Stoplights, conventions and usability

Drove home last night and at one crossing traffic light turned red, so drivers started breaking. The car in front of me had some wierd stoplight sequencing, so i almost run into it. Nothing serious, but it made me think.

4th stoplight

When you learn how to drive a car, you take some things for granted. However, the owner of that car found amusing to add 4th stoplight which was something similar like what the K.I.T.T. has at the front part, only two of them. Of course, it has a blend of originality, but it’s potentionaly dangerous. When that 4th light turned on, it took me some miliseconds to think about it–“Whoa! Whata?”.

The same could be applied to web pages. Something might look as a good idea, but also it could be very confusing.

Red and strong

Another recent example also involves stoplights. At that ocassion there was brand new BMW, which had so strong stoplights that i had to cover my eyes. And what’s even worse, the guy stopped, but he ain’t remove foot off the darn breaking pedal.

The moral: don’t overexaggerate with highlighting and if you do, remove it when you meet your objective.

Conventions are Good

When it comes to formating (or styling for that matter) some common (and often essential) element of the web page, please don’t experiment much if you’re not really sure what you’re doing.

Some part of web page content that’s unique in particular website (like speciffic content) is more likely to be styled uniquely. Let those common elements be similar to proven concepts. That way, users will know how to use the web site, and it will not destract them from what you wanted to say (or show, or sell).

Marko Dugonjić is a designer specialized in user experience design, web typography and web standards. He runs a nanoscale user interface studio Creative Nights and organizes FFWD.PRO, a micro-conference and workshops for web professionals.

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