30 September 2014

The Silent Type

How many syllables does the word "design" (v., də'zīn) have? Well, according to most of the people responsible for designing web interfaces — and, for that matter, operating systems/environments — it has four; there appear to be two syllables before the word "design," sort of an inverse of "silent e at the end": 'grafik. And that's a serious problem for those of us who wear bifocals... or who actually passed typing in eighth grade.

It's more than just annoying when a major communications provider (a) has so many advertiser cookies and tracking cookies embedded in its site that it freezes in Firefox, requiring me to use Internet Exploder (2004 tech there, guys — that really says "We're down with this interwebs security thingy") to pay my bloody bill and (b) throws an autorunning popup video at me to get my attention for a new product that I don't want and have previously rejected when I'm attempting to give it money. And it's not just marketing dorks this time: It's the very design (without those two preceding syllables) of the site.

I would have just griped quietly into my coffee about this, but there's the same bloody problem with student loan providers. And my bloody bank. Don't make it pretty, then secure, then operable, if you actually want my business instead of my disdain. Make sure that the data does what it's supposed to, and that people with unusual-for-Americans names (such as two middle initials) aren't locked out, and that everything remains secure when dealing with personal data, before you ever let a 'grafikdə'zīnər near it (or at least one who hasn't thoroughly digested Tufte's introduction and thoroughly considered its implications). At least, that's what you should do if you want people to actually use it with words and numbers, such as names and credit card numbers.

And a little less hostility to touch typists would be nice, too. But that's probably asking far too much.