scribbles tagged ‘user experience’

Dyson animal unpacked

Monday, January 19th, 2015 | tags: ,  |

Dyson packedI’ve picked up a cleaner, ready for when my dusty stuff escapes from the container port in Virginia that has held it since mid December.

My last vacuum purchase was a Dyson animal canister vac. It was a joy to unpack and worked a treat for my 7 years in Britain. I want that again.

This Dyson animal is an upright, my first. Unpacking was an unpleasant surprise. How should I get into this box? How many bits of over folded and slotted cardboard? How many plastic bags? A bag to carry all my pieces? Totally unclear which bits go into which pockets in the bag. The bag was something I don’t need or want. Nearly 30mins of frustrating unpacking and it doesn’t even have an auto-retractable cable.

It feels flimsy, not sturdy like my canister, I hope I grow to love it because our first meeting has not been auspicious


Dyson unpacked

what do you think of that »

marketing services want the wendy house

Saturday, June 21st, 2014 | tags: ,  |

I am 100% responsible for authoring everything on this website, except a few identified quotes.

Marketers are able to find my email address and they often email offering to produce blog content for me. The letters they send are a standard format that shows no awareness of my blog style, content or theme. Normally I file their emails under “junk”, ignoring them and they move on. Occasionally one will be persistent, sending multiple related emails with well crafted text designed to engage me in the possibility of letting them use my blog to host their content. Lucy, email below, is an example of a persistent marketer. Unlike previous emails this one provides email addresses that appear to be hosted on the domain of an agency promoting it’s digital marketing services. This might actually be legitimate!

I’ve written to Lucy and quoted my fees and conditions for hosting her content on the Wendy House. You’ll be reassured to know that I’ve informed Lucy that any blog post provided by her team will be overtly credited to them and will incur fees to cover my costs – legal review, copy editing, insurance, my time and other incidental expenses such as a bottle of champagne for me and a new luxury scratching-post-tower for Sampo. I wonder if Lucy will reply.

Content offer

5 bits of fabulous banter »


Tuesday, February 18th, 2014 | tags: , , ,  |

Original Light SwitchesSwitch malfunction.

Light SwitchesFlicking these white plastic switches had no effect on the lights they’re supposed to control. Unscrewing the faceplate showed that a small piece of plastic that acted as a ‘catch’ for the switch was broken. I needed to replace the faceplate and switch mechanism.

All the light switches in the Wendy House are the same style. Another one feels like it will break soon, frequently failing to work. I wanted to replace all of them with  switches that have a firm action, are well made mechanically, are good looking, compliment the House style. I took my design brief to a local retail DIY store.

The switches were displayed to show their faceplate, they were packaged in a way that prevented me seeing the mechanical action, materials and quality. Darn.

I chose flat, reflective-nickel, switches. Black to compliment the old oak beams in my ceiling and wrought Iron door furniture. Black to make the switches easier to see against the light walls in the dark when I’m fumbling to turn them on. Unfortunately, the behind the scenes mechanism is deeper than the back-fittings of my old plastic switches. Replacing them was not just a process of swapping the plates and re-wiring. The masonry drill came out and the wall hole had to be made deeper. A bigger job than anticipated. Why aren’t switch box sizes a standard? Pah!

Now I’m loving my new sleek nickel switches, they have a very pleasing action with a good ‘thunk’ when they fall.

1 wonderful musing »

Buying a computer in John Lewis’s

Monday, February 10th, 2014 | tags: , , , , , , ,  |

We wandered around the computer displays.

Wendy: which one do you like mum?

Mumsie: I can only choose based on how they look dear

Wendy: They’ll all work for what we want them to do, so that’s an ok way to choose

Mumsie: This one has a big space-bar, I want a big space bar. Why is that one [an Apple] so expensive?

Wendy: It’s for people who like showing off that they can pay a lot for their computer, I can’t help you with using that one, I can help you using with all the others.

The large store was very busy in January. We asked for an assistant and were put in a notional queue, we browsed while we waited for an assistant.

Assistant: How can I help you?

Mumsie: I don’t know, we want a computer with a keyboard

Wendy: Mumsie wants to do emailing, share her digital pictures, use Facebook and write the WI minutes. And I don’t want to push her into getting anything she doesn’t feel comfortable with

Mumsie: Oh, is that what we want?!

Assistant: You want a Surface RT, it comes with Microsoft Office installed for writing your minutes

Mumsie: Wendy, is that the ‘Word’ thing that I use? I just copy last month’s minutes and make small changes each month

Wendy: Yes mumsie [turns to assistant] Do any of the others have a version of word installed, and how much would it cost to add Word [annoyed because my surface pro didn’t come with any version of Office, just the option to purchase the full version]?

Assistant: Only the surface comes with Office installed, it is a reduced version but should be sufficient for your Mum’s needs. You’d have to buy and install it on other Windows8 machines

He started talking about Bluetooth and other technical features at this point and I could see mumsie getting disengaged.

Wendy: can mum have a go with it?

He took us to see three Surfaces, each with a different coloured keyboard. Mumsie really liked the keyboard because it had a decent space-bar, but mostly because it was backlit so the letters on the keys were really easy to see. We bought the surface because the value for money and enabling mum to keep using word was important.  Then on with the shopping, we wandered off to look at the winter coats. Mumsie carried the surface easily around the store as we continued browsing. Nice. It was like buying a computer had become just another thing you buy on a shopping trip. A bit scary for mum, but it was my money so it all went smoothly. The package even fitted under the table in John Lewis’s café as we stopped to treat ourselves to coffee and cheesecake. Mum doesn’t use a walking stick, but if she did she would have been able to carry the surface easily around John Lewis’s. Well done.

I was a bit scared about how right the Surface RT would be for her, I would soon find out, but that’s another blog post…

5 bits of fabulous banter »

getting the best computer buying experience

Thursday, February 6th, 2014 | tags: , , , ,  |

We want to buy a senior, computer-novice (Mumzie) something for emailing, sharing digital photographs, writing the Women Insitute meeting minutes and looking at her family on Facebook.

What’s our shopping experience going to be like?

Online buying?

To prepare I did some online searches. Would I be able to sit with mum using my surface, look through and decide between different available computers. No. The choice was overwhelming, the marketing was invariably lists of product features and Spec’s which would mean nothing to mum. There was a lot of reading required, small fonts, technical reviews. It was tedious for me and I could follow what they were writing about.

There was no way mum could choose a computer on the internet, even with me navigating and advising here.


Specialist technical shop?

I wandered into PC World (Currys) to check out what the experience would be like for mum. I wandered around the laptop displays, looked at the labels for each laptop. It wasn’t easy to choose between them even when you know a little bit about processors. A customer service person approached me and directed me towards a Surface Pro telling me how good it was. I started asking him questions and he not only didn’t know the answers he gave me the wrong answers e.g. you can’t buy a Surface Pro without a keyboard attached (which I’d done, so you can!). He was rude and condescending, he started arguments with me and didn’t let me draw them to a close.  It was so frustrating that I ended up just walking off, there was no other way to get out of the conversation because he wouldn’t let it close and he wasn’t being helpful.

The company lost a potential sale because of his attitude. No way was I taking mumzie into this ignorant geeky tat-palace.


Shop specialising in service?

John Lewis’s have a department that includes computers, cameras and peripherals. The layout was similar to PC World, the staff were more stylishly dressed and so much more polite. They listened to me, they found out that I was looking for a computer for my mother. They answered my questions or said when they didn’t know and offered to find out for me. Thank you!

The store has a café with a decent menu, the store sells furniture and clothes, and kitchen stuff. Plenty of fun to be had here above and beyond the computer buying experience. A really good context. Hooray.

Mum’s coming to John Lewis with me for a friendly, well rounded, comfortable and possibly even fun computer shopping experience…


5 bits of fabulous banter »

Surface Pro first impressions

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

BoxedIn early September 2013 I bought a Microsoft surface. The box is firm, strong and its easy to both see and feel what to do next, pull the white box out from the darker gray box. It’s a tight fit, but smoothly pulls out revealing a continuation of the simple branding, without the typical set of legal, feature, geeky must-know information. Nice.

Lid offThe white box is opened by a lid, again it’s obvious and easily turned back to open. No latch or catch used because it’s not needed with the sleeve design lf the gray box. Pleasingly simple, it feels like playing pass the parcel with myself, and I’m almost at the prize… The inside of the lid is the same bright blue as the logo on the outside.

The surface is right there, wrapped in a shiny cellophane wrapper, not necessary but I loved being able to see it and having yet another level of the present unwrapping feeling. The power cable was wrapped in the same shiny cellophane, given the same gift status as the actual surface. They were Out Of the Box (OOBE) and plugged in within the minute.

Shiny packagingAt first I barely noticed the paper user-guide and electronic pen placed under the surface. I didn’t need to notice. The power cable had ‘snapped’ into position on the surface, there was only one place it could go and they were literally magnetically attracted, no need for me to be dextrously precise in placing it. Ooh! NICE! Below the surfaceOnly 2 buttons on the Surface, one looks like volume so the other must be power. I pressed both as I reached for what I presumed was either a user manual or quick start guide. It turned out to be a 3 page, concertinaed quick start guide labelling all the external hardware features. Easily digested, superfluous yet comforting.

I turned away from the packaging and logged into the surface using my ancient Hotmail account, it was so smooth, quick and immersive that I didn’t take any photographs and was finished in a couple of minutes, relaxed in my comfy chair, exploring the possibilities

Quick start guideThere were some minor demo’s of interactions that showed how to find the side controls and search, the bottom of screen controls and the stuff on the right. Possibly some more, I can no longer remember if I was told about or discovered the pinches, flicks, pulls and long-presses. They’re not intuitively discoverable so someone, sometime must have shown them to me.. ready to goIt wasn’t long until I white screened, while loading my thousands of photographs up to the SkyDrive, which couldn’t cope.

I twitted about this and then got into a frustrating bug-diagnosis discussion with the surface twitter feed. Oh dear, a great start, packaging, went down hill dramatically quickly as the expensive device demonstrated poor usability performance and ill thought-out social media use which merely inflamed my situation. I didn’t learn, over the next few weeks. I had several frustrating interactions with Surface twitter who asked me questions I wasn’t able to answer, making me feel stupid, and not making any noticeable progress to solving my problem. Compiling the anti-climax of my first experience.

Alas, Mumsies experience this January went downhill from when we turned the power on, but that’s another blog post…

3 bits of fabulous banter »

in the jaws of a lift

Sunday, January 19th, 2014 | tags: ,  |

Lift atmospheric loghtingThe amount of time I spend in lifts has dramatically increased over the last year. Often a curious rather than a joyful experience.

This lift in, of all places, a ‘Holiday Inn’ hotel was rather pleasing to be in as the atmospheric lighting gently rolled through a rainbow of colours. Getting in and out of the lift was more difficult, the doors attacked me and several other guests during my visit. I learned to jump quickly in and out of the Lift’s jaws

2 bits of fabulous banter »

ground floor facilities

Friday, January 17th, 2014 | tags: ,  |

lift controlsWhat button to press to get to the ground floor?

Does the lift stop at the ground floor?


3 bits of fabulous banter »

car over football

Sunday, January 12th, 2014 | tags: , , , , , , ,  |

what does it mean?Mumsie: But how do I keep the email address so that I can find it again?

Wendy: You can ‘Save’ it in an address book on your computer. Can you see anything here that suggests ‘save’ or ‘keep’?

Mumsie: No

I look at the symbol of the floppy disk and wonder what dipstick in the Microsoft visual design icon set development team thought that a floppy disk would be meaningful to youngsters who’ve never seen one and oldies like mum who’ve never used one. While I can’t imagine a universal symbol for ‘save’, ‘keep’ or ‘store’, this symbol clearly misses the mark now and will miss the mark even more with the younger generations to come.

Wendy: What does that look like?

Mumsie: the car driving over the football?

Wendy: Yes! Brilliant, that’s exactly what it looks like, a ‘hummer’!

Mumsie: What’s a ‘hummer’? Someone in a choir who’s forgotten the words?

She’s quickly learnt the symbol now I’ve told her that it means ‘save’, the car saving the goal strike. Mumsie is very bright. Gotta love her and question who was recruited by the windows 8 user testing team to test the legibility of this icon.

1 wonderful musing »

STILL complaining about NEXT’s cupboard assembly instructions

Friday, October 25th, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

instructionsTighten with a screwdriver

The most unnecessarily overused and condescending phrase of the instructions. See ‘Step Four’ (if you can read the title) as an example.

More efficient and less condescending to tell the assembler when NOT to tighten with a screwdriver –  NEVER!

If you’re going to use cheap photocopies of instructions, use high-contrast original colours e.g. black on white and white on black. Grey on grey becomes illegible with progressive photocopies instead of original print-outs.

NEXT  more emotionally expensive than IKEA, a lesson in how to look cheap.

1 wonderful musing »

Over the main hump by step 12

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

instructionsBy step 12 I’m ahead of the game because not only have I put the frame together, I’ve attached the door ahead of schedule. I’m impressed b the precision of the placing of the fixings because everything slots together smoothly, without the aid of a second person. It’s also sufficiently light for me to carry to it’s destination. Phew.

I’m very hungry because this has taken nearly 3 hours and the non-existent 2nd person hasn’t been busy preparing my lunch. Just the 3 drawers, 1 shelf and back to add – then I’m finished – dinner!


nearly 3 hours later

what do you think of that »

inaccuracy (step 5) and ambiguity (step 6)

Monday, October 21st, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

instructionsEverything was moving along smoothly until step 5, which could only be completed by attaching the door. According to the instructions door attachment shouldn’t happen until after the frame is put together. I took a deep breath and attached the door in order to comply with all of step 5. Fearing I’d have to undo this rash, premature action at a later point.

Step 6 seemed straightforward, until I got to step 10 when I realised that piece-10 was attached to the legs – upside down. A subtle difference that is barely perceptible –  the isometric diagram subtly disguises the off-set positioning. When I got to step 10 I had to ‘undo’ step 6 and then redo it with piece-10 the right way round.

Together these little bloopers cost me about 15 minutes of trying to work out what was wrong and what I needed to do to deal with it. Both problems easily fixed in the instructions, difficulties that NEXT has passed onto it’s customers. The instructions feel like they are an afterthought and sloppily implemented.

what do you think of that »

Bottom and middle bit

Saturday, October 19th, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |


“panel 12″ is a big piece. It’s not named, I guess that it’s the bottom of the cupboard by it’s size and shape. Maybe NEXT have an aversion to printing the word ‘bottom’ or ‘base’ in their instructions? Maybe they think I don’t need to be told what this part is because it’s obvious? So now, all of a sudden, I’m not stupid but I may be a tad prudish.

Middle bit

3x rails. There are 3 drawers, these must be for the drawers. Panel 8 must be the divider between the shelves and the cupboard, yay, I’m working this out by numbers.

Arbitrary ordering

Steps 1 and 2 need not be done in any specific order. If there was a 2nd person (tool) helping they could do step 2 at the same time as I do step 1. Both steps are part of putting the fixings on the main frame ready to slot it together – I’ll have to wait for step 10 before I get the fun of sliding the top on the bottom and sandwiching in the sides….


Step 2 was much quicker than step 1. Maybe I’ll get this assembled in an hour…. LOL

1 wonderful musing »

the mixed step

Thursday, October 17th, 2013 | tags: , , , ,  |

Doible-sided, A4, photocopied, instructionsLots of these. Unlabelled.

Have NEXT ever put their Self-assembly instructions in front of actual customers, observed them using those instructions to assemble their cupboard, then updated the instructions to remove the big problems?

No. If they had followed this standard good design process then it would have taken me 2 hours, not 4, to construct the cupboard.

The instructions include 17 steps on double-sided, A4, photocopied paper. Before starting these steps NEXT recommend that I check I have all the required parts and the right tools. Because those aren’t steps, I do them before the steps and wonder. What’s a step?

Step one

  • Has no meaningful title to tell me what I’m achieving. They are an ordered list
  • Step one contains a list of 5 numbered things to do, sub-steps? They actually don’t appear to require the order implied by their numbers
  • Introduces the concept of a cambolt. What’s that?! It’s not mentioned on the list of fittings or parts that I checked before taking any steps. A quick look at all the other steps shows that I’ll be using a lot of ‘cambolts’ and there’s something on the fittings sheet labelled  Ø15 that I have 61 of, next to an unusual style screw that I also have 61 of. I’ll guess that this is a cambolt
  • The step tells me what the numbered pieces actually are, 1 is the ‘top panel’, 3 is a side panel, 9 is a ‘rail’, 2 and 5 are legs. Hooray! It’s about preparing the top and back legs to slot into other bits

Step 1 completed, not understoodHere’s step 1 completed in the Wendy house Orangery.

Putting in the cambolts and dowels took about  5 minutes.

Working out what I was supposed to do, interpreting the instructions, took about 10 minutes. 15 minutes per step for 17 steps? This doesn’t bode well. Hopefully I’ll be able to apply learning from step one later down the line, and the steps will be faster.

I got step 1 right. Phew. If only all steps had been this unambiguous…..

3 bits of fabulous banter »

NEXT self dissemble

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013 | tags: , , , , ,  |

instructions first pageThe delivery man carried my cupboard on his shoulder. Even before it arrived in my hall I’d realised that it was self-assembly. My heart dropped. At the price charged for the cupboard I hadn’t expected Self-assembly, I hadn’t anticipated spending Saturday morning with a screwdriver. Sigh.

Page 1 of 20 Is the cupboard that difficult to construct?

2 people, as tools, to construct it?  I’m offended at being called a tool, I want my cupboard today and my friends, who are not tools may not be available to help me for emergency cupboard assembly….

2 screwdrivers, phew, I’m equipped. Actually I also needed a hammer for inserting dowels and a pair of pliers to removing pieces inserted in the wrong place due to design asymmetry and instruction ambiguity. Now I understand why the sales person was so keen to sell me insurance against getting the furniture scratched.

Helpline?! Goodness, it must be difficult to construct!

This phrase nearly put me off unpacking the box:

“Self-assembly items cannot be returned once assembly is part or fully completed unless the item is found to be faulty

I wonder how many returns Next get from people like me who didn’t realise self assembly, unlike me are scared by 20 pages of instructions and a ‘helpline’ for something that should be simple, and read this no returns as evidence of difficulty to construct and Next pre-empting, to avoid, arguments with its dissatisfied customers.

Important?  they want me to check that they’ve sent me the right bits? Cheeky! They should check they’ve sent me Pacakge contents listthe right parts.  They don’t think I should involve my children in the construction process? Do they think I’m a complete idiot, unable to take responsibility for making decisions about my children and taking responsibility for my own poor decisions. Bloody cheek.

About half the text on the front page is NEXT covering it’s back against customer complaints and returns and treating customers as ignorant, irresponsible, or devious. Thanks NEXT

After 5 years of looking for a cupboard this size and shape I wasn’t gong to let these poor first impressions put me off. I started unpacking and gathered my tools… what happened next is another story….

5 bits of fabulous banter »

trying. trying. trying. trying. trying. trying. trying. success…phew

Friday, August 2nd, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

After an inordinate number of attempts I managed to connect to my home wireless and add my gmail and Hotmail accounts to the iPhone. With each attempt I paid more attention to my tapping, typing, accuracy. The phone doesn’t reveal the passwords for a full visual check, I watched each key-tap to make sure the immediate visual feedback confirmed that I’d tapped the key that I actually intended to tap. After 3 or 4 attempts I was 100% confident that I was providing the right passwords. On average I miss-typed one character in 8. Normally miss-typed characters were on the left hand edge of the keypad. I don’t have overly large fingers. But some of the failure attempts appeared to be with the right password entered. It was impossible to predict when accurate password entry would succeed or fail. Craziness!

Each success was a major relief followed by downing numerous cups of tea from a well brewed pot.  Sheer persistence together with focus on my finger movements paid-off. An unnecessarily time consuming, effort consuming and frustrating experience. Both my previous phones connected first time. If they can work effectively for me then Apple should be able to work first time too.

Problems with the iPhone:

  • Key pad character target area too small or sensitive, compared to HTC Android or Nokia Lumia 830
  • Unreliable connection technology compared to HTC and Nokia

HTC Desire, Nokia Lumia 800, iPhone 5The hardware is beautifully styled, I do like looking at it and holding it, more than the other phones. I’m so superficial that the effect of the styling is incredibly strong. Apple have got the ‘desirability’ and some ‘delight’ in use as part of the user experience beautifully executed, but they’ve seriously under-delivered on usability in so many ways. It’s interesting how forgivable the inefficient usability is, given the desirability and delight.

4 bits of fabulous banter »

you can’t go back. go home and start again

Monday, July 29th, 2013 | tags: , , , , , , , , , ,  |

<RANT WARNING – Apple fanboys, and people who love positivity should leave now>

Over the last 3 years I’ve been lucky(?) enough to have 3 different smart phones as my main phone:

HTC Desire, Nokia Lumia 800, iPhone5
HTC Desire, Nokia Lumia 800, iPhone 5

I’m very disappointed with the iPhone5. I want to revert to the Nokia. I was unimpressed by the Nokia but not to the extent that I wanted to give up using it within the week.

The reasons I dislike the iPhone would all be easily uncovered by usability testing with new users, so why do they STILL exist in version 5? Doesn’t Apple test it’s products with people switching from other smart phones? Maybe Apple doesn’t know because it doesn’t bother to test, maybe it knows but doesn’t think they’re worth fixing?

The problems I’m encountering are the sort of thing that should have been fixed by version 2, or for Microsoft – version 3. if the company prioritised input from users other than Apple fan boys who appear to live in a world that lacks perspective.  My 5 main problems were discovered within the first hour of using the iPhone:

  1. No ‘back’ control – you have to go to ‘home’ and then navigate forward to where you were. Android has a hardware back button and Windows has a software back button. All the browsers I’ve ever used have got a back button. You never have to ‘start again’.  Arrrghhhhhhh! It’s hellishly inefficient and irritating. It affects virtually everything I want to do on the phone unless the app provider has included either an ever-present software back button or easy in-App navigation. Apple has effectively offloaded the overhead of designing good navigation to App providers which will result in diverse navigation methods, more effort for the user to learn them. That’s not good.
  2. No service detected. OH MY GOODNESS! After putting in the SIM card, there was no service. I first assumed that I’d put the SIM card in the wrong way.  As soon as I removed the SIM the phone said ‘No SIM detected’. So the problem wasn’t with the SIM placement. I rebooted the phone. SIGH. No service. I showed the phone to a local, patient and peppy, Apple fanboy, who used his psychic Apple-fix-it skills and called my number. MAGIC. It wasn’t displaying that it could receive a signal, yet the phone rang and I was able to answer it! Bizarreness. The service signal strength was now showing on the phone. Unreliable OS messaging of hardware capabilities? That is, the hardware had detected a service but the Apple display hadn’t been updated to show this. What were the Apple test team doing when they set up tests that would let a product with this problem get released? Over the next few days I soon got into the habit of using my Windows Nokia phone (same service provider) to call my i-Phone so that the display would update to show the service signal.  HOW CRAP IS THAT?! More than a double face-palm. I tried a more traditional technique to get the signal to display – rebooting the phone. SIGH. The irritating thing about rebooting the phone to get a service signal is that I have to login to my iApple account again (see problem 3 below), and then the service signal isn’t always re-displayed.  I’ve tried shaking the phone and wandering around the office space. More out of desperation and frustration.CLEAN UP FOR GOODNESS SAKE!
  3. ALL CAPS LETTERS ONLY on the keyboard display, even when you’re typing in lower-case! Really poor visual feedback on what case to expect the keyboard to produce. I use a lot of passwords where there is a requirement for UPPER CASE letters and only a temporary view of the typed letter before it turns into a dot.  This meant that not being able to ‘see’, by looking at the keyboard,  which CASE the letter is going to be typed in was a pain. I had to look at the shift key, which has only a subtle ‘brightness’ contrast change and is covered by my finger that’s pressing it.  Lack of this feedback results in my having to be more careful entering passwords, and have to retype passwords more frequently.  My ‘new’ Apple ID had to be reset 3 times because I couldn’t work out if I’d miss-typed the ID or just tried to enter the wrong ID.  When creating the new password using “I-Forgot” – blame me why don’t you! - I got more “Passwords don’t match” messages than on any other phone I’ve used.  This is an easy OS software change, why haven’t Apple bothered to fix this obvious usability problem?
  4. Not connecting to my home wireless.  I’ve tried about 8 times. The phone can detect my wireless and offers me a password entry field.  I’ve retyped and retyped the network key but for some inexplicable reason the phone is unable to join this network and wont even hint at why. Just tells me it’s failed. At least it takes responsibility for this failure.
  5. No CAPS LOCK. Both Android and Windows have good simple software solutions for this behaviour, which I’d learnt. An Apple fan boy explained to me that I should keep one finger on shift and type the letters with a different finger.  No problem from his perspective. Another Apple fan boy told me a double-tap acts as shift-lock and that she only found out how to use her iPhone with multiple lessons from her daughter. This is only a miner discovery detail, but when added to the other issues for someone trying an iPhone after having used Android or Windows OS’s, it’s yet another poor design feature that implies lack of user-care by the OS development team.

HTC Desire, Nokia Lumia 800, iPhone5From my perspective the Apple iPhone OS behaviour is clearly less elegant with more user effort overhead than both Android and Windows. I’m surprised, I expected to love it.

Pish and Tush

<RANT TEMPORARILY ON HOLD- I suspect there will be more…>

5 bits of fabulous banter »

missed the boat

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 | tags: , ,  |

When I notice getting tailored advertisements on websites, they’re normally for things I’ve already bought.


Internetty, you’re too late!

2 bits of fabulous banter »

stop it!

Friday, July 5th, 2013 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Can you guess what this design is meant to do:
Don't drin the wine in the store

Plastic locks on the top of wine bottles displayed in a local store.

Is it to stop terrorists putting poison in the wine?  Or to stop locals drinking the wine straight from the bottle (for free) when no-one’s looking. Neither option is a promotional point for living locally. Oh dear. Defensive design gives out such a poor message about human behaviour…something, somewhere’s gone wrong…

1 wonderful musing »

hands-free portable cupholder

Monday, July 1st, 2013 | tags: , , , ,  |

Jeans with built-in coffee cup holderIPortable Cup Holder love how people extend the use of designs to solve their current problems.

There are no rubbish bins on this Reading town train station platform, nowhere to recycle a used coffee cup. This passenger has decided not to throw the empty cup on the floor, or carry it in his hand. The elastic properties of modern trousers afford him wedging the cup in his back pocket.

Maybe trouser waistbands already come with attachments to carry cups, like the loop in my sketch.

10 bits of fabulous banter »


Saturday, June 29th, 2013 | tags: ,  |

spring loaded gate latchpushing the ‘knob’ lifts the latch.

A pleasing and unusual gate-opening mechanism in Wentworth

what do you think of that »

a tailored experience

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013 | tags: , ,  |

I’ve been hankering after a bespoke tailored suit. Inspired by icons like Katherine Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich, Patti Smith, Annie Lennox, Ellen DeGeneres.

   Marlene Dietrich wearing Coco Chanel    annie-lennox1

I’ve never been on a salary that would make buying one an easy part of budgeting, and I’ve never prioritised saving-up to pay for the luxury. Until now.

When I booked a consultation with a tailor the booking confirmation email included the opportunity to be a ‘Mystery Shopper’. I couldn’t resist. They provided me with a detailed evaluation form. The form helped to set my expectations about what happens during the consultation. I’ll be a more well behaved customer. Probably.

6 bits of fabulous banter »

symptoms of design failure

Friday, June 21st, 2013 | tags: , , , ,  |

Architectural design fix

The fancy new Reading town Grimshaw designed train station is not quite finished. It’s already showing some fundamental design flaws. It’s good looking, if you like big open spaces and an airport foyer feel. But they’ve already had to put in blue plastic barriers to direct the pedestrian traffic boarding and disembarking from the escalators – to avoid too many clashes.  I followed the signs for the washrooms up onto the bridge concourse, but the signs stop there. A temporary design fix (information booth) was placed in the centre of the airport style open bridge concourse. I asked where the nearest washrooms were, On platform 12b.

On platform 12b?!

Almost all the pedestrian traffic goes through the bridge concourse and they didn’t put any washrooms there? How bizarre. The architect doesn’t appear to have thought of the station as a place where humans move in predictable patterns with predictable needs. The retrospective design fixes interrupt the ‘beautiful’ lines of the building.

Design Fail

3 bits of fabulous banter »


Tuesday, January 15th, 2013 | tags: , , ,  | ErrorThe second time that I tried to login to my ‘’ account this error message was presented and the experience hung Firefox.

How long have Microsoft been designing sign-in processes? How many products have they produced that require a secure sign in? How many user experience experts do they employ – how big is their archive on user experience research?

And this error detection and messaging is the best they can come up with?

That’s pathetic – with no imaginable excuse

Just think about this message from a users perspective – what to I do next?

  • browser back button?
  • navigate to the sign in page using a bookmark or URL?

Then repeat the sign-in action that produced thid error in the first place? Believe that doing the same thing twice wont produce the same error from a computerised system? I can think of several different ways that this service could have enabled me to do this, my only natural troubleshooting approach, in an easier way. For example, provide a nice friendly “Try again” button. An apology or empathetic sound would be a nice additional extra. I find “ouch” is working quite well with me at the moment. If Microsoft are serious about shifting from pre-packaged products to operating online services they are going to have to start using the knowledge of their user experience experts

Hall of shame for

2 bits of fabulous banter »

the blue flash of colonel panic

Sunday, January 13th, 2013 | tags: , , , , , , ,  |

Blue Screen of DeathThe Blue flash of colonel panic is not a military award, one of the X-men,  X-women, a Transformer, or other superhero.

Windows 7 scary classic!

The file dump from Windows 7 “Blue Screen Of Death (BSOD)” happens so quickly that we  rush to capture an digital image for posterity because maybe there will be a generation of computer users that have never see a blue screen. I hope so.

You can see the blue screen paparazzi in the reflection on an old Lenovo laptop.  The windows 7 message is already teasing the user with more text than they can possibly read in the time it’s displayed! Squinting at the photograph I saw the phrase “BIOS updates” – a phrase that produces a mild form of the gagging reflex.

Windows 8 is succinct, readable, understandable and less SCARY!

The message has changed for Windows 8, it looks like a more graceful failure message because it has larger, more readable, and understandable text. It looks like they’ve actually written it for the normal people that will see it rather than for the developers. They no longer mention “Caching and shadowing”, “removing or disabling components” or the gaggable “Bios updates”.  I wonder whether it’s still a ‘Blue Flash’. Excellent user experience enhancements.


6 bits of fabulous banter »

this twitting lark

Sunday, December 9th, 2012 | tags: , ,  |

twitterRecently my employer asked for my Twitter address, to publish my tweets on their website. Other colleagues admitted to not tweeting, or suggested that our employer really wouldn’t want to publish their tweets. As wendy, I’ve dabbled but not really been drawn in.

What to do? Should I start using Twitter with my real ‘professional’ name. Luckily the name was available. There are only 2 of us with my real name and an online presence, the other person is a teenager in small town USA. I bagged our name on Twitter. But the big problems still haven’t been solved

  • Should I twit? And how long should I spend twitting if I do?
  • Who do I want to read my twits?
  • Do I have to use a spell-check on all my tweets to avoid irritating those people who can’t see my conceptual wood because of my grammatical trees?
  • What should I twit about?
  • What do professional tweeters, who are published on their employers websites, do?
  • What sort of ‘voice’ should I use? Directive? Cheeky? Subversive?

Do you think I’ll ignore all these tricky questions or other?

What have you done, and why’d you do it?

4 bits of fabulous banter »

kilt wickednesses

Monday, December 3rd, 2012 | tags: , , ,  |

Kilted guestsOwning a kilt is not all about a big song and dance. There are some sneaky little down sides to the experience which I suspect many a non-kilt wearer is wise to.

These are the reasons why I haven’t yet bought a woollen kilt, they:

  • are rather itchy (but I could wear thick tights or an underskirt to deal with this)
  • smell of damp wool when it’s raining (don’t wear it outside in the rain)
  • need to be dry-cleaned occasionally (that’s not too expensive and inconvenient)

The main kilt use challenge that I hadn’t anticipated is based on using the kilt with modern sanitary technology – the toilet.

Stop reading now if you have an aversion to toilet talk.

With a normal skirt a girl can simply lift the rear of the skirt and hold it up while taking a seat on the toilet – so the skirt never touches the toilet. Clean and neat. Not so with a kilt. There is so much material in the pleats that no matter where you grab it, the sides fall right back down gain. Cool! But not cool when you want to sit on  the loo without dangling it down the pan.

A kilt works for a squatting position above the pan, or squatting when there is no pan – in the wild where it was originally used.  I’ve adjusted my posture when wearing the kilt in the washrooms over the pan so that I stay standing and flick the kilt op over my back while leaning forward – this lets the wealth of material lie across my back.  This position requires more directional skill during the process than sitting down, but works to keep the kilt clean and out of the way.

you have been warned

11 bits of fabulous banter »

kilt virtues

Saturday, December 1st, 2012 | tags: , , , ,  |

The Farringdon GapAfter several months of wearing a genuine kilt, purchased in Edinburgh (online), I’ve leaned about many of it’s more subtle virtues, it:

  • water repellent:  flicks the rain off the surface layer as you walk – never soaks up water because of the movement designed in. Rather like the water coming off a dog when it shakes itself. This effect is stronger for pure wool kilts (which mine isn’t). It’s suitable for rainy climates.
  • toasty!: is very warm because the pleats make it 3 folds of material thick at most point. Again, this effect if emphasised for a wool kilt. It’s more suitable for cold climates.
  • curvy: demonstrates the comely turn of my calves – whatever it’s made from.
  • adjustable sizes: the wrap-around style means the kilt can fit you as you put-on, or loose, weight. This gives the kilt longevity as a wardrobe item. Excellent! As I approach my 50’s I’m anticipating the onset of a little plumpness and the kilt will stay with me unlike other clothes that might need replacing.
  • swing-tastic: with just a normal walk the back of the kilt swings in a playful way. With a flick of the hips it’s even more fun, and spinning around? Well! It’s a must-do activity in a kilt.

Friends have commented that very few people can ‘pull-off’ wearing a kilt, but I am one of them. I can pull it off while keeping it on. I think everyone should have a kilt, it should be a standard part of everyone’s wardrobe because it is quite simply –


3 bits of fabulous banter »

listening at high speed

Sunday, July 8th, 2012 | tags: , , ,  |

Oxfam art nouveau shop frontHe spoke with floods of enthusiasm but without punctuation. Goodness knows how air made it’s way INTO his lungs:

Would you like a bag Ive got a bag Ive got a bag thats just for you its an em and ess bag see

His enthusiasm and personal approach drew me into a large smile then the mention of M & S almost prompted a LOL. Ah yes, I’m a woman of a certain age. The age where women are expected to start shopping at M & S. He continued his stream of thoughts, picking up my book of London pictures and flicking through the pages to look at them.

As he talked I realised that the ‘Lemmy’ look was completely misleading:

That’s a very nice book. Beautiful pictures. Have you been there? (points at Parliament). Its very good. It was done by Pull Gin.

Wendy: Pugin?

Yes. He died when he was forty. He fitted a whole life into 30 years. He did Gothic. He did all of Gothic. If it wasn’t for him we wouldn’t have Gothic. He went mad. Have you been to Windsor castle? That’s good too. Did you know they had a fire there? My dad helped rebuild it. He’s a carpenter. He saw Prince Harry and Prince William. They went to the school that’s there, near windsor.

Wendy: Eton?

Yes. They looked like penguins

Wendy: In their black and white school uniform?

Yes. It must be nice to be rich. I’d like to be rich. But I like being me it’s ok not being rich. I dont want to be them they have a lot of things to do.I like working here.

Will you come back again? Will I see you again?

A queue had started to form behind me, I was impressed by how quickly he reacted to a queue forming. He clearly understood that this shouldn’t happen and he clearly enjoyed talking to me. I was very glad that I hadn’t been in a hurry because taking the time to listen to his child like enthusiasm was very refreshing

Wendy: Yes. I’ll come back, it’s been nice to meet you, have a good day, bye bye

4 bits of fabulous banter »

reading problem on Google reader

Monday, March 5th, 2012 | tags: , ,  |

Just incase you thought eveything was running smoothly, here is internet failure of the day

Google Reader button text never arrived…

I waited ….  then wrecklessly pressed the unlabelled button…

It turned out to be the settings button. Google trying to hide its settings on the day it merged it’s privacy policies to share my use data across services?  Unlabelling a setting button on the day I want to change  settings

Spooky or cunning? You decide…

1 wonderful musing »