The UX Joke Apr 12, 2015
A user interface is like a joke—if you have to explain it, it’s probably not that good.
I saw this somewhere recently and immediately liked it. It’s painful to watch someone interact with a design and not know what to do with it. Often, due to the exigencies of time or budget, designers reluctantly label elements with the action they want people to know about, instead of addressing the underlying layout or interface problems.
In the above example, a full-bleed video suggests that vertical scrolling is altogether unavailable. When otherwise natural usage is obfuscated by design, there’s likely a problem that labeling won’t fix. Worse still, because a minimal arrow-like symbol pointing downward was lost against the backdrop, text was added to tell the user what to do.
Just use the scroll button on your mouse.
We are everyday confronted by applications that challenge us to quickly decode the unfamiliar. The onus of making these interfaces intuitive should be, as much as possible, on the designer — not the person using them. The unfamiliar always carries a hidden cost, and the debt incurred can accumulate in seconds.
The Tracksmith website design goes bold with full-bleed at any size. No instructions. (Then destroys it with a feedback widget.)
Guides, symbols and explanatory text can be helpful aids to understanding an application’s terrain, particularly where there are multiple layers of interface depth. However, labels that serve only to restore something that was never removed in the first place should be avoided.