Web Developer’s Observations: Holiday 2015 Edition

As a front-end web developer I deal with Design, User Experience, and User Interface challenges on a daily basis. I also have my fair share of opinions on what works and what doesn’t work in UI/UX design. Sometimes I am wrong, and recognizing that you are wrong is the first step towards progress.

The following is a sample of my ‘list of observations’ (mostly things I was wrong about) from this past holiday season while visiting friends and family.

  • Young children actually use voice search: I’ve spent two days watching kids use (successfully I might add) voice search on a cable box. It was actually quicker and more successful than using the clumsy remote text input. This is a surprising contrast over my failed attempts with Siri or Google Now.
  • Non-developers are more tolerant of broken software: I watched several people acknowledge broken software (video games, web pages, etc…) and merely shrugged their shoulders and move on with the task at hand. Lesson to be learned here is that we can strive for perfection and insure usability at all cost, but never under estimate our users, they are smarter and more forgiving than you may think.
  • Activating Devices/ Account Set-up is still a pain: No surprising lesson learned here except we as a community need to do better. Web forms were broken or unusable, especially on a mobile device.
  • EVERYONE’S device is different: After helping several people with their PCs, phones, and tablets I have noticed that every single device is different. I am not speaking about the hardware or the software, rather I am referring to the user settings. Text sizes can be adjusted, Javascript can be disabled or limited, even images be replaced. In modern web development we focus screen sizes and devices used, but we rarely think about user’s personal settings. Again this shows the importance of a strong foundation in standards based HTML and CSS to ensure usability throughout your sites.