Category Archives: UX/UI Design

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

Usability Importance, Post-Hawaii

Bethea-Hawaii-Missile-Warning-1We all saw what happened in Hawaii yesterday.

A message went out over the EMS that nukes were inbound and this was no drill.

40 minutes of chaos ensued before the “All Clear” was given. Panic. Terror.

Today, we know WHY it happened- BAD USABILITY

Quoting a national news agency, when discussing the guy who sent out the alert:

“This guy feels bad, right. He’s not doing this on purpose – it was a mistake on his part and he feels terrible about it,” said Miyagi in a press conference Saturday afternoon.

Miyagi, a retired Army major general, said the employee would be “counseled and drilled so this never happens again,” but he did not say whether there would be disciplinary measures.

Rather than triggering a test of the system, it went into actual event mode. He confirmed that to trigger the alert, there is a two-step process involving only one employee — who both triggers the alarm, then also confirms it.

“There is a screen that says, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?'” Miyagi said. The employee confirmed the alert, inadvertently causing a panic in a state already on edge over saber-rattling missile threats from North Korea. “

Seriously? This is the system in place at EMS?

Here’s the issues I see on just the first reading:

1- If it is a “two-step process involving only one employee”… it’s a one-step process.

2- Nobody EVER pays attention to an “Are you sure…?” screen because they are so common.

3- Your “Test” system and your “Oh crap, we’re being nuked!!” system should not be so similar that you can’t IMMEDIATELY tell them apart, at least by color.

We don’t know how many accidents, possibly resulting in deaths, this mistake caused.

I know that I and those like me always preach how “vital” or “critical” or “important” usability is. The situation in Hawaii is the BEST and WORST case example I have ever seen for proving the point.

– J


One hand?

Just saw this on Twitter. Is it true that most of you young pups use only one hand when on your phone? Every time I see my 17 year-old do that I yell at her. With the size and bulk of these new “phablets” it just seems like its begging for a cracked screen.

However, I am always a bit paranoid every time I have my phone out and I’m walking around… even if it is in an Otterbox.

one hand

Game Design UX Theory

As a game designer, thinking about all the different means of interaction my players can have with my game is key. “How can I design this system so that they are more immersed? How can I design this encounter so that my players are having more fun? How can I better facilitate flow and positive […]

via Social Media and Game Design: Food for Thought — BCSC 202B BC01 @ MacEwan University

My daughter wants to major in Game Design at Georgia Tech and I ran across this article on the UX aspect of creating a good game while doing research. Makes for an interesting read for everybody in the UX/UI space.

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:


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?


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:


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.


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