Are you sure you want to delete?

I accidentally deleted a chat conversation with a seller on OLX and it happened with no warning. Aargh!  Instead of making this a rant, I will talk about how to avoid such usability mistakes and empathize with the end users.

When you choose to delete something, the system verifies your choice by asking you to validate the decision. The purpose of validation is to ensure that the irreversible loss of information or data should not be of grave consequence for the user.
There are several instances in our daily digital lives that we end up deleting stuff. Emails immediately come to mind. Then, there are chat messages, SMSes, notifications, documents and many more.

On desktop OS, when we press delete after selecting a file, the system asks us to verify our decision to delete. But when we drag a file on a recycle bin, it does not. Why so? Its simple, you are making an effort to delete something by selecting it, dragging it to the destination and then releasing it on the recycle bin icon. You have to be pretty sure you want to delete to be doing that. On the other hand, the delete button can be accidentally pressed too. On top of it, even after you delete, you get one more chance to salvage the deleted item before you Empty out the recycle bin.

Safety Net
Irrespective of whether you verify a user action or not, you can always provide the user an option to revert his/her decision later. Even if the later is limited by time and not a permanent option.



Gmail provides options to Undo in multiple delete scenarios.

Snack-bar notifications allow us to communicate with the user the action applied as well as an alternative CTA to revert back the decision. The notification style is non obstructive in nature and hence will not leave any unpleasant experience when carrying out daily repetitive tasks.

This  brings us to the basic question, when do we validate?

  • Can the user invoke delete action accidentally? If yes, verify action.
  • Can the action be undone? If no, verify action.
  • Is the action repetitive (e.g removal of notifications)?
    • If its not critical, do not verify.
    • If you are not sure, give use a chance to undo it, but in a non obstructive manner. (like a snack bar notification with an option to ‘Undo’). These alternatives are like a limited time offer. J

So please, next time, have some empathy for the users and save them from the horror of accidental data loss.

Google I/O 2014 – Material Design, a metaphor

Gogle I/O 2014 Material Design

Design, as we know it, has evolved over centuries. The design that we experiences in everyday life, be it industrial design or art or engineering has had an evolution that matured it to the current form and experience. Software is a much recent phenomenon, going by the age of the sector itself. Design in software technology has just about recently started to see fundamental principles and philosophies being applied. Apple did skeuomorphism, Microsoft did tiles and Google was furiously iterating with its users to design its software better. Till now, they never clearly defined a philosophy that governed their design. It had always been guidelines for designers and developers to help develop on their platform.

At 2014 I/O, Google introduced what is already been seen on their web applications and mobile OS as their new design philosophy. Material design. Have a look at the video playlist below to understand what Google plans to do with this design philosophy and how it got inspired and what vision it sees brought forth with a philosophy that’s materialistic, metaphorically speaking.

Microsoft Windows 8 update 3 – preparing for phablets and more

Microsoft will be updating the Windows 8 operating system soon and it will be getting better and all set for phablets. It might take a while since its just initiated the developer release program to allow the developer community and enthusiasts to experience what Microsoft would be bringing on board with the new update to the operating system.

WPCentral released this video where they installed and previewed the operating system build shared in the developer release. Its not a major overhaul but some of the changes are subtle and improving on the features and user experience in a positive way.

Here are top 5 highlights of the change in user experience that one can anticipate –

1. Application closure in preview carousal: On long tap of the ‘back’ button, you can not only view the running applications, but also close them without access them.

2. Drive mode: The drive mode along with bluetooth can be programmed to swtich the phone automatically to call only, auto reply or any other setting for safe driving without handling the phone. Once you set your external bluetooth device (say, the hands free device in you car), whenever you get into your car, the phone will automatically disable texting and/or auto reply to any incoming call. This is a very handy feature to be introduced by Microsoft.

3. Manage the phone storage: Finally, you can delete data on your phone or preview how much memory is being consumed by apps and media on your device. Best of all, you can clear temporary files from your internet explorer browser.

4. Ease of access: Some tweaks have been made to the accessibility of the phone to make it much more accessible to the differently abled folks.

5. Tile display: Though not specifically explained, the tiles can now carry the date, time and calendar event tile too. Not more will it be accessible only on the locked screen.

Watch the demo of the Windows 8 Update 3 below. Its been posted by WPCentral and the article was Sam Sabri.

Does Skeuomorphic Design Matter? | UX Magazine

Skeuomorphs and Affordances

Since the introduction of iOS 7, the blogosphere has been alive with debate on Apple’s departure from skeuomorphism—the yellow lined legal pad of Notes, the leather bound folio of Calendar. We are now deeply mired in a flat vs. skeuomorphic debate that reduces skeuomorphism to coddling kitsch and equates flat design with high-modernism. Both sides have missed the point.

Skeuomorphs in design aren’t useless decoration, but contextual clues. Like design metaphor they are the visual equivalent of figurative language—enabling designers to quickly tap into shared cultural understandings and convey complex meanings in a straightforward way. They work as a new kind of affordance, one that communicates not function but identity.

READ MORE: Does Skeuomorphic Design Matter? | UX Magazine.

YouTube has a good sense of humor in handling errors

500 Internal Server Error happens when the server encounters a generic problem

500 Internal Server Error happens when the server encounters a generic problem

I checked in to access my daily dose of YouTube in the evening when this popped up on my browser screen.

So, what is  “500 Internal Server Error”? Well, who cares, the message had a sense of humor and that’s what mattered at that moment. A couple of attempts and the site was available for viewing. What I liked was the error handling done by YouTube at the server side. An “500 internal Server Error” means that something went wrong at the website server. It’s a generic message and yet flexible to be customized. Websites can take this opportunity to address error handling in a manor that will ensure that user inconvenience and emotional reaction can be contained by

Why is this error handling unique?

1. To start with, this error is not in your control. Sometimes servers fail to respond or probably your code fails.

2. This error is lot more detrimental to your site than when a typical 404 error. When the site does not load, user walks away.

3. There is no least resistance path for the user, there is no safety net and nor is there any graceful degradation. Your user actually might think its his fault or perhaps that he has reached a dead end.

How to handle server errors

The only possible way is to convey to the user that an error has occurred and its not his/her fault. Be graceful and honest about the situation. Google took this a step further by adding humor to the messaging and giving the user something to laugh about and in doing so, dilute the inconvenience that the user might have felt. That’s clever.

Do you agree?