Inconsistency is a feature, not a bug

Homescreen filled with multicoloured icons of various shapes.

Some of my best friends are designers. But I think we can all agree that - however well-meaning - they can be a little obsessive. Whether it is fretting over tiny details, or trying to align to a grid which doesn't exist, or spending time removing useful affordances in the name of æsthetics - they […]

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Using date-based CSS to make old web pages *look* old

Screenshot of an early BBC news website from the 1990s. The page looks old fashioned.

How do you know you're looking at an old website? You may have found a page which has lots of interesting information, but how can you tell it's a modern and relevant result? Some websites don't contain dates in their URls. There may not be a © date or publication date shown on the page. […]

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Book Review: Design Justice - Community-Led Practices to Build the Worlds We Need by Sasha Costanza-Chock

Book cover for Design Justice.

This is an interesting - although frustrating at times - book. It asks a pretty big question - how do we embed justice in to the ways we designs apps and services? I couldn't find much to disagree with (although I have the odd quibble) but some of the language it uses is very exclusionary […]

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How easy should we make it to do things we don't want people to do?

Clip from the movie "The Producers". Leopold Bloom says "Under the right circumstances, a producer could make more money with a flop than he could with a hit."

There was an interesting discussion at UKGovCamp a few months ago. UKGC is an unofficial yearly gathering of public sector people, who chat informally about thorny issues at work. Suppose a digital design team has to support a policy which charges people money every time they do a thing. Let's say driving a car across […]

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Book Review: More Zeros and Ones - Digital Technology, Maintenance and Equity in Aotearoa New Zealand by Anna Pendergrast & Kelly Pendergrast

Book cover.

This is a sequel to Shouting Zeros and Ones - Digital Technology, Ethics and Policy in New Zealand and follows a familiar pattern. It's a series of essays looking at digital issues from a uniquely NZ perspective. There is a fair bit of Te reo Māori (Māori language) in the book. It's great that the […]

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Whatever Happened to UI Affordances?

Default share panel with only a few options visible.

I am grumpy. As my very clever wife summarised, I hate when designers prioritise their æsthetic preferences over my usability needs. I tried sharing a website using Google Chrome for Android. I hit the share button, and a panel popped-up from the bottom of the screen. Hmmm. It didn't have the share destination that I […]

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Falsehoods programmers believe about... Biometrics

A fingerprint being scanned.

(For the new reader, there is a famous essay called Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names. It has since spawned a long list of Falsehoods Programmers Believe About....) Everyone has fingerprints! The BBC has a grim tale of a family with a genetic mutation which means they have no fingerprints. It details the issues they have […]

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A Collection of Imaginary Software

Colourful floppy disks in a frame.

I've built myself a framed set of imaginary software. This is not available to buy in the shops. Mostly because some of the artwork is not my copyright. All the parts are listed if you want to build it yourself. Parts Floppy Disks Printer Labels Frame Background As part of my Floppy Disk Walkman project, […]

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Default Ordering Of Title Options

An extremely long title list which includes Right Honourable, Wing Comander, Dame, etc.

I was signing up to a website the other day, and it wanted to know my title. Here are the options it offered me: Look, I get it. If I'm ever daft enough to undertake a PhD and masochistic enough to complete it - I am going to demand that everyone addresses me as Doctor […]

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Designing for people who don't want to use your service

A government website.

I've been building digital products and services since the dial-up era. I spent many years working in the private sector. Good design is seen as a necessity. Customers will switch to another service which is easier to use, has a better app, or offers a nicer experience. I now work in the public sector, where […]

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