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Selecting country to enter your phone number

Here is an example of a dumb user interface. You can’t just enter your full phone number, you have to select a country from the list first:

It is especially tough when you have +44 number. I don’t know what to look for: UK? United Kingdom? Britain? Great Britain? England...? Even if there is a correct answer to this question, it is not necessarily the case that the authors of the form have the same idea.

To make thing worse still, it’s a custom dropdown instead of a system one, which means — of course! — that nobody bothered to implement keyboard support, so you have to scroll back and forth in this tiny area.

Bus lane sign

Together with Nikita Dubrovin, we made a new road sign:

The text says: “Dedicated lane only for fixed-route transport. In operation since 28th of August. Fine for entry: 1500 ₽”.

In some cities public transit is just beginning to receive proper treatment. Many drivers are yet unaccustomed to bus lanes and may ignore the official sign 5.14 “Lane for fixed-route transport”. Our sign explains the idea of a dedicated lane in words, while also teaching standard signs and markings.

Full list of Aegea features

The website of my blogging engine, Aegea, has been updated with the Features page, where all features are listed. It’s a long list, check it out:

Try Aegea, it’s amazing.

May I notify you

Notifications often appear at the wrong time: while I am trying to finish a sentence or to listen to my colleague on a call. However, in many cases there is no reason to be notified at a certain time to the exact second. The reminder to take a pill this morning popped up while I was running! Clearly, I’m not going to take it while I’m running, so why not hold the reminder until I finish?

In real life, there is a way to notify without interrupting: by raising your hand. The interface actually has different degrees of “intrusiveness” of notifications as well: red badges, temporary banners, modal windows, sounds. But in real life, if I’ve raised my hand and I don’t get noticed, I can raise it higher after a while, then wave it, or even stand up. If nothing helps, I can say “Excuse me!”

Notifications in the interface lack this kind of progressive persistence. Given the urgency of the message itself and how busy I am, the interface can either tell me everything right away, or start with a little neat dot in the status bar (“raised the hand”), then animate that dot (“waved the hand”) and only if I am not paying attention for very long, bring up a full interface.

The best way to make a text in quotes into a link

Sometimes you may need to make a text in quotes into a link:

Quoted links

Many designers notice that underlined quote marks look bad, so they exclude them from the link:

Correctly quoted links

However, meaning-wise and in terms of Fitts’s law, the quote marks should be included in the link: they are related in meaning to the text inside them, not outside them, and it’s easier to click a larger link.

So the best way to make a text in quotes into a link is to make the whole thing a link while underlining only the text:

Correctly quoted links

Fuel low; here are petrol stations

When running out of fuel, not only does my car light an LED, but also offers to show the nearest petrol stations using the built-in navigation.

Any error or problem message in an interface should not just state it indifferently, but also help you find a solution.

Feature request: Temporarily disable password and Face ID

Apple did a great job: they invented Face ID, which reliably protects the phone and still works seamlessly. But the scientists at the Wuhan lab did an even better job: they invented a coronavirus that forced the mankind to wear face masks.

As a result, shopping for groceries with a list in your phone became a torture. You have to enter the damn password every time.

I want a feature: disable iPhone protection for fifteen minutes, during which I can take it out of my pocket and unlock with just a Slide to Unlock, as with the original iPhone.

I guess I can disable all the protection in Settings, but that’s way too much work, and turning the protection back on is even worse; nobody would do it. With my idea you can’t forget anything, the phone returns itself back to protected mode automatically. It could display a red “unprotected” icon in the status bar. Tap on it, and the protected mode returns immediately.

Here is how I want it

Imagine yourself preparing for difficult negotiations not knowing how you’ll express or defend your position. You already have a hundred scenarios in your head, ninety of which are horrible. What if they perceive my proposal as impudence and turn me away without giving me a chance to discuss the options? What if they get offended by my offer and our relationship goes sour? What if they don’t expect this and expect that? What if... Your brain explodes from trying to think out a “plan” in different cases, and at some point you don’t even know where to start the conversation.

In this case, I have a simple recipe: start with the words “Here is how I want it”.

You don’t know the outcome of the negotiations and you don’t know what the other side has in mind. You can’t make the other side do anything. But you know what you want, and you can say it clearly. It’s okay to want something. The key is to speak in a way that doesn’t make the other party feel pressured or manipulated. You’re just sharing a wish, as if you were sharing an observation about the weather.

Someone struggles to come up with a justification for a salary increase and makes a list of their merits. But sometimes you can just write, “I want to double the salary starting with the next project” and get a “Deal”. Some people spend months wooing or using pick-up tricks to someone they have a crush on. But sometimes you can just write, “I want to go to bed with you”, and get an “I’m in”.

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