Tag Archives: usability

Why Are We Abandoning Menus?

A while back, Ubuntu’s Mark Shuttleworth posted a blog article called “Introducing the HUD. Say hello to the future of the menu.“ Shuttleworth mentions how a menu is “the M in WIMP and has been there, essentially unchanged, for 30 years.” The clear implication, of course, is that the time for a change has come — […]

Portable Computing UI Redux: Editing Photos While Walking Downtown

One thing Instagram’s done for me (or to me): It’s made me much more prone to editing images on my phone. Which means I now have more data on the real-world equivalent of Charles Stross’ speculative incident in the beginning of Accelerando: [Manfred is] standing in the plaza in front of the Centraal Station with […]

Are We Always New At Everything?

The trend in Microsoft’s products for the past 15 years or more has been toward making things easy for the people who have never used the software before. Of course, as time goes on, there are fewer and fewer of those people. The Ribbon is introduced in the Help file thus: And if you’ve used previous versions […]

Are You Sure You Want to Read This Blog Post? (y/n)

When should you ask a user “Are you sure you want to do that?” Bear in mind that asking this question when you don’t have to has more than one bad effect: Obviously, it wastes the user’s time and may even annoy them. It also contributes to the general problem of “too damned many dialog boxes […]

Is Your Domain Name Spellable and Pronounceable?

A good domain name should have the following features: When someone says it to you, you know how to spell it. This means that if my friend wants to tell me about your site at a party or a club or out on the street somewhere, she doesn’t have to spell it out for me. […]

Motion Distraction — Worse Than the <Blink> Tag

Once upon a time, Netscape invented the <blink> tag. And people saw the <blink> tag, and put it on their web pages, and thought it was good. And the rest of us saw the <blink> tags on those pages, and screamed, “No, you morons, it is bad! It distracteth the user mightily, for lo, our […]

Initial Impressions of the Samsung Epic and Android

A few nights ago, my Palm Prē got dropped, causing a hairline fracture in the touch-screen. Since it would no longer take any screen input, it was suddenly an even less useful device than usual. I’d been thinking of switching to an Android phone anyway, so I am now the (proud?) owner of a shiny, […]

Typesetting In Between the Letters

Long before I learned to program — and long before the World-Wide Web was even a gleam in Tim Berners-Lee’s eye — I was introduced to typography by Douglas R. Hofstadter’s Metamagical Themas. In his chapter “Variations on a Theme as the Crux of Creativity”, Hofstadter presents a full-page figure that shows 56 different versions of the […]

Facebook and Privacy

Okay, so I’m a little late to the party in posting this. All the professional bloggers have already written about it, while I’ve been busy with my day job. Nonetheless, something that’s been on my mind since the beginning of the week, when it would have been timely: I think Facebook has now hit its […]

Augmented Reality vs. Low Tech — Ready? Fight!

I’ve written before about augmented reality, Sixth Sense, and so on. Here’s a question: Is this really augmentation? As augmented reality takes hold, we’ll have more and more people wandering around looking at their smartphones’ screens rather than what’s actually in front of them. The smartphone delivers some extra information, of course, but it imposes […]