Opening eyes with a slider

I spend a lot of time working with/talking with programmers.

If you spend time discussing software, websites, or life in general with them, you might get the idea that they are serial complainers.

While a few might live up to that, a substantial part of a programmer’s work is to find bugs – the ones someone *else* created, of course (sarcasm, anyone?). That penchant for bug detection, along with an investment in good design, is what makes things better.

It’s natural for programmers to point out the faults, just like it is for a woodworker to run their hand along a freshly sanded wood surface feeling for rough spots.

Destruction

That brings us to the slider feature the NYTimes used to make it easy to compare before/after tsunami images from Japan.

This simple feature demonstrates why a strong user interface, whether for software, devices or websites, is so important.

Comparing the images side to side like we would in the past is one thing. No one would say that the photos aren’t impactful, unsettling, disturbing, etc.

They’re hard to wrap your head around. Doing so using the slider brings it even closer.

The point?

The slider allows the photos – which haven’t changed – to really bring home the impact of the tsunami.

You might not have thought that was possible after seeing video and photos on the news and online for several days, yet there it is.

An innocuous little feature whose importance you might have a difficult time justifying in a meeting about possible new product features has suddenly changed everything about those images.

Imagine trying to place a value on this via email message to a vendor or client.

Yet the benefit is obvious, once demonstrated.

What can you do differently to open the eyes of others to the things you find seriously impactful?

While you’re mulling that over, please help Japan.

PS: Kudos to the NY Times and GeoEye for sharing this.