Checkout Nate's latest project: Honey, That's Mine! a boardgame for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.

My response to the new Firefox icon

There's a new Firefox icon coming and I'm a bit disappointed. The original is very strong but has a few flaws that I've long wanted to see improved, yet the new design hasn't addressed them. So I've taken a crack at it and hastily made a mockup of what I'd have done.

My main goals were:


Click to enlarge

This isn't perfect by any means, but it gives an idea of what I tried to accomplish.


My Music gets a name: Fear Salesman
Well, after years of toiling in obscurity, trying to create a worthy follow-up to 2000's Gervase, My Man, I've created a new band and released my first single. To listen to it or watch the music video head over to the new Fear Salesman website.
Barcamp talk on visual manipulation
I gave a short talk at the Saskatoon Barcamp tonight. It's very basic, and entirely different without me half drunk providing witty banter, but if you missed it I've put the slides online as a PDF here.

Let me know what you think.
Firefox beta 4 and Fitt's Law
After seeing the big back button in the latest Firefox beta my first reaction was to turn it back to normal size. My second reaction was to consider the usability advantages. My gut reaction was that it was a small improvement in usability at the expense of a lot of screen real estate.


The button in question


My usability problems with the new big button are this:

Luckily the implications of the first two can be calculated using Fitt's Law. I calculated the difference between both buttons from the point in the exact center of the viewport as this seemed the most simple way of getting a reasonable result. Also, it takes into consideration that the larger button alters its viewport, and thus affects its own usability.

On a 1024 x 768 screen I found that the larger button would have a 7% speed advantage. This comes at the cost of about 1% the viewport's area. That's more than I expected - I had predicted a difference of less than 5%, which I would have considered insignificant.

Implications

If clicking the back button normally takes a very slow user user two seconds then the new button will take 1.86 seconds. Over time, for such a labored user, the improvement is probably noticeable. So while I will personally continue to shrink the button on my own, I will have to stop complaining about the uselessness of the bigger back button.

Instead I'll complain about the uselessness of the awkwardly-shaped recess it's in.
An example of the importance of good UI
There are already famous examples of the importance of good interfaces but developers and project leads still tend to ignore the consequences of poor UI. Perhaps, "I'm not working on a nuclear reactor," is a valid excuse, so here is an example that's easier to relate to.

"An employee apparently selected the wrong field," says to me problem #1 is a confusing UI. That the interface even affords the possibility of sending an automated call to every student is second problem, and obviously in combination these issues had significant consequences. I'd love to see the UI for this program, my guess is it's not too pretty.
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