The latest post on 24ways is all about subliminal user experience - that is, subtle things in your site that can make the user fully aware of the polish that went into the site. In it, Chris Sealey discusses three topics:

  1. progress activity and post-active states
  2. pseudo-class preloading
  3. buttons and their (mis)behaviour

The first topic is about making it clear to a user that an activity is taking place: have no fear, end user, you really did successfully hit that link - now chill out and wait for it. He just adds a spinner and a state change to buttons when they've been pressed, but it provides a calming effect that leaves no room for ambiguity, and it just feels better.

Next, Sealey discusses using basic css to preload any content that may be conditionally shown later, so that the user doesn't have to deal with a seemingly-briefly-unresponsive design while their browser fetches a few tens of Ks in the background.

In the third and final topic, he covers tweaks that can be applied to links to make them feel more native, and less 'webby' in a bad sense. For instance, You can select text in a link on a webpage that's been made to look like a button, but this makes for an unpleasant end user experience. Chris outlines using some CSS selectors that I was unaware of to turn off this behaviour (until now, I'd been using javascript any time I wanted to make sure text wasn't selectable in an element, which also guaranteed I reached for that particular UX tool way less than I will now that I know it's available from my stylesheets).

He also covers making a button non-draggable, but for me this didn't work in either Firefox or Chrome.

Anyway, the article's fantastic and I wholeheartedly encourage you to check it out.

Josh Adams is a developer and architect with over eleven years of professional experience building production-quality software and managing projects. Josh is isotope|eleven's lead architect, and is responsible for overseeing architectural decisions and translating customer requirements into working software. Josh graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) with Bachelor of Science degrees in both Mathematics and Philosophy. He runs the ElixirSips screencast series, teaching hundreds of developers Elixir. He also occasionally provides Technical Review for Apress Publishing, specifically regarding Arduino microprocessors. When he's not working, Josh enjoys spending time with his family.