PHP usability web 2.0

How to get an awesome tag-cloud for WordPress

There’s only a few tag-cloud plugins that still work – most of them have stopped being supported.

The best one I found has super-awesome-multi-colour mode. But by default it’s disabled, and the config-options don’t include a way to turn it on. You have to dig in the developer documentation to find out how.

games design usability

#UX conveying critical info to public via number rating: Food Hygiene Stickers

How do you make good UX / GUI to present information to a mass-market audience with widely varying levels of education and attention-span?

This is a problem faced all the time by game designers and developers. It’s one of the most under-appreciated skills of the profession: good game developers know more about “presenting information and choices” than almost anyone else, anywhere. Because games are generally overloaded with info, and the dev teams have to filter that down and present it clearly – but if they get it wrong, the player’s in-game character dies, the game is lost, and the game itself tanks commercially. The developers then – ultimately – lose their jobs when the studio goes bust.

I’m going to start looking at non-tech examples of design and UX through the lens of game-design, and see where it goes…

advocacy games industry games publishing marketing and PR Unity3D usability

6 ways to massively improve the #unity3d AssetStore (for #gamedev’s)

Six months ago I tweeted a handful of obvious ways that you could make the Unity Asset Store greatly more profitable.

One of the Unity folk reached out to me, claimed that Unity was highly invested in improving this and asked for specific suggestions. So I wrote longer, detailed versions of each tweet and emailed them.

It’s been six months. No response. So … for Unity’s competitors, maybe looking to make/improve their own Asset Stores (or newcomers hoping to unseat the incumbents), here’s six obvious commercial improvements.

I’ve cut a few paragraphs I wrote to Unity about who I think their 3 main audiences are on the Asset Store; I included them as a “here are the assumptions I’m making” – I have no idea what their real audiences are. So I omitted that here.

NB: I’ve made the formatting webpage friendly, added some details, but this is essentially an info dump. I was too busy at the time to sugar-coat it – I figured that if Unity wanted to talk, I’d talk to them, and in person I’m really quite friendly and gentle. But at the time we were working 24/7 getting ready for a major exhibition, so this is a bit … terse.

advocacy usability

Great use of UX: too-close signs on cars

5 years as an iOS developer has pushed me to understand and improve my product/physical/functional design skills. Especially “industrial” design – problems and solutions.

Here’s a great one I saw the other day: combining a Snellen Chart with Stopping Distances, i.e.:

Screen Shot 2014-04-26 at 15.24.14 + dg_070645

Existing (bad) solutions

The status quo on driving “too close for safety” is provocative, antagonistic. Have a look at a search for eBay: “too close bumper sticker”:

Screen Shot 2014-04-26 at 15.57.35

There’s a couple of major problems with this:

  1. It’s wrong. If you’re stationary, 6 feet behind the vehicle, you can read it – but you’re definitely NOT too close.
  2. It’s combative and offensive. It appeals to the anger and frustration of the driver in front – when we’re trying to modify the behaviour of the driver behind. Offending people who you’re trying to convince to change … is generally unsuccessful.

But combining the charts above, we get…

Net result

A plate you attach to your vehicle that informs the viewer how much too close/far they are right now, using a dynamic scale:

Screen Shot 2014-04-26 at 15.26.36

I couldn’t get a close enough photo to show it clearly, so here’s my redrawing of what the plate looked like:


PHP programming startup advice usability web 2.0

WordPress: inline “signup email” drop into post or sidebar

My blog posts are info-rich and spam-poor. Most of the “enter your email address” plugins are designed for spam – covered in bling, in-your-face animations, background music, all sorts of crap.

There’s nothing out there, so I made one, using a GPL’d existing project. Feel free to use this yourself.

note: this is an image, not a form!
Screen Shot 2013-06-13 at 13.48.14

amusing usability Web 0.1

GitHub User-Interface: admission of failure?

Screenshot taken straight from the official blog post:

You see, they wanted to add a feature where you could “watch” a repository.

Only … due to some weak design (or perhaps: technology-led) decisions in the past, they already had a feature with this name, which didn’t really do what it claimed to do. Rather than fix it … they added a meaningless button that does what the existing button (Watch) pretends to do. So now, when you want to watch a project, you must NOT CLICK the Watch button, with its excellent icon, but instead the “burning lump of gas” button. Um.

Here’s a hint: if you’re designing a UI, and at any point you decide:

“STARS! Starring items is the answer!”

…and the question was anything other than “how do we Rate items?”, then: you’re wrong. Try again.

(PS: they’ve also fixed the extremely annoying long-time bug that people could raise Issues, or Comment, on your repository – but you’d never find out, again because of technical decisions / implementation issues on their system. Apparently alll fixed now. Yay!)