Sandrina Pereira
Apr 3, 2017 · 5 min read

In software engineering, usability is the degree to which a software can be used by specified consumers to achieve quantified objectives with effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction in a quantified context of use. — Wikipedia

Ain’t nobody got time for that

1. Sending a message

Nowadays everyone uses chats and everyone knows that the Enter key is meant to send a message. That’s obvious, right?

Some time ago a friend of mine had some bad luck with her PC. Her Enter key stopped working, and she struggled to survive without it. The worst part was that she was unable to send messages through some messaging apps, including the one she was using the most: Slack. During that time she was limited to using Slack only on her phone. She was so pissed about an essential feature in a product like Slack not having a fallback option. (it still doesn’t)

Keyboard not found — Press F1 to continue, Del to enter Setup

Every chat app has a Send button on mobile devices. Why isn’t this the case for desktop too? Is it because it is prettier with less content? ‘Less is more’ didn’t work so well in her situation. No worries, after a month waiting for a new set of keys from AliExpress she was able to use Slack again!

2. Unsubscribe that sp… newsletter

Everyone at some point in their life has made the painful decision to unsubscribe from something. It’s bad for the product’s business, but it is what it is… wait, what the hell is this?!

Trying to unsubscribe something without a cohesive option

Unfortunately, there are situations where you get really confused about what is going on. I just want to do a simple task: Unsubscribe.

This can be improved easily by changing the copy for something more friendly. It’s also an opportunity to get some insights from the user by asking why she/he is unsubscribing. I’m that kind of user that leaves a feedback (good or bad) whenever it is possible, because I believe it’s my responsibility to contribute to a product I believe in.

For those who can improve this experience I suggest:

For those who are sick of unsubscribe, laugh with this TED talk:

3. Haven’t I seen this before?

I’m not the kind of person that has 43 tabs opened at the same time (or at least I try to not to). I’m the type of person who goes back to the previous page and checks out the next article. But wait… what have I already read / watched before?

A List Apart - a list of articles without any visual difference between the ones that I have and haven’t visited

This is an example of design as an afterthought… Visited links, Active links, etc… I love A List Apart so much but I hate to spend time wondering what I’ve read already or not. To help me out, I’m using Stylish to make my own custom styles:

a:visited {
color: silver !important;

With this tweak it is now easier to choose the next article:

A List Apart — Use of Stylish to create a visual difference between visited and unvisited articles

The same problem occurs on other websites with other types of lists: Series Episodes, Books,… you name it! Stylish has been my fallback option!

Fortunately in some cases like Netflix, Youtube and even Wikipedia, they care about this state and show it to the user with some smart approaches!

4. I don’t trust digital invoices, so I print them

This one might sound too démodé, but my dad is one of those users that always prints his invoices for any kind of purchase / order on the web. I got to know this because one day he asked me:

Sandrina, I think I have a problem with the printer. The website looks good but when I print the purchase details it gets all messed up, can you help me?

My first reaction was to laugh, then it was just… sad. I ended up teaching my dad how to do screenshots on his computer.

After looking through some of his other invoices I was really surprised by one from Airbnb. It was simple — black and white to save ink with careful design decisions that focus on printing. I suggest to check the article below that has some really awesome tips about how to prepare a website for printing scenarios:

5. Damn… it’s too slow!

This topic is not about performance. It’s about content.

I know you want to share your amazing new 4k photo. But before that, as a user, I want to see a preview of that photo. 720p is more than enough, especially on mobile devices.

An image loading eternally

I’m using Mobile Data and I have only 512Mb / month. Don’t make me waste 15Mb for a landscape photo. Responsive design is not only about @media queries, it’s also about making the content more accessible on any device. And if I’m on a small screen device, I’m expecting to see, not only smaller text but also smaller pictures. Technically this might be tricky to achieve, but it’s possible.

Final Thoughts

Don’t get me wrong with these peculiar examples that only 1% of the users will experience. I truly believe that when you improve the usability of those 1%, you are also improving the experience of another x% of users. The web should be delivered to everyone within the best possible scenario.

And please, don’t go to your team and blame your designers for not thinking about those 1%. This is not only a UI / UX responsibility. This is a team’s responsibility: a developer, a tester, a product owner... They must be more aware of customers needs in order to delivery a more accessible product.

Thanks for reading this and let me know if you have any similar stories where you felt misplaced in a product!

The UI files

Ramblings on UI development

Thanks to José Silva

Sandrina Pereira

Written by

I’m a front-end developer who loves interaction design and to spend the free time exploring new ways to connect humans like you with the web.

The UI files

Ramblings on UI development

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