Wednesday, 31 October 2007
One of my pet peeves about some websites is that their articles spread over a number of pages - I know why this is, it's to break up the content into easily manageable chunks - like what is done with printed media. But folks, this is the web. I don't want to have to click 10 times just to read an article - that's 10 times I have to download the associated banners. Straightforward printing is also near impossible on these multipage articles - and 'print-friendly' pages are worthless when we have CSS to provide that functionality.
Tuesday, 30 October 2007
- One way to address this dilemma is to use progressive disclosure — that is, to show users only the most important options until they ask for the advanced features.
- Another good approach is to use generic commands, which remain the same across many different contexts and thus reduce complexity.
Monday, 29 October 2007
Even though I'm already a loyal Amazon customer, the repeated great experiences
keep strengthening that loyalty. Small things count[...]They could've
gotten an extra $3.99 shipping cost out of me, but instead they refused to let
me pay extra.
Perhaps it's not about this sale. Perhaps it's about the next one. Nice post.
Friday, 26 October 2007
Thursday, 25 October 2007
Wednesday, 24 October 2007
Tuesday, 23 October 2007
They know how to do things right. (via)
Monday, 22 October 2007
Sunday, 21 October 2007
One basic assumption of good experience design is that people fundamentally don’t like change. They can’t deal with it, it’s too risky, and changes will all too often lead to failures...But the human mind’s capacity to adapt to change, sometimes rapidly and seamlessly, can be astonishing.
Nice article. And I love the interactive title image.
Saturday, 20 October 2007
Friday, 19 October 2007
Wednesday, 17 October 2007
Tuesday, 16 October 2007
Monday, 15 October 2007
Thursday, 11 October 2007
I'm going to use Seth's own words here -
I'm going to go out on a limb and beg you not to create a 'good enough website'. There are more than a billion pages on the web. Surely it can do without mediocrity? If your organization can't build a website that you all agree can serve as a great extension of your brand, you need to stop right now and find a new job.
Leave it to the designers. Your website is an extension of your brand, your philosophy. A cheap knockoff will NOT suffice, especially when your competition is just one click away.
What's the point in building yet another average site when there are billions of others out there? Does your business value unique selling points? Wouldn't your business want to be cutting edge and above the competition? Don't you want to make a difference with your brand?
And again, it's not about the font, colour and layout (although all those are important). It's about building a site that is an extension of your philosophy, what differentiates you from your competitors. It's about writing content that pulls readers in effortlessly, compelling them to experience the offline brand. It's about organising your content into logical, easy to access menus. It's about making your ideas shine through the use of semantic markup, so that blind users can still get your message.
Sure, create another mediocre site. Go ahead.
Tuesday, 9 October 2007
Monday, 8 October 2007
Saturday, 6 October 2007
Let's just have a quick look over the Windows Live login screen. I'm looking at it through IE6 on a Windows 98SE machine. So, my experience is totally in the hands of Redmond as I write this.
It's colourful enough, sure. It's also extremely big. What made it so big?
Useless Happy Talk
The first column is just happy talk, plain and simple. It's also verging on the edge of being patronising, which is probably the worst application of happy talk that there is. Please Microsoft, give me some credit. I think I should know how to use a login form by now.
Ironically enough, being on the left, the happy talk is the first thing you'll read. Microsoft have inadvertently drawn attention to a block of text nobody should be reading. People should be logging in here, not waddling about pushing their mouse around in some popcorn and wondering why Vista's 'cupholder' just broke.
Using Buttons As Links
The second column gets worse. The reason buttons are buttons is that they perform actions. They are not hyperlinks. A hyperlink takes you to another page without any action taken, whereas a button performs an action, such as deletion.
Arguing that a link should link is not just being pedantic. Users expect links
to navigate. Specifically, they expect an entirely new page to load,
replacing the current page. Any other action is liable to cause confusion. To
users, navigating is far removed from what the links in the REI do, which is
execute commands, actions that apply or alter the underlying business
Michael Zuschlag, Links and Other Wrong Controls
What irks me about the second column is not that Microsoft want me to sign up for a shiny new Hotmail account. It's that the way in which they have added an unnecessary button to what could have been a simple link.
Another annoyance is the little icon beside Windows Live ID. It sort of looks like a link, because the icon appears to have an action behind it - but nothing. In fact, it's almost duplicating the information found in the third column.
The third column is the most useful, because it contains a form. Yet it seems to have the lowest visual priority because it's over on the far right. It's all nice until after the password field. In which lies some confusion.
Blue is a common link standard on the Web. And Microsoft to their credit have put many of their links as blue. But, one isn't. And it's the 'Use enhanced security' "link". Why is this? Why is one link black when all the others on the page are either grey or blue? It's confusing.
And why is this even an option anyway? Shouldn't we be signing in over SSL automatically? Tell me, what is the advantage of giving two security options and, by default, enabling the inferior non-SSL login? What's the point in writing a feature such as User Annoyance Control and allowing the user to disable it?
UAC is another topic. I'm going off topic here.
I can't believe that I'm actually writing this. The tooltip for the 'enhanced security' option gives rough idea of what it does. What would be better is 'Click to login via a secure server'. That's it. The current tooltip is a little wooly (why would I want to see a lock icon? What does that do?). Worse, remaining links don't have tooltips.
Instead of popping up an absurdly large popup for the (?) links, why aren't those tooltips? Why does 'enhanced security' get a tooltip? Why does the 'Sign up' button get a tooltip, but the login button doesn't?
If you're going to do tooltips, be consistent.
There's too much of it here. Windows this, Windows that. Hell, read this from one of the Windows experience blogs.
Windows Live Product Team Blogs. Almost all the Windows Live apps and services
have an official team blog you can visit to read the latest from their team
about their product. This can also be a great place for leaving feedback. Many
of these blogs allow for comments. You can leave feedback and suggestions
through leaving a comment on their blog (all you need to do is log in with your
Windows Live ID). How do you find all the team blogs? Simple. I have created a
special page specifically for all the Microsoft Team Blogs that exist. You can
see the list of Windows Live blogs here. The Windows Live Hotmail and Windows
Live Mail teams even have a blog specifically set up for email support. You can
also visit the new Windows Live Wire blog for all the Windows Live blogs as
These two options are available to anyone wanting to leave
feedback on the Windows Live applications (such as Windows Live Messenger,
Windows Live Mail, and Windows Live Writer) or the Windows Live web services
(such as Windows Live SkyDrive, Windows Live Hotmail, and Windows Live Spaces).
Talk about a mouthful. I doubt that any of these applications need the 'Windows Live' tag. I think it sounds cheesy and very much within the realm of monopolising online presence; Microsoft for your email. Microsoft for your office work. Microsoft for your desktop. What's wrong with catchy names, like Basecamp, Digg, Blinksale or just 'plain old' Hotmail? Infact Hotmail is a great name all by itself. It's like Feedburner. Roll with the Hotmail name and drop the stupid 'we must own every software program you use' paradigm.
Vista doesn’t seem concerned about balance, at least to someone acting as a
user. From what I can see, the specific visual form was designed to provide
appeal in showrooms and demos not in regular use. It’s a form for selling a
product, not for using it. This is design driven by marketing, about making the
sale, not the experience.
Friday, 5 October 2007
XML is a long way off from being a standard, but at least then you can have much more descriptive tags. RSS is a great example of what is possible by using lean, structured markup instead of tag soup.
I guess what we have now is still plagued with CSS flaws (multiple backgrounds? a good multicolumn layout module?) and such documents with 'proper' semantic XML tags will only become reality when we can write XHTML without an excess of division tags.
And only that will happen when Microsoft jump onboard the CSS3 bandwagon, as Apple/Mozilla have already done.
Let's face it, there are some agencies writing sites with divisions as if they were table cells. That's not how web design should work.
Wednesday, 3 October 2007
Is it really so easy to generalise the issue? When you consider that such a figure is hard to quantify, given the heterogeneous nature of how we use computers, it's difficult to believe that 13% of the time, unpleasant situations occur.
I find Windows to be ugly 10% of the time. But 90% of the time I'm not using Windows. How about you?
Monday, 1 October 2007
Progressive disclosure is a method of revealing the details of a feature on
an on-demand basis, so that the basic elements of the feature appear by default
while the less used or more advanced elements are hidden. These elements are
usually just a click or two away, so they remain readily available, but they’re
hidden by default to avoid interface clutter for the majority of users who do
not need them.
Robert speaks a lot of sense.
- Get a bus into town
- Walk to Borders
- Browse books
- (Pay, and) Leave
Simple. How much of my time is taken up by staring at the logo? 3 seconds, at most, as I'm walking to the store. There might be displays that have the Borders branding on them, but typically I'll just shoot downstairs to the technology/art section. At most I'll see 'Borders' 3-4 times whilst in the shop. The most important thing whilst I'm there is buying a book. Obviously.
Let's take a website example. Google have their logo pride of place, top centre of the page. (I don't need to link to Google do I?) Now, because it's the biggest element there, one would assume that it is, in fact, the most important thing on the page. No. People go to Google for their search capabilities, not their logo. Although, it has to be said that Google come up with nice variations on their logo from time to time.
Perhaps not such a good example.
The site in question, Toyota, is missing their logo. However, the site is definitely not missing the Toyota brand (the word is mentioned 13 times on the screenshot). I could probably ask for less Toyota in the news headlines!
In my opinion, saying that the logo is the primary orientative element is ridiculous. If anything, it's what I typed into the address bar. Perhaps there should be text confirming that I am there, but a logo isn't necessary. I don't see a logo for the application window of iTunes on OS X, only the one sitting in the dock (which I hardly look at).
More important is the navigation and content of the page. I care more about that than I do a brand. Content determines brand, not fancy graphics. The reason I visit Andy's site often is because he has very good content and offsite links. I don't go to eye the logo typography (which is, admittedly beautiful).
From a usability perspective, on the web, the logo doesn't add anything. It's only used as a differentiator - and you certainly won't be staring at it all the time you're viewing a page.
I really like this. Star ratings are good if you're in an application such as iTunes, where you're the only user. But on the web, 100 negative ratings could skew an otherwise flawlessly reviewed product.
So this slider gives a really good indication of where the ratings are (all good in that picture). It's how ratings should be done.
I also love Amazon's way of dealing with ratings, below:
Although, I am confused as to why they need to show me the same information twice (see if you can spot it). That's one of the downsides of Amazon - they give you so much information it can be overwhelming.
Thanks David. (via)