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Flat UI Elements Attract Less Attention and Cause Uncertainty

Beware the “weak signifier”:

When we compared average number of fixations and average amount of time people spent looking at each page, we found that: * The **average amount of time** was significantly higher on the weak-signifier versions than the strong-signifier versions. On average participants spent **22% more time** (i.e., slower task performance) looking at the pages with weak signifiers. * The **average number of fixations** was significantly higher on the weak-signifier versions than the strong-signifier versions. On average, people had **25% more fixations** on the pages with weak signifiers. * (Both findings were significant by a paired t-test with sites as the random factor, p < 0.05.) This means that, when looking at a design with weak signifiers, **users spent more time looking at the page, and they had to look at more elements on the page**. Since this experiment used targeted findability tasks, **more time and effort spent looking around the page are not good**. These findings don’t mean that users were more “engaged” with the pages. Instead, they suggest that participants struggled to locate the element they wanted, or weren’t confident when they first saw it.


Designing Progressive Enhancement Into the Academic Manuscript

This piece offers some really great ideas here for progressively enhancing academic papers in the digital space. For example:

1. Start with embedding a lightweight static figure (a snapshot) of the key output of the code. This should represent whatever state the author deems fit to best convey the key finding/narrative contribution of the code in question. This will only serve as the minimum viable experience for skimming purposes (Casual engagement), but also as a safe baseline for when the content is being accessed through less capable devices, as a printable/PDF compatible output, and as a valid snapshot of what state the data was in when it was peer-reviewed (where applicable). 2. Allow the user to switch the static figure to an interactive output where supported, providing whatever level of UI is needed to appreciate the output in full. 3. Where appropriate, allow the user to dig behind the output of the interactive figure and directly look at the code behind it. You may at this stage allow minor edits to the algorithm and the ability to run it again in-situ to view the output. 4. If the user wants to engage further, for example intending to fork or modify the code, or do anything more complex, provide links to the most appropriate external resource where the user can benefit from a more appropriate environment or UI to do their work (e.g., the original GitHub and/or data repository, or an online IDE).


Software Development 450 Words Per Minute

No monitors, no problem. Tuukka Ojala on his experience of being a blind developer.

Speech or braille alone can’t paint an accurate representation of how a window is laid out visually. All the information is presented to me in a linear fashion. If you copy a web page and paste it into notepad you get a rough idea of how web pages look to me. It’s just a bunch of lines stacked on top of another with most of the formatting stripped out. However, a screen reader can pick up on the semantics used in the HTML of the web page, so that links, headings, form fields etc. are announced to me correctly. That’s right: I don’t know that a check box is a check box if it’s only styled to look like one. However, more on that later; I’ll be devoting an entire post to this subject. Just remember that the example I just gave is a crime against humanity.


Remember Palm’s WebOS? Maybe Not, but Apple and Google Definitely Do

WebOS… so far ahead of its time:

  • Web code for apps (see PWAs),
  • Multiple synchronized calendars,
  • Unified social media & contact management,
  • Curved displays
  • Wireless charging
  • Integrated text and Web messaging
  • Unintrusive notifications
  • “Cards” for running apps
  • No home button (it used swipe instead)

And all of these features were available eight years ago!