Hey, I’m not on a tablet

On my best of days (and perhaps my worst of days), this is what my desktop will look like:


I’m rockin’ laptops, Leslie Knope-style. In Parks and Recreation, she decides to run for public office while still working, so she takes all of her campaign business outside of City Hall and runs inside when she has to tend to city business. It ends up being pretty ridiculous but that’s what I find myself doing when I have to shuttle in between work-work, teaching-work, grad school work, running my business, and personal stuff, which happens multiple times a day, every day of the week! (Such is life…)

Anywho, my personal computer is a petite 11″ MacBook Air. I love the thing because it really eases the strain on my neck, shoulders, and back when I need to pack twice the laptop to schlep my gear across cities. However, I sometimes get annoyed when I’m browsing sites and it somehow thinks I’m a giant tablet.

Hey. I’m not on a tablet:

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 9.11.01 AM

I have very strong opinions about hamburger menus on a desktop site, but I’ll leave that to another post. Maybe this was an intentional design element, I tell myself.

I’m looking for the login link, so I go ahead and fire off the menu. Now the entire page moves down.

Okay. Really though. I’m not on a tablet:

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 9.11.07 AM

Ugh. Wait. Are you serious? I’m not on a tablet.

Well, at least I eventually found the login area. Here goes:

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 9.11.12 AM


Hey. Seriously — I’m not on a tablet!


Sliders on sliders

I was an early adopter of Amazon Music, mostly because I was an Amazon employee when it launched. Also, I’ll try out any extra service that gives me extra Prime benefits at least once!

As I go about my merry work days, some design work takes up more screen real estate than others. That means that I get to appreciate the minified view of Amazon Music —

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However, today’s work required me to shuffle between videos of user testing, so every once in awhile when I had to scrub timelines for actual voice dictations, I had to turn the volume down. I then came across this slider-on-slider mess:

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Seems like a bit of lazy UI to me.

  1. Why show two sliders layered, quite literally, on top of one another?
  2. Could there be room for error? What if I mean to adjust one slider and accidentally adjust the other?
  3. Can I accidentally dismiss it?
  4. If I accidentally triggered the volume slider, I wouldn’t know that I’m in the volume adjustment mode. Nothing indicates that the volume adjustment mode is active.
  5. Why is the volume icon significantly smaller than the other icons? It seems miniscule. I almost have to squint to make out that it’s a volume icon.

I appreciate the compactness and how they’ve somehow managed to have all of the core functionality of a music player in such limited real estate. However, I would caution against sacrificing UI clarity and usability for the sole purpose of making it work in such a small form factor.

Software update confirmation alerts

Software confirmation update alerts are mostly helpful when they are shown immediately after I’ve gone through an update process.

However, to show the alert on every subsequent load, just because I haven’t explicitly dismissed it, is completely overkill.

Take, for example — Amazon Music:

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I updated my software about three weeks ago when I stopped my Spotify premium subscription. (I’ve been questioning my life choices ever since.) I’m really just too lazy to drag my mouse over to the ‘x’ button, and I’m really curious to see how long it takes for them to hide that alert stripe. So far, two weeks and counting.

I’ve been trying to find a use case for this…any takers?

Mostly useless sorting and filtering

I was perusing fountain pens today because I felt like treating myself to something fancy. I then came across this gem:

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So, you mean to tell me that I can sort a line of pens by gender? My pens have a gender? My pen can be feminine or masculine? SAY WHAT? …

Reminds me of the BIC for Her Retractable Ball Pen debacle not too long ago —

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 3.53.53 PM

:: slowly backs away ::

Tiny pagination buttons

Why are they a thing now? The only saving grace of this particular application is the ability to use the left and right arrows to paginate. (I also doubt that the other websites that use this pattern have gone so far as to make this UI pattern accessible.)

If someone were actually expected to click on these teensy-tiny pagination dots I imagine they’d have to squint their eyes into oblivion.

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Fulfilling the advertising promise

So, after working at Amazon I became a sucker for same-day delivery, on-demand delivery, and the gimme-gimme culture!

When I went to the Amazon homepage this morning to look up bowtie collars for my cats (yes, I actually did that…), I saw an ad for one of my friend’s teams, Prime Now.

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It’s the one-hour delivery service for products sold by Amazon. I got excited because it was an ad that said that Prime Now was available in my area. MY AREA! Denver!!!!! I was suspicious because Amazon doesn’t have a fulfillment center out here but out of curiosity I clicked the ad anyways.

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Dear Amazon: How do you deliver new year’s resolutions? Did you see that I have 11 of them? Did you see that I created a spreadsheet to track them over 12 months? I don’t understand how you are going to deliver them for free in 2 hours. You don’t make any sense. GO HOME AMAZON.

I clicked on the ad and was directed to the landing page, and on first glance didn’t see confirmation that Prime Now was available in Denver, nor did I see a way to search for my location. (Boooooo.)

Then, I was hit with a flurry of questions:

  1. What’s up with all of these download badges? Don’t they know that I clicked a desktop ad? They’re smarter than that (I think).
  2. Why wasn’t I served with a design that emphasized a location-based search if I could not at least be told immediately that Prime Now was indeed not available in my area?
  3. Why couldn’t they just automatically tell me on this page that it wasn’t available in my area? They know where I am located (I think).
  4. If it was not available in my area, why couldn’t I opt in to a notification about when it would become available?
  5. Why make me sad and show me all of the wonderful things I can’t get at the bottom of the page? It’s not like I’m going to move to these other cities just to get Prime Now.

Anywhoodle, after scrolling down a bit I found the scrollbar and typed in my location.

Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 6.39.15 AM

And then…

Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 6.39.20 AM


Such sadness. Why would you serve an ad only to fall short of the promise?

Moral of the story: Don’t make your customers sad. They might cry.

Unoriginal brand colors

Asana is a really nice task management system. The design is simple and original, compared to a lot of other systems I’ve used in the past. However, one aspect of it makes it incredibly annoying:

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The use of Facebook blue for their ‘Log in using Google’ and ‘Log in’ button is really really off-putting.

When establishing a brand color palette, it seems like creating a unique set of colors and textures would be in good taste.

(It’s kind of like showing up to a party in a dress that you’ve picked and styled on your own, rather than peeking through other attendees’ windows earlier that evening and copying someone else’s outfit.)