Usability: Autofocus and not breaking the backspace-button

A while ago during a project we were asked to implement autofocus on the generic search field that every page in the application has. At a first glance a pretty straightforward task, from a technical perspective that is. Not from a user perspective, as indicated by a colleague mentioning his dislike of such autofocus fields “because they prevent backspace going to the previous page”. In this post I will outline some usability considerations and conclude with a jQuery plugin that will take away some of the possible hindrance of autofocusing a field.…

Keep reading

Fronteers 2009

About five months after having enjoyed server-side talks at [DPC09][1] it was now time for front-end matters: Fronteers 2009. There’s no exaggeration in the description on the fronteers site: A [stellar line up][2] of speakers who are at the front of what’s happening in web-development. Generally speaking I really liked most of the talks and some of them pointed me to some interesting new techniques and ideas.

Slides of the presentation (if online) are listed at the [Fronteers site][3] and at the end of this post (same content, read along). I’ll briefly recap some of the (for me that is) most interesting parts.

Keep reading

Usability: What does this button do?

In software development projects, paying proper attention to usability aspects, can greatly help ‘getting the message functionality across’. [Usability][1] is a field of expertise on its own and involves techniques like [wireframes][2], [prototyping][3] and [card sorting][4]. Not every project is the same and (sadly) lack of time or budget can prevent specialized interaction designers to be involved in the project. This means that making the application ‘usable’ becomes the responsibility of graphic designers or developers (or it is neglected altogether). Not an easy combination of tasks…

Keep reading

Annoying banners: A plea for quality

Banners play an essential role in many site’s business models so they are an inevitable price paid for all the free content that is available on the internet. To get a user’s attention a lot of practices are employed like animation, placement or sound (horrible). Today I stumbled on a T-mobile advert on the site nu.nl that indeed attracts a lot of attention but does so in a questionable way: It makes using the visited site almost impossible.…

Keep reading

Web Browser Zoom: Design consequences

Over the years the display size of the average computer screen has increased. As a consequence nowadays more and more websites are designed with a 1024 width screen in mind. For example: [BBC][1], [Adobe][2] and [The New York Times][3]. With at least 78% of the users using a 1024 or higher resolution screen the time seems right to move away from the 800px designs. But what about accessibility? And usability? And is full page zooming really better than text scaling?

Keep reading

Engineering World 2009

Past saturday (february 7th) I visited Engineering World, a conference organised by Sogeti, as both attendant and speaker. With my colleague Richard de Vries I delivered a presentation on the topic usability. I attended some interesing presentations of which two were about methodologies: One about SCRUM and the closing keynote by Ian Spence of Ivar Jacobsen International about Agile. The latter with all of the myths about Agile (Doesn’t matter where the team is going, as long as it’s going somewhere) being tackled in true Mythbuster fashion.…

Keep reading