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 subterfuge frequently results in more conversions; eliminating the dark patterns usually means at least a temporary decrease in conversions and/or revenue.
It’s a great read, and don’t just take my word for it, head over to A List Apart so you learn more about dark patterns, and possibly find out where you and/or your organization falls on the “honest interface to dark patterns continuum” scale!
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 information. Obviously Luke Wroblewski, Brad Frost and others have been beating the “mobile first / future friendly” mantra for awhile now, but every day it’s becoming clearer just how prescient they were about this sea change. (more…)
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:
- Acknowledge and embrace unpredictability.
- Think and behave in a future-friendly way.
- Help others do the same.
They also offer more in-depth explanation of future friendly thinking and provide several links to outside resources to help you become a more future friendly developer/designer. I sat here for a minute or two trying to decide how to wrap this up, but there was no need to because this little gem was right there on the first page:
The future is ours to make—friendly.
If you are demanding registration before checkout, you need to cease this practice immediately. It is costing you a fortune.
— Bruce “Tog” Tognazzini
Posted on October 7, 2011 by Heath - Mobile, Usability, User Experience
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 holding the phone with one hand he couldn’t reach the other side of the phone. When using the phone with one hand (which is relatively common given that the device is meant to be used “on the go”) the “extra real estate” provided by the wider screen was impossible, or at the very least quite frustrating, to access much less use.
Mr. Curtis summed it up nicely:
“This is an example of one of those design decisions that you don’t usually notice until you see someone doing it wrong. It’s one of the things that makes Apple products Apple products.”
I haven’t done the research on “median thumb length” or anything yet, and while I realize that Mr. Curtis could have unusually sort digits this is an interesting issue to consider in regards to mobile usability.
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 seems magical to a user, it doesn’t happen by magic. It takes knowledge of principles. It takes detailed planning. It takes hard work. This interactive session will help you assess a mobile context, generate ideas for mobile persuasion, and plan the right content to turn your mobile moment into a magical one.
Then Luke Wrobeleski, author of Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks, who will be in Atlanta speaking at the An Event Apart conference, is also paying CHI Atlanta a visit to discuss “mobile first” development. Luke argues that the current model, where the mobile experience for a web application or site is designed and built after the PC version is complete, is flawed and needs to be reversed with “mobile first”.
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.
Posted on January 6, 2011 by Heath - Usability, User Experience
Until I land a UX gig, I still work as a real-estate appraiser, which involves lots of driving all over Metro Atlanta. I use Google Maps quite frequently both on the web and on my Android, so I was intrigued when I saw a post on the Humans in Design blog that linked to a fascinating study by Justin O’Beirne on why Google Maps are much more readable than Bing or Yahoo Maps.
Below is an animated GIF comparison of the same section of the Northeast United States as seen on Google Maps and Bing Maps. The difference in clarity and legibility is quite pronounced.
Readability Comparison: Google Maps vs Bing Maps(click to enlarge)
O’Bierne originally hypothesized that the Bing and Yahoo! maps appeared to be more cluttered because Google had a lower label density, and that the extra labels used by the other sites created more “noise” that hampered readability.
Once he did some research however he discovered that Google’s label density is similar to both Bing & Yahoo!. The main legibility difference was not label density but instead seemed to based on a couple of visual and textual effects. Those effects include: (more…)
While a lot of bad interface design can be blamed on ‘not knowing any better’, there is also a more sinister form of bad design called “dark patterns” in which case bad design can be blamed on malfeasance; the interface is explicitly designed to confuse and/or trick the user.
These “dark patterns” were new to me (I first saw mention of them a few weeks ago via a tweet from @willsansbury that linked to a summary of Aaron Walters’ Interface Design Bootcamp, and Mr. Walter’s post included a link to the Dark Patterns Wiki) but the concept of consciously using psychology & UX methodology to mislead the user was unexpected and quite intriguing.
Then the next day my friend and awesome-UX guru Tyesha Snow posted Dark Pattern: Now You See it Now You Don’t on her blog. Two days two mentions of dark patterns; suddenly it was all up in my face and I wanted to know more.
There are, of course, several ways to define exactly what dark patterns are but Tyesha did a great job of boiling exactly what a dark pattern is so I’ll share hers here:
Site designers place the functionality or information they want you to find front and center, then move it once you have completed the desirable behavior so you are less likely to undo said desirable behavior or re-find information that does not support the business’s plans for you.
and then she uses an example of trying to “Unlike” a business that you’ve previously “Liked” on Facebook, and how incredibly tedious and convoluted that process is. Sensitive to how ugly a big UNLIKE button would be she provides