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design for the stupid (that includes you)

February 21, 2007

With a few apps under my belt, I’d like to think that I know a few things about user interaction. Now, I’m not claiming to be a guru or whatnot, I’m just saying this is what I’ve learned.

When designing a gui (graphical user interface), you really have to be careful. Every element has to be crystal clear as to what your objectives are. If your creating a form, make sure that you have descriptive titles next to what you want the user to type.

If (this one is obvious) you want them to type their first name, then type “First Name” next to the input field. If it’s an email address your asking for…, I’ll let you guess this one on your own.

The point is, you really have to treat users like they don’t know their ass from their elbow. When creating a web form, it’s good to know some JavaScript so you can at least validate your information on the client-side. If for instance you want your user to enter a zip code and they enter a letter instead; this can cause an issue if you are trying to send them a product. When you see your database and someones zip code is “1000i”, then you’re in trouble.

Validate your data; it’s the only way you can get what you want. There are tons of methods to validate user input. Pick your favorite and start scripting! And remember, not everyone is as smart as you, so design for the stupid.

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