Your website has two faces – one talks to humans, one talks to machines

When a user interface—intended for human consumption—reflects too much of a system’s internals in its design and language, it’s likely to confuse the people who use it. But at the same time, if data doesn’t conform to a specific structure, it’s likely to confuse the machines that need to use it—so we can’t ignore system requirements, either.

People and machines parse information in fundamentally different ways. We need to find a way to balance the needs of both.

Read more: Your Website has Two Faces at ALA

6 ways to make your website tablet-friendly

A checklist of simple things from UX Magazine:

When a website exhibits “tappiness,” it’s easy—or even delightful—to use on a mobile or tablet device. Tappiness encompasses smart use of space, text that is easy to read, logical interaction clues, and large touch targets that allow visitors to navigate with confidence.

Read: The Pursuit of Tappiness

Tl;dr:

  • Bigger buttons with more whitespace around them.
  • Make links more obvious, without relying on hover states.
  • Bigger font sizes.
  • More padding in nav menus (to create bigger hitboxes).
  • Greater margin, padding and line-heights for better readability.
  • Bigger form fields with more whitespace around them.

Honour your trolls

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Honour your trolls with the credit they deserve.

When a comment is marked as trolling, the comment appears in Comic Sans, lighter color and has a troll face next to the comment author.

via Little Big Details, which is an awesome blog full of cool ux things.

Thanks, @davempalmer, for the link!

Why does choice create anxiety?

Tl;dr –

  1. We choose what other people are choosing.
  2. We try to make an ideal choice.
  3. Choice always involves loss.

How does this relate to UX?

  • Offering too many choices may make your users anxious to the point of inaction (analysis paralysis), or action at your competitor (“too hard, going somewhere else”).
  • It’s helpful to suggest why a user would choose a particular option.
  • Give users an ‘out’ if they make the wrong choice – eg. refunds, exchanges, upgrades & downgrades, a properly functioning back button.

The ridiculous pocket knife

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The Guinness world record for “most multifunctional” pocket knife belongs to Wenger, the company behind the storied Swiss Army knife. The company says the knife’s 87 gadgets (including a laser pointer, cigar cutter, and golf reamer) can be used for no fewer than141 functions.

Alas, weighed down by its three pounds of gizmos, this “most multifunctional” knife has no practical function at all, a pocket knife that doesn’t fit in your pocket. This slice-n-dice Goliath was, of course, never really designed to be used. It was a novelty created for the company’s 100th anniversary, a whimsical project to bring together every gadget the company ever included in its knives.

While the knife is obviously (and intentionally) ridiculous, it’s a winking reminder that somewhere in the reptile part of our brains, a misguided instinct tells us that more is always better.

In the end, of course, the best gizmo is the thing that lets us do what we need to do with the greatest ease.

Be ruthless when you consider every button and icon: Does this element invite attention? Is it clear what it does? Does it deliver something meaningful?

Lifted & abridged from Tapworthy: Designing Great iPhone Apps by Josh Clark (O’Reilly)

The difference between UX and UI

The subtle difference between UX and UI – via @m4rkmc

http://design.org/blog/difference-between-ux-and-ui-subtleties-explained-cereal

I’d like to suggest too that the table you eat on would be the user’s computer. This of course, is beyond our control as developers, but if the table is wobbly, it can contribute to a crap user experience.

What kinds of things could we do to help users help themselves when their equipment is sub-par?

Things to know about people

To get ready for an upcoming project, I’ve been reading up on user psychology. Thought you might fancy a couple (3) tidbits from my studying:

 People remember only four things at once.

 An urban legend from the 50’s suggests we can remember up to “seven, plus or minus two” items at a time. Since then, science has discovered that we actually only remember FOUR.

So what? – When presenting people with figures, options, stats – any kind of info – keep it down to four items.

People tell what to do with an object based on how it looks.

 Mug handles, squishy buttons, fingerholes in scissors – all of these things invite you to put your hands on them in a certain way, which naturally leads to appropriate ways to use objects. Think of how stupid it is to have a handle on a door that says ‘push’.

So what? – Make buttons look pushable, use shading or highlighting to show an object is selected or active, consider how your hover effects could be better represented on touchscreen devices.

People become addicted to seeking information.

 The dopamine and opioid systems in your brain work together to make you seek out pleasure, then feel satisfied when you get it. We also then learn how we can get more pleasure, so dopamine kicks in again to make us seek some more. When it comes to deriving pleasure from information, our brains find it increasingly harder to stop checking Twitter, Facebook, email, online shopping and research sites.

So what? – Make it easy for users to seek small bits of information, then reward them when they get it. This trains them to seek some more. This is how shitty games like Farmville become addictive.

That’s it for now. All of these tidbits came from my favourite schoolbook atm, 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People.