My name is Jack Moffett
. I am an Interaction Designer with over ten years of experience. According to Herb Simon
, that makes me an expert, so I must have something worth sharing. I have started this venture as an exercise to spur critical thinking about my chosen profession. I hope that others may find it thought provoking as well.
DesignAday will present a brief thought about Design every weekday.
Bootstrap is a beautiful piece of work, no doubt. It makes flexible and responsive grid-based layout a piece of cake. It provides transitions and dynamic behaviors without a sweat. It even provides clean, contemporary aesthetics in pre-made components. Add Glyphicons or Font Awesome and you have a web app that will satisfy the CEO built in no time flat.
Of course, you used an accordion panel instead of coming up with something better, because it was easy to do. And the select widgets aren’t exactly what you had in mind, but they were there. Add you used a non-descript document icon for “Add Properties” because there wasn’t a better icon in the set. Oh, and it looks like every other site built with Bootstrap because you started with one of their templates, and you just didn’t take the time to do much customization.
Yes, Bootstrap and its cousins are wonderful things. We should take advantage of them. But please, I beg you, don’t fall into the trap of quick and easy. Don’t forget that your user interface is your brand. Excellence will not be found in lazy genericism.
This sign-in popup can be found on Verizon’s website. It appears when the cursor hovers over “Sign In / Register” in the top bar of the site. This would be okay, except for the fact that it disappears when the cursor moves outside of the popup.
I imagine many people would click in a field and then move the cursor out of the way, causing the popup to close. Once you make that mistake once, you likely will do alright the second time. But I don’t type my information in. I use 1Password, which manifests as a button in Safari’s tool bar. When you press the button, a popup prompts you for your master password before presenting you with the saved login information for the current site. Clicking on the saved login enters the associated user name and password into the corresponding fields.
I expect you can see where this is going. For 1Password to work, the fields have to be displayed in the webpage. For the fields to display, the cursor has to stay over the sign in popup. To use 1Password, I have to move the cursor to click the button. Their design has made it impossible for me to sign in without manually copying my password and pasting it into the field.
It’s generally a bad idea to rely on a static cursor position while other interactions are happening. Click to open, click to close would be a better model here.
Right now, I’m pretty much annoyed by every candidate from both parties. I’m tired of fliers I pull out of the mailbox everyday. I’m tired of the garish signs pock-marking the landscape. I’m tired of the over-dramatic, mudslinging television commercials. Most of all, I’m sick and tired of the dozens of automated phone calls I’ve been getting at my house. I hate the waste in money, time, and resources that have gone into producing all this junk.
If you want my vote, donate at least three quarters of your campaign funding to charitable causes, and then tell me that you plan to reform the voting process. I should be able to log into my ballot online. Each candidate should have links to information about their platform, past voting records, and video clips of debates they’ve participated in and speeches they’ve given.
As things stand, I’m sorely tempted to vote for whoever calls me the least.
Just yesterday, Jon Kolko tweeted a link to what he has been working on for the last few months. For lack of a better comparison, it’s like LinkedIn for college students, but it appears to be much more useful than that. Check it out.
This is MyEdu from www.MyEdu.com on Vimeo.
This looks to be extremely well designed. I would not be surprised if within two years, every student has a MyEdu account. It is very inviting, and I almost wish I were a student so that I could experience using it. Which made me wonder if they might soon extend their features to incorporate faculty as well. So, I looked around on their website and sure enough, they have a beta program for faculty. They are currently advertising features that would let a professor set expectations for their course, manage student recommendations, interact with students, and manage display of grade data. I’ve applied to join the beta.
I understand why Apple combined the search field and the URL field in Safari. They weren’t the first browser to do it. And yes, I too have accidentally typed a search term into the URL field almost as often as I’ve typed a URL into the search field. Generally speaking, I think the combination of the two fields is the right way to go. However, something isn’t quite smart enough yet. Sometimes I’ll start typing a URL: ”www.designaday” and then I’ll see the full URL listed in the menu that appears below the field: “www.designaday.tumblr.com”. Rather than finish typing it out, I hit the down arrow to select it and hit return. The next thing I see is Google’s page listing results for a search on the URL. What I selected in the menu was a search for the URL, not the URL itself.
I don’t want my auto-complete menu to present me with options for both search and navigation. It should just provide me with text and then be smart enough to determine if the text is a URL or not.
I require my students to write responses to their reading assignments on blogs so that we can all read and comment on everyone’s thoughts during the week. Some of them are using Blogger, and to leave comments, I must decipher the CAPTCHA security. These have become much more difficult as of late, and I’ve found myself requiring two or three tries because the letterforms are too distorted to make out.
The distortion in this one isn’t too bad, but I took the screenshot to point out the photograph that they are now pairing the distorted “word” with. The instructions say to “Type the two words”, but what exactly am I supposed to type? Should I enter “mmec STREET 6 ssuickd”? That’s more than two words. As it turns out, the only thing I was supposed to enter from the photo was the 6.
When it becomes a challenge for people to figure out, it’s no longer serving its purpose.
Many years ago, when my wife and I purchased our first set of furniture for the first apartment we would share as a couple, we spent days driving to every furniture store we could find around Pittsburgh. In one store, we found a sofa that we liked. In another store, we found a coffee table. Here we would find a lamp, and there we found a bookcase. I was satisfied, knowing that I got the pieces that I liked the most of what was available.
Several weeks ago, I decided to do something special for our anniversary. We haven’t had a bed since we moved into our house, almost nine years ago. Oh, we have a mattress and box spring, but they are just sitting on a frame. We don’t even have a headboard. I decided I wanted a canopy bed constructed of bamboo. So, I did a Google search, and sure enough, I found Bali Bamboo Creations. They have a really nice selection of bamboo beds with a variety of finishes. Each one is handmade to order for a reasonable price, including shipping to anywhere in the world.
I ordered the Ubud bed with two Belaga nightstands. After a couple weeks, I was emailed photographs of the finished furniture for my approval. It was all delivered today. I haven’t assembled the bed yet, but the pieces I’ve seen are beautiful, and the nightstands are well crafted.
You don’t have to settle for the commonplace items found in the showrooms anymore. I only buy what I love.
I have a number of software tools that I use for collection of digital information. I’ve been using Yojimbo to catalog articles that I want to keep, especially for use in my classes. NoteBook is my preferred tool for organized note taking. NetNewsWire automatically pulls down all of my RSS subscriptions, and iTunes does the same for podcasts. I’m still using Ta-da List to keep track of DesignAday topics, while Wunderlist is my to-do list. And, of course, Delicious holds links that I share with my students. To paraphrase Herb Simon, I’m not lacking information; I’m lacking time to attend to information.
I have come to love the relatively new Reading List feature in Safari. I don’t have to decide immediately whether or not I want to save an article in Yojimbo where I may never actually get around to reading it. It has also become a solution for getting things from my iPhone into Yojimbo. Whereas before I would mail URLs to myself, I now just add them to my reading list. With iCloud, the reading list gets synched between my iPhone, my work laptop, and my home desktop. I do wish the “Add to Reading List” option was available from within NetNewsWire—as it is, I must first tell it to open the page in my browser.
The one problem is that, just like my other collections, the reading list is collecting items to be read faster than I am reading them. I can’t keep up with it. I throw an article in their with the secure knowledge that I won’t lose it, but just like shoeboxes of old photographs, they sit in my internet attic collecting dust. I just purged a number of items from it, and it’s still 57 items long. What I really need is some kind of feature that encourages me to read the items in the list.
When I first signed up for an account with Citizen’s Bank, it was because they provided an interface with Quicken. They allowed Quicken to download my register and submit bills for payment. I’ve been with them now about ten years, but I will soon be closing my accounts.
I received a letter the other day with the ominous heading: “Important changes to your account”. They were letting me know that they would be initiating a $15 monthly maintenance fee if I maintained a combined balance less than $5,000. My balance has been a little low since our Disney vacation over the summer followed by the trip to Dublin in February. On top of that, they’re also adding a $3.95 monthly fee for online banking with Quicken or Microsoft Money.
So, I’m now researching the online banks that I’ve been hearing about. As it turns out, most of them offer free checking with bill pay, iApps, no minimum balance, free, nationwide ATM use, and in many cases, better interest rates. One of them even allows you to deposit checks by photographing them with your phone. What’s not to like? Once again, it appears that brick and mortar just can’t compete with online services.
So, If you have a recommendation, I’d love to hear it. Please relate your experiences in the comments.
A combo box is a graphical user interface widget that combines a text field with a drop-down list. It allows the user to select an option from the list or type in their own. It is common to hear people refer to a drop-down list as a combo box, but this is technically incorrect. Unfortunately, the combo box is not one of the standard web browser form widgets, so designers have developed a number of patterns to replicate its functionality.
- A graphic can be placed to the right of a field, visually mimicking a combo box. In this case, clicking the graphic will cause a previously hidden div to be displayed under the field, resembling a drop-down list, and clicking text within the div will enter it into the field.
- Rather than mimicking a combo box, a drop-down list and field can be used in concert by including an “other” option in the list. When “other” is selected, the field is displayed or enabled.
Combo boxes are often enhanced with dynamic behaviors, such as auto-complete or the ability to learn custom entries and include them in the list.