Oh, scrolling

WarnerBrosIn the beginning of movies and TV, scrolling was horizontal. Remember those old cartoons with the same chunk of background showing up over and over? The advent of screens, word processors, software, apps, and so on gave us vertical scrolling on our desktops and in our hands.

In the beginning of the web, vertical scrolling was bad.  Getting everything on a screen (page) to fit ‘above the fold*’ was one of the biggest priorities. C-suite guys grabbed onto the buzz. Some swooped in to reject designs, others made sure their marketing folks knew not to let anything scroll lest they piss off the boss.

What if the screens/pages were long enough to end up ‘below the fold’? The best practice was to add some way for the user to navigate back to the top of the page/screen.

Fast forward to today and what do our devices show us on their various screens? Endless scrolling. Intentional infinite scrolling.

So now what? Remember the olden days, if it scrolls down, help users get back up again.

*Ahem, wikipedia, help a sister out and add some ‘back-to-top’ links.

What makes you think?

When people would ask me what I do, or how they could get into or learn more about user experience design, I would always recommend they read Steve Krug’s book Don’t Make Me Think. I still do.

The other thing I would tell them was to simply look at the cover of Donald Norman’s book The Design of Everyday Things and think about it. That teapot still gives a lot of people an “ah ha” moment. (This is not a plant or pitch for either Norman or Krug though I’d be pleased if either made a sale because of little old me.)

What does make you think?

I’ve been considering the converse, what does make people think? Not in the sense of solving usability problems or creating good experiences. I’m interested in where ideas hatch. Where does inspiration come from? When do ideas happen? What makes people (you, me) think?

When I ask, the most frequent response is “I get the best ideas (or remember things) when I’m in the shower” which is often true for me, too. The other piece of feedback from my not-at-all-scientific study is that music often plays a big part in the thinking process.

guitarWhether it’s wallpaper music, listening in the car, singing along, dancing around or playing an instrument.

Also interesting, the number of people I’ve met who are geeky and technology curious also play instruments. Myself included.

There has been a lot of real research done on the topic of giving the brain a break. Tons of proof that it’s tremendously healthy. I think we all need to pay attention to what sparks new ideas or rounds out an existing one. When do we remember that fleeting idea that wasn’t written down during that long conference call?

Take a break. Maybe a nap. Or work somewhere other than your usual space. Try a standing desk. How about a walk around the block or a stroll through the office? Take a shower (call it hydrotherapy). Visit a new website. Dig in a garden. Play a guitar (I keep one in my office).

See what happens.

Comic Sans

It’s interesting how some people have such strong feelings about certain things in our digital world. Let’s take fonts, for example.

Comic Sans.

It’s a font that tends to generate intense reactions among visual designers and graphics professionals. Mostly negative. Even hateful!

Graphic designers may hate the font, but those without graphic design skills use it as a form of sincerity, or to ensure a message isn’t taken too seriously*.

While it certainly isn’t a favorite of mine, I don’t bother getting upset when I see it. Not anymore. I used to roll my eyes and now I don’t even bother doing that.

It’s a font.

What is interesting to me is that it’s still such a topic of conversation. So much so that artist Jesse England hacked a typewriter with the Comic Sans typeface. Brilliant!