With Windows 10, Microsoft doubles down on forced updates and reboots (save your work!)

Windows 10 takes one of the most hated aspects of Microsoft operating systems -- forced, sudden software updates and reboots -- and elevates them to a sadistic art, with Win 10 machines suddenly announcing that it's update time and rendering themselves inoperable for up to an hour, wiping out unsaved work and locking users out of their computers while they're onstage, or in the middle of large file uploads, or livecasting, or completing a live test for college admission, taking notes during an interview, etc. Read the rest

Historic accord reached in bum-washing bidet toilet UI conventions

Japan's leading bidet toilet manufacturers (including Toto, Panasonic, and Toshiba) have come together through their industry association, the Japan Sanitary Equipment Industry Association, to agree upon a common set of UI conventions for the meanings of the icons on the buttons on the bidets' control panels, thus ending an era in which you might think you were getting "wash and dry" but actually ended up with "layer-cut and dye-job." Read the rest

California just launched a "Digital Service" based on the amazing UK Government Digital Service

Since 2011, the UK's Government Digital Service has radically transformed the way Britons interact with their government, streamlining bureaucratic processes, opening up data, and making APIs available for community groups and commercial players -- alas, the GDS has become a political football in Westminster and has hemorrhaged talent, becoming a sad reminder of a once-glorious dream of government delivered humanely, with the public in mind. Read the rest

People really, really suck at using computers

The OECD's 2011-2015, 33 country, 215,942-person study of computer skills paints a deceptively grim picture of the average level of computer proficiency around the world -- deceptive because it excludes over-65s, who research shows to be, on average, less proficient than the 16-65 cohort sampled. Read the rest

Listening to users is the first step in making them secure

Quinn Norton's lecture A Network of Sorrows: Small Adversaries and Small Allies at Hack.lu (helpfully transcribed by the Open Transcripts folks!) is a great call-to-arms for user-centered security. Read the rest

Chrome is about to start warning users that non-HTTPS sites are insecure

An imminently forthcoming version of Google's Chrome browser will flip the way that browsers convey information about privacy and security to users: instead of discreetly informing users that the HTTPS-enabled sites they're browsing are more secure, they'll flag any non-HTTPS site as insecure, with a series of escalating alerts that will end -- at some unspecified date -- by displaying an exclamation point inside red triangle and the letters HTTP next to the web addresses of non-HTTPS sites. Read the rest

Algorithmic cruelty: when Gmail adds your harasser to your speed-dial

Inbox by Gmail combs through your email looking for frequent correspondents and puts the people who email you the most in a "speed dial" sidebar (that you can't edit) that puts their names and pictures front-and-center for you every time you go to your email. Read the rest

The quest for the well-labeled inn

I have a first-world problem: I stay in a lot of hotels.

Why we need a new kind of design discipline for on-demand platforms

Over at Medium's WTF? Future of Work publication, our pal Marina Gorbis, exec director of Institute for the Future, and IFTF's Devin Fidler write about why we need new design principles for on-demand work platforms.

Their creators have mastered the discipline of interaction design and brought it to new heights… when it comes to consumer experience. Uber, Munchery, Postmates, and many apps are exquisitely designed, sometimes even addictive for users. They make previously laborious processes effortless and seamless. No hassles with paying, calling, talking. Swipe your phone with a finger and voila: your ride, your meal, your handyman magically appear.

But the apps are not only platforms for consumption. They are quickly becoming our entry points for work, gateways to people’s livelihoods. In this sense, whether or not platform creators realize it, they are engaging in another kind of design, socioeconomic design, the design of systems that people will rely on to structure their work, earnings, daily schedules. And here we find ourselves in the same phase as interaction design was decades ago — the inmates are running the asylum. The stakes, however, are much higher; instead of just convenience, we are talking about people’s livelihoods.

"Design It Like Our Livelihoods Depend on It: 8 Principles for creating on-demand platforms for better work futures" Read the rest

New trends in Chinese mobile UIs for 2016

Dan Grover has updated his excellent annual survey of UI trends in Chinese mobile apps with a new installment that covers the t-shirt icon, the happy shopping bag, the moving SEND button, the rise of data-management apps and chatbots, and more. Read the rest

Help wanted: Simply Secure is hiring an ops person!

Simply Secure is a nonprofit whose advisory board I volunteer for; they're devoted to making usable, human-centered interfaces to privacy tools that anyone can use, and they're hiring. Read the rest

Watch: how to make security tools for normal humans

Another amazing Shmoocon talk is "Users Are People Too: How to Make Your Tools Not Suck for Humans," presented by two key people from Simply Secure, a nonprofit devoted to improving security tool usability (I am a volunteer advisor to Simply Secure). Read the rest

Science fiction: what if game companies could get rich on bots, instead of players?

MVP -- Patrick Miller's "game dev short story" -- is a cleverly told piece of science fiction about a game dev team that hits on a weirdly compelling, unlikely and eerily plausible commercial strategy: optimizing their game for gold-farmers' bots. Read the rest

Great, weird, and bad examples of Empty States in apps

Emptystate.es celebrates "Empty States," those moments in a user's app experience where there's no data to display yet, or an error has occurred. Empty States are actually a great moment to delight or engage the user yet this piece of UX design is frequently left as an afterthought or blown off entirely. (Thanks, UPSO!)

Read the rest

Free usability help for privacy toolmakers

Simply Secure, a nonprofit I volunteer for, is launching a new series of usability programs for organizations, companies and individuals who are making cryptographic/privacy/security tools. Read the rest

Loadingicon: trippy looping gif animations to distract and delight

Loadingicons should loop, use a constrained color palette, and be fun enough to look at that they could distract a user while a computer or network churns away in the background. Read the rest

NYC to-do: "Art, Design, and The Future of Privacy," Sept 17

A night of talks and conversations about privacy and tech, centered on humane design and user-experience -- I'm speaking there! Read the rest

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