions. I think eventually this will need to be implemented into a preferences area, so that the option is not lost, but I think that even if this is done then the format will remain the same. Beautiful.

Further reading: Luke also wrote the Web Form Designs book too, although I have yet to read it.