User Unfriendly

@ GA Ethics in Design

what makes something? User Friendly?

Easy to learn, use, understand, or deal with


Don’t Make Me Think

Steve Krug

It Just Works

– Apple?

As designers We advocate for users

Altered 'What Women Want' movie poster
says 'What Users Want'

Users spend most of their time on other sites. This means that users prefer your website to work the same way as all the other sites they already know.

Jakob Nielsen

Wireframe with top logo and navigation,
a hero image that says `we're unique`,
and three columns featuring large icons.
A young man collapsed on the ground,
clasping his sister's hand
Headshot of Anne Bogart

Anne Bogart

A Director Prepares

You cannot create results.
You can only create conditions
in which something might happen.

…in which there is room for the audience to move around, imagine, and make associations.

– Anne Bogart

1989 The WorldWideWeb Project

The first world wide website & graphic browser

It is required that HTML be a common language between all platforms

WWW Project

The first world wide website & graphic browser
The second browser, a text-only terminal

A Radical Shift

InDesign book-cover layout

On the web… Everything is Variable

Sizes, Interfaces, Preferences, Content, Features, &c…

Modern desktops
A zillion different devices of all sizes (original)
Lineup of smart watches
Google Home, Amazon Echo, and Apple HomePod
Braille keyboard and headphones

Web for all. Web on everything.

W3C Mission Statement

…This implies no device-specific markup, or anything which requires control over fonts or colors.

But… Fonts & Colors are Great

For both authors & users

Cascading HTML style sheets

Håkon Lie, October 1994

This proposal tries to soften the tension between the author and the reader.

– Håkon Lie

An ordered list (cascade) of style sheets

– Håkon Lie

The user/browser specifies initial preferences and hands the remaining influence over to the document.

– Håkon Lie

If conflicts arise the user should have the last word

– Håkon Lie

           User            Author
Font   o-----x--------------o 64%
Color  o-x------------------o 90%
Margin o-------------x------o 37%
Volume o---------x----------o 50%

Not ease But Access & Control

Users are all different

experiences, skills, limitations, goals

The fact we can control a paper page is really a limitation of that medium.

– John Allsopp, 2000

Bootstrapping vs Plug-and-play

Bootstrapping Augmenting Human Intellect

Providing the means for users to create better tools.

Any barrier that exists between the user and some part of the system will eventually be a barrier to creative expression.

– “Design Principles Behind Smalltalk” (Byte 1981)

Open” or “Adaptable

Raspberry Pi Kit

Plug-and-play It Just Works

All iPhones

Intuitive” or “Invisible

chart of common touch gestures

Easy for Who? To do What?

Who defines the “default”?

Girl with a 'skin color' bandaid significantly lighter than her skin
Are you a man or a woman? man, woman, other

First Name / Last Name?

and that name never changes…

Old facebook dropdown for Gender
has 58 options to choose from

Under an increasing pressure to monetize the data they store, Facebook looks for ways to limit difference across the site.

– Ben Grosser, How the Technological Design of Facebook Homogenizes Identity and Limits Personal Representation

Make things easy With Machine Learning

Facebook Shows Bereaved Parents Their Year in Review
Twitter Apologizes for 'racist' image-cropping algorithm.
Users highlight examples of feature automatically focusing on
white faces over Black ones

The easiest fix for that biased cropping AI? No it’s not to build another AI - it’s to give people the power to select crop boundaries when posting a photo.

– Amy X Zhang, Sep 19, 2020

The most friendly approach Is Respect

The End of Average

Design for Edge A Range Cases

Design for Stress Cases

Adapt to User Needs & Preferences

Woman adjusting a car seat

Please Make Me Think

Headshot of Sara Wachter-Boettcher

Sara Wachter-Boettcher