The Fine Print: We All Click “I Agree,” But To What Are We Agreeing? Nearly every software vendor uses some form of the click-through agreement, or CTA, as part of the installation process. Yet this important and contractually binding information is presented in an unreadable, unusable, and unintuitive format.
As part of my MFA Thesis project at the Savannah College of Art and Design [SCAD], I explored the state of the CTA, the information it contains, and how it may be presented in a readable, comprehensible manner through the application of graphic design and user experience.
These slides demonstrate a proposed redesign of legal agreements modeled after the Apple iTunes CTA, presented at bottom.
IRS Form 1040 Redesign: The standard individual income tax form, the IRS 1040, is indicative of the lack of user-centered design forced upon the public. Used by every conceivable demographic in the United States, the form seems to have been designed in an effort to promote mistakes and confusion. Because of its broad circulation and poor design, I centered my usability redesign class project on the Form 1040.
The form violates many principles of usability: it has no discernible starting point, no clear path toward completion, a lack of hierarchy, a plethora of alignments and inputs, and a dearth of plain language.
The redesign is a trade-off of sorts: instead of squeezing an incomprehensible design onto one sheet of paper, the revision opts for aesthetics across multiple pages. The printing costs, however, are mitigated by the potential reduction in audits, revisions, refilings, and mistake-induced restarts.
While the proposed redesigns do not venture into taxes, credits, income, and refunds, the proposed revisions serve as a template for their layout.
Usable Print: Applying graphic design to the usability of consumer documents promotes comprehension, fairness, and accuracy. Unfortunately, poor typography in concert with heavy-handed copywriting and questionable arrangements often result in confusion and errors.
To demonstrate the existence of the problem and to present solutions, I designed a series of posters based on my redesign of IRS Form 1040. The posters present the original form, call out the various design problems, and demonstrate a more usable design.
This project pulls the from the best practices of web and interface design and applies them to the printed form. Big tip of the hat to the writing of Luke Wroblewski and Jakob Nielsen.