Archive for the ‘Usability’ Category

It’s nice that Google tries to show you the train lines that provide service to each station on the map. But I noticed a problem with their approach. Apparently, they pull the name of each train line from the organization’s website. These names can be rather long, e.g. “Metra Union Pacific Northwest Line”, so they […]


Alphabet soup

01May08

Say you’re designing a list of features that people will access from a menu on the left side of the screen. When you only have a few items to include, ordering them by popularity or frequency of use probably makes the most sense. But as this scales beyond ten or so items, it becomes cumbersome […]


While making some configuration changes in Salesforce.com, I ran into a truly puzzling set of buttons. At the bottom of the page I was editing, I saw the usual buttons for “Save” and “Cancel” — plus another button for “Quick Save”. I don’t have a clue how you can save something faster than normal, and […]


Elevator logic

28Apr08

From what I’ve read, modern elevator design generally focuses on how to make elevators more efficient. In other words, engineers try to group passengers by their destination floor, reducing average wait times. With that said, I came across a design blunder in Chicago’s John Hancock Center that makes me wonder if elevator designers have really […]


When designing software, it’s common practice to relegate some of the more obscure settings into an “advanced” tab. Personally, I don’t understand the attraction. Adding another tab to your settings window creates yet another thing for the user to worry about, and doesn’t really provide any benefit. Sure, you might be able to shorten the […]


When adding a new feature to an existing software product, many programmers and designers just sit down and create the look-and-feel from scratch. This is a mistake, since it leads to user interfaces that have little in common with the rest of the product. A much better approach is to study the existing features in […]


All lowercase

20Mar08

I understand the use of lowercase names for certain companies and products. Sometimes, it just looks better that way. But extending this practice to the buttons and navigation on a website or application puzzles me. Since we use capital letters for more than just decoration, adopting an “uppercase is bad” mentality threatens to reduce usability […]