Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Websites that leave a bad taste in your mouth

Slate Magazine on Why are restaurant websites so horrifically bad?
Over the last few weeks I've spent countless hours, now lost forever, plumbing the depths of restaurant Web hell. I also spoke to several industry experts about the reasons behind all these maliciously poorly designed pages. I heard several theories for why restaurant sites are so bad—that they can't afford to pay for good designers, that they don't understand what people want from a site, and that they don't really care what's on their site. But the best answer I found was this: Restaurant sites are the product of restaurant culture. These nightmarish websites were spawned by restaurateurs who mistakenly believe they can control the online world the same way they lord over a restaurant. "In restaurants, the expertise is in the kitchen and in hospitality in general," says Eng San Kho, a partner at the New York design firm Love and War, which has created several unusually great restaurant sites (more on those in a bit). "People in restaurants have a sense that they want to create an entertainment experience online—that's why disco music starts, that's why Flash slideshows open. They think they can still play the host even here online."

The article illustrates its points with great links to expensive websites that may satisfy a chef's ego but don't work for the customer. The whole article is well worth reading.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Watch design

David Pogue writes on How to Build a Usable Watch

Good interface design is darned hard:
"Your inclination is to stuff a lot of features into your product — “hey, that’ll make it sell, right?” And yet every feature has to go somewhere. It has to fit on some screen, in some menu, under some keystroke. So the more you stuff in, the more difficult to use your product becomes, and the less pleasure it will bring your customers.

I had recently bought my daughter a $9 digital watch from Wal-Mart. It had three buttons. You were supposed to be able to perform all of the watch’s functions using only these three buttons: set the time, set an alarm, turn the alarm on and off, start and stop the stopwatch, record lap times, and so on.

It was, as you can guess, a disastrous user interface. Every button wound up performing multiple functions. Double-press. Press-and-hold. Press two at once. There’s no possible way you could master it without the 3-by-3 inch sheet of instructions in 2-point type."

Read his students' suggested design improvements at: