You’re unique!

Every person is a unique individual, even single-egged twins aren’t exactly the same. As you grow up, you learn new and different things which influence your interests and the choices you make in your life. These interests influence how you perceive the world around you, what gets your attention and what doesn’t.

The difference in this perception is a big issue for developers and designers. How can you make a program or object that suits everyone? This is something that’s impossible to decide by yourself, in order to find out whether your program is of any use, you’ll need to test it with other people in real-life situations. Sometimes this means that you’ll need to design different versions of your software for different (groups of) people.

The most common example of this is software being in different languages, but this difference could go further than just language. White cars reflect the most amount of light, thus meaning that they are cooler and easier to cool in hot countries, but harder to find in the snow in cold countries. Designing a practical and worldwide useful object suddenly becomes a lot harder!

The pocket knife of the internet

Originally, my interest in user interface design came from the poor design of websites. Back then, websites had poor designs (even poorer than nowadays) and were hard to navigate. Every website has its own method to deal with the problems of limited screen real estate and too much functionality. A nice example of a good way to do this is Google. pocketknifeThe products and possibilities they offer keep growing, but the complexity of their products has been stripped down to a minimum. A nice example of this is their main page, where there are two buttons and a menu bar. The design of their menu bar has been based on a swiss army knife, take out what you need, everything opens in a new tab, and whenever you are done using it, put it back again. I think this is a good example of a design of a big complex website.

What you inherit from your previous owner is…

I think that a student room or studio is one of the biggest hand-me downs in The Netherlands. The many times such a room has been handed down from previous owners is uncountable – and I don’t want to know to be honest. So whenever you change something in your room, you might want to consider the next owners: is this of any use to them? Maybe consider the building owner or maintainer, is this something you could sell to them after your use, like a brand new wooden floor? In my girlfriend’s studio, I found something of which the use seems quite useless, two power plugs against the ceiling on places where I’d guess a previous owner saw the use of putting a power plug over there, but we keep guessing at the point of it. Got any ideas? The only idea i can think of is a light, but where would you put the lightswitch?Jump to the ceiling and put it on (or off)?

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The 10 nastiest feedback mistakes

I think it’s a part of every soft skill course, giving feedback. When something goes wrong or happens, your pc or gadget gives you feedback about what happened, but my oh my, those programmers could do with a decent course in soft skills.

10: Feedback is misspelled
Usually, this is the source for some humor, but it is simply ugly when there are spelling mistakes in your feedback.

9: Feedback is warning you for something that is a 1 in a million case
Ever unplugged a USB drive without unmounting it first? And, what happened? What is that warning for?

8: Feedback gives you the illusion of choice
A feedback window telling you that the download completed successfully, with both an “ok” and “cancel” button. What’s the difference?

7: Feedback is abundant
“Program closed successfully” or “goodbye” messages when you’re closing a program. I really detest the “are you sure?” message when I try to power-off my phone, sometimes it’s still there the next morning.

6: Feedback is not there though it should
Logical result of someone being to scared of number 7, oh you expected an e-mail that your order was received? To bad.

5: Feedback is unclear
Ever saw a 0x34669-something error? There you go, you don’t have a clue what to do with that.

4: Feedback is simply wrong
Ever saw the message “program closed successfully” after a dozen error messages? Been there, and it’s nasty. Ever installed a program and got the message “installation successful”? That’s where you have to be extra carefull.

3:Feedback is not configurable
I don’t want to hear all your mistakes or get notified every time I get a message. I want to be able to turn these off.

2: Feedback is to prominent
Your entire PC hangs because some weird program thinks it needs your attention. Let me decide that. Web pages in IE tend to jump to the front when the page is loaded. Incredibly annoying.

1: Feedback is not imminent
When you click a button, the click should be shown immediately, not hang the program for a minute. Ever tried to click a button a gazillion times because nothing happened? This is the cause. This is the most time-consuming and frustrating activity you can have on your computer. If something went wrong, I want to know it, and I want to know right now.

What does this button do?

20130131-083933.jpgMy car key has 4 buttons. Their use seems obvious, top to open, middle to close, press the bottom one twice to open the hood and the little round one to get the key out of hiding.

That’s about where it ends, in the cold dark I tend to press the open key instead of the close key, especially when I have my gloves on. And last but not least, why are there two lock icons on the lock car button? Do I need to press it twice to fully lock the car? Or does this mean that that button enables the extra super duper lock with alarm which other cars don’t have?

…Norman door…

20130128-130439.jpgAlmost walked face-first into this door trying to open it. Turns out it is a slide door, but the small grip hints “push”. How many people tried to push this open? This door type, without correct hints how to operate it, is called a Norman door, after the author of the bestseller “the design of everyday things.”