Sweet Spot: Fortnite, Buttons and Desire Paths

Welcome to the Sweet Spot! In this series, I share 3 interesting things I’ve been reading and watching in the last 2 weeks. Each relates to a mission to help people see and understand data.

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This time, let’s look at user experience. What can Fortnite, buttons, and urban design teach us software and dashboard design? Quite a lot, as each of these three links show.

10 things you might not have noticed in Fortnite (Ars Technica, 13 minute video)

Addicted to Fortnite? Or have a child who is? Well, knowing Fortnite could well help us build dashboards, too. In this breakdown of Fortnite’s UI by Celia Hodent (UX Director at Epic Games), she explains how they enable onboarding, how they incorporate cognitive affordances and how they use colour. Don’t see much Red in Fortnite? That’s because it’s a reserved colour used for very specific signaling.

I’d love to see some Fortnite inspired UX touches in your dashboards!

Push Buttons (BBC Thinking Allowed, 28 minute podcast)

Buttons are on every desktop application, and at Tableau, we’ll soon be adding them to dashboards! But wait: have you ever stopped to think about the history or philosophy or sociology of buttons? I certainly haven’t.

This fascinating episode of Thinking Allowed talks to people who have thought about the deeper meaning of buttons. Are they neutral? Do they always make our lives easier? Who gets to push the button and who has to respond? Is mobile changing the button? There’s a whole book by one of the guests, Rachel Plotnick – go check it out.

Desire paths: the illicit trails that defy the urban planners (The Guardian, 4 minute read)

“Desire paths” are a well-known phenomenon displaying the tension between urban design and people’s yearning for a path of least resistance. This is a great overview, including one great nugget that Michigan State University (pictured) didn’t install any path when they built their campus: they waited for students to beat their own paths and then paved those! Could a similar approach be used for software or dashboard design? Can our user paths determine our future interface?

That’s it for now! As always: please join the slack channel #soc-the-sweet-spot to continue the conversation, and to add other interesting things you find on the web.

Have a great fortnite [sic], Andy

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