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Humane by Design (humanebydesign.com)
99 points by AngeloAnolin 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 36 comments

Would a flat page listing the key tenets with correct headers be so painful to create?

Why do I have to click into each of these headers? Something something the presumption to reducing friction something something thoughtful interaction.

> Finite: Bottomless feeds and auto-play keep users from leaving but lock them into an infinite loop of consumption. We can maximize the overall quality of time spent by bounding the experience and prioritizing meaningful and relevant content.

Agree. They're bounding the experience over aggressively.

There’s no longer anything that qualifies as intuitive design, and training isn’t really enough.

I say this as someone who’s been designing and using computers since the Osborne 1, who can’t use his own iPhone 7 when my girlfriend gives it back to me, and who can’t verbally explain to said girlfriend how to gesture effectively on my iPhone XR.

It doesn’t work when I re-install Linux after not using it for merely 3 years, even though my WordStar sense memory is stronger than vi, emacs and Word on both Mac and Windows. What the hell did they do to Gnome!?

I do UI and UX testing when rolling out enterprise and web apps, but design..!? It’s temporal and artificial. It’s not actually foundational, like thumbs and squatting.

How might we solve this problem? It seems that gesture input is impossible to standardize simply for the fact that the signifiers are invisible and the use cases/edge cases are complex from a human factors perspective.

All of these metaphors are pretty temporal. It changes so often I’m not sure we “solve” it.

I taught community college for a spell, computers 101. When you go back to the very beginning and have to explain desktops and folders and files and file types to the same people who have little to no familiarity with moving a mouse... it’s profound how un-intuitive all of computing is... from the very beginning.

I think of this when I switch between Windows machines and Macs and their scrolling directions are opposite of each other.

That said, I’ve never taught my son how to type and I’ve never explained computers to him. He’s the kind of kid who figured out iPads and iPhones on his own, at a young age. And he is definitely a fast touch typist, all on his own.

Maybe “intuitive UI” metaphors aren’t helpful here. Computers are lived experiences, like homes and hotel rooms and cars. Think of the car you drive now, and how familiar it is, and think of the car you had 10 or 20 years ago. Get in that older car and it won’t be familiar right out the gate.

We have hundreds of interfaces that we live with... kitchens, rooms, appliances, spaces we navigate in the dark, cars, office layouts, TV interfaces, etc.

Most are shockingly poor interface experiences, and the brands/models that have them usually don’t maintain them. And we switch those pretty regularly with little thought to the next relative to the last. Because it would be maddening to be held to those things as we try and move along in our lives.

Example: I used to have a Volkswagen CC. Two things I loved about it: the auto-hold button (keeps brakes engaged and you can lift your foot off during stop-and-go traffic). and a “Jump” button on radio that could be programmed to go to any preset in memory. So, if you program your satellite radio stations in order of preference, you could hit Jump and go back to the first preset. Lovely feature.

That no subsequent VW or Audi I test drove afterwards kept those features has puzzled me ever since.

Live and long... for old interfaces, better interfaces, etc.

Thanks for sharing your unique perspective. With the recent advent of VUI (voice user interface e.g. Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant) and the fact it will eventually pass the uncanny valley given sufficient iterations/user feedback/time, do you see this as the start of a paradigm shift from an era of error prone, unusable gesture-based computing devices to seamlessly intuitive natural voice-driven experiences?

I may lack the imagination to see how VUI will be the predominant interface paradigm for computing.

People often need to stop speaking, and often ask for silence, when they need to think. Thinking and Talking is definitely a useful modality (think, relationship discussions, brainstorming), but Thinking and Non-verbalism is also a necessary way to function. Think of when your partner goes silent in a conversation and you look over and they're starting at their phone, or doing something on their phone. People can't talk and do something else at the same time.

I work from home. I often wake up, go for a run, eat breakfast, sit at my computer, begin my workday, and when my first conference call of the day begins... find myself a little rusty at speaking. It seems like "talking" has a spin-up cycle for some people.

I don't want to talk to my computers... so I haven't yet developed any positive notions of living with a VUI.

I'm sure this looks great on the designers 27" iMac but its another site that says absolutely nothing until I start scrolling.


If I adjust my viewport to an even lower resolution (to match an iPad) it does manage to fit in the section headings.

>Humane by Design is a resource that provides guidance for designing ethically humane digital products through patterns focused on user well-being.

Ironically the website itself is not easy to navigate on mobile.

They talk about inclusive design and then make it impossible to tell which element has keyboard focus.


> http://www.outlinenone.com/

Not to be pedantic or nitpicky, but was there really a need to create a complete website with a dedicated domain name for advertising such a simple idea? Surely it could have been done via a blog post or, if a separate page is needed, hosting on a (free) static site hosting service like Surge, Netlify or Now.

That website comes from a different age. One where Now and similar products didn’t exists. (It was up in 2012 I think)

It is up since 2010 and thus it predates Surge and Netlify by four years.

Love the theme and principles listed but navigation is a bit cumbersome and visual-heavy. Nonetheless, the effort is appreciated!

I love that it works great without javascript. So many pages today need javascript to display anything. This one just adds some additional animations, but some animations even work without.

This site is one of the best dark theme site designs I have seen. Good job.

This is ridiculous. Why should every site have to design their own light and/or dark themes? When you visited the site you thought it had a great theme; I on the other hand ended up leaving after 5 seconds because light text on black or near-black backgrounds makes my eyes hurt. This uses gray text which makes it a bit easier than some other dark sites, but gray on black causes issues for a number of other people. A bunch of people think it looks great, a bunch of other people find it unremarkable, and a bunch of other people are actively harmed by the theme.

Why can't the User Agent allow the user to set themes, with some sensible defaults provided? There should be a background color, foreground (text) color, a few accent colors, etc. Custom themes should only be used by applications which have really different requirements; background/foreground/accents/good-bad-error colors should be enough for 95% of them and the other 4% can interpolate to get more colors. This also helps people with special needs such as colorblindness (almost 10% of men) and poor eyesight.

For example, on KDE I can set a system-wide color scheme applied to Qt (and also attempted to apply to GTK) applications. It comes with a pretty good default light and dark theme, but the user can get any custom theme they want or make their own. It seems to work just fine here, with a wide variety of applications looking great even with nonstandard themes.

Of course HTML/CSS has been evolving for many decades, but there needs to be a reset at some point where we switch from legacy technology designed to make reading documents to a new system that is useful for making web applications and interactive documents.

One thing I've done on my browser is to disable custom fonts. Font CSS is ignored; all webpages render with GNU FreeFont (sans + serif; sans is very similar to San Francisco / Helvetica) and Fira Code. It looks great; once in a blue moon I find a page where typography is the focus of the page and in those instances I copy the URL into another browser. When I occasionally use that other browser for normal browsing, the presence of custom fonts makes me feel the same way as when you turn off an ad blocker and surf the web - it's absolutely disgusting. There's no reason to allow companies to push their ridiculous branding styles down our throats.

An idea I just had is to make a browser addon which automatically tries to do this - every element's color value is categorized as light, dark, accent, etc. and then gets replaced by the user-configured theme.

It would be nice if browsers had a built in standardized design mode to let people view the content the way they want. Like reader mode but more powerful, and standardized.

This is actually something I've been thinking about for a long, long time. A platform only allowing for Markdown and some HTML could do the trick, since the CSS configuration would be user-defined. And it would work on low-end devices, as well, even e-ink tablets. I even came up with a mock-up a month ago for a blogging platform following that premise: https://imgur.com/a/57pArEk.

The W3C is actually working on that:


However, personalization doesn't work well with the current system of CSS. No page (I know of) has a stable CSS that would enable personalization to any meaningful degree.

> Why can't the User Agent allow the user to set themes, with some sensible defaults provided?

I think you'll be happy to learn about prefers-color-scheme: https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/CSS/@media/pref...

Chrome hasn't implemented it yet (Firefox and Safari did), but there's some activity here: https://bugs.chromium.org/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=889087

As far as I understand it, a website would have two stylesheets (dark and light) and your browser would pick which one should be used. Websites would still have two themes, but the activation process would get automated. This would allow the browsers to finally implement a "I prefer dark themes" setting.

It's almost like HTML should be used to encode semantic content and leave presentation up to the browser...

FWIW I think current science states that readability is improved with white text on a dark background vs the inverse.

> There's no reason to allow companies to push their ridiculous branding styles down our throats.

Understandable, but on the contrary, you can imagine complaints on the opposite end of the spectrum. "Man, their site is ugly!"

Designers do their best to understand and create experiences that are crafted to their target audience; to, well, varying degrees of efficacy.

One thing I know for sure is that colors are easier to differentiate with light on dark. I switch from my normal light color scheme to a dark one in bright environments because there's more contrast for the syntax highlighting colors. However, my personal expiernece is that white on dark is stressful for the eyes. It's ok on my computer but really bad on my phone (very hidpi), and even worse with the blue light filter on. Even if current research indicates light on dark is better, that doesn't mean there aren't a nontrivial number of people who have issues with it.

W.R.T. your other point, my argument was that people should be able to use their own themes but then it becomes the responsibility of the User Agent vendor to provide a great default one. While Mac doesn't allow custom themes, they have made this work pretty well with a switchable light/dark theme. All apps using the native widgets look beautiful; each app designer just has to put UI elements in the right place and make them behave nicely with user expectations. I don't use macOS personally so I don't know how this works with nonnative apps, but on the browser we have a single language set (HTML/CSS) with tags for everything already (button, progress, various text input, radio/checkbox, etc.) so that's not an issue.

In my previous post I alluded to replacing HTML/CSS but that seems unnecessary. Currently CSS is used for both styling and layout/positioning. If User Agents provide a great default style then users can strip out the CSS styles, the same way users can disallow custom fonts after specifying a good default font in the UA settings. And when UAs become responsible for styling, it's only natural that the more feature-rich UAs would allow users to configure the entire theme.

Determining which parts of CSS are style and which are layout might be a bit difficult, but can't be too hard. Eventually people will start using CSS for layout only and stop putting style in CSS, which solves the problem. The only possible issue is that companies still want to shove their branding down our throats instead of letting us use a native-looking or otherwise preferred theme. In which case... fuck 'em. I'll block it the same way I block their shitty fonts.

Dark Reader for Firefox sort of does this, I think.

Reader modes are a good step, but they only work for static content. Ideally this could also be applied to web applications, the same way that apps written in Qt or GTK behave and look very much like native apps on Windows/Mac/Linux.

To each their own, but I think the huge space left on the header could be used to establish what the project is actually about[0]. Not that its name doesn't give you a clear hint, and I love the seamless transition between pages, but I had to click on "info" to get a confirmation, instead of having it at first glance.

Anyhow, kudos to the author for putting up a website to tackle such a hugely relevant issue these days.

[0] Like this: https://i.imgur.com/GgudrKa.png.

What is definitely missing is a github link. I would love to help fix some issues (as I think the ressource itself is pretty good) but there is no option to do that.

This site recommends Tristan Harris's work pretty prominently.

For a sober take on Harris and "tech humanists" more generally, check out "Why Silicon Valley can’t fix itself" by Ben Tarnoff and Moira Weigel.


This page's design is so awful on a phone. I had no idea what was what and what to do.

One of the reasons I switched back to iOS is to leave to notification hell of android.

Ah yes, because as we all know, Android phones have absolutely no control over notifications at all.. yep..

Have you done _any_ research? You can disable notifications for any app you like in pretty much any semi-recent version of Android.

You don't have any contact details in your profile so I can't make this comment to you in private. So instead I've rot13'd it so it won't be read by random passers-by ...

V whfg jnagrq gb fnl gung gur fnepnfz qbrfa'g pbzr npebff jryy. Vg srryf fanexl naq aba-pbafgehpgvir. Fvzvyneyl, gur frpbaq cnentencu pbzrf npebff nf n crefbany nggnpx, engure guna cebivqvat hfrshy vasbezngvba. Va gur thvqryvarf vg fnlf:

Or xvaq. Qba'g or fanexl. Pbzzragf fubhyq trg zber gubhtugshy naq fhofgnagvir, abg yrff, nf n gbcvp trgf zber qvivfvir.

Vg nyfb fnlf:

Cyrnfr qba'g pbzzrag ba jurgure fbzrbar ernq na negvpyr.

Nygubhtu abg qverpgyl nccyvpnoyr, vg srryf yvxr vg'f va gur fnzr nern nf lbhe pbzzrag nobhg qbvat erfrnepu.

Fb fbzrguvat zber hfrshy jbhyq or:

"Gung qbrfa'g zngpu zl rkcrevrapr, jurer nal frzv-erprag irefvba bs Naqebvq nyybjf lbh gb qvfnoyr abgvsvpngvbaf sbe cerggl zhpu nal ncc. Pna lbh tvir zr rknzcyrf jurer gung'f abg gur pnfr?"

V whfg gubhtug vg jbhyq or jbegu tvivat fbzr srrqonpx sebz na vzcnegvny olfgnaqre.

Can you elaborate on that?

How about just black text on a white background, with headings, paragraphs, etc. Like an ordinary book? It works.

The site is more obsessed with clever design and useless gadgets than simply presenting text.

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