Design Round-Up

For those so-inclined, here are some design-related goodies I found recently. Enjoy.

Dark Patterns: inside the interfaces designed to trick you

This is a great read. We’ve all run into counter-intuitive features that seem designed to confuse. Although I like to think the best of humanity, in some cases, confusion is intentional, and this post cites some possible examples.

In my career as PM, I’ve seen many checkboxes and toggles labeled with confusing double-speak, e.g. checking a box for a negative label seems odd. Yes, don’t do A seems much less intuitive than Yes, do B, but it’s not always possible to convey what’s meant in a succinct label.

In the case of Apple’s ad-tracking feature, you wonder about the motivation. From the post:

If you haven’t been here before, the only option in the advertising menu, “Limit Ad Tracking” is probably selected “Off.”

But let’s take a closer look at the way this is worded. It doesn’t say “Ad Tracking – Off” it says “Limit Ad Tracking – Off”. So it’s a double negative. It’s not being limited, so when this switch is off, ad tracking is actually on.

Purposefully misleading or not, it’s difficult to understand without some thinking. Anyway, the post a good read.

A Brief Rant on the Future of Interaction Design

This is an interesting read. It centers on the fingers and hands as input devices for “Pictures Under Glass” touch interfaces and the shortcomings of said interfaces. Essentially, touch interfaces ignore many of he physiological advantages of the hand and fingers.

This is a rant without any real guidance for other options, which is fine, and going forward, I’m hoping three-dimensional technologies like the Leap Motion can begin to open new gestural interfaces that make more sense than single-finger swiping.

That’s little more than promise right now, but I have high hopes. As an OpenWorld teaser, the guys are cooking up a Leap-enabled, fun project that will give them experience with the Leap’s SDK. Stay tuned for more.

WTF Visualizations

And finally, by way of FlowingData, check out WTF Visualizations, a great collection of what-were-they-thinking visualizations, some impossible to read/interpret, some humorously not-to-scale, some just wacky, all humorous.




  1. Good catch on dark patterns. I see more interest in these all the time. And hey, they’re bringing back the START button to Windows – y’know the button to shut the thing down…

  2. Yeah, seen the dark patterns thing now being levelled at some areas close to hand. Whatever…

    I do see a interest in anti-patterns inside Oracle and outside in the wider dev community as having a lot of traction. Could be on to something. Could the appeal of potentially limiting interactions and architecture be more than “best practices” of a positive kind?

  3. @Ultan: Probably both best practices on both sides, i.e. what to avoid as not cool for users and what to do to trap them. Although the latter will float around the edges like spam and SEO tactics, unpublished.

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