Category Archives: commentary

Nice One PayPal

This isn’t what you want to see on a financial web site when you’re in the middle of a money transfer. On the plus side, it’s good to see their designers use alt text.

PayPal Security Prompt

Click here!

A screenshot showing links that read 'here'

The editor at Scientific American clearly didn’t get the memo that links need to make sense out of context.

“Click here” links cause problems for people using screen readers. Screen readers allow users to navigate the page quickly by only reading out the links. When the screen readers says, “Here”, “Here”, “Here”, and “Here” you’ve no idea where the links will take you.

Though less serious, it’s also a readability issue for sighted readers. You have to go back and scan the text to check where this link will take you.

Unpack that database!

Anyone who thinks this is an acceptable error message should be banned from app design until they feel thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

I’m looking at you, designer of the The Photography / Video Show 2019 app.

How real users view your web site

I’m running some remote usability tests this week where I ask participants to share their desktop with me. I’m viewing the tests on a 30″ Apple Cinema Display and it’s easy to forget the lower-spec hardware that many users still struggle with day-to-day. Here’s a screenshot from one participant: you’ll notice:

  • Users install lots of crap in their browser (either deliberately or inadvertantly).
  • The browser chrome and toolbars take up over a third of the display.
  • When viewing the results of a Google search, just one natural search result appears above the fold.

I’m not saying that this configuration is typcial, but it’s certainly not unusual to find this when you look at the way “real” users use the web, rather than the digerati.


Social: Good news for burglars?

It won’t have escaped your attention that everything needs to be social these days. I imagine design teams huddled in dingy rooms, having been told by senior management that they can’t emerge until they’ve made their app or web site ‘more social’. 

The culture is to make ‘sharing’ a default option. Since we know that people tend to go with the flow and accept the defaults, this makes it less likely that people will stop and question what they’re sharing. 

And there are risks with this kind of behaviour. 

For example, by announcing your location on Foursquare, you’re also announcing that you’re not at home, which is good news for burglars. Then I came across this today after buying a CD player on Amazon. 


You’ll see that Amazon are encouraging me to share my purchase on Facebook and Twitter. 

Enlarged view:

I doubt that someone will want to burgle me for a £30 CD Player but if I’d just bought an expensive digital camera or a computer, it might be different.