Speaker Deck

Human Compatibility Error: How novice tech users in West Africa respond to your fancy CSS

by Ally Long

Published November 30, 2016 in Technology

The opening talk from CSSConf AU. Video here: http://2016.cssconf.com.au/

We can do so much cool stuff with CSS now! Animations are totally boss. Focus effects are so much fun. We barely even have to worry about browser compatibility any more!

Ok, hold up. What about human compatibility? How does a newbie react to something like an animated input focus effect when trying to fill out an online form? We can probably all fairly easily venture outside our meme bubble and ask a Luddite relative to test our app. But let’s move even further outside the comfort zone. What about people in places with unreliable power and intermittent internet? How does someone who's been introduced to technology through a second-hand cheap Blackberry knock-off powered by a car battery respond to these new and shiny ways of interacting with machines? (Hint: 😱) Do animations hinder or help? Does a flat UI give people enough clues about how to use an interface? How can we make sure that keeping up with the cutting edge won’t alienate people in these fast-growing emerging economies who are just starting to get into the web?

I work for an NGO, designing and building apps for public health projects in West Africa – oftentimes for people that have never used any kind of digital interface before. I’ve done a lot of user research and direct observation of novice tech users and how they navigate apps, input data, and understand screen flows. In this talk, I share what I’ve learnt through this work. I go through specific and practical examples about how newcomers are using all this fancy stuff we’re building, and what that means for the way we design and build interfaces. You’ll leave with a better understanding of how you can optimise for human compatibility while still having fun with css.

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