Vaporising users

Developing a usable application requires that you pay particular attention to who you’re designing for.  That statement isn’t exactly rocket surgery, but it becomes rocket surgery when you begin to realise that everyone has their own ideas of who their users are.  Faced with broad labels, such as ‘ software developer’ or ‘dba’, it can … Read more

War correspondant

At times, Red gate is a dangerous place to work.  It’s not that the volcano in the first floor meeting room erupts very often, or that the crocodiles have managed to break free from the car I managed to trick them into.  No.  Not those kind of dangers. Let me explain.  It started innocently enough … Read more

Creating Usable Applications

If I had a penny for every person who said "usability is just common sense", I'd have a pretty reasonable stack of pennies - maybe 30 or so. Clearly I'm not going to be able to retire on this, but at least it demonstrates that many people have misconceptions about how usable interfaces are designed. … Read more

Getting to know you…

We’re a friendly bunch here at Red Gate – always looking to make new friends.  Whilst it’s true that we dearly love sitting in front of our pooters and seeing who can grow the best chilli plants, sometimes we just want to get out, meet our users and have a jolly good gossip. We like … Read more


OK.. this has nothing to do with SQL, and for that I apologise.  But it does have some relevance to usable design and application development: Watch the video and hurry on back…. SPLINK OK.. so it’s a road safety message for children enjoying the 1970’s in the UK.  I can remember this one, scarily enough.  … Read more

It all went wrong

Things weren’t going swimmingly.  In fact, you could say it was an unmitigated disaster.  That might sound overly dramatic though, so let’s just say things were somewhat less optimal and keep it quiet.  Nobody needs to know.  In fact, forget I even mentioned it.  Forget this even.  No really… stop reading.  Why are you still … Read more

The usability curse

When I did my degree, nobody told me that my life would forever be cursed. Not once was I taken aside, sat down, and told in clear and simple words that my life would never be the same.  Like hyperactive kittens faced with a vat of warm fishy milk, we lapped up the techniques to … Read more

Filtering foibles

There are times when you’re striving for a usable design, and no matter what you try, your attempt just fails to cut the mustard.  Everyone has a difference of opinion as to what should be done to fix it and you’re stuck there trying to think of a sensible improvement.  What to do? Time to … Read more

Cat detective

Ahhh… now… er… that shouldn’t happen.  Oooh, yup, that’s not at all clear.  Purrr, Meow, Purrr.  Hmmm… they’re not finding that and why are they trying there?  Reviewing a usability trial recording is akin to playing the role of a detective.  You can’t be one of those detectives who, week after week, fail to solve … Read more

Humbling times

It’s that time again. Time to leave the comfy confines of the office, brave the real world and meet the most important people who work for Red Gate: our users. With a bunch of design ideas stashed on a laptop, we venture off to learn exactly how wrong we’ve got it.  I have to admit, … Read more

World Usability Day

Thursday 3rd November is World Usability Day. A day that is hugely anticipated.  Millions will take to the streets, trying to catch a glimpse of their favourite usability guru, sagely administering sermons on the woes of unusable products.  I can see it now – it’ll generate almost as much fervour as the results for the … Read more

Aesthetically usable

If there’s something that eats at the very nub of a usability guy’s reason to be, it’s that usability is something a consumer frequently overlooks during their purchasing process. If you ask them if they think it’s important, they’ll be plenty of nods and mumbles about how much they value usable products, but something seems … Read more


Ever heard of NEDS? It’s another handy acronym in a world full of HIMPERs (An acronym I just made up, but it looks pretty convincing if you ask me).  So NEDS stands for: New Economy Depression Syndrome and it’s something that is apparently increasing in the hectic lives we lead.  Gone are the days when … Read more

Microsoft radically re-design the Office UI

Microsoft’s new Office UI This could be an unmitigated disaster if those mighty Microsofteees misjudge how their users use the various office applications.  In theory, it’s a great idea – like one big context sensitive menu for whatever it is you’re doing at the time.  Why show the user every darn widget in your arsenal … Read more