- Opted out experiences are ~35% faster
- Opted in repeat views are twice as slow as opted out
Tuesday, May 19th, 2020
Friday, May 8th, 2020
Progressive disclosure interface patterns categorised and evaluated:
- mouseover popups (just say no!),
- new pages,
- scrolling sideways.
I really like the hypertext history invoked in this article.
The piece finishes with a great note on the MacNamara fallacy:
Everyone thinks metrics let us measure results. But, actually, they don’t. They measure only what they are measuring. Engagement, for example, is not something that can be measured, so we use an analogue for it. Time on page. Or clicks.
We often end up measuring what is quick, cheap, and easy to measure. Therefore, few organizations regularly conduct usability testing or customer-satisfaction surveys, but lots use analytics.
Even today, organizations often use clicks as a measure of engagement. So, all too often, they design user interfaces to generate clicks, so the system can measure them.
Monday, March 18th, 2019
A handy browser extension for Chrome and Firefox:
“Hello, Goodbye” blocks every chat or helpdesk pop up in your browser.
Friday, October 5th, 2018
We use too many damn modals.
Amen! This site offers some alternatives, or—if you really must use a modal dialogue—some dos and dont’s.
And remember to always ask, kids: “Why does this have to be a modal?”
Wednesday, August 24th, 2016
Two pieces of good news from Google:
- 85% of websites qualify as mobile-friendly, so there’s no longer a need to explicitly label them as such in search results.
- Google will down-rank sites that have annoying pop-overs demanding you download an app or sign up to an email newsletter when you’re trying to read the damn page.
Monday, March 21st, 2016
Making things happen
I have lovely friends who are making lovely things. Surprisingly, lots of these lovely things aren’t digital (or at least aren’t only digital).
A small conference based in Reykjavik, Iceland, looking into the concept of the Web as a Material — 22nd July 2016, https://material.is
Here’s the twist: there’s going to be a Machine Supply pop-up bookshop AKA a vending machine in Shoreditch. That’ll be rolling out very soon and I can’t wait to see it.
My friend Josh made a crazy website to tie in with an art project called Cosmic Surgery. My friend Emily made a limited edition run of 10 books for the project. Now there’s a Kickstarter project to fund another run of books which will feature a story by Piers Bizony.
An Icelandic conference, a vending machine for handpicked books, and a pop-up photo book …I have lovely friends who are making lovely things.
Monday, July 27th, 2015
On The Verge
Quite a few people have been linking to an article on The Verge with the inflammatory title The Mobile web sucks. In it, Nilay Patel heaps blame upon mobile browsers, Safari in particular:
But man, the web browsers on phones are terrible. They are an abomination of bad user experience, poor performance, and overall disdain for the open web that kicked off the modern tech revolution.
Les Orchard says what we’re all thinking in his detailed response The Verge’s web sucks:
Calling out browser makers for the performance of sites like his? That’s a bit much.
Nilay does acknowledge that the Verge could do better:
Now, I happen to work at a media company, and I happen to run a website that can be bloated and slow. Some of this is our fault: The Verge is ultra-complicated, we have huge images, and we serve ads from our own direct sales and a variety of programmatic networks.
But still, it sounds like the buck is being passed along. The performance issues are being treated as Somebody Else’s Problem …ad networks, trackers, etc.
The developers at Vox Media take a different, and in my opinion, more correct view. They’re declaring performance bankruptcy:
I mean, let’s cut to the chase here… our sites are friggin’ slow, okay!
But I worry about how they can possibly reconcile their desire for a faster website with a culture that accepts enormously bloated ads and trackers as the inevitable price of doing business on the web:
You realize that “bloat" pays the salaries of editorial, product, design, video, etc etc etc, right?— nilay patel (@reckless) July 20, 2015
I’m hearing an awful lot of false dichotomies here: either you can have a performant website or you have a business model based on advertising. Here’s another false dichotomy:
To be clear: I’d pick a slow open web loaded with trackers and ads over a walled garden 100 percent of the time.— nilay patel (@reckless) July 21, 2015
If the message coming down from above is that performance concerns and business concerns are fundamentally at odds, then I just don’t know how the developers are ever going to create a culture of performance (which is a real shame, because they sound like a great bunch). It’s a particularly bizarre false dichotomy to be foisting when you consider that all the evidence points to performance as being a key differentiator when it comes to making moolah.
It’s funny, but I take almost the opposite view that Nilay puts forth in his original article. Instead of thinking “Oh, why won’t these awful browsers improve to be better at delivering our websites?”, I tend to think “Oh, why won’t these awful websites improve to be better at taking advantage of our browsers?” After all, it doesn’t seem like that long ago that web browsers on mobile really were awful; incapable of rendering the “real” web, instead only able to deal with WAP.
As Maciej says in his magnificent presentation Web Design: The First 100 Years:
As soon as a system shows signs of performance, developers will add enough abstraction to make it borderline unusable. Software forever remains at the limits of what people will put up with. Developers and designers together create overweight systems in hopes that the hardware will catch up in time and cover their mistakes.
If anything, browser makers might have to take more drastic steps to route around the damage of bloated websites with invasive tracking.
- swapping out images when the user moused over a link,
- doing really bad client-side form validation, and
- spawning pop-up windows.
Tracking and advertising scripts are today’s equivalent of pop-up windows. There are already plenty of tools out there to route around their damage: Ghostery, Adblock Plus, etc., along with tools like Instapaper, Readability, and Pocket.
That option is basically stealing. Don’t feel good about that.— nilay patel (@reckless) July 21, 2015
I’m sure that business owners felt the same way about pop-up ads back in the late ’90s. Just the price of doing business. Shrug shoulders. Just the way things are. Nothing we can do to change that.
For such a young, supposedly-innovative industry, I’m often amazed at what people choose to treat as immovable, unchangeable, carved-in-stone issues. Bloated, invasive ad tracking isn’t a law of nature. It’s a choice. We can choose to change.
Every bloated advertising and tracking script on a website was added by a person. What if that person refused? I guess that person would be fired and another person would be told to add the script. What if that person refused? What if we had a web developer picket line that we collectively refused to cross?
That’s an unrealistic, drastic suggestion. But the way that the web is being destroyed by our collective culpability calls for drastic measures.
By the way, the pop-up ad was first created by Ethan Zuckerman. He has since apologised. What will you be apologising for in decades to come?
Thursday, June 18th, 2015
100 words 088
Tomorrow is the big day—Responsive Day Out 3: The Final Breakpoint.
All the speakers are in town, safely ensconced in their hotel. To welcome them to Brighton and to get them relaxed for tomorrow, we all went out for a magnificent meal this evening. I hired out the pop-up restaurant Isaac At. What better way to welcome people to Sussex than to sample local seasonal food (and drinks) prepared by an immensely talented team. It was really great—great food, great company; just right.
Now I will attempt to get a night’s sleep before tomorrow’s overload of responsive brilliance.
Saturday, April 11th, 2015
100 words 020
As I was making my way homeward through the North Laine last week I noticed that a building around the corner from The Skiff had changed somewhat. I saw kitchen equipment where previously no kitchen equipment had been.
Turns out it’s a new pop-up restaurant called Isaac At. It’s only open on Friday and Saturdays, and you have to book online ahead of time. “Why not?” I thought to myself, and booked a table for myself and Jessica.
We just got back and I’m happy to report that it was most excellent—five courses made from local ingredients, beautifully presented.
Thursday, March 10th, 2011
A cute’n’nifty demonstration of transforms and animations in CSS that works a treat in Webkit.
Saturday, December 19th, 2009
Still addictive after all these years.