Recently in Usability Category

YouTube giving me Fitts's

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This is something that I've been experiencing for a while now:

Loading the player...

Yep, I can't control a mouse well enough to use YouTube.

Admittedly, this particular instance of me using the site's volume control is contrived and exaggerated, I have been experiencing off and on problems adjusting the volume on YouTube videos for a while. While this might be a classic example of Fitts's law, it is certainly related, and, not only do we have a small mouse target for the volume control, but it also changes size on us.

Given that the videos hosted on Youtube can vary quite a bit in volume and/or sound annoyance, I'd suspect that the volume control is used quite often. It would make sense to have it work well.

Wikipedia giving me Fitts's

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Ever since Wikipedia redesigned a year or so ago, I've had issues with their top navigation. Some people might think that it looks nicer or "opens up the page," but I can't say that I'm a fan.

Exhibit A:
wikipedia screen capture
As you can see, the top links (Article, Discussion, Read, Edit, etc.) don't have a clearly defined top boundary. This makes it impossible for the user to clearly perceive each link's dimensions. While this isn't a classic example of Fitts's Law, since Fitts's only concerns itself with the size and distance of the target, having an target with a fuzzy, uncertain size certainly creates a similar problem. A target's size is no better than its perceived size.

Chrome's further attacks on its chrome

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Chrome's original minimalism of having a default look lacking bookmark and menu toolbars has been mimicked by all of the major browser now. Not to be outdone, Chrome now looks to reduce the browser's non-content area even further by removing the address bar with its new compact view. If you have a recent Chromium or Chrome Dev release you can enable the new view of the about:flags screen.

What's next? Auto-hiding the remaining bit's of Chrome's chrome? I'm all for minimalism, but there might be a point where having some permanent interface elements might be useful. For one, it would appear as if the removal of the address bar would make phishing easier, since there is no way quickly check or monitor the domain of the sire you're currently visiting.



Underscore misunderstanding

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There have been quite a few debates over the years regarding the use of underscore, hyphens, WikiStyle naming, and other schemes for the naming of files and directories.  I've never been a fan of using underscores.

Sometimes a simple screen capture says it best:


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