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When Bigger Is Not More Clickable  (View post)

Kevin Fox [PersonRank 4]

Tuesday, March 17, 2009
13 years ago8,762 views

The FriendFeed Notifier download page is an interesting story: Because the notifier is built on Adobe Air there are some specific hooks that Adobe offers to make installing easier, like one-click download-and-being-installation from a flash widget. Adobe provides a sample flash widget for the job, customizable with an image of your choice, but the extremely small 'Install Now' text is unchangable.

Making a new flash downloader is non-trivial, and something we'll probably do soon, but wasn't worth holding up the launch over.

Most Air app install sites just put a logo in the box where we chose to put a bright 'get started' arrow. We knew that was a poor solution so we chose to use the space to make as clear a call to action as possible. Unfortunately, putting a button inside the grey-bordered box made the button itself look like a screenshot rather than an actionable item, so we tried to make the 'Install now' button more actionable.

In a nutshell, this was mostly due to a few Adobe Air design constraints that we're still working around.

By the way, we knew the button was so ugly that we even added a reference to it in the Air app's FAQ, and made T-shirts featuring the button art:

CJ Millisock [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

I thought both the OO page and the FF page were very clear in what needed to be clicked on.

Iain Barraclough [PersonRank 1]

13 years ago #

Your post pinpoints some classic examples of good and bad web screen/form ergonomics. Let's have some more examples – they might get read and understood by web-designers.

If ergonomics was a compulsory course for web-designers or would-be web designers, then probably we would not be subjected to such a tiresome load of garbage in poor web screen/form design as we are currently. Think how many man-hours and dollars could be saved, worldwide. Mind-boggling.

Sadly though, I would predict that ignorance will ensure that it'll never happen.

(The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary defines ergonomics as: The field of study that deals with the relationship between people and their working environments, as it affects efficiency, safety, and ease of action.")

Jon [PersonRank 0]

13 years ago #

Is it just me or is this article very similar in concept to an article that was posted on the Google blog today?

Particularly since you write about Google it seems too coincidental me.

hector [PersonRank 0]

13 years ago #

Shut up. :)

Andrew DeFaria [PersonRank 1]

13 years ago #

Come on! You must be joking! You really couldn't tell the download arrow meant download?!? Looking for underlines instead? You know some of us have turned off the silly underlines years ago and we really don't appreciate you force feeding us your preferences!

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

Jon, haven't read that article at the Google blog yet, though I saw the headline and a comment in regards to the article earlier today at Friendfeed. Maybe there's a connection there, but not a conscious one :)

Andrew, as the article says, I could tell, but it took a second or so longer – usability is a craft not dealing with "ways that users can understand what they're supposed to do", but with "ways that make it as easy and quick as possible for users to understand what they're supposed to do". In other words, the difference is only in timing. A sum of micro-delays turns into a sub-optimal overall usability. Maybe you will be able to find other micro-delays on the site mentioned.

pnoque [PersonRank 1]

13 years ago #

I'm a web designer and I actually think Open Office has one of the most usable sites that I know of. I use it as an example when teaching usability to students.

Kevin Fox [PersonRank 4]

13 years ago #

One thing I particularly like about Google's blog post (and about the Website Optimizer) is that the point is that design opinion isn't truth, and that when the measures of success are as concrete as rate of task completion all the opinion in the world is no match for A-B testing.

Juha-Matti Laurio [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

I tried OO.o's Get more platforms and languages text recently too and was sure that it's possible to select a localized version there – but no!

Jérémy Pinat [PersonRank 1]

13 years ago #

We can see this kind of page more and more. Designers want to build modern pages, but sometimes fail horribly. Writing bigger should not be the goal, but the consequence (the goal being "make an understandable page"). When designing a web page, asking questions like "Where the user should go next?" and "In what order elements should be read?" help greatly.

iain Barraclough [PersonRank 1]

13 years ago #

*[put at-character here]Jérémy Pinat *
The grammatical structure of the two sentences that you state are questions:
1. "Where the user should go next" and
2. "In what order elements should be read"

- would seem to indicate that they are not questions.

Ed Barton [PersonRank 1]

13 years ago #

With regards to the Friendfeed button, I have an explanation for why you missed it that hasn't been mentioned yet.

It's in a single-pixel border (without rounding), uses large text, and colors that don't fit the color theme of the rest of the site.
To me, that screams "ad". So, the methods used to make it stand out here have actually backfired, because it doesn't look like a part of the site any more.

Banner Printing [PersonRank 1]

13 years ago #

There are a lot of sites that use these ideas for aesthetic effect. Better functionality would naturally be the ideal situation though. Actually there are some sites purely run by ads.

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