30 Apr

Users’ Pagination Preferences and ‘View All’

When providing a choice of display options, the computer should almost always respect the user’s stated preference and employ it as the default the next time around. I am amazed at how many sites and applications don’t do this and instead force users to repeat their choices again and again.

In short do pagination but if you offer different options remember what the user selected and use it throughout the site.

24 Jan

inessential.com – Fantastical and language detection

I like this. The best Mac developers have been famous for taking the extra steps. Most people won’t need this — but those who do it will delight.

via inessential.com – Fantastical and language detection. That is practically the definition of great software, causing your users delight in the everyday workings.

01 Jan

Subtraction.com – Subscribing to The New York Times

The total customer experience here is haphazard at best, and, at worst — I hate to say this because I am still friendly with many people at the company, but in truth there’s no way around it — it’s insulting. It shows a certain amount of disrespect to customers for a company to choose not to present a full accounting of available offers, displayed plainly and in an easy-to-compare chart, so that anyone can fully understand all of the options and decide quickly.

Why would it be so hard to be as explicit that? I ask that rhetorically, but from my experience as an employee I remember exactly why: The Times as a business remains both in thrall of and a prisoner of its old print mathematics, wherein pricing for delivery of the physical newspaper was complicated and subject to frequent and fleeting special promotions. By design, print subscribers were never sure if they were getting the best deal on their subscriptions, and that mentality has transferred over to its digital business. The result is sadly hostile to those looking to subscribe digitally, and gives the unmistakable impression that the company is gaming its customers.

Just for comparison, here’s how some other digital businesses price their products: Netflix is US$8 a month. Spotify is between US$5 and US$10 per month. Evernote is US$5 per month or US$45 per year. Birchbox is US$10 per month. Hulu Plus is US$8 per month. Flickr is US$25 per year. MLB.tv is US$25 per year. And so on. There is really no good reason that pricing for The New York Times couldn’t be as simple as that.

via Subtraction.com – Subscribing to The New York Times. Media companies respect their customers or maybe not.

17 Oct

My Dinner With Android – Four months with Android: reflections, grievances and some tenuous metaphors bundled up into a weighty tome

If I could simultaneously re-experience my first time using iOS and my first time using Android, I don’t know how the two instances could ever reconcile. iOS feels like technology that’s years ahead of Android just through polish and design. And while a lot of Android users have told me that stuff doesn’t bother them, I can’t get over it. Why choose the tool that feels worse?

via My Dinner With Android – Four months with Android: reflections, grievances and some tenuous metaphors bundled up into a weighty tome. That pretty much sums up every bit of experience of Android I’ve ever heard.

20 Sep

Daring Fireball – The Case for Going Metro-Only on ARM

Read the whole thing. His take is reasonable. If Windows 8 does ship with support for classic non-Metro apps on ARM machines, these will be the reasons why.

But there are other good reasons, I think, for why Microsoft should cut the cord cleanly and go Metro-only on ARM.

via Daring Fireball – The Case for Going Metro-Only on ARM. When I posted the link about Windows 8 being able to run normal desktop apps, I somewhat flippantly said that it “could keep Win­dows 8 from being truly awesome”, this is why.

01 Aug

Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox – Defer Secondary Content When Writing for Mobile Users

Mobile devices require a tight focus in content presentation, with the first screen limited to only the most essential information.

via Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox – Defer Secondary Content When Writing for Mobile Users. Wikipedia’s mobile version while typically not known for it’s usability is used as a good example of hiding information until needed.

26 Mar

J-P Teti – The iPad is 99% more open than any other computer

The teenage market is where I like to turn for a prediction of where the general market will be in a few years. Because while teens aren’t nerdy, they tend to be early adopters because it’s cool— taking out my iPad (which I often bring to school in my backpack) is actually considered showing off by a lot of people. Everyone in my class has an Android phone or an iPhone. One of my friends, again, not a tech nerd, had the Droid within 2 months of it being released and had the Verizon iPhone the day after it came out.

And this market thinks the iPad does more.

This is the key to the iPad that nobody has figured out. The iPad does everything that a regular computer user does. Facebook. YouTube. Email. Web browsing. It does all this out of the box.

And it has all the apps.

via J-P Teti – The iPad is 99% more open than any other computer. The iPad does more or at least is perceived as doing more, that’s truly is what matters.

02 Feb

Your Site, Your Design

A website design is closely identified with the reliability and trust in the content of a site. Most of us can think of the sites that are poorly designed and the content reflects this haphazard choices, got to any of a thousand conspiracy or half developed personal sites and you’ll find some of the most ill designed sites and content that reflects this obvious lack in judgement. Unfortunately the problem of design choices is flowing over to even well designed sites in an attempt to make sites more social.

More content owners are wishing to make it easier for people to share their content in a well meaning attempt to attract more readers, unfortunately I think they are ruining the thing that people are most interested in, the content itself.

Screen shot 2011-01-20 at 12.34.48 AM

Nice site till you wreck it with stupid widgets.

Here’s a site that’s obviously has been thought out and is actually looks quite nice, except for all the social media widgets cluttering up the screen and distracting from the site/content itself. The worst part of this whole thing is that for all the care and attention fostered at this site’s design all those widgets are clearly not part of the original design and hence slapped on top of the design and thus wind up looking and feeling totally out of place.

Perhaps the worst part is how the site has several nag boxes for trying to get you to subscribe. I mean seriously, how often do you need to ask me to subscribe, once very reasonable, twice I’ll let you get away with it, but five separate locations for either the RSS button, a link or something else in an attempt to get more subscribers. It’s overdrawn. The best part though has to be the ad boxes that are empty yet still wind up being displayed.

I can understand and sympathize with content producers wanting to make it easy for people to share their content, but please remember a couple of ground rules:

  1. Your site is a reflection of the content
  2. If you cared enough to go through the work/effort to get a good looking site, why destroy in 2 minutes with some stupid widget that looks nothing like the rest of your site
  3. You can get away with nagging me once, maybe even twice after that you, well desperate seems a good adjective
  4. Perhaps most importantly, the easiest way to improve usability is make it easier to read your site not harder
30 Jan

Mike Cane’s xBlog – Windows 7: The Best iPad Seller!

So today I had to help someone set up some things on a new Windows 7 notebook.

This is a notebook mainly used for casual offline game-playing.

Until today.

When it had to get on the Internet.

And really, the Internet tasks it will do are ordinary things: email and some online game-playing.

Here is some of what I had to go through with this Windows 7 notebook:

via Mike Cane’s xBlog – Windows 7: The Best iPad Seller!. One of the reasons I moved to a Mac was I spent less time doing maintenance to do what I actually wanted to do, I just do it now.

18 Oct

Cennydd Bowles – End hover abuse now

Designers who pop up information panels or move page elements on hover are using flawed logic, second-guessing what users want to do before they do it. The result, which I’ve seen in countless usability tests, is that users activate these controls accidentally. You know what happens? People actually flinch: “What was that?” They return with hesitation, less confident in their understanding of the site. It’s no accident that the Twitter worm propagated through hover—accidental activation meant users spread the worm unintentionally.

via Cennydd Bowles – End hover abuse now. A call to action for designers to stop over using the hover attribute.

Should mention at the end the designer goes back and says that if you are to use hover to show new information to add a 500ms delay before firing the action. I’ve seen and implemented hover states to display new information and I think it’s a useful technique with a well defined use case, the problem does become one of people having a correct and valid mental model for the website and how it works. Hover actions can quickly break that model.