Dark Patterns Revisited

Posted on February 9th, by Heath in Success Metrics, Usability, User Experience, User Hostile. No Comments

I ran across another great post on dark patterns by Harry Brignull on A List Apart a few days ago.  I first learned about dark patterns back in December 2010, and I was immediately intrigued by the concept of consciously using psychology & UX methodology to mislead the user.

Mr. Brignull not only provides clear illustrations and real-world examples of how dark-patterns like hidden costs, trick questions, and forced continuity are utilized but, more compellingly I think, he explains that despite whether dark patterns are implemented intentionally or via misadventure they are often hard to eliminate.  Dark patterns often perform well in A/B and multivariate test because their (more...)

The IPad’s disruption of PC & DRAM chip sales, and what it means for UX practice

Posted on December 5th, by Heath in Mobile, Mobile First, Usability, User Experience. No Comments

The movement towards mobile and tablet technology is moving along much more quickly than I, (and most PC and DRAM manufacturers) imagined.  I saw this on the Apple Insider blog and it blew my mind:

In the last calendar quarter, Apple shipped 11.1 million iPads, which not only expanded the computing market with less need for DRAM, but also held back sales of conventional PCs. Apple actually sold more iPads than rival Dell sold in all its PCs together (10.6 million).

That statistic is staggering, and further proof that those of us in the UX universe need to be prepared for this shift in how users are getting their … (more...)

Future Friendly

Posted on October 24th, by Heath in Mobile, Mobile First, Usability, User Experience. No Comments

Luke W, Brad Frost and several other developers have tackled the problem of how to maintain sanity and clarity while trying to design for compatibility on the dizzying array of connected devices. They’ve written a Future Friendly “manifesto” of sorts and it’s nothing short of awesome. After describing the problem with maintaining standards across an ever-growing number of devices they offer hope, and not just any hope, but hope in an easily digestible form. The future-friendly designer can:

  1. Acknowledge and embrace unpredictability.
  2. Think and behave in a future-friendly way.
  3. Help others do the same.

They also offer more in-depth explanation of future friendly thinking and provide  … (more...)

Good advice from Tog

Posted on October 7th, by Heath in Inspiration, ROI, Success Metrics, Usability, User Experience. No Comments

If you are demanding registration before checkout, you need to cease this practice immediately. It is costing you a fortune.

Bruce “Tog” Tognazzini



Create interactive protypes on your tablet with Adobe Pronto

Posted on October 7th, by Heath in Deliverables, Help me!, Mobile. No Comments

From UXRave:

Adobe Proto, a new Adobe Touch App, lets you create interactive wireframes and prototypes of websites and mobile apps on your tablet.

Interesting….has anyone used it yet and if so would you be so kind as to provide a quick synopsis/review of your experience with it?



Bigger is not always better

Posted on October 7th, by Heath in Mobile, Usability, User Experience. No Comments

iPhone 4's 3.5" screen vs. Galaxy S II's 4.21" screen

Dustin Curtis makes an interesting observation about the screen sizes of the iPhone and some of its competitors. Newer  Android and Windows7 models have larger screens which look more inviting, and some would assume that the extra real-estate would improve the user-experience (by either allowing more context to the data on the screen, or allowing more white-space around individual objects on the screen for easier visibility, larger movies, etc) .

Mr. Curtis started using a new Samsung Galaxy S II phone, which has a 4.2″ screen as compared to the iPhone 4‘s 3.5″ inch screen. After using the Galaxy S II for a few weeks he noticed that, when … (more...)

mobile moment, mobile first

Not that “mobile” was in any danger of fading away, but I’m excited that the next two CHI Atlanta events are mobile focused, first with Coleen Jones’ “Mobile Moment” this Thursday May 19th,  and then Luke Wrobeleski’s “Mobile First” on Monday June 13th.

Coleen Jones,  author of Clout:The Art and Science of Influential Web Content, will be discussing the “mobile moment”, which she describes as:

Whether you’re trying to market a product or change the world, you can no longer ignore mobile as a medium for influence. Of particular power is the mobile moment–the instant a user connects with the right content at the right time. Though this moment


Easy fix for HTTPS error message

Posted on March 14th, by Heath in ROI, Usability, User Experience, User Hostile. No Comments

Just saw a post on Paul Irish’s Blog explaining the “protocol relative URL”, which appears to be a great way to eliminate this confusing (or possibly even scary for some) error message in IE: “This Page Contains Both Secure and Non-Secure Items”.

Microsoft IE Error Message "This page contains both secure and nonsecure items"

Who wants to deal with this dialog box? No one.

The code is a relatively simple change and there are very few caveats, so this seems like a fix that could significantly increase user confidence when browsing in environments that move from HTTP to HTTPS .

HTTPS Goes Mainstream

HTTPS usage has recently moved beyond the e-commerce and banking/financial sectors:


Avoid Cargo Cult Usability Testing

Posted on March 7th, by Heath in Usability, Usability Testing. No Comments

Cargo Cult PlaneWhen I was 15 or so I bought an album by the band Cargo Culton the recommendation of a friend. I didn’t know what the band name meant, and since this was assuredly pre-Google, I had to go to the library to find out that cargo cults were the result of contact between indigenous tribes and technologically advanced cultures.

In an article about the John Frum Cargo Cult in Smithsonian Magazine,  anthropologist Kirk Huffman explains:

You get cargo cults when the outside world, with all its material wealth, suddenly descends on remote, indigenous tribes.” The locals don’t know where the foreigners’ endless supplies come from and


United Airlines on How To Build A Crappy Survey

Posted on February 28th, by Heath in Usability, User Experience, User Hostile. No Comments

Jared Spool explains how to build a crappy survey that will produce suspect, if not misleading, results. And that’s in addition to frustrating/alienating your users/customers, which is never a good idea.



Google Map Legibility

Posted on January 6th, by Heath in Usability, User Experience. 1 Comment
A link to and discussion of Justin O'Beirne's post Google Maps & Label Readability, a comprehensive and illuminating investigation into why and how Google Maps are, in general, much more legible and easy to use than Bing Maps, Yahoo! Maps, or MapQuest.

Sketchboarding; good, fast & cheap prototyping

Posted on December 5th, by Heath in Deliverables, Inspiration, ROI. No Comments
A discussion of a quick, collaborative and inexpensive way to prototype: sketchboarding. Includes links to various sketchboarding resources.

‘Dark Patterns’ suddenly all up in my face

Posted on December 5th, by Heath in Social Media, Success Metrics, User Experience, User Hostile. 2 comments
An examination of "Dark Patterns", the concept of consciously using psychology & UX methodology to mislead the user. Includes links to further discussion and examination of dark patterns by Tyesha Snow, Aaron Walter and Harry Brignull.

The (Myth?) of the Page Fold

Posted on September 8th, by Heath in Information Architecture, Usability, User Experience. No Comments

While doing some contact-form redesign for a friend/colleague I noticed that a the majority of the sites he wanted me to work on were, um, severely cramped and top  heavy with very limited white-space.

He explained that his boss was adamant that everything needed to be above the fold,  so he was forced to “squeeze” the design to insure that everything was visible above ~700 pixels.

Simply packing tons of information and functionality with little or no white-space or context didn’t seem to be the best solution to the “fold problem”.

I found a few illuminating articles that, in very general terms, agree that:

  1. vital content/functionality should be above

Seven Blind Mice & the Elephant

Posted on August 1st, by Heath in Usability, User Experience. No Comments
Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young

Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young

My daughter has a book by Ed Young called Seven Blind Mice that retells an old Indian fable about perception, reality, truth and the dangers of clinging to one’s own beliefs too tightly. In the book Mr. Young ends the fable with the moral of the story, that Knowing in part may make a fine tale, but wisdom comes from seeing the whole.”

This fable is the jumping off point for an insightful post on UXMatters.com titled “The Psychologist’s View of UX Design” by Dr. Susan Weinschenk.

Dr. Weinschenk provides a snapshot of her own ‘description of the elephant’ that, despite … (more...)

What question are you trying to answer?

Posted on July 25th, by Heath in Success Metrics, Usability, User Experience. 1 Comment

Tamara Adlin from Fell Swoop ( a UX consulting firm in Seattle, WA) wrote a revelatory article about how important it is to know what problem you are trying to solve .  Her client(Client X) was having all sorts of problems with their UI, including an inordinate number of users asking “why can’t I do X with your product”.

Client X asked how they should avoid creating such confusion. Instead of just jumping in to solve the (rather obvious & severe) problems with Client X’s UI, she realized the answer was much more basic: she needed to establish exactly what question their product was trying to answer. What (more...)

Eye-tracking efficacy, feasibility

Posted on July 25th, by Heath in Help me!, ROI, Usability, Usability Testing. No Comments

I ‘ve  recently read a few articles (some links below)  regarding eye-tracking software and its application to HCI/usability research that were quite interesting but they also brought up a few questions, like:

  • Is eye-tracking still on the margins or is it a relatively common tool in the UX toolbox?
  • Is it cost-prohibitive from a ROI perspective?
  • Is there consensus on the efficacy of the results?

I realize that the questions may seem basic but, remember, I’m currently a hobbyist not a professional (YET!) so I don’t have a context for how much penetration eye-tracking software has in the UX world.  I did notice that Whitney Hess on her Pleasure & … (more...)

Curiosity is the single greatest contributor to effective user research

Posted on July 16th, by Heath in Inspiration, Usability, Usability Testing. No Comments

“Caring about users and their lives is absolutely at the core of user-centered design. Curiosity is a natural outcome of caring, and it is the single greatest contributor to effective user research… Caring and curiosity engender personal investment, and investment motivates a researcher to develop a deep understanding of users.” – Demetrius Madrigal and Bryan McClain

From the, well, inspiring InspireUX blog which pulled the quote from an  article on UXMatters .… (more...)