Helping our Clients Test

If you’ve trained your testers properly. and you no doubt have, then they will be giving you bug reports with detailed steps to reproduce the bug. That, my friends, is programmers heaven. (emphasis mine)

I’ve been reading The Career Programmer and while there are lots of things that make me remember ‘bad clients’ and ‘bad bosses’ today I was struck by the quote above.

I know I have complained about clients giving me terrible feedback, but they don’t build sites on a regular basis so how can they know what good feedback is?

Next time you’re complaining about a bad bug report from a client stop and ask if you’ve trained them to provide good bug reports. If not then you’re the one with the problem.

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Don’t Get Your Design’s Stuck on Language

e-commerce site
e-commerce site
demo e-commerce site

I’ve been designing lots of e-commerce projects lately and a theme I’ve been finding in the designs is the buttons. Specifically the implication of buttons.

We’ve all seen buttons on store that say “Add to Cart” or “Purchase” or whatever but does the simple word convey enough meaning?

The Thoughts

I am more and more of the mind that buttons with text on them don’t convey quite enough. Language doesn’t transcend cultures really. Sure lots of the world that is online would read English but why put that barrier in front of potential customers? I look at other UI elements from web browsers and applications and they provide more information than simple text.

Look at the back button on your web browser. No text is really needed to know that pressing the button will move you back in your browsing history. Same goes for the stop button and the home button. They stand alone without the text. Whey then do so many websites require descriptive text on the GUI elements?

The Simple Solution

Lately with my buttons on sites I’ve been working really hard to have a single symbol along with the button text to convey what is happening when a person clicks on a button. Submit buttons have typically been getting ‘>’ on them as well. I feel submit implies a forward type of motion though ‘+’ would also create the feeling of addition.

Buttons for purchasing products have been getting the + symbol along with the “Purchase” text. When you click it you are adding something. Similarly the “Remove” buttons have been getting the – symbol along with the text.

I’m simply trying to convey more from a usability standpoint. I want to make it easy on users with reading difficulties, or that don’t have a native language of English, by having a stand alone symbol to represent the action.

Am I alone here? What else can we do visually to make site more accessible across language barriers? How do you address these issues?