Category Archives: UX/UI Design

How humans interact with the world around them, online and off, has always fascinated me.

The unofficial color of the Internet is…

I ran across this interesting story while poking around the Net today. Here’s a link to it: Daily Mail link

A UK designer wondered what colors were the most popular on the Internet. So he created a scraper program and broke the 10 most popular sites (according to him) by pantone code.

The results are shown below:

386685DD00000578-0-image-m-10_1473980327109

As you can see, blue was an obvious winner- even beating out black, white and grey. Also, since he is an artist he differentiated between “blue” and “turquoise” while myself and most men would lump those two together under just “blue“. If he had gone that route then it would have doubled up every other color and beaten my beloved red by a factor of 3:1.

The reason is obvious and it’s why so many corporate logos heavily feature blue. It’s because blue is calming, trustworthy and stable- all traits you want visitors to your company to perceive.

Isn’t that right Facebook?

-J

Effective Screen Layout: It’s about “where”, not “what”.

For years I’ve been repeating the idea that users read a screen much differently than a physical item, like a book.

For the book (in English), they read left-to-right; top-to-bottom, consuming most of the text.

For a screen (computer, tablet, phone, etc) they read down the middle with very little attention to the edges and they consume very little of the actual text.

The good folks at Neilsen did a study that validates this belief and refines it a bit.

Have a look at the heat maps below. The redder areas indicate where the user looked at that part of the screen longer:

f_reading_pattern_eyetracking

The first screen is an “About” section, so in other words, a text blob. Note the meme “tl/dnr” (Too Long. Did Not Read) is very true in this case. Anything after the top 2-3 inches may as well be my grandma’s recipe for chicken and dumplings.

The second screen is an e-commerce site, like Amazon. In this case, the user studied the picture, the cost, the brief description and then the first word in each of the remaining bullet points. The further away they got from the picture the less likely the description would be read.

The final screen is Google results. This one is easy to interpret: the lower you are the less you matter. The first hit is studied in depth as is the second, the third gets less attention as do all the ones below. By the time you get to the bottom you are only reading the title.

What does this tell us?

  1. If at all possible, avoid posting a text blob that extends past the page break UNLESS the purpose of the site is a journal or some other design where long articles are the primary product.
  2. Images are important. If there is a picture, graph, diagram or any other non-textual communication on a page the eye will immediately snap to it and study it in depth. Make them count.
  3. The upper-left area is the most likely part of the screen to garner attention. Conversely, the lower-right is the “dead zone”. Anything in this area may as well not exist.

Another lesson, not related to screen design, is that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is still key. If you aren’t in the top 3, you don’t exist. Focus on your message and find your niche.

-J

For the paranoid in all of us…

From televisions to toasters, all kinds of devices are getting hooked up to the Internet. That’s bringing convenience, like air conditioning systems that can be activated remotely while you’re on your way home from work. But it’s also bringing new privacy concerns, as anything connected to the Internet tends to attract the attention of hackers.…

via 7 Easy Ways to Stop Your Gadgets From Spying on You — Tech – TIME

Quick Update and New Section

Happy March 1st… where it hit 80 here yesterday. Hope you didn’t have any plans for winter because apparently it was cancelled.

Just a couple of news bits to relate.

First, I’ve been SICK as a dog for the last week. I felt ick on Friday and then Saturday standing in the kitchen I could actually feel the moment where I slid over the edge between “I don’t feel too good” to “Awww crap. Kill me now.”  Tomorrow is the first time I will be leaving the house this week as a result.

Which brings me to point two. The reason I’m going out at less than 100% (closer to 75% to be honest) is that I have an interview with a well respected company and the job is to “find the next big thing”. It’s basically an in-house think-tank for their industry. How cool is that? No way a virus, cough, steroids, codeine laced cough syrup and all the rest will keep me from going after this. Fortunately they were kind enough to postpone it from Monday to tomorrow.

A big part of my role there would apparently be ADA evaluation, including Sec 508 compliance. I’ve done this stuff in the past and kept up on it, but since my last job was tweaking a long-existing platform I decided to place it safe and look through some of my favorite resources on the subject for a quick brush-up.

That’s when I realized they’d be a very good addition to Red Paint. So, on the right there is now a new section specifically for useful ADA information. Like I do with the UX blogs I’ll try to keep it as updated as possible.

Wish me luck tomorrow!

-J

 

Google’s Useless Homepage

Sometimes I think I have to be missing something here.

I click in the text box and as soon as I type the first letter the screen changes to the results view.

When do I get the chance to click that “I’m Feeling Lucky” button?

This has bugged me for a while, so if anybody knows about a setting I have or whatever then please let me know.

-J

Choke Point

There is a tactic that you’ve seen in every war or cop movie. The hero is surrounded by bad guys, ducks down an alley or hallway and sets up a position there, picking the evil-doers off as the funnel in after him.

In the military this hall or alley is referred to as a “choke point”. It’s an environmental feature which funnels the users into a single line.

This term has also been adopted in business. A perfect example is if five people are writing requirements documents at the same time but they all have to be blessed by one person. That means that five people can only work as fast as the one approver. Choke point.

The reason that this came to mind is my house. We have a lovely, fairly large home. Very open floor plan in the front of the house with the ability to block off the back of the house for privacy. For instance, if we have workman in the house we can close one door and they don’t have access to any of the bedrooms. Nice.

EXCEPT that this means that the entire back of the house is served by one narrow hallway. Excellent for security. Sucks for everything else. I can count at least three times where we’ve bought furniture for a back room and had to send it back because there was literally no physical way to get it into the desired room. It makes walking down the hallway impossible as well. If two people are coming from opposite directions there is that inevitable dance- “After you.” “No, come on.” etc etc.

The moral of the story is this: Usability is not only for the online or business world. I made a mistake 15 years ago and it has since impacted my family and I on an almost daily basis.

Would we still have bought the house had I noticed the issues with the hallway?  Probably, given my wife’s “Ohh’s” and “Ahh’s” over everything else about the place. It is a nice house. But maybe I could have shaved a few thousand off the price.

Could have used that money for skinnier furniture…

-J

Steven Seagal Points The Way

Hey Everybody!

Sorry for the long absence. Life happened and I forgot to duck.

What brings me back this time?

The sheer genius and acting ability of this man.

The film is “Under Siege”: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0105690/

For most of us the only highlight of the movie at the time was Erika Eleniak coming out of that cake. However, I was watching it last night for the first time in more than 10 years and came to the scene where he smuggles this huge backpack into the little wooden rowboat which was for some BIZARRE reason hanging ON THE SIDE OF AN IRON BATTLESHIP!! What could possibly happen to that ship that would make the little wooden boat which MIGHT seat 6 the preferred option?

Anyway, that’s not what stopped me dead. It was when he unfurls this big antennae dish (which he promptly COVERS in the boat- different rant), does some vague button pushing and then goes back inside where a perkily dressed Erika is waiting for him. She sees the “phone” in the pic above and asks “What is that?” He gives her some techy crap about a “SEAL phone” and she goes “Oh, like a car phone.”

1- When was the last time you heard the phrase “car phone”?

2- How different would this movie have been if he had just whipped out a Galaxy S7 Edge and called the Admiral?

Now the scary part. This movie is from 1992. Yes, it’s “celebrating” it’s 25-year anniversary next year. The entire paradigm in communications has changed in less time than it take to mature a good bottle of Scotch.

What will it look like in 2041? Will my daughter just wave at the air and get a connection to her kids? The mind reels.

That’s it for now. I’ll try to be back here more often.

-J