Archive for the 'usability' Category

Designing for People Who Struggle with Reading and Attention

I had the honor of presenting once again at the UPA Boston User Experience Conference. My slides are embedded below, but I encourage you to view the slides on SlideShare, as the transcript of the talk is included in the ‘Notes’ tab below the slides.

Designing for People Who Struggle with Reading and Attention

Imagine you’re almost done with your taxes—but you’re ravenous and the smell of Indian food is wafting through your window, your electricity is randomly turning off for 30-second blips, and the neighbor’s infant is incessantly scream-crying. How successful will you be finishing your taxes? This session included simulations so you can get a sense of reading as a low-decoder, and of completing web-based tasks when you lack the ability to filter out distractions and/or struggle with short-term memory. We observed usability test session video clips of some of the obstacles introduced by interface design choices. You can’t design effectively for low literacy and attention disorders if you don’t understand how these issues affect people as they try to work online. We looked at good and poor design implementations of forms, touch and ajax interactions, search interfaces, and layout choices. I hope the talk helps people improve design for as much as 15% of audiences.

References in Presentation

Baumeister, R. F., & Vohs, K. D. (2004). Handbook of self-regulation: research, theory, and applications. New York: Guilford Press.

CDC Data & Statistics | Feature: Developmental Disabilities Increasing in US. (n.d.). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved May 6, 2012, from

H.L. Chace, 1956. Anguish Languish. by Prentice-Hall, Inc. Englewood Cliffs, N. J.

Resources in Presentation

Captcha Alternatives

Writing and Plain Language


Looking for Affordances in TweetDeck

I almost posted a TweetDeck support ticket when I realized the interface was just hiding what I needed. My Direct Messages (DM) column had disappeared. Last night I tried using the ‘Add Column’ feature to get it back, but I did not see an option to do so. Today a new version was released: I installed it, but still no DM column. I tried the ‘Add Column’ again, with no luck, so off I went to search for a solution. Nada. Here’s what I was seeing:
screen shot of add column dialog box Read the entire post: Looking for Affordances in TweetDeck

Book Review: Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks

Web Form Design

I heartily recommend Luke Wroblewski’s Web Form Design (May, 2008) for people who create web forms and for those who hire others to create them. The book is structured in three parts: form structure, form elements, and form interaction, and includes a plethora of real-world examples. Whether you’re a novice or expert, walking through Wroblewski’s overview of forms-related issues will provoke your thinking about design choices and their impact. Luke is Chief Design Architect at Yahoo! and blogs at Functioning Form.

Below are some of my thoughts and recommendations in response to the book.

Deepen your understanding of other people’s experiences

Who are we to not bother to ensure the resources we create are universally usable? As you are thinking about making better web forms, deepen your understanding of how design choices affect people with disabilities. Read the entire post: Book Review: Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks

Twitscoop: Roadmap to Discoverability

Twitscoop LogoLollicode’s Twitscoop has become my daily source for breaking news, from the Hudson plane crash and earthquakes to Top Chef results. I use Twitscoop primarily through my favorite desktop Twitter client, Tweetdeck. The center column of my deck shows what’s “Buzzing Right Now:” the twitter zeitgeist as ascertained by Twitscoop. A click on any word of interest in the Twitscoop tag cloud results in a page with tweets containing the word, and a frequency graph of the term’s Twitter appearances.

In May, Twitscoop launched changes, becoming a full-fledged Twitter client. These changes posed some discoverability issues for me, in part because I was having a broader Twitter search issue. The people at Twitscoop have been great about troubleshooting with me. (They seem genuinely interested in making improvements to their interface, based on some of the public interactions with users on Twitter, their emails with me, and their ‘About’ page.)

I do have a few suggestions that mostly relate to helping users bridge the gap between what they know and what they need to know to make use of the service.

Read the entire post: Twitscoop: Roadmap to Discoverability

Google Analytics Call to Action Trips Me Up

Access analyticsGoogle analytics login is like no other Google app. It always takes me a minute to figure out how to sign in. Every other Google app offers login on the top level page with a submit button: "Sign In." Below the login, there is a call to action (big blue button) to "Create Account" or "Get Started." Analytics, on the other hand, offers a text link to "Sign up" and the call to action button, "Access Analytics" takes you to the login. Access analytics? Couldn’t it at least say "Login?" How about just following the login design of every other Google app?

Google Apps Login Areas