Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Picture Is Worth...hmmmm

I think we use icons way too much!

I'm working on a project right now where we are updating a web app and so I'm getting to talk to users and customers. One weakness that keeps coming up is that they can't figure out the icons.

Not all of them, and that's been the important aha for me. Here's my new insight:
  • Icons that differentiate among broad categories = good
  • Icons that differentiate among nuances within a category = not good
For example, imagine a menu bar that has career choices like doctor, lawyer, butcher, baker, construction worker. Icons would work pretty well in that instance. Now imagine clicking on the doctor icon and getting a drop down of specialties, identified by icons. Not so clear (even ignoring Bevis and Butthead out there giggling over icons for urologist, gynecologist,  etc).

In practical terms, I see this problem showing up in grids a lot. For example, in a web app that manages customer service tickets, we have columns for things like priority and status. Our priorities are High, Medium, and Low, and we have about six statuses like New, Assigned, In Progress, etc.

In our zeal to be more graphic, we have icons for the priority levels and for the statuses. Looks good! Problem is that no one can remember the icons and they have to mouse over the icon to see the tool tip.

In this case I think words are better than pictures, and users would rather have  dull and useful over graphically rich and obtuse.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Most Unlikely Pub

On Wednesday I went to the Irish Bred Pub in Rex, Georgia.

Rex (now that I've been there, I feel as if I am on a first-name basis with the town) is a bit south of Atlanta, just off exit 2 on I-675. I went there to celebrate David Ellis's birthday and to hear his band, 3-Way Street, play.

I've been in pubs all around Ireland and consider myself to know one when I see one. The one in Rex is, shall I say, a unique interpretation.

For one thing, no Guinness.
Not much along the lines of Irish food either. No, O'Potato Skins, Kelly Green Spinach Dip, or that kind of thing. I do think there was fish and chips on the menu, but it was more like the Captain Dee's and not what you would find wrapped in newspaper in Dublin. I had the Patty melt--sounds Irish at any rate, as in Saint...

Other interesting features:
  • Decorated for Christmas on November 9. Couldn't tell if it was decorated already or decorated still.
  • Brightly lit on the inside
  • Pool tables
  • Overwhelming smell of french fries--reminded me of the fries they used to serve at the Dew Drop Inn, a "private club" my parents belonged to in Mobile
  • Smoky 
  • Clientele that said the parking lot would be filled with pick-ups and harleys. Not a Prius/Audi crowd

And one more thing. Their logo was a leprechaun  dropping his pants in a "kiss my ass" pose. They explained that in the menu. It is their way of saying it's an adult bar and they don't want any "snotty-nosed kids" in it.

Well, you put all of that together with a 90-minute set from David and 3-Way Street and what do you get?


3-Way Street plays there every Wednesday. Go there, trust me, it's great.

And oh! That patty melt? I put it right up there with The Grill in Athens, GA.

[photos from Tim Harlan's FB]