ui

Wrong direction

In Milan, like in many other cities, public transport tickets have a magnetic strip on the side that is used to check their validity by means of electronic readers. Even now, some years after the introduction of the new tickets, a lot of people still insert their tickets in the readers in the wrong direction, and can’t pass the turnstiles until they get it right. The technical reason for that is the magnetic strip placed on one side of each ticket so that it can be read by a machine, but it’s a poor design choice forcing people to pay attention to a puny detail such as this.

A new use for margins

While I still read books on my way to work, I recently started reading online articles and blog posts using my phone as well. This morning, while I was reading a column on Alertbox on iPhone, I noticed with pleasure a small detail: the left and right margins of the page have more than a merely aesthetic purpose. As anyone who ever used an iPhone will certainly know, you usually slide your thumb along one side of the screen to scroll the page you’re reading.

Pagination directions

Although pagination is a widely diffused pattern, some times it can still be a bit confusing, when it comes to blogs. Most blogs (and many news sites) have a couple of links at the bottom of the page, newer and older posts or articles. Of course, there are two opposite ways to arrange those links: put the newer link on the left and the older one on the right, or just the opposite.

Itsme: is the desktop metaphor really over?

Last week a friend of mine, knowing my increasing interest in interaction design, forwarded me the poster of a talk held in University of Milano-Bicocca about a new project named itsme. Since I always welcome any excuse to visit my alma mater and one of the speakers has been my professor during my studies, I took half a day off work and went to attend the seminar, filled with curiosity.

Why Mac menus are on the top

Disclaimer: despite the title, this is not a post about fast food. 🙂 I always wondered why Apple decided to place their menu bar on top on the screen, rather than inside the window it belongs to. I couldn’t find any good reason for that choice until last week, when I spoke with a couple of colleagues. It turned that not only there is a reason, but it’s also quite clever!

How long will it take?

When talking about user experience, predictability is good. Some of the things we interact with in our daily life, though, are lacking from this perspective. Consider traffic lights: they are among the most widely diffused devices and they can’t be simpler. Green: go. Red: don’t. Yet, they are widely recognized as universal sources of frustration. Red lights, in particular, are able to annoy almost anyone. And that’s not just because they are inevitably perceived as something meant to slow you down, but also because they leave you almost clueless about when they’ll eventually turn green.