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The Opposite of Fitts' Law


@Davraamides: crucial to keep in mind that although items are easier to click if they’re on the screen edge, being near the edge - even one pixel away - completely removes the benefit. In fact, putting something near the edge probably makes it a bit harder to click, because it’ll more likely be further away from the user’s start position (compared to, say, an object in the centre of the screen). The Mac OS menu bar is a fairly rare example of an effective application of the rule.

Actually, “completely removes” is incorrect.

Anything along the edges of the screen is a flick away from anything on the screen. Something 2 pixels away from an edge is a flick and adjustment away from anywhere on the screen. The further from the edge the greater the adjustment, and it doesn’t take long before “flick/adjust” is just as difficult as simply point/click.

Moving something a few pixels “inland” does make it harder to click than placing it right along the edge, and there is almost never a good reason to do so. Example, since you mentioned it, the OS X menu bar: the Apple and Spotlight menu items look like they are set in from the corners by a bit, but if you flick the mouse to the corner and click you’ll find that they activate even from the top/left or top/right pixels. Same thing is true of the Dock; the icon for each app hovers several pixels “inland” from the edge, but clicking right at the edge still activates the particular app (although I think this was changed at some point, as I seem to recall Jaguar at least not acting this way).

The point, though, is that you don’t give “all” benefit away. You just give away some of the benefit. And, if you want your button to be easy to get to yet hard to accidentally click, maybe 5 pixels in from the corner isn’t a bad idea.


Hey, don’t forget “Reply” vs “Reply to all” in just about every email program ever.


Don’t get me started on “Rebuild Solution” just under “Build Solution” in Visual Studio either…

A confirmation would be nice, especially for a 40-minute-compile-like project.


One side note - I have my desktop stretched between display and TV, so cursor does NOT automatically stop at at least one edge of the screen.


Ever attempt to rename file on a network drive in Windows XP via the right-click menu, and then delete it? Preventable if you didn’t disable the annoying “Are you sure you want to delete…” prompt.


"Why is there a dog in the jet fighter?"

Or, consider the contrapositive question:
“Where is his human?”


Another example would be the Birdman coffee break:


Yeah and the one thing I hate in Windows (all versions) is how the rename and delete items in the context menu are next to each other. Cannot tell how many time I have accidentally clicked delete instead of rename. Luckily there is a confirmation box for deleting.


As for overriding clipboard contents - try ClipX. It keeps your clipboard history. A must-have imo. (Freeware)


Great article, but you got one thing wrong: google want you to click on the wrong thing. Their whole business model revolves around it.


As someone who worked on combat aircraft I can safely say that there is no “eject lever” in a combat aircraft.
Usually there is a strap between the legs of a pilot that he needs to pull to eject.

Other than this, I learned from this post :slight_smile:


It is worth pointing out that many fighter ejection levers are protected by yet another lever that must be moved out of the way on purpose before the primary ejection lever can be pulled. Also, when not in flight, a safety pin prevents it from being pulled at all.

I analogize this to an “Advanced” button/tab/etc with a disclaimer that generally says something like “Don’t fiddle with things you don’t understand, or the universe will implode”.


@Shmulevich: F-15s have a handle on the outboard leading edges of the seat, near the thighs. There is a safety lever on the left one that locks both of them in place. On ACES 2 ejection seats, anyway.
See this pic:


you're god

The song stopped, I clicked the little “update” button in your last example, you are god! The button in your example when presented in the way it was presented really got me excited about clicking it. Even though I knew that it was just an image, and that nothing would happen, I clicked it.

I provided the same picture in this comment… You want to click it? Right? Your fingers are itching, you must! YOU CAN NOT RESIST IT ANYMORE! Give in Jeff, give in, it will feel better, and you’ll become god.


They do this in games too. One that gets me all the time is Team Fortress 2. When you pause, the top two menu items are “Resume game” and “Disconnect from server.” The disconnect option does not prompt for a confirmation; just immediately kicks you out.

Why they didn’t put it at the bottom of the menu is beyond me. The amount of times I’ve paused my game for 3 seconds and then accidentally clicked “disconnect” and been unable to get back into the server because it’s full…yeaarrggh!!


All I can say is this:
Ctrl Z = undo
Ctrl W = close application

Those two letters are in the exact same place when switching between a QWERTY keyboard and an AZERTY one (which for professional reasons, I have to do about 170 times a day).

If I fumble the two when I’m in a word document, I will probably get a warning message asking to Save, Quit or Cancel. But if it’s a browser window? For example imagine Google translate being open, and after I almost finished typing my text to be translated, notice a typo, fingers automatically go Ctrl-Z, hey where’d the window go? Oh crap,I Ctrl-W-ed.


Sadly, desktop managers and operating system UIs were designed to take advantage of the Fitt’s law. That has some unpleasant consequences on multi monitor configurations - now the corners (with window icons) and tiny scrollbars are pretty hard to hit!



@Kevin Connolly, the handle you refer to is for emergency manual chute deployment. The eject grip is there right between the legs, as in F16


For dangerous activities, we usually make it a two-step process so that users have the chance to “confirm” their intentions.

Like a Delete button does not pop up a confirmation dialog box - which may very well be given dismissed and gone ahead by inadvertent mouse click or keystroke. Rather there is a separate Checkbox to check to get Delete button to work or enabled.


UXExchange has a good discussion on this topic: Should “dangerous” buttons be big and red or small and inconspicuous?