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Showing posts from May, 2014

Usablenet by name, unusable on Windows Phone

E-commerce usability has been written about for ages, so it might come as a surprise to some that Usablenet who claim to have the "best in class" mobile websites have numerous basic user experience failures.
I visited Sports Direct's website today with a simple goal of looking for a sports drink bottle. This should not be a complex task. On opening www.sportsdirect.com I was redirected to the mobile version, it had ignored my browsers desktop website preference and redirected the domain. Redirected domains are commonly the worst start in terms of user experience. Here are just a few of the common issues a mobile user will experience when they are redirected to the "m." domain:

Failure to take into account the exact entry link. e.g. A directly link to a specific article is selected form a Google search and instead of reaching the mobile version of the article the domain redirect goes straight to the home page.The redirect creates a new set of http request slowin…

Getting the Windows 8.1 Developer Preview update

If like me you own a Windows Phone you might have already installed the Windows 8.1 Developer preview. Perhaps you also experienced some unpleasant bugs and tried a full reset to fix this. You could then have read that Microsoft released an update on the 15th of May which fixed many bugs... But wait phone up update says you are already on the latest version and yet you only have version 8.10.12359.845 not the all singing all dancing 8.10.12382.878

In order to get the new update you need to have the developer preview app installed, which you inconveniently deleted during your factory reset. Good news is after a quick reinstall you will be able to select update phone and grab the new and improved developer preview.

Hope this helps anyone who is also sitting there scratching their head wondering why they aren't finding the new 8.1 update.

Select element; the good, the bad, the very bad and the down right ugly

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Reading Mikkel Bo Schmidt's article reminded me of how important the small details are, but not only that, how difficult it can be to make things better.

Mikkel rather skimped on the details of the select element so I thought I would go further.

The Good Perhaps the most obvious good part is that everyone recognises the select element, it has been around for so long that any regular computer user will know how to interact with it, and many are even aware of how to use the keyboard to skip alphabetically.

The select element is a very compact way of displaying a range of options, it is just a single line and can even take up less width than the text of the options it contains, although this is not recommended as if you select a long option you will not be able to read it, reducing the usability.

The other important benefit is that it works on every device no matter the spec or OS*. Developing a replacement is not a simple matter, does your solution work on every device? Have you co…

Microsoft Excel's Unintelligent Defaults (multi-ligual CSV failure)

One of the best thing to do in an application is to work hard on the default behaviour, 95% of users never change their settings so the defaults really are vital to the use of the program.

Excel has wonderful features but its defaults are extremely frustrating. Many of them I simply do not understand, for example if a column has leading zeroes then the user probably wants to keep them! However, I came across one issue which I had not experienced until now.

Anyone who has had to deal with internationalisation will probably be aware of the differences in European decimals for example 1,000.00 in UK & US is written as 1.000,00 in many European countries. Microsoft Windows has region settings which take these into account. Excel uses the region settings as the default method for formatting files. This seems reasonable but it contains a setting called list separator which it uses as the default separator for reading a CSV file. If your region is one where "," is the standard …