Month: June 2014

Taking Inventory

Summer has finally arrived. After a Chicago winter that shattered records, including coldest average temperatures, it is no surprise that many of us feel like we’ve just emerged from our cocoons. And as we reacquaint ourselves with the beautiful ‘outside’ world, it’s a great time to take inventory. What have you been up to these last few months, exactly? Too often, we place our focus on the demands and opportunities ahead. But it’s equally important that we take some time to reflect upon our accomplishments. Indeed, let’s take a few minutes to consider this past winter and spring. Think about those many tasks, both large and small, that you’ve completed. Even better: write a list. Taking note of your accomplishments can be quite energizing. When you’re done, you can even pat yourself on the back! A bit of pride in one’s past work is often the missing ingredient as we face the tasks ahead. Looking back at Gulo Solutions’ own list, we can’t help but feel good about the warm, summer road before us. We’re currently working on projects for the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Advance Illinois and the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research. And we’ve been fortunate to work with some amazing organizations in the past few months. Here’s a quick look at just a few of the projects that kept us busy this winter:

ASN conference website

Conference WordPress website

…featuring a responsive custom WordPress theme

Responsive conference website

Point-of-sale integrated e-commerce website


…and we redesigned


I Love Research That Re-enforces My Intuition

jakob-nielsen_cropped.jpg.400x400_q95_crop_upscaleYou know when you do something that feels right and then feel nobody listens to your advice? Yet, you’re the “expert” and really everyone else should listen to you and follow your lead?

Today we still have clients specifically ask to make sure certain links “open in new window/tab”, or target=”_blank” a href, when adding specific hyperlinks. We try and tell them, we don’t love that behavior, as it’s best to let users decide how they want a window to open and behave. In general this is bad practice and poor usability and ultimately confuses users. Jakob Nielsen comes to the rescue with “Opening New Browser Windows”:

Opening up new browser windows is like a vacuum cleaner sales person who starts a visit by emptying an ash tray on the customer’s carpet. Don’t pollute my screen with any more windows, thanks (particularly since current operating systems have miserable window management). If I want a new window, I will open it myself!

Designers open new browser windows on the theory that it keeps users on their site. But even disregarding the user-hostile message implied in taking over the user’s machine, the strategy is self-defeating since it disables the Back button which is the normal way users return to previous sites. Users often don’t notice that a new window has opened, especially if they are using a small monitor where the windows are maximized to fill up the screen. So a user who tries to return to the origin will be confused by a grayed out Back button.

(See also special guidelines for opening PDF files in new windows.)

Jakob said that in 1999! He continues to have to reassert himself 25 years later:

Opening new browser windows is highly confusing for most users. Although many users can cope with extra windows that they’ve opened themselves, few understand why the Back button suddenly stops working in a new window that the computer initiated. Opening new windows was #2 on my list of “Alertbox: The Top Ten Web Design Mistakes of 1999” top-10 Web design mistakes of 1999; that this design approach continues to hurt users exemplifies both the longevity of usability guidelines and the limited improvement in user skills.

Thanks Jakob, I feel much more vindicated in my advice now!

Gearing Up for the World Cup

Another four years have passed; it’s time once again for the Beautiful Game’s most prestigious competition. And it’s also time for U.S. ‘soccer’ fans to show their love for the game!

As we get ready for the World Cup, Soccer Post is literally gearing up fans all across the country. As the nation’s largest chain of soccer stores, their website generates a ton of sales. Naturally, we’re thrilled to have built the site for them!

With 29 locations, there’s a good chance that there’s a store near you; otherwise, you might want to put in a rush order to get geared up in time for the games! Fortunately, their online store is always open. 2014-06-09 15-03-49