Blog » Posts about Usability

Target blank

I’m delighted to see Marco Arment weighing in on the open links in new window debate. I’m fully on his side and couldn’t help chipping in my own two cents on Hacker News. There’s a weird fetishism people have about “keeping the user on our site” that smacks of hubris to me.

Be humble! Remember Jakob’s Law of the Internet:

Users spend most of their time on other sites. This means that users prefer your site to work the same way as all the other sites they already know.

Cooling a Playstation 3

Electrical tape is duct tape for nerds.

Originally bought this fan to cool my receiver

Remember all that Final Fantasy XII I’m playing? My poor PS3 starts doing its jet turbine imitation after half an hour.


Insurance won’t cover Hello Games office flood, dev says

Hello Games’ studio was flooded on Christmas Eve after a nearby river broke its bank, resulting in the loss of computers, furniture and personal items.

Backup. Then backup again. Then offsite backup. Then rotate offsite backup.

I wish some news article would mention if the Hello Games team was using offsite backup. It seems dangerous to store your game code on Dropbox or even in a private Github repository, but the physical world is equally happy to destroy your possessions.

Recabling fever

Every six months or so the planets align and I’m compelled to disassemble my entertainment center and put it back together, better than it was before. Okay, usually there’s a real reason, like a new console coming out or I’ve become disgusted with my previous efforts. After doing this probably 20 times I think I can call myself an expert. Last night I achieved my greatest cabling setup to date.

Frequently Asked Questions

Want a section on your website to deal with the questions you field most often? Don’t call it “frequently asked questions.” Don’t abbreviate it to FAQ.

FAQ is a term that’s useful to exactly one person: the webmaster. People going to the website have no idea if their question is frequently asked or not. There’s not even any hint of an answer (what else can you do with questions besides ask them?). I’d sooner label navigation “Stupid Crap I’m Tired of Dealing With,” because at least that shows my true attitude to the user.

This is why we have so many euphamisms for “frequently asked questions”: knowledge base, help, support, documentation. Any of those would be better.

But the question and answer format is often useful, so why not rename it to that? “Questions and Answers” or just Q&A. Users would find that. They have questions, they want answers. Simple.


With my portfolio site more or less finished, I’m looking at the thumbnails that link to larger images and wondering if I shouldn’t do something with them. Specifically, make them into lightboxes.

I hate lightboxes. I hate how many variants there are. I hate trying to figure out how each one works. Yet even blinded by my own hate I can see the point of them. Once you make sense of the current site’s lightbox, it’s easy to page through multiple galleries of images. And they’re occasionally better than the blights on humanity they replaced (JavaScript popups and the dreaded target=”_blank”).