HACK: How to make a hard-to-read page look however you want

Have you ever been on a page and dreaded reading it because the paragraphs go on forever, not just vertically, but horizontally + the text is squint-small? I sure have, and until now, I either abandoned or just suffered through it with negative emotions I probably ignored. However, I’d like to give you a hack to make the experience better. Web developers and User Designers probably know of this already, but for the rest of you out there, here’s the trick for when you’re on a chrome browser. It might work on non-chrome too, but may have some different verbiage (click on the image to enlarge):
Making things readable-Hack

Make burgers smaller!

Today, as I came home from work in the pouring rain on my AWOL Specialized, my neighbor also rolled in next door in her blue Prius. I had a moment of envy at the fact that she wasn’t dripping wet, while I stood there in my soaking wet rain-gear. We started talking, first about how my trip to Mexico went, then the conversation turned to how her husband is planning to change the menu of the diner he owns.

“For example, he wants to make burgers smaller, I mean I can barely eat half of it, they’re so big!” she explains. In my mind, I was like Nooooo!!!. But to put her comment into some perspective, she is a very petite woman, and I – not as much, having about 6 inches on her in height. So I argued back:

“I don’t think they’re that big! I finish them and get a soup on the side too!” At this rebuttal, she smiled.

“Oh yeah… he wants to make an option on the menu to get one of two sizes.” Sighing in relief, I nodded in agreement.

Why did I bring up this story? It is a great example of a strategy to employ when a key feature of a project has very opposing feedback: give them an option. Of course, it is crucial that the choices do not complicate the concept by offering too many options. (That is why people like Costco, besides the fact that their burgers are HUGE: they have at most 2-3 options for most items, or a giant box with all the 30 options for those with choice anxiety :D). To decide whether or not to branch out to more options, try asking this very important question:

Why does my user want X to be like this?”

Does her opinion originate from a completely different problem? Is he trying to repurpose your feature for something else it’s not intended for? If the answer is “umm… Yup,” you may want to take a step back not be like Dilbert:

Dilbert Comic

Get rid of the Buttons

Drabble Comic

“Just make a button…” It’s one of the most noob requests that makes my hair stand on end. Why? Who needs it? Can we get the same effect in some more subtle way? Did you do any research? (likely no). “But it’s easy, and a call to action!” Yes… but does it do what the user expects? If not, then it’s worse than not having the button.

I had to make this argument to myself the other day, and after realizing I can ax 3 of the 5 buttons on my prototype, I just felt this sigh of relief. So. Much. Better.

This assignment is for my bootcamp in UX design at Bloc.io. Even before this bootcamp, I was thinking of making an app, just for fun. I was thinking of making it artistic, a movement of all the transit happening in the city like watercolor swirling around, but using the backbone of real-time data. It just happens that the assignment was to research and create the first couple screens of a transportation app.

The ah-ha moment I had from above came after I had put these 5 buttons at the bottom of my app:

Then I thought to myself: this is a transportation app. Is there any reason why a user would want to disable seeing the bus lines or active buses on the map? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ … and I could find no reason. Then I asked a couple bus users and they blinked, and said, well.. probably not. So I wiped two of the buttons off, moved the download button to a less important location… et voilà:

Why give the option of toggle if you don’t need to? Anyways, if there seems to be a legitimate reason to wipe the screen clean, I can always add them back. But for now, let’s just have a zen moment of less buttons 😎

Inspiration over Tofu Tacos

So I’m sitting in my living room working through some home-made tacos I made just a minute ago. I put on a You Tube video: High Resolution interviewing Judy Wert. They do a fantastic intro, and finally, she comes on screen. Her smile and mannerisms captivate me. Listening to the talk, I barely get 4 minutes in when she makes a point about her coffee cup, how UX design starts with the person who made this coffee cup, how many kids they have and what is his father like.

At this point I had gotten through one and a quarter taco, and as I take one more bite, I stop looking at the screen of my phone, and start observing the phone itself. I have this sort of out-of-body experience where I just observed myself as the user who has made a work around on how to prop up their phone while watching this video. Instantly, I drop my half taco (it’s still sitting there),

pause the video and start writing. This is what I’m writing about: 

My need – to watch a video while not holding my phone. There are many solutions out there to this already:

In fact, I have one of those piggies. Yet, I still don’t use it. Why? because it’s inconvenient. It’s upstairs somewhere, and my food is getting cold and yes I’m just lazy to get it, plus it doesn’t stick onto my case. So I end up using my PDX carpet coasters to prop up my phone.

But what if…. the Lifeproof case – which by the way last weekend saved my phone when I dropped it in some hot sand – had an edge that better promoted sideways standing. If the leaning tower of Pisa from thousands of years ago can do it, why can’t the phone case?

Lifeproof already has a bomber case, but there’s always room to improve, right? Competition is right around the corner.

Anyways, I’m not an architect, or industrial designer, but I’ve done the observation, and documented what the workaround is, at least in my case.

What do you do to prop up your phone(s)/tablet(s)?? Comment below.