Positive: The Lidwell textbook (Universal Principles of Design) is provides visual examples of complex topics, concise text and clear organization. A quick scan of the language used indicates that it’s not overly repetitive but emphases key topics as necessary.
Negative: I’m reading a textbook for my Media Management class: Adapting to New Technology. It’s called “Audience Evolution” by Philip Napoli. The language used in this book is (seemingly purposefully) complicated, bordering on redundant. When concepts are repeated, they are repeated in ways that seem to conflict. The chapter organization and subheadline structure doesn’t make any sense. The textbook uses a few visuals here and there but they are not custom to the book. They don’t help explain the text (see also signal-to-noise).
Recognition Over Recall
Positive: Back to the Adobe products. Adobe InDesign does a great job of providing tools / menus / drawers to access everything I need. I don’t have to recall all of the capabilities of the tool as many of them are exposed for use.
Negative: I got lost in Snapchat earlier today. There have been a few instances where I’ve had to Google tips on using Snapchat. I had no idea how to use the facial filters or even add a new contact for a long time. There’s a certain reward in mastering something that other people have trouble with, but this has gone too far.
Positive: It’s really easy to think of chart-junk (Tufte) when I think of signal-to-noise ratio. Instead, I’ll use a more simple example. Post-It notes have a great signal-to-noise ratio. As a Post-It note, the idea is separated from its relationship to other ideas (spacial position on a page). A single idea can be represented on a single Post-It.
Negative: The New York Times homepage iast a poor signal-to-noise ratio. While there is a whole lot of signal on the website, the photos, captions, logos, icons, ads (what I’m considering noise) makes it hard to process the news. It becomes easier if you can focus in on a specific portion of that site.
Positive: My desktop computer (and entertainment center as it’s connected to my TV) has an indicator light on the top of the case. Blinking means asleep, solid means on and off means off. It is a constant reminder of the system status. It’s very effective and aids me in using the system. Even if the TV is off, I can see if my computer is booted.
Positive: Wizards are often really helpful for accomplishing a specific task. As the wizard pops up, there’s usually only two options — forward or quit. Usually, there are progress bars that indicate progress along the “route.” Often, it’s quite clear when the goal is reached and the user is able to close the wizard.
Negative: It turns out that the forest is terrible for wayfinding. Though some trails make it easy to make a route decision and it’s often easy to recognize the destination (e.g. a waterfall), orientation and route monitoring can be tough. I know this because I used to scrape people up out of the forest after they got lost or injured (I used to be part of a search and rescue team).