Alexander Skogberg

UX, Web & Design

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The usability delights of Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to post here on a more regular basis, but then I (finally) started playing Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt… So, to break my procrastination I decided to write a post about the usability delights of this wonderful game.

The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt is the third game in the epic fantasy saga from the Polish game developers CD Projekt Red. It was released on May 19, 2015.

The Witcher games are based on the fantasy books by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski. The books tell the story of the witcher (monster hunter) Geralt of Rivia, whom you also play as in all of the Witcher games.

I won’t go into great depths about the story of the game. If you’re interested, read A Beginner’s Guide to the World of the Witcher by Kotaku. The lore is as epic as in The Lord of the Rings and the politics is as complicated as in Game of Thrones.

But in short, You play as Geralt who is looking for his adoptive (sort of) ultra powerful daughter Ciri who is lost in war-torn world and being chased by a group of scary specters called the Wild Hunt.

Just as its backstory, the mechanics and interfaces of Witcher 3 are deep and complex. But CD Projekt Red has pulled it off remarkably well. Here’s six of my favorite usability delights of this game.

1. No crashing into trees on horseback

I’ve played quite a few games where you spend time on horseback. Mainly Nintendo’s classic Legend of Zelda games, but also Rockstar Games’ western epic Red Dead Redemption. I’ve always found it incredibly frustrating when you’re gloriously blazing through a field with the sun setting in the background only to be abruptly stopped when crashing into a tree. Ugh.

In Witcher 3, this is almost never happens. Even when you ride into the most dense of woods, you are subtly auto-aimed past the many trunks and branches. It’s such a welcomed change. Well done CD Projekt Red.

On horseback in Witcher 3

You won’t be crashing into these trees with your awesome auto-aiming horse.

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4 tips for cleaning up your Mac

The new year has arrived and lots of people are starting it off by staying sober, getting a gym membership or starting a new healthy diet. As usual, I like to kick it off by cleaning up my Macbook.

Here’s my four best pieces of advice.

1. Buy CleanMyMac 3

CleanMyMac 3 icon

CleanMyMac 3 by MacPaw is, in my opinion, the best app for freeing up hard drive space by finding and deleting:

  • Duplicate photos
  • Bloated caches
  • Unnecessary email attachments
  • Large and old files
  • Long system logs
  • Unused language files
  • Seldom used apps

CleanMyMac 3 is smooth, easy to use, explanatory and has saved me lots and lots of gigabytes. It’s my number 1 tool for keeping my Macbook healthy.

Just download it and you’re almost done.

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Looking back at 2016 and looking forward to 2017

2016 was a challenging but great year for me in terms of work. It marked my first year at inUse, had me giving lectures all over Sweden, put me in a lead position in projects and broadened my skill set further.

Here’s some words about what happened, great things I noticed, personal achievements, stuff I learnt and what I’m looking forward to in 2017.

Designing for touch is essential for all screen sizes

Since I started working with Responsive Web Design back in 2012, I’ve been a strong advocate for Mobile First.

In 2016, it’s more important than ever to design Mobile First due to the changing nature of devices, their screen sizes and their different options for input.

Today, some smartphones are almost as large as some tablets. There’s also tablets that are larger than some laptops. We also have devices like the Microsoft Surface, which offers input from its touch screen as well as from an optional physical keyboard.

Then there’s the growing group of laptops with touch screens like the Microsoft Surface Book.

With a touch screen laptop like the Microsoft Surface Book, users can and will switch between using a mouse, keyboard and touch screen within seconds.

Designers need to design interfaces to support touch input, regardless of screen size.

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Summary of An Event Apart: San Francisco 2016

On October 31 to November 2, the design conference An Event Apart was held in San Francisco. As usual, I followed the event on Twitter from my couch in Stockholm.

Golden Gate Bridge

Like every other time I was expecting useful new knowledge , tools and insights, but this time the event really outdid itself. So ridiculously much great stuff!

Here’s what I found most interesting.

Accessibility

Accessibility is something I’ve been fortunate to work with in projects such as Fejjan för alla (Facebook for people with deaf-blindness) and Tidning för alla (accessible news site).

Designing for and performing usability testing with people with various degrees of visual and hearing impairments is a humbling and eye-opening experience.

I’m glad accessibility was given so much attention at this An Event Apart conference by Derek Featherstone (@feather) in his talk, Extreme Design.

Next time I walk past Burger King, I’m stealing some straws for the inUse office.

This is exactly how I pitch accessibility.

Read all of Summary of An Event Apart: San Francisco 2016.

Forget about the headphone jack, try seeing the big picture

“What’s the shitstorm about this time?”, my classmate Simone asked as I gave him a tl;dr of Apple’s event on September 7.

I laughed hard at the fact that he knew there would be controversy without even having heard anything about the event. After all, Apple has a history of making bold changes to its product lineup only to be met with immediate heavy critique.

Some examples:

  • Removing the floppy disk reader for the iMac
  • Removing the optic drive and Ethernet port for the MacBook Air
  • Never supporting Flash on iOS
  • Not putting a memory card slot on the iPod
  • Not putting a physical keyboard on the iPhone

Read all of Forget about the headphone jack, try seeing the big picture.

Much responsive Many CSS Very breakpoint So media query Such HTML Wow