When you do UX work, sometimes you have to worry about the strangest things…
I recently got a bug reported to me about the visuals in the sound control panel applet not being aligned properly (this is from the UI for a new Windows 7 feature):
The problem as reported was that the microphone was aligned incorrectly w.r.t. the down arrow. – the microphone was too far to the right.
But if you look carefully, you’ll see that that isn’t the case – drawing a box around the controls makes it clearer:
Nitpickers Corner: For those of you that love to count pixels, it’s entirely possible that the arrow might be off by a couple of pixels but fixing it wouldn’t fix the problem, because then the arrow would be off-center with respect to the speakers. The real problem is that the microphone icon is visually weighted to the right – the actual icon resource was lined up with the arrow, but because the visual weight was to the right, it displayed poorly.
It turns out that there’s really no good way of fixing this – if we were to adjust the location of the icons, it wouldn’t help, because a different device would have a different visual center (as the speaker icon does)…
Instead, we looked at the visuals and realized that there was an alternative solution: Adjust the layout for the dialog and the problem more-or-less goes away:
The problem still exists at some level because the arrow is centered with the icons but some icons (like the stalk microphone above) are bottom heavy. But for whatever reason, the visuals aren’t as disconcerting when laid out horizontally.
As I said in the title – sometimes you need to worry about the strangest things.