“You must sign in or sign up to purchase this item.”

I was ready to purchase a new theme for my blog when I read the following: You must sign in or sign up to purchase this item. Ugh. Why?

I found the theme on a marketplace so I figured I could probably go the original theme author’s website and make my purchase there. I found the website, and the “Buy Theme” button which, sadly, led back to the marketplace.

Please, make it easier to purchase items from your store and I might purchase more.

Give What Users Want. Now.

YouTube used to display a bar chart to present the “likes” and “dislikes” of a video. What I would immediately see upon landing on the page was the proportion of site visitors who pressed the like and dislike button. But guess what I would immediately do? I would drag my cursor toward the chart and hover the cursor on top of the chart because that was the only way to see the actual number of “likes” and “dislikes.”

Statistics does not mean much without a good number of samples. I’m interested to see the numbers first. YouTube has since replaced the chart with the old school, straight up numbers. I suppose a user could infer the ratio of “likes” and “dislikes” himself.

Likes Statistics

Likes Statistics

Great User Interface: Read Users’ Mind

Ever looking up a word online and having to look up another word in the original word’s definition? Here are the steps to do it if you look up the word online.

  1. Go to dictionary.com
  2. Enter the word to look up
  3. Read the definition
  4. (Upon finding another new word) Copy the new word and paste it to the search box

Step 4 may not be much, or it may be (a sequence of a double mouse click, CTRL+C, move mouse cursor to the search box, CTRL+V, and ENTER), but dictionary.com has managed to simplify that step 4 into the following sequence of steps: click the new word, click the tooltip immediately above the new word. That’s it–two clicks and barely a muscle to move the mouse.

Windows Phone 7 System Styles

When you add a new page to your WP7 application project, the default XAML page is likely to contain references to style definitions such as PhoneTextNormalStyle and PhoneTextTitle1Style.

<!--TitlePanel contains the name of the application and page title-->
<StackPanel x:Name="TitlePanel" Grid.Row="0" Margin="12,17,0,28">
    <TextBlock x:Name="ApplicationTitle" Text="MY APPLICATION" Style="{StaticResource PhoneTextNormalStyle}"/>
    <TextBlock x:Name="PageTitle" Text="page name" Margin="9,-7,0,0" Style="{StaticResource PhoneTextTitle1Style}"/>
</StackPanel>

Those two style definitions are applied to the application title and page title of the page with the goal that all WP7 applications will share similar look.

Application Title and Page Title in WP7 Application

Just as you would use .NET libraries (as opposed to crafting your own wheels), you should use the built-in styles available. To discover more style definition that you can use, browse the file ThemeResources.xaml found in C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SDKs\Windows Phone\v7.0\Design. Using these styles will guarantee that the application’s look will still be presentable when users change the color theme.

Edit Post Screen (Variant II)

I thought of this during the long wait at In-n-Out drive-thru (yes, it was good).

Utilizing the pivot control, I could place the writing area in one view and the auxiliary components (less used features) in another view. Which components are more or less used is up for pointless debate, though.

I can see how this is beneficial for the workflow of writing a blog post. When writing a post, I would normally start with a title and move on to writing the content. While writing, I’m focusing on writing and only writing. When I’m finished, I would set the categories. Writing the post content and setting the attributes of the post are two separate tasks in the post writing workflow; hence, the separation of the views.

Edit Post Screen with Pivot Control

The UI Design and Interaction Guide for Windows Phone 7 does not recommend pivot control for this kind of usage, however. The following are excerpts from the guide that the pivot control in Edit Post screen violates.

Pivot pages should not be used for task flow.

The pivot control should only be used to display items or data of similar type.

I understood why the first item of guideline is there. A task flow requires a strict order; user has to complete task one before proceeding to task two. Pivot control does not enforce that. User can navigate to views in pivot control in any order (except there is always one same initial view). This is less of an issue for this scenario. The big issue is that pivot control does not guarantee that a user will navigate to all views. I could click [save] and realize that I forgot to assign categories in the other view.

For the second item in the guideline. I could argue that I do use the control to display items of similar type: blog post’s properties of most used, and less used. But the author(s) of the guideline may disagree with that. Microsoft uses the email reader to show how a pivot control should be used. In the email reader, pivot control is used to display emails with status unread, flag, and the like in the different views.

Whether a pivot control is appropriate for the Edit Post screen, I need a usability testing to know if it will work for users.