The 65 Most Annoying things about the Web Today |

Poor Design

1. Illegible text. I can’t read that, it’s too small. And what on earth is that font called?

2. Busy backgrounds. Oh MySpace, why do you allow users to create profiles like that? My eyes hurt.

3. Obscure links. I’m confused, can I click on that or not? Oh I get it, you don’t want me to view other pages.

4. Flyouts that are too large. Holy crap Yahoo! This is a page within a flyout!

5. Drop-down menu navigation too many levels deep. OK, if I slowly move my mouse this way first… dammit Jim, I’m a doctor not a magician!

6. Complicated navigation. I just want to get to that page, the one over there! Oh I see, you want me to complete the maze first.

via The 65 Most Annoying things about the Web Today |

Extreme Makeover: Craigslist Edition

Extreme Makeover: Craigslist Edition

When the internet was down today (my hubby the hero replaced the router — hooray!) I read this great article in the print version of Wired magazine about craigslist. It included some redesigns of the site done by selected guest star designers with a goal of increased usability.

Check out these potential new looks for craigslist.

They each have a unique approach to defining the issues and creating solutions. My favorite is the Make It Simple approach by information architect Anh Dang.

I’m so used to craigslist minimal page styling and arbitrary lists and would almost hate to see it change, but do I really need a link to Barcelona and Paris on the home page? And yes, uppercase letters do help readability, even though they are a hassle.

Apart from the messiness that always occurs when freedom of the press is given to all, and the resulting political and personal issues, I’ve always found craigslist a great resource. It is on my personal list of Websites I Couldn’t Do Without.

And I honor Craig Newmark for his lack of greed and independence.

What is your big idea for improving craigslist? Which design option is your favorite? Inquring minds want to know.

Designers Deserve Equal Pay for Equal Work – City doesn’t agree

It has come to my attention that the City of Portland’s web redesign of its 140,000 page website is going to be done by contest. The winner will receive a web link, notice in a press release and no monetary payment.

On review of the city’s documentation, it appears that the next phase will involve hiring accessibility and usability consultants to make the free design work well. Those contracts will be awarded through competitive bids for handsome sums.

The obvious disconnect at the project management level between design and function shows such a lack of understanding of what design is and how you get there that it boggles the mind.

To me this is wrong in so many ways.

  • It is a violation of the city’s policy of living wages by asking for goods and services to be provided to the city for free.
  • Good design is the result of a lot of hard work, including research into site history, stakeholder input, interviews.
  • Doing work on speculation is an unethical business practice frowned upon in the visual design community, including AIGA, the Graphic Artists Guild and more.
  • If you’re going to have a contest at least compensate the winner, dammit! A web link and a press release is not enough.
  • Portland is famous for its Creatives, many (if not most) of whom are not working right now. They need economic stimulus too, and a link on the city’s website will not pay any bills.

I am sick and tired of people thinking designers just have fun all day messing around with paints and Photoshop and don’t need to be paid. I have years of skill, experience you can depend on, in addition to tons of talent and I have learned every bit of it the hard way. I don’t give it out for free, unless you do.

What is Spec? And Why is it Wrong?

Spec work, as contests without payment are, is a practice that has long been considered unethical by the graphic design community. Although it is common for architectural and public art projects to use contests, the end result is payment and or promotion in a city-published print marketing piece.

Please see these websites for more information about spec work.

The American Institute of Graphic Artists (AIGA) has this to say about spec work:

AIGA believes that doing speculative work seriously compromises the quality of work that clients are entitled to and also violates a tacit, long-standing ethical standard in the communication design profession worldwide. AIGA strongly discourages the practice of requesting that design work be produced and submitted on a speculative basis in order to be considered for acceptance on a project.

Read the AIGA’s position on spec work

How do you feel about it?

[polldaddy poll=1783484]

Thinking about usability

Lately I’ve been keeping an eye out for usability koans. You know — those small electronic interfaces that are puzzling at best, confoundedly frustrating at the worst.
What are the items that make you scratch your head in befuddlement? Mine are the multi-buttoned remote control that requires three separate buttons to turn on our TV.


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