This is the settings box of our app Quick List.
(The full video that this gif was taken from is in the app store preview video.)
Looks fun, right? Except, there’s a big problem with it, and you most likely didn’t even notice it. In fact, that’s kind of the problem:
There’s an easter egg, but nobody knows about it. See where it says “Throw Settings Box to Dismiss” at the bottom? Well right when you throw it to dismiss, it says “Wait! Catch it!”
I tried to make that very obvious by making it show up right when you fling the box. But none of our 3 beta testers (my mom, my dad, and my wife) noticed it when they dismissed the settings box!
We learned a few things about people’s attention span from this:
People don’t keep staring at the bottom-bar words when they throw it, they watch the box. In hindsight this is obvious, since that’s where the movement is when you throw the box. It was meant to be a fun little way to dismiss the box, and it worked! Too well in fact.
Some of them didn’t even notice the words in the first place. It may be a kind of ad blindness or something, but it took them a few seconds to figure out how to dismiss the settings box.
When they do read the words, they assume it’ll never change, so they never look back down at it. I was hoping the growing of the black box would hit their peripheral vision, but that just doesn’t happen in practice.
It’s hard to know what’s a better way to get their attention while still being subtle enough that 50% of users won’t figure it out. I’ve come up with a few solutions but they each seem to have problems:
Showing the text after a period of time won’t work since there could be a huge variance in how long people look at this box.
Putting the text somewhere “more visible” could be too jarring to the user experience and put them off.
Making the text bigger doesn’t solve the third problem. Plus it creates an inconsistent look and just looks amateurish.
And we can’t put the text inside the box, since it’s already at its maximum height to fit on an iPhone SE; any taller and words will be cut off.
Overall I think dismissing a popped-over view by throwing it is the way of the future for a lot of smaller views.
It feels natural to “fling” a hovering view out of the way to reveal whatever was under it at first.
It’s easier to reach than an “x” button, since every pixel on the view is a valid place to start the swipe.
And because it’s a agesture rather than a control, there’s no need to worry about placement, size, appearance, etc. so it’s much easier to make it consistent.
But not a lot of apps we’ve tried seem to use this technique yet. Once more apps start to use this, I feel like there’s a good chance Apple will standardize it like it standardized the pull-down-to-refresh idea that Tweetie popularized 7 years ago.
In the meantime, there’s still a lot of pioneering to do for this technique, including paying closer attention to where people’s attention goes during the dismiss process.
If you want to try the app to get a feel for what I’m talking about (or perhaps find the easter egg! ;) the app is free on the app store.
My name is Steven Degutis, and I've been writing software professionally for a decade. During that time, I've written many apps and websites, quite a few technical articles, and kept up-to-date with the rapidly evolving software industry.
If you have software needs for web, mobile, or desktop, and are looking for a seasoned software professional, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a phone call.
- Self-employed – present
- Clean Coders – 5 years
- 8th Light – 2 years
- Big Nerd Ranch – 1 year
- Self-employed - 1 year
- Web: full-stack
- iOS (UIKit)
- macOS (Cocoa)
- REST APIs
- AWS / EC2 / ELB
- HTML5 / CSS
Over the past decade, I've written a total of 172 technical articles on various programming languages, frameworks, best practices, and my own projects, as I kept up-to-date and active in the software industry.
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- 2017 — "Clean code" isn't actually clean
- 2017 — Passion in your field is overrated
- 2017 — What I learned in 5 days of writing an experimental website
- 2014 — Age of the Polyglot
- 2013 — How to Program
- 2013 — Ignore the Naysayers
- 2013 — Writing Clearly
- 2012 — Reinvent the wheel
- 2010 — Good usability
- 2009 — Twitter is the wrong tool
- 2009 — We're all pretty bad at driving
- 2008 — Why I Code
|August||NDD: Narrative Driven Development|
|August||The truth about TDD|
|August||Macroframeworks vs Microframeworks|
|March||Notes on Haskell Extensions|
|February||Second thoughts on front-end tools|
|February||First thoughts on front-end tools|
|February||Some thoughts on GUIs|
|February||First thoughts on OCaml|
|February||First thoughts on Haskell|
|August||Age of the Polyglot|
|August||The history of Mjolnir|
|August||Quitting the GUI wars|
|June||Lua: my new favorite extension language|
|January||My programming life-goals|
|January||Lingua Latina, Pars I|
|January||Allocating an AST on the stack|
|April||Ruby Accessors Considered Pernicious|
|March||Reinvent the wheel|
Here are some of the projects I'm most proud of. They were created using a variety of technologies, running on several different platforms and OSes. They're all finished products, and many of them are open source.
I made Docks in 2009 for users who wanted to swap out icons in their Dock with a single click. Its unique functionality and design aesthetic attracted the attention of Apple, Engadget, MacWorld, and led to an acquisition of my start-up by Big Nerd Ranch.
This toy was made in a weekend to entertain my 1 year old daughter. It lets you create bubbles with your fingers, which then simulate physics by bumping into each other and falling.
When I couldn't find an app in the App Store that let me make very simple lists extremely quickly, I made one myself. I use it almost every day to organize and track my activities.
I created this app to increase my productivity by letting me move windows around in macOS using keyboard shortcuts. It grew into a community-driven highly extensible app, using Lua for its plugin system.
Implementing this elite social network gave me experience integrating both Apple Pay and credit card payments (via Stripe.com) seamlessly into web apps, for a frictionless and pain-free payment experience.
This isn't just any chatroom. In this web app, you can see what everyone is typing while they type it. I made this in order to scratch my itch for making real-time apps and games, and learned how to use WebSockets in the process.
This was written in 2009, before the time of Slack, when IRC was the main way for programmers to get short-term assistance from each other. Its purpose was to be a beautiful app with an emphasis on simplicity and usability over technical power.
This is an app I actually use every single day. It lets you move windows with global keyboard shortcuts. Since it uses Vim-like key bindings, it should feel pretty natural to any programmer. There's no configuration needed; it Just Works™.
As an evolution of Phoenix, Hydra was my first attempt at embedding a full Lua virtual machine into an Objective-C app, to make a lightweight and efficient window manager that focused on speed, low memory usage, low CPU usage, and overall being gentle on laptop batteries.
These may be tiny, but they're interesting technical feats.
|Lua4Swift||Swift framework for embedding Lua with a native Swift API.|
|choose||Command line fuzzy-matching tool for macOS that uses a GUI|
|music||Command line music daemon for macOS that only speaks JSON|
|hecto||Command line text editor with an embedded Lua plugin system|
|ZephSharp||Window manager for Windows using Clojure for scripting|
|management||Minimalist EC2 configuration & deployment tool in Ruby.|
|go.assert||Assertion helper package for writing tests in Go.|
|go.shattr||Go library for printing shell-attributed strings to stdout.|
|OCDSpec2||Objective-C based testing framework with Xcode integration.|