Archive for the ‘Usability’ Category

Elevator logic


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


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 […]

Second chances


I installed a new program today. Actually, I installed it three times. Why? Because I neglected to choose the right options for my computer from the littany of obscure choices on the installer screen. I discovered this after about two hours of trial and error for what should have been a 15 minute process. But […]

A customer recently asked me to help choose a laser printer from several Samsung models. So I went to the Samsung website, and located the list of available printers. Three or four of the models looked promising, so I tried to “middle click” on each product name to view the info in a new browser […]

I recently filed my taxes online, which I have been doing for years. The product I use is very well-designed, with easy navigation and excellent help text on each page. But they added something weird this year: a sidebar that tries to provide contextual help for the feature you’re using. This would be fine, except […]

I’m a huge fan of Southwest Airlines. Sure, they’re not perfect, but I find them easier to deal with than any other airline. Their fares are straightforward and predictable, they don’t charge you to change a ticket, and their website is really easy to use. But I did notice one oversight that could be costing […]

I recently heard about a new wireless data service and decided to check out their website. Not surprisingly, the site was filled with great info on how fast it will be, which devices it will work with, and so on. But one piece of data was absent: when and where you’ll be able to get […]

Let’s assume for a moment that you’re working on a product that has some bad design elements. Say, for instance, that the original developers forgot to add a few features, like a way for the user to rename or delete pages they’ve made. You know the right solution is to add these buttons where people […]