Much of this site is dedicated to identifying and improving usability gaffes, but there are some terrific companies and products out there that deserve mention for Getting It Right ™. Panic is one of them. The contributors to WordPress are another.
Now is the Time to Panic! – If you own a Mac but haven’t experienced any of the applications from Panic, you’re missing out on something phenomenal. Hell even if you don’t own a Mac, take a trip over to their site and revel in the aesthetics. All of my web work these days is done in Coda, one of the handful of programs you’ll find at the Panic website. Combining terrific usability with best-of-breed graphical and visual design, it’s a must-buy.
As mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of modeless feedback. Coda has an integrated FTP client which allows you to edit files on the server and download those updates once complete. Yes I realize I should be working the other way around, but it’s a pain to setup a local dev environment ;) Watch what appears when I download several files:
So much conveyed in so little space:
- Current filename.
- Current file count.
- Number of files in total.
- Progress indicator.
When Coda was first released, I found it a little rough around the edges, but picked it up anyway. Even if it wasn’t going to be in daily use (as it is now), supporting developers who Get it Right just Makes Sense(tm). Each application like Coda serves as an example to others and the more of them, the better.
Presstacular – As I type this post in my recently upgraded WordPress 2.5 blogging software, modeless feedback is occuring in the form of auto-saving. The folks at WordPress have this one about 95% correct. WordPress in general gets most things 90-95% right which is well above the open source community whose usability track record is abysmal.
The “Save” and “Publish” button colors change during an auto save. The color change is not drastic, however it is a considerable amount of area which draws my attention from the task at hand. I take it the buttons disable so as not to interrupt AJAX during the auto save? There’s a simple solution – just ignore the button click if an auto save is in progress and report success. If, when the auto save returns the content has changed, run another auto save. It happens so quickly (<1s), you’ll barely notice.
It’s great to see developers and designers getting it right. Is there room for improvement? Sure there is, but they so frequently get so much of it right that the little glitches don’t seem to matter. For all of the great design successes, this holds true. Every iPod and iPhone iteration has a few glitches, but nobody seems to care (some people care, but Apple’s ridiculous success shows to what extent).
Where does your application land? Did you get it mostly right? 5%? 70%?
How do you know?