A designer’s pet (low-res) monitor

Like so many in our line of work, I keep more than one monitor on my desk (or attached to the wall, depending on the office). Until recently, part of my monitor array consisted of an aged 4×3 that would have embarrassed my kids.

That monitor was a reminder that not everyone works in digital media, not everyone has the budget for pro gear, and that I need to build products that work on my customers’ gear, not just my own.

I was reminded of this lesson, this morning, as I scrolled through email on my phone. Among the semi-spam was a note from a local political. I won’t share it here (there’s not much to be gained by email-shaming a US senator), but I will tell you that it was unreadable, beyond the headings. That was some tiny type. The paragraphs were nearly the size of my phone’s screen, large blocks of barely formatted, unreadable text.

I guessed that someone neglected to check the email on a phone, prior to sending it. While I still think that’s true, after checking the email on Gmail, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t checked anywhere for readability. Perhaps some public affairs person checked it out when it was a Word doc and didn’t give a moment’s thought to the end-user experience.

In this example, end-user = customer = voter, so perhaps there’s a case for thinking about how the product (the email) works on the customer’s gear.

So, the next time you spy a multi-monitor setup with an un-matched, uncalibrated, fat-bezeled, aging panel — remember — it might be there to remind a digital worker to keep the folks at home in mind, and to make products that people can use.