Webtopia: Issue Numero Uno

If you are a designer or an UX person, people might often ask you if there is one thing you can improve on our site, what would it be? In the “webtopia” series of articles I will suggest those improvements to some sites (even though no one asked me to):

It’s for a good cause (improving the interwebs, by providing reviews to the solutions for consideration) Here’s goes nothing:

Since it’s the first review, it is only fitting that we start of with a big site, and you don’t get bigger than:

Google Home Page

Many have raved about how this page is so simple and so easy to use. But I propose it can be even more usable. Or to be more specific, less … whats the word… unusable? You are certainly familiar with this screen:

So simple and clean, right? Wrong! I do declare a big portion of this page to be deemed as unusable. The Google Search and I’m Feeling Lucky buttons must be rid of! Why? Well, since the Google Introduced the Instant Search and since it saw fit to automatically set it as active for all users’ default preferences, no one can click on those buttons. As soon as you type one letter in the search box, the page automatically morphs into something like this:

So since no one can use those buttons, unless they disabled the Instant Search settings, which are not all that easy to find, nor would I see why would anyone want to do that, they certainly have no purpose on the home page.

Petar 1, Google 0.

OK, I’ll come down of my high horse (for the time being) and focus on some smaller issues. Let’s take a look at a site of one of my favorite radio stations:

Radio Paradise Front Page

It looks fairly simple and easy to use, especially if your main purpose for being on the radio stations’ web site is to listen to it. There is that big “Click here to start listening” button. Very prominently displayed & so easy to use – no? Yes, No!

That button is very deceiving. You would think that clicking on that blue bar would call the action? You would be wrong!

To do so, you have to actually click on the anchor text… and not on the wrapping div; Huh? That is not an anchor element with padding and a background? Apparently not, someone had a bright idea to wrap that anchor in a div and then have individual hover states for both the div and the anchor, which makes it harder to use, especially since the div with the background is not linked to anything:

Not necessarily a big issue, but it could save the users a lot of pointless clicks by simply expending the padding of that anchor and setting the backgrounds on it.

One more and I’m done for the day:

Luminosity Training Reminders Page

For those of you not familiar with luminosity: it is a cognitive training site. I frequent it from time to time, I would like to do so more often, but it simply slips my mind. So whilst I was browsing around you can imagine I was excited when I fond out I can set up some nifty email reminders:

The problem with this forms ‘usability is that it didn’t try hard enough. Even though general rule of web forms is to make them as simple as possible, that is only valid as long as simplicity doesn’t effect the desired functions. Which it does in this case.

I would like to set up a training reminder on Saturday morning thinking it’s a productive way to start a weekend. However I would also like to set a reminder on Wedensday evening, to relax my mind in mid-week after work. This form limits me to choose one time of day for all of the weekday selections. And that is a bad thing as you can see from my situation.

I sent them a polite “feature request” regarding this. Hope they are reasonable folks.


OK kids, see you all next week.