On Elezea: Small but significant usability sins that websites should never commit

In Small but significant usability sins that websites should never commit, Rian van der Mewe writes:

This is obviously a fairly random list of UI transgressions, but I feel like we talk about the big issues so often that we tend to skim over the smaller ones that can really add up.

Great list… and yes, sometimes it’s good to have a list of small specifics, whether you’ve done a lot of usability testing before or not. And some of them are issues for reasons other than user confusion; using PDFs, for example, makes content less searchable, translatable, etc.

Since a lot of what we do, at least in terms of interface design, is essentially web design, these apply.

Curious George, User Interface Design, and Enterprise Software

My boys have fallen in love with Curious George in both books and cartoons, and last night I watched Curious George’s Rocket Ride with them. In this episode, George ends up going to space because a mission requires buttons in the rocket to be pressed on four separate keypads at the same time — requiring an astronaut with four hands.

Now, there are plenty of things Curious George encounters that would never happen in real life, but bad user interface design is not one of them. Take this unfortunate example. And, well, the vast majority of enterprise software, which for the most part doesn’t kill, but wastes incredible amounts of time and money in lost productivity, decreased morale, and unnecessary training development. Mostly, buyers seem to put up with it because they don’t understand those costs or don’t feel like they have better options.

That thought always gets me down, so I re-read this article written by Marcia Conner at the beginning of this year. I love her parting words:

Start now. Pressure your vendors to do better. Don’t settle. Run simple usability testing with eight new hires. If you must, have a transition plan.

Be courageous and doggedly determined to create a healthy year.

Thoughts on Apple

When Steve Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple, I was guilty of writing one of those posts that could be mistaken for a eulogy. The news that he has passed choked me up quite a bit tonight, but mostly, I’m incredibly glad that while he died too young, he lived long enough to see Apple come out on top.

Using Apple products has taught me about usability. About elegance, in form and function. About how I want to design.  The fact that the good stuff is winning is a win for everyone.

Thank you, Steve.

Accessibility Testing for Hype-Published Content

Reporting back on the accessibility question I posed earlier about Hype…

My company does quite a bit of testing with screen readers to make sure that our courses are not only 508-compliant, but as usable when using accessibility devices as when not. Yesterday I did some testing with Hype-published text, embedded into Lectora, and I’m happy to report that it read flawlessly.

It was a very basic test… no appearing or disappearing, just some text flying around the screen. The text was read just as if it were in a regular text box. Naturally, you would still want to include a description of the animation, but… Sweet!

This would be one of the reasons markup is awesome… If it’s machine-readable, it’s inherently more accessible.