Please Provide Padding

There are other websites were you can buy train tickets, but if you live in Germany it’s most likely that you will book a ticket on the website of Deutsche Bahn (German railways). Much has been said about accessibility on that site, and sure there’s room for improvements in future updates. But some things just work well:

I was responsible for most of the programming beneath the navigation bar on the home page, and every time when I book a ticket there’s a small feature I enjoy so much I want to tell you about it: the buttons on the date selector are really, really tiny (16 × 8px). As you know thanks to Fitt‘s Law, there are even formulas to calculate how much better big buttons can be hit.

So I just added some padding. And that makes a huge difference: try to click on the same buttons later on in the booking process where the padding is missing.

Screenshot of the padding on datepicker buttons

If I could make one improvement I would add keyboard functionality to those buttons. Alas as the datepicker itself came from a third party, the assembled code was beyond my control. But I know that the Deutsche Bahn is listening to the needs of people with disabilities and their disability advisory board members are highly competent, so I trust these and other issues will be fixed soon …

5 Responses to ‘Please Provide Padding’

  1. Peter Krantz

    That is a great approach to making the most out of the GUI design. The buttons are really hard to hover using my Lenovo “g-spot” mouse control but this trick makes it easier. Did users understand that it required less precision or did they still try to put the pointer precisely over the image?

  2. Martin Kliehm

    @peterkz_swe I suppose people still aim at the button image, but as their cursor turns into a hand / pointer, they get enough feedback to encourage clicking.

  3. Mirko Erwig

    Great idea! What do you think about adding some visual hover-effect to the buttons itself? Or is this beyond your control because it’s 3rd party?

  4. Martin Kliehm

    @Mirko I’m afraid this is beyond my control because it’s in the design domain. ;) However, at an internal conference in two months I have the chance to brainwash our designers as I talk about accessibility for designers then. Actually that’s more of an usability issue, but still …

  5. Mirko Erwig

    Yes, but isn’t improved usability also a step towards better accessibility? :-)