Wow, time flies. This is usability stuff from before parallax view and flat design, and 'hero' meant a soldier or sandwich. I now bother the world with my UX ideas and other fun thoughts at
You gotta see it to understand it.
Simple solution to the problem of iPhone home pages with
too many apps.
Revisited, Reemphasized 2 years since my last B&A?! (What the hell have I been
doing since then?) Apparently finding the same UI mistakes
|How Twitter Ate
Google's Lunch Is Twitter another unfulfilled hyperdream
like flying cars or the next killer app? Read
our answer and the
surprising prediction on our sister site, www.realtimescience.com.
of Grassroots.org Simple checklist usability review of
a site for non-profits... you know, like CitiBank, Merill
Lynch, and those guys.
|Review of sticklystreet.com
|Website review of temperaturealert.com,
a vendor of a hardware temperature device for server rooms
of Statistics Canada
an online purveyor of advertising promo materials.
|Righting 4 the
If the routine advice about writing for the web—reduce
by 50% etc.—is valid, what were all those words doing
in the first place?
|The Revolution Accelerates... Earth-Shaking
Usability Advances by Zoho
|Website Review of USA.gov
Surely the chief purveyors of government-speak and the Section 508 requirements will have a fluffy, stuffy, hypocritically non-compliant website, right? You'll be surprised.
|UI's 7 Great Controversies
Chauncey on the STC usability SIG asked what the top controversies are in usability and user-centered design. Good question!
|Google Is Now the Defacto
a small indication that now we'll all be getting
our UI leadership from Page & Brin, not Gates.
|Internet Ended by Oregon Realtors
In a quaint, protectionist fit, an Oregon company decrees, "There will be no bad things said about houses we list."
|Before & After... Bret Victor's Magic Ink If you fully design the graphics, interaction design is not necessary!? Hands down, the most important thing I've read in 24 years of user interface work.
|Risolviamo, traduciamo, ricreiamo?
Usability review of Qabiria, a new translation services site.
and After: "The Primary Interace": What
do Home Depot, street address signs, and telephones
have in common?
|Review of Like.com
Visual Shopping Search Is the world ready for a
search site that prompts you to search by visual characteristics?
Review of a public county's site. Is it as good as our
If you've made it this far, I have a free
gift for the first 100 visitors who
reply. If you know anyone who's learning
to read, email
me and I'll send you a free copy of
a kid's book I wrote that has just been
printed. Please include "Poopy Phonics" in
the subject line so I have a chance of
recovering it if it goes to my spam folder.
For smart mouths everywhere, the book is PoopyPhonics(.com). No
strings attached, but if you like it, consider
posting a review to Amazon.com. —Thanks,
—No spam, no emails, no private info given out—
|Web 2.0? Ask the Audience What
one thing does Web 2.0 (or 3.0) boil down to? Just ask
|Shovelware Redux Is shovelware reborn
or just a great zombie? J&L Industrial's 2000-page online catalog, simulating a paper catalog is incredibly powerful, more so than many native HTML websites.
|Usability Hurts, But
Learnability Kills Is learnability the new
|Now Hiring Leonardo
DaVinci Everyone still wants to hire one
person who will build them a helicopter 500 years before
|New Web Aesthetic? Lighter
type, raised panels, let corners be corners.
|Review of an Ajax App, MakeTime Will my content-centric heuristic checklist work for an app, let alone an Ajax one?
|Learnability Gallery Screen Capture Library of Techniques
to Make Interfaces Self-Training
|Printing a Read-Through Guide Reprint of a 1996 article, advising how to decide what to print versus what to provide in online help.
Before How can a "before-and-after" article
have no "after?" Take
a look at this screen capture to find out.
Case for Specs Functional specs
are a counterproductive, wasteful, inauthentic remnant
of a time gone by.... right???
|List of Web Apps There are zillions of examples of great websites, but not too many of great web apps. I moved my list of apps from an obscure article to my "Web State of the Art Page" and added some more to the list.
|Instant Usability... how one great web app turns learners into users in no time flat, with 28 specific learnability techniques.
|Added requirements for ecommerce landing page to Function Tree.
|Solving the Great
Specs Dilemma... A Case for Specs
|Review of CoreObjects.com,
an offshore software developer
of Usability? If an Amazon
product page is now one of the most complicated things
on Earth, is simplicity a thing of the past?
of a GenericDB Web App Site Not my usual content-centric
review, this time we take a look at a database site
12 imgs with lots of advice.
|Job Description for Usability
Everyone wants a user interface designer to solve their
problems, and they want it today. But usability problems
can't be solved today, and they can't be solved at the
designer role alone.
|"Avoiding 'We can’t
change THAT!': Software Architecture & Usability." Just
a note about a great paper that details things that must
be build into software in advance or they'll never be added.
Shopping Cart is About Time.
A real improvement
in the online shopping cart has been accomplished
and somehow, and the idea is something that every one
of us should have been smart enough to come up with!
review of TheVine.co.nz a bible site... was it
Jakob Neilsen that said "Simplicity is next to
|The Rightest Navigation? Is
it time to put 'secondary navigation' or 'downstream links,'
catalog of models for web design, content, and navigation.
|One Big Print Button?
Why do I have to print out hundreds of separate pages to
learn a topic that is on an otherwise great website? And
don't tell me to read online. Read
of a Designer's Site
Is Flashy Friendly? A very modern, personal site of
and by a web expert.
Twenty-Two Years of Techwriting
DOC file of a presentation
for techwriting students, rough notes and images without
|The Metrics of Usability
a Recommendation Falls in the Forest, Does It Make a Sound?
How to quantify the efforts of usability experts.
Triumvirate of Home Page Design
Try to build a bad website that includes these three
ingredients. You just can't do it.
Value of Techwriting:
Can Charlie the Tuna really fix techwriting? Stop worrying
about making techwriting valuable and instead concentrate
on making valuable techwriting.
|Before & After:
Bellis's Law of Control Proximity
What can light switches tell us about software design?
Put controls, even text, as close as possible to the
item they control.
The pundits tell us that conventional top tab bars and
multi-level menus are a proven failure and trigger
words will save the world. Hmmm.
|Improving Linksys' Security Dialogs
Or, "How to Save Linksys $25 Million in Support Costs
and Save the World Along the Way."
How do they make that cool text style
on AdaptivePath.com?" There's
a new aesthetic on the web and part of it is the deceptively
complex issue of fonts. It explains why professional sites
look good and others, well, don't.
It's been 7 years since I wrote Computers Stink, a 150-page phillipic against
the industry. I've improved the free 150-page
PDF of the book by adding bookmarks and along the way I asked myself, "Has
the industry conquered its deamons in 7 years?"
Technology Help Help?
Microsoft has a new infrastructure for online help that offers some efficiencies
but those gains won't improve 'user assistance.' And they continue a costly industry
habit of focusing inwardly, on tools, instead of outwardly, on users.
|Free Review of
Genesism.com Review of an industrial design site from
Pune. You know where that is, right?
|Webware Design Roles, Defined
I notice that information architects argue a lot about
what an information architect is. That in itself probably
tell us enough to define their role, right? Maybe not.
Here's my spin on how the
web design roles break out...
Up, Sort Of... I installed a wireless router and still
have my hair. But two guys in India and one in the Phillipines
might have lost some.
Solutions That Add Real User Value... It's been a
premise of mine that more technology should not be the
first line of defense
in combatting UI problems. But on the web, well, you
know what they say about rules.
|Vistited any Good Functions
Should Web Apps Use "Visited Link" Color-Coding?
This question recently arose on the STCs usability
SIG... you know, when a link turns purple. I looked in
a book I'm reading recently Baxley's "Making the
Web Work," and you might be surprised
at what I found...
And I added some items to our Function
Tree. This is an amazing item, folks...
or at least it has amazing potential. Check it out.
|Which Is Better, Departmental
or Task-Based Navigation?
The question comes up frequently of whether a task-oriented
structure is better than a departmental structure.
Limiting Factors in Reuse & Methodology
Perspectives on Transitioning a Software Company
from Service to Product (An ongoing story)
The Declaration of Usability
The subject comes up
periodically of having the usability profession "speak
with a common voice" but it's hard to figure out
what this means. Here's my attempt...
|A Classic Microsoft Flaw
... and who doesn't enjoy that? For those old WordPerfect
users who want their "Reveal Codes" back. Read
it on our Morsels page.
I find more UI challenges than I can possibly include
on our Before & After page, so there's only one thing
to do... get you to do the "after" versions.
So here it is our ongoing log of unsolved UI problems.
Maybe it will be useful for a school project.
Function Tree, A Work in Progress
Does it seem like you start all over again every time,
and therefore miss some functionality you should have
|Top 10 User Shocks of Converting to a Web App
Web Apps Use A Secondary Window?
Users of business
apps might be better served without an address bar,
back button, and all that menu bar junk,
right? Hey, all I'm doing is asking. Why not? Read
it and tell me what you think.
| Requirements Definition
Three simple things—well, seven actually—to
target... on our Morsels
Advice on Accessibility A simple checklist. No
heuristics. No theories. Do
|Tabs on the Web Should Always be <What Color???>
The verdict is in. See
our Design Gallery page with examples of many design
situations. And by all means, suggest better examples for
|The Good Virus??? Come
on Jack, we knew you were nuts, but do you have to go out
of your way to prove the point?
What's the difference between UE and usability? And where
should you put your effort if your sole objective is a friendly
site? Check out this great outline that you can use as a
Spy" in a Software Splash Screen
Sometimes we find stuff on the web that needs a quick, simple
|The Ultimate Simplicity...
from Microspam no less?!
Could it be that they've turned over a new leaf? Check out
this great page design from Hotmail.
|Steve Krug's Book,
"Don't Make Me Think"
A book report?! What's that doing here? Let's call it the
7 habits of highly successful websites.
Is Online User Behavior
The solution to e-commerce usability is artificial
intelligence and simulating brick-and-mortar attributes,
that Wouldn't Learn
The paperless office, e-books, "classroom training
is a thing of the past," and other great spin.
Which is better for instructions, a few paragraphs of prose
or a bullet list?
the 1997 Cult Classic, "Computers Stink"
150-page book on usability. Lots of great anecdotes.
|Website SHOOTOUT: CSU's
CompSci vs. Computer Information Science
Who has the better website, the algorithm-ers or the MBA's
who call them for support?
The Future of User Interfaces?
When Will the Past Finally Get Here?! If you
think reality is bad, wait until you hear about augmented
Survival Report Card for: Cambrian College
Designing a college site is no simple task. How do you think
|Website Survival Report Card
for: HR Technology Group
Our first in a new series of usability reviews. 33 items
no website should be without. Use it on your own site or
ask me to do
a complimentary review for you.
|New and Very Substantial Permanent Resource
GenericUI, A reusable style
sheet and design for Web apps!
It's long overdue that developers stop trying to reproduce
the last 14 years of GUI dialog design each time they start
a new project. This shareware resource provides a style
sheet, icons, table layouts, and page designs that will
not only save projects a lot of time and money, but help
users by providing common artifacts that cue them in to
|Before & After:
Redesign of the MCLinc.org Library Web Site
This was no silk-purse-from-sow's-ear turnaround, just applying
some web basics and improving the words to clarify "keyword'
|Help Ticket 666:
A Conversation with Tech Support
I've decided to remove this satirical item as some folks
might find it offensive. If you like stories like The Onion
publishes, you might like it. E-mail me if you want it.
|The Best Dialog
It must be a mega-techno-multi-level-zip-zap-wing-ding,
right? Or is UI design mostly about good words well-placed?
|Ah, La Mode!
Why modes are wrong and we're surrounded by them.
Had to Play by Software Rules...
A brief analogy to major household appliances, explaining
why software manufacturing is so darn hard.
|Before & After:
Scaling Mount Everest: Redesigning Netmeeting
Try talking a non-Windows user through sound-and-video at
a distance, and you'll want to tear your hair out, too.
An article explaining that menus are not the boring fossil
you might think they are.
|Winning the Business Softwar
(207K, zipped PDF) 46-page, 8+1/2"x11" book on
usability and user concepts for businesses and individuals.
(Before & After)
Which mortgage loan web site is better? You be the judge.
& After) Button Wording in a Simple Message Box
Put explicit wording on buttons instead of indirectly
in the message box.
Criteria to Put in Your RFPs
Paste this wording right into the global requirments or
"lofty goals" section of your requests for proposals.
Four simple examples of how usability is always reduced
to wording, and the words are not always on the computer
screen any more.
|Computer Users Bill
of Rights 1997
From the book, "Computers Stink," 8 simple rules
etched in stone.