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Recently:  Stopwords in the user interface  ·  Implementing a slider well  ·  The revolution in the mobile user interface  ·  Introducing Aegea  ·  Map and reality  ·  Why are browsers so slow?  ·  The “Buy” button should always work  ·  How accidental promises hurt reputation


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Why Photoshop still matters for UI design

In Sketch, you can easily make smooth round corners instead of radial ones. Or you can easily set a background blur on some surface:

Illustration by Konstantin Dubrovsky

It’s natural to use and love Sketch. The progress should go on, routine tasks should be done instantly. But a designer who is seriously saying that Photoshop is now irrelevant, is second-class.

These features are in Sketch, because some designers had invented them with Photoshop some day.

 28   2018   Photoshop

Västra skogen, Huvudsta and Stadshagen Stockholm metro stations

Previously: Näckrosen and Hallonbergen. Now let’s look at what’s in the other direction from Solna centrum.

Västra skogen station:

The main feature of this station is these colourful mosaic patterns here and there:

More:

If you ask Lightroom to make this photo level, it will turn in at 45°:

Wayfinding:

Transfer:

You may think that it’s a Stormtrooper helmet there:

But it’s actually god knows what.

Huvudsta station:

Seems to be nothing special compared to the neighbouring stations. But there is this stripe along the platform and some ribbons on the ceiling:

And a gigantic green blot, for some reason:

And some cylinders:

Stadshagen station:

In addition to blood stains on the walls, there are these pictures:

Depending on the view angle, you see different things:

Another one:

The escalators are colourfully illuminated:

The pictures are from the trip in June 2016.

Continued

More Stockholm metro:

 45   2018   Stockholm   Stockholm metro   world

Redesigning Hawaii missile alert user interface

A couple of weeks ago Hawaii residents got a shocking alert on their phones:

It turned out to be false.

A state employee accidentally sent the message while testing the alert system.

It’s natural to blame the employee for impermissible negligence. But here is the user interface that they were using:

Instead of selecting “DRILL-PACOM BLAH BLAH”, they chose “PACOM BLAH BLAH”.

Firing the employee will not help avoid this mistake in the future, another employee is as likely to err.

The user interface is the problem.

Some commenters suggested adding a confirmation dialog. But confirmation dialogs are only good at one thing: forming the habit of pressing “Yes”. Testing the alert system is a daily routine, so after a couple of days the effectiveness of a dialog will be zero. Even if we require confirmation only for the real alert, but not for the test and drill alerts, the error is still quite likely: people see confirmation dialogs too often and are trained to ignore them. Also, sending even a drill message by mistake is probably not desirable.

Here is how to really fix the interface.

Selecting the right option

In the current interface, the two options that the employee has mixed up, look almost the same: just a line of meaningless all-caps text. Instead, the drill options should be clearly separated from those that send real alerts. The text should be edited for absolute clarity. All abbreviations, parentheses and repeated words (“state only”) should be removed.

Ideally, what should remain is the actual text that will be sent, and to whom it will be sent:

If the employee wants to send a real alert, they have to explicitly choose that. Then everything should look really serious:

Undoing the wrong action

But most importantly, undo should be implemented.

How can you undo sending of a state-wide alert? Easy, the same way you undo sending an email in GMail:

For a short period of time, the mail is not really sent, giving the user the chance to correct the accidental mistake.

After the employee selects to send an alert, the next screen should say what has happened in a way that makes the employee’s job look completed, but still leaves the option to prevent the actual alert:

Notice how there is no confirmation button: there is nothing to confirm, the command has been accepted without confirmation. And since there is no way to close this screen before the timeout is over, the habit is not being formed to do it.

***

The problem with the modern world is that there is this stupid separation of “UI” and “UX” design, in which the important stuff gets lost. Good user interface design used to be about understanding how humans operate and helping them do their job better. And now, it’s undefined.

“UI” designers are now supposed to be thinking about beautiful buttons, fonts, and animations. This is too narrow. It’s hard to justify this work if you are designing software for use by a few government employees. “UX” designers are now supposed to be thinking about the user experience, whatever that is. This is too abstract. Caring about how “satisfied” or “engaged” the user is, again, not something a government could afford to think about. The “UI/UX” separation is bullshit. Between “UI” and “UX”, someone has to do the actual work.

See also:

Sources of images:

 336   2018   user interface
 5   2018   projects

If Apple Notes stop syncing

Has it ever happened to you that Apple’s Notes just stopped syncing reliably via iCloud?

For me it happens like this: the Mac stops uploading local changes to some notes to iCloud, so I don’t see them on my phone. I know that the problem is really in uploading from the Mac because the web version of iCloud continues to sync normally with my iPhone. Also, the new notes that I create on the phone, appear on my Mac.

You may have found several fix suggestions online, most futile. Signing off iCloud and then signing back on helps, but this way you lose all the local changes that haven’t been uploaded to iCloud.

What I’ve found to be a working and safe solution is to select the “All iCloud” folder in Notes, then sort notes by date changed, then move all the notes that hadn’t been uploaded to iCloud to the “On My Mac” account (you must enable it in Preferences) and then move them back to the iCloud account.

 58   2017   Mac   solution

Näckrosen and Hallonbergen Stockholm metro stations

Previously: Solna centrum.

I forgot to tell that it was really cold on all the “special” stations. I visited Stockholm in June, it was over 20° and sunny outside, so I was wearing a t-shirt. The five minutes that I spent on the stations between the trains made me almost freeze to death.

The next station is Näckrosen:

This station is all about the stones.

On the one hand it’s beautiful. On the other, it looks unhealthy, as if the station had a really bad rash:

Pictures on the ceiling:

Art:

A bench:

The next station is Hallonbergen:

Cardboard structures:

And kid’s drawings:

A platform. The metal elements are painted pink:

Exit. A compass on the floor:

The perspective:

The pictures are from the trip in June 2016.

Continued

More Stockholm metro:

 27   2017   Stockholm   Stockholm metro   world

Reachability by overscrolling

There is an accessibility setting on the iPhone called “Reachability”. When you enable it, you can double tap the Home button or swipe down the Home indicator on the iPhone X to make the screen content move closer to you fingers so that you could tap it.

In The revolution in the mobile user interface I wrote that you should flip the UI so that all the meaningful controls end up on the bottom. But what if you have a full screen of tappable content? Then let the user overscroll it!

Look at this video for examples and read the explanation below:

  1. This is how Reachability works on the Home screen of the iPhone X. App icons just move down so that you can reach the top ones. Notice though, that visually it looks as if you just scrolled the screen down.
  2. This is what happens if you actually try to scroll the screen down. The icons blur away and the Search interface appears. But wouldn’t it be better if it actually just scrolled the icons down, revealing the search bar above them? This way, you wouldn’t even need Reachability to use the Home screen with one hand.
  3. This is how Reachability works in Settings. The whole screen just shifts down, letting you tap user account settings or Airplane mode.
  4. This is what happens if you actually try to scroll the screen down. Stuff just moves down, but unfortunately bounces back when you release your finger. But wouldn’t it be better if it actually just scrolled the items down even if there is nothing else above? This way, you wouldn’t even need Reachability to use lists.

Reachability should not be an accessibility setting, but a natural property of the design. If you’ve already flipped the user interface of your app, now it’s time to implement the overscrolling.

 25   2017   user interface

Solna centrum Stockholm metro station

In the previous part you saw this picture:

This is Solna centrum, my favourite Stockholm metro station:

These people have just arrived and go about their business:

Nothing special:

A bench:

A view from one platform to opposite one:

Ads don’t spoil the image:

There is a compass on the floor:

Some elk, or whatever it is, above a glass. Because why not?

Artists’ signature:

There’s black in addition to red and green. Escalators:

A man descending:

On the other end there is also a lift. It doesn’t go vertically, but follows the stairs instead:

More ads:

View upstairs:

The pictures are from the trip in June 2016.

Continued

More Stockholm metro:

 39   2017   Stockholm   Stockholm metro   world

Aegea 2.7 released

Aegea 2.7 has been released. Aegea is a great blogging engine.

What’s new

There are several new design themes, which look like this:

All new themes are based on the existing theme Plain, but redefine some CSS variables:

Above is the code of the theme “Douglas”, which looks like this:

You can now easily preview the themes from Settings. There is a link that opens a special contrived page, which includes all sorts of blog elements to test. This makes building themes much easier as you can preview your CSS in one place instead of wandering around the blog looking for elements to check.

The editor now supports these Google Docs keyboard shortcuts, thanks to Igor Adamenko:

⌘B bold
⌘I italic
⌘K hyperlink
⌘⌥1 heading
⌘⌥2 subheading
⌘⌥0 usual paragraph
⌘] indent
⌘[ outdent

There are also multiple improvements to the features related to social networking, comments, search, RSS and JSON feed, uploading of images and audio.

About Aegea

An engine is a program that runs on the blogger’s website. It provides the writing tools to the author, shows the posts to the readers and lets them write comments. Medium.com (or similar) is simpler, but they can shut down and take all your posts offline. With an engine, the blog runs on your own website and you have access to the files and the database (you don’t have to deal with the files or the database, but you own all the data).

I want most people to have access to personal blogging in this way. That’s why it uses the most easily available platform: PHP with MySQL.

Aegea powers this and many other blogs. Among my favourites:

With Aegea, you can use one of the built-in themes or customise it however you like (this blog is an example). Be flexible with comments: allow and disallow them globally or per post. Refine posts using Drafts. Add images, videos, audio or code to illustrate your point. Organise your writing with tags.

Designers, writers, musicians and software developers use Aegea to show their work, communicate and spread knowledge. They love it because it’s simple and fast yet does everything they need. Aegea is free for personal use and paid for business use.

Learn more and get Aegea at blogengine.me.

 9   2017   Aegea   my products   projects   release

Stockholm metro trains

First read the introductory post about Stockholm metro. Now, let’s look at the trains.

The new train:

Stadion

The display above the door shows the destination station:

Mind the gap:

Inside:

Closer. Note the pictograms on the door:

Typesetting:

Different angle:

The line diagram on a transparent background next to the doors:

More pictograms:

At stations, the driver leans halfway out of the train to see the people when announcing that the doors are closing:

The old train:

Kungsträdgården

The train at the most incredible station:

Solna centrum

I’ll cover it in the next post.

Inside the old train:

The view in the opposite direction:

The diagram on the ceiling:

The transport system ads:

Simple but effective:

A freight train passes:

The pictures are from the trip in June 2016.

Continued

See also:

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