Has this ever happened to you? You’re studying the menu on restaurant’s site, and just as you are reading the description for the Moroccan lentil salad, you are shown an annoying lightbox. Did you just win a free salad? No, someone wants to “connect”:

Ellary's Greens Lightbox

Sorry, Ellary’s Greens, I’m going to use your site as an example, even though this is happening on far too many sites right now. I assume that the waitstaff at Ellary’s doesn’t make a habit of grabbing customer’s menus while they are reading them only to ask if they’d like to receive emails about news, recipes and special events. Why should website visitors be treated any differently? This isn’t just a bad user experience, it’s user hostile.

At least the Ellary’s site gave me a few seconds before throwing a lightbox in my face. Many sites obscure their content immediately with a lightbox asking for something, usually an email address. Make magazine immediately comes to mind, but there are too many offending sites to list.

So, what is a designer charged with bolstering the email subscription list to do? Find another place to put your email subscription, don’t put it in a lightbox. Sure the ham-fisted lightbox may get more subscriptions, but how many of those are bogus emails like “micky@mouse.com” and “noway@dude.net”. Remember, those additional subscriptions come at the cost of your users, which you will have interrupted and annoyed.

Honestly, I hadn’t given much thought to icon fonts as they relate to accessibility until flipping through Death to Icon Fonts today. By the way, I wish there was a video of Seren Davies’s presentation, but I can’t seem to find one. She points out that people using alternative fonts and screen readers might not be getting a very good experience when icon fonts are used. Her recommendation is to use SVG instead, which has a few other advantages.

Given the lack of accessibility, it might be worth reconsidering the use of icon fonts. Choosing not to use icon fonts might be easy on a new project, but what if you already use them? Filament Group offers some detailed advice on bulletproofing accessible icon fonts that might be a good start.

Andrew Norcross answers a designer’s question about how to work better with developers. His answer is right-on and full of good tips.

I especially like this bit about why it’s important to include developers early in the process:

I can often point out small things in a design that seem like thr waway items to you, but can make things very difficult for me, or more importantly, difficult for a user to enter.

via CSS Tricks

goodui.org has 70 (so far) ideas for improving your interface. A lot of them are common knowledge, and many won’t be applicable to what you’re working on at this very moment–but it’s really great to have all of these on one page when you need a little nudge in the right direction. This link is going on my UX Bookshelf page.