UX Common Pitfalls – 2

So after discussing the importance of designing with tablets in mind, that we would require ridding yourself of your old PC website building approaches. UX is an evolving learning, with basics in mind, still the user experiences changes on devices and for this reason, you have to accept change cause users are the main concern here. Unfortunately, UX designers base their achievements on fanciness rather than usability, so they rely much on animations, hovering, they ask the designers for more colors, lots of carousels, every link on the page behaving differently, some open boxes, others open pages, others get hovered over to have progressive disclosure boxes appearing to the right and left, overwhelmingly hovered navigations and so on.

2. Sticking to older approaches of fanciness

1. Using Hover? Hover for Progressive Disclosure?

With the animations being that appealing they resort into using it within every page of their websites. It comes from hovered form fields which will make appear a UI element of tooltip to hovering a chat link to popup a chat box, hovering of a login link to  popup a login box. Not only this is a hindrance for  accessibility users that elements and pages keep changing making it hard for screen-readers to know which element is next, it poses a different experience for touchscreen users who don’t have that user experience and those hovers are tapped however those boxes don’t disappear as user browses on unless certain scripts are inserted to accommodate that. Apart from that, seeing UI elements appear and disappear on hovering is simply an annoying experience. Here’s what sums it up by one of those who work at Google:

UI elements that appear on hover:  Bad idea, or Worst idea?
Seriously.  Even disregarding the accessibility issues and touchscreen incompatibility:  Every single instance of this that I encounter manages to piss me off at some point.  Can we just not do this anymore?  Please?” – Kenton Varda,  Google

Should we do away with hovering effects? I would say no since I still use it, however it should be used not for appearing and disappearing of elements, it should basically highlight a section, in other words: changing the color of backgrounds of wherever you are on the page. This limitation is being used by major and model websites such as USAToday.com, BBC.co.uk, NYtimes.com and many of the major websites which some of them have tried the hovering before and didn’t prove to be that pleasant of experience.

Hence, since the range of different touchscreen browsers and devices of today and the lack number of simulators, one cannot be certain without intensive ridiculous level of testing on all these devices to guarantee how the site will behave with these elements appearing and disappearing. In relying on hover for critical method of interaction such as login, chat, you would be setting yourself to an ocean of heartaches and the mess of creating code to accommodate different devices and then, maintaining that code. I hope you are putting maintenance into account before building.

Here is a list of interesting articles I have read and recommend when thinking of hover with a mind that’s embracing the future of tablets:

2. Colors?

So I have been working with a UX expert whose approach to anything unclear in the site is: add colors. Whenever anything is not clear in the page, just use colors, more and more. Until I received a list of about 20 colors to be used in the site’s toolkit. Then I came back to ask if those colors have any meaning behind them, unfortunately this wasn’t taken into account. So in an after thought, the UX started associating colors to every section in the site for example “My Account” should be in blue, “Community” should be in magenta. In an after thought, I felt that the UX design wasn’t done correctly to start with. It is true that colors give concept and should ease navigation for the user, but be aware of their overuse, cause they can present an overly busy site that isn’t user friendly.

I’ll be talking about this common pitfall separately where UX experts would just jump into design without thorough thought of what they want from the site and how it should attract users.

3. Overuse of Galleries and their Carousels

You can hardly find a site today without galleries and really they are a good way of transferring information and letting user navigate through the site. Designers like it, UX experts like it because of its beautiful animations and managers think it is fancy. However, you may easily fall into the pitfall of the overusing it. Here’s an example of how designers and UX have come up with a design with overwhelming content and would eventually render a poor user experience:

contentOverwhelming1

Overuse of carousel, gallery of sliders, tabs renders to overwhelming content.

So let’s examine this example:

  1. There are tabs to browse through
  2. Arrows on right and left to navigate through slides
  3. Arrows on right and left to navigate through carousels
  4. Buttons at the bottom to navigate again through slides

Even though the design may appeal to lots of people but such is overwhelming in content to the use, that he would easily get lost in where he found this or that piece of information. Decreasing the navigation options would be easier for the use to go through the slides you want him to visit.

4. Links Behaving Differently

So I noticed that some designers, for their love of hovering and seeing animations on the page that the make links on the page behave unexpectedly for the user, such as some of the links will show box on hover, then after clicking on on that same link you find a collapsible content appearing underneath it, then after click on it again you are taken into another page. So I have seen the front-end developers code for the link’s first click’s behavior vs. second click’s behavior vs. third click’s behavior. Though it involved lots of thought and lots of work for the developer, it is counter-intuitive and a normal user would not expect any of such behaviors from a link at the page.

Then there’s another scenario where a link on the page will behave separately from the caret beside’s it.

badNav

In the above example of navigation, they are having the link(1) to take you to another page while the caret(2) besides it to expand and collapse to show the sub navigation. Not only is this behavior not intuitive for normal users, it has other issues such as: First, users of touch screens are having a small area to tap on to see the navigation sub menu. An important not to note for touch screens is to have larger areas for clicks. Second, users that have accessibility issues are have a small area to move their mouse to and click on, they’ll have to be very precise, something that has to be taken into account for those who use other devices other than the mouse or use the mouse but are having muscle problems of precising its pointer on the screen, same goes with visually impaired ones who still have a small area to click which is not a good UX for accessibility users.

5. Hovering Menus

Again we are discussing the hovering and this time is for the menus who have really large boxes appearing out of them and in order to go to subnav, you have to keep hovering over the parent nav until you reach the sub sub nav and so on… This renders a bad user experience since users have to make sure the hovering is in the right path. Hovering in general can be very annoying.

Here’s a good article on that: Why Hover Menus Do Users More Harm Than Good?

UX teams should start rethinking their approaches particularly to target touch screen devices as mentioned in my previous blog, they have to moderate in the use of animations, make sure the site is not overwhelming in content or too busy in colors which have no concept meaning as well as less of the hovering effects which though may appear good and developers like the challenge of animating them, still they can be too annoying for a normal using accessing your site.

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UX Common Pitfalls – 1

Before Building Your Website

With the touchscreen devices booming these days, user experience becomes even a more challenging as changing with what the user is expecting from visiting a website. At the time of writing this blog, 70 million in the USA alone are using tablets as their primary device for browsing. Apparently have seeing how the tablet usage has been increasing more and more, UX designers have to rethink their approaches for building their websites, and accordingly have to put some of the things into considerations so that Front-end developers won’t have to develop particular scripts for dealing with tablets vs. normal computer usage. Here are some of the common pitfalls UX have in creating new websites, these common pitfalls will be described in details along here and coming blogs:

  1. Ignorance of tablet usage stats
  2. Sticking to older approaches of fanciness
  3. Relying on Flash to convey a message
  4. Jumping straight into design
  5. Creating overly explained prototypes and wireframes
  6. Depending heavily on carousels and galleries where users can easily get lost into the overwhelming content
  7. Forgetting accessibility users as part of the design
  8. Excessive usage of colors when conveying their thoughts to graphic designers
  9. Excessive number of links on the site
  10. Ignoring speed and caching
  11. Not studying the web analytics of your site
  12. Unclear value proposition
  13. Lack of focus
  14. Not considering usability testing
  15. Problems with forms

So now that these points are being listed, let’s go ahead and explore what issues:

1. Ignorance of tablet usage stats

So this one is very common and whenever the UX designer is being asked about the tablets, they’d normally answer: “It is not in scope” and starts mentioning the budget constraints. In fact, usually you don’t need a separate budget for a site to look friendly and with pleasant user experience on both tablets and computers. You just have to rid yourself of older UX approaches and embrace the future. The number of users today using tablets is massively increasing and it will increase significantly if not double by the time you finish your website. You don’t want to revisit your site again after few months to redo most of its functionality to fit tablet users, ask front-end developers to rewrite their code to fit in there for users with tablets as well as ask other developers to start user-agent detection of devices to start addressing compatibility. Read the stats and understand the tablets are booming these days and users are heavily relying on it. “experts say that the tablet will be used more than the smartphone[which have now pushed PC out of the first place of ranking in some countries] for internet searches in the near future (by 2013)“. –Worldwide Tablet Usage Statistics Bearing this in mind, you should consider that it is more convenient for users to pay online bill while browsing on their iPads or make a bank money transfer on their touchpad while talking with a friend over coffee. You should, hence, rethink your design to fit into the tablets and touchscreen world rather than revisiting your site’s compatibility issues after it is done. Just because it was not in scope while you first created it. You should also never depend on your current site statistics of how many tablets are accessing your site, since users may not have been able to access it because your current site is NOT tablet-friendly. Therefore, your primary statistics is how major websites are being accessed and what are the popular web statistics of devices in general. That’s mainly because you want to fit your site to be accessed to as much audience as possible without much of compatibility issues or recoding for different compatibility issues. Here are some sites I find useful for stats of the web:

Browser Compatibility Issues – Part V

Elements have different properties in different browsers. For example <ul> would have different margin and padding in IE from other browsers.

For this reason, many people have been using for long reset.css, which in turn resets all the property values which will return the values

ul {margin:0; padding:0; border:0; font-size:100%; font:inherit; vertical-align:baseline;}

This approach, though being useful, I did not always like using. I would rather reset my own properties for the element I see behaving differently or better style it right away.

A newer way for having your elements react similarly on different browsers is by using normalize.css , though this one is more HTML5 focused, and this is where the web is going if not there already..

The advantages would be mainly that it preserves some of the defaults which may be useful and not inconsistent with browsers. This is handy rather than resetting everything to zeros. With this being said, you will have more control over your elements styling. It also corrects some bugs which are not corrected by CSS. Here’s a full of list of the advantages of using normalize.css.

Another reference on Best Practices:

https://speakerdeck.com/dmosher/so-you-want-to-be-a-front-end-engineer

iPhone 5 Not Saving Photos from Facebook

After getting my iPhone 5, i found that it is not saving photos from Facebook. I searched online and was about to go to Genius Bar to have this issue resolved.
If you faced the same problem, there’s no need for that.
It is simply a settings issue and probably you haven’t set the Facebook app right when you get your iPhone.
Just go to Settings> Photos and make sure that you have your Facebook app On.
That should solve it.

CSS – Mobile Development

As for mobile development, font-sizes ought to be in percentages. That’s according to most articles I have read.

Based on this, many things else ought to be in percentages like the positioning of certain background images (if they be in CSS sprites), Yet, this ought not let one completely discard the use of pixels and other absolute units.

I spent quite a morning trying to figure out why my mobile device’s (iPhone 5) Safari isn’t seeing padding I put in percentages. Although the container is being defined with absolute units, pixels in this case.

The only way I had it to work is to use fixed units for the padding as well.

If one thinks it shouldn’t, one can explain, I may be wrong but with the mobile development and design going forward, one is still trying to figure out the best ways for CSS definitions for different mobile browsers.

Math Real time Question

It just occurred to me to revise what one has learned in factorials, permutations and combinations long ago.

I developed some snippet code, mainly to answer one of the questions, that if my passcode/pin in my ATM has 4 slots for 10 different digits to be inserted, how many possibilities could be there before finding the right number.

Again I’m not a mathematician, just revising the math rules and putting them in some code using HMTL, JQuery and CSS.

Here’s the link to my code: http://jsfiddle.net/joeSaad/bXy6a/#base

Let me know if you would like to add more for understanding anything more about these rules.

 

Ref:

Easy Permutations and Combinations

Combinations and Permutations

 

Browser Compatibility Issues – Part IV

z-index has its issues with IE7. I tried going over many forums to see how to have it solved.
One of the forums exceptionally useful is: Squish the Internet Explorer Z-Index Bug
which actually discussed the problem I was having at that time.
I know there are more issues to z-index with IE7 than this one mentioned in this post.

So basically that forum explained something that I’m still trying to understand since it is the way IE7 is interpreting it:

There’s a hover effect of a dropdown menu in the page, the dropdown has a position absolute.

<!doctype html>
<style>
    ul.main > li {float:left;}
</style>
<ul class="main" style="position: relative;">
	<li>main1</li>
	<li>main2
<ul style="position: absolute; top: 10px; left: 10px; z-index: 125;">
	<li>sub1</li>
	<li>sub2</li>
</ul>
</li>
</ul>
<div id="cont" style="position: relative; z-index: 10;"><img src="image source" alt="" width="" height="" /></div>

Problem
The problem with this code is that no matter the z-index of the cont div is, it still would show above the hovered menu which is hovered over it, even though the hovered menu has a higher z-index.

Solution
add a z-index in the parent ul.main to be less than the contained ul’s z-index
i.e.

ul.main, ul.main > li {z-index:50;}