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Dan Rubin's SuperfluousBanter

Design, random musings, and the Web. Since 1977

Archive for February, 2004


More Noise Is Better

Monday, February 16th, 2004

Last week I was watching a German television show (they actually do have worthwhile programming at times) which investigated and tested noise levels of household appliances such as vacuum cleaners, dish washers and kitchen robots, among others. Generally I would conclude that the less noise these various machines made the better. Yet, user research indicated that a vacuum cleaner, for instance, which made less noise was perceived as less powerful and therefore less effective. Odd, is it not?

Towards the end the research concluded that some product characteristics are so fundamental to the (positive) value assigned by users that removing (or reducing) them will translate into a negatively affected perception. There is an interesting line to be drawn to design and usability. However the question remains how this would apply to user interfaces and web design in general. I’m still trying to see what role user expectation, accustomedness and perception play and how some assumptions designers make can have an opposite effect. Can you think of any analogies similar to the vacuum cleaner case, but applied to user interfaces or web design?



Cascading Severity Sheets

Wednesday, February 4th, 2004

I think CSS
is a poor design tool. There, it’s out, I’ve said it. Now, shoot
me for all I care. Well, I’m sorry, but it’s not because we’ve
found some new improved way to build better, more accessible and leaner web
sites that I’m going all bonkers or anything. Sure it’s great and
believe me, I wouldn’t go back to tables even if I’d get a peek
at Janet
’s other tit (so ok, maybe I would). Anyway, CSS is probably
close to the best thing that ever happened to web design since blogs…
errr… bread came sliced.

What's up with that box modelSo,
dude, what’s the fuss all about if you think CSS is that great?
I’m glad you asked. First of all, what’s up with that box
? Seriously? If I define the width of anything I measure the space
between two extremities. Not some awkward value in between. Padding is inside
the box, so leave that alone, thank you. Next, floats.
I go nuts working with floats. Thankfully, Eric
is able to shed
some light
on most issues, which probably saved my life. But still, the
float concept is dubious at best. Actually everything related to CSS-P
is pretty much a pain. Sure, bad browsers are responsible for most of my headaches;
nonetheless I wish CSS was more intuitive to (graphic) designers.

Maybe it’s just ignorance; not understanding CSS and all the hacks, tricks
and gallons of coffee that come with it. And again, don’t get me wrong,
I much appreciate all the hard work Bert,
Tantek and fellow W3C
people are doing. Yet I think we could use a bit more style in CSS. How does
that abbreviation spell out again? Exactly.