Saturday, December 26, 2015

When will today's web designers learn what toggling is?

If, while I'm on your website, I click a script-controlled object pretending to be a menu, and it pops up another element pretending to be an open menu, it should go away again on another click. That's called "toggling" a state. It should NOT cover the entire page, obstructing other content forever until I finally reload the whole damned web page just to get rid of it. This is especially important when your elements pretending to be menus are opened by a mere mouse_over event, rather than a mouse_down event on a trigger object.

As a related point: your so-called "responsive design" might want to be responsive to the fact that I might be using a touch interface, rather than a mouse, and STOP with the useless rollover effects and, more importantly, dispense with the requirement of a rollover event as a trigger for functionality!

Please insert $50.

Responsive Design Isn't.

The worst behaved websites I visit these days are supposedly based on the "responsive design" concept. Instead of continuing to maintain existing websites that already worked fine on desktop computers, and which were acceptable on mobile devices that allowed you to zoom in and out (when there was no page scripting to forcibly center popup junk that explicitly fights zooming in and out and scrolling), "responsive design" has created a new way to make website suck on ALL platforms. Phone, tablet, desktop, laptop... It doesn't matter any more. The experience is now universally crappy. Most of this is the misguided notion that websites must do all the thinking and planning for you. If technology was smart, that might be okay. It is not smart. It is incredibly stupid while simulating intelligent notions badly.

I was going to include a screenshot from Google Books that showed the buttons and menus all smushed together and the non-sizable, tiny, unreadable scrolling page content regions that leaves the site completely useless on my iPhone 6s... but this blog refuses to give me the "upload image from my computer" feature because it wants to provide an "upload pictures from my PHONE" feature that doesn't actually work at all ("no images found" oh yeah? WTF did you look?). Which, by the way, was in a popup region that fights page zoom and scroll...

This stuff worked much better before "web architects" started trying to decide what interface to offer me depending on what device you think I have. Congratulations computer industry. More stupid complexity ruining the basics. I remember when the Internet was useful. Ugly, but useful. Now it's ugly AND badly behaved. Features are meaningless if they don't fucking work.

It doesn't help that companies like Apple are refusing to debug basic behaviors in their software, like Safari on iOS (such as text entry, text box navigation, text selection, etc on websites, including their OWN) after utterly wrecking all the basic GUI behaviors with the disaster of the iOS 7 redesign.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Apple Gives Design A Bad Name (The Experts I Told You About)

I spent some time examining Apple's Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines book when I wrote the last post. I keep this book on my shelf because it's a great UI guide, even being multiple decades old, which is telling, since computers are well-known for becoming obsolete the minute you break the shrink-wrapping. Unlike the technology, human interface design/psychology is not as brittle and frail as the flavor of the year tech gadget or visual design fad.

I was looking for the names of the authors of and contributors to the text. I wanted to credit them and search out their sources. I couldn't find any such info in the book itself. Apple is well known for hiding individual contributor facts and using the generic "designed by Apple in California" legend. They're very coy about who Siri's voice came from, for example. The corporate culture rejects individual recognition and promotes a more socialized image, or a literal corporate person image. All the Joni Ive worship out there in the media is created by that media, not by Apple.

Just a few minutes ago on my search for articles about UI design by actual computer interface experts, I think I identified some of the writers involved in producing the book. Their article:

• How Apple Is Giving Design A Bad Name

It expands on the very same complaint I've been making: Apple now largely ignores all the research they did to earn their "masters of design" image. The modern derivative of the guidelines that Apple provides to developers today presents a greatly reduced set of goals, mostly focusing on cosmetics (and specifically Joni Ive's obsession with minimalism).

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Flat Design Misery and Mystery Meat

Having moved to iOS 9 As a consequence of the bloated internet forcing me to upgrade to a new phone, I am struggling to tolerate the awfulness that is iOS. Since iOS 7, which I wholeheartedly avoided on the last phone, Apple has burned its right to brag about design brilliance. Apple's decades of research into computer interface design has clearly been scrapped to abide by the demands of "change for the sake of change" and fads.

iOS 7 is Apple's Ugly Baby

What fads? I'm talking about the wretched flat design fad. It's not that flat design cannot be done well; it surely can, but the majority of examples out there on the web right now exemplify ignorance of basic UI design concepts (such as usability and discoverability). There are lots of beginners, amateurs, and downright lazy people creating the ugly and unusable World Wide Web of the current stretch of years between 2013 and today (as of this writing: November 2015).

I am not the only one so displeased. There are actually people out there with degrees in design and other related and relevant specialist educational focus areas. Oh, but don't go spouting knowledge or fact: these days, with the growing anti-intellectualism (most notably in the USA, but also running rampant around the web), you're likely to have your expert knowledge dismissed, marginalized, or mocked, and your attempt to inform people might be drowned in the vitriol of those who don't have your specialist knowledge (and are amateur designers themselves; remember "do more with less" has resulted in countless specialist jobs being eliminated and those tasks given to existing personnel, such as the "coders"). When exactly did it become so socially politically incorrect to have specialist knowledge? That's for another blog on another day.

As always, don't take my word for it: read the comments of the working professionals in the links provided above. Then read more about a related problem for usability: mystery meat UIs.

Mystery meat UI design (in Windows and Mac OS X)

• Mystery Meat in iPhoto (yes, this is outdated since Apple replaced iPhoto with the new Photos application, but it's still informative and relevant).

...and the fact that

• Usability on mobile is getting worse (IMO, usability is tumbling into a pit, and I see a snowball rolling downhill to crush and bury it).