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Showing posts from July, 2011

One Click from Disaster: Errorproofing Web Interface Designs

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Just recently I wrote about how many rogue tweets are the fault of poor user interface design in Rogue Tweets: Where They Come From; How to Stop Them. In early 2010 I also wrote about this topic in When No Communication is Best: Speed Skating, Morphine Overdoses and the Wings Fall Off Button. But I see that the lessons of errorproof interface design are not being learned very quickly.
Many rogue tweets with serious consequences are caused by people tweeting a message to the wrong account. But if you look at excellent clients like Tweetdeck or web services like Hootsuite the choice of account is made by clicking on tiny icons that are very close together. It is only a matter of time before you send a message the wrong way. On the Twitter web page, too, many people confuse the post, search and direct message spaces. The usual solution for these errors is to fire the operator and the agency, but I don't much effort into improving interface design.
Another example appeared this month …

Generic Smokes: Why Australian Tobacco Branding Initiative Might Not Work

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By May 2012 tobacco companies in Australia will be required to package cigarettes in plain olive green packs with the name of the product and the maker written in a standard font. At the same time health warnings will increase from 30% to 70% of the surface. (See "Australia Plans Plain Packaging for Cigarettes" in The Guardian.) The goal of this move is to make smoking less attractive though I doubt that this will have much effect for three reasons.
First of all, smokers don't browse along supermarket shelves looking for an attractive package; normally they ask for a brand they have already chosen and in this choice they are influenced by the image of the brand more than the packaging.
Second, the box is important in a way because it is one way for people to show their choice to other people but when the product ships in plain green boxes it will not take long for people to think of marketing fancy boxes to keep them in. Moving the cigarettes to another box or slipping a …