Hi, I’m Brian Dys — a photographer from the inside looking out · a composer entangled in electronic music · a UX designer · a spouse, a parent, & everything in between.
Imagine a 16 x 16 px home icon that also has a 16 x 16 px active area. This little thing is prone to be missed upon activating (clicking or tapping) especially when laid out side by side with other active elements with similar dimensions.
Providing ample space around it away from other elements might lessen the chance of mistakenly activating something else but it won’t make it easier to hit. This is where Padding comes in.
Padding refers to increasing, at least to a minimum of 38 x 38 px the dimensions of the active area of an element. This technique prioritizes the usability of that active element in such a way that it is easily clicked by a pointing device or tapped by touch because of it’s big-enough area.
Padding: Responsive Wrap
A type of Padding wherein the active area, apart from having minimum dimensions, its size is being determined by its content. The active area at 38 px is wrapped around a content but if the content is bigger than the minimum of 38 px, the container will respond.
- initial fixed height
- width is determined by content and horizontal padding
- Active Area
- Active ELement
As front-end designers, we are using patterns over and over again – we are employing specific techniques to answer specific needs. But what we lack is a term, a name tag for those methods.
It’s simply like the Flying V of The Mighty Ducks!
So far, I’ve added Padding and Framing to my vocabulary.
Let’s try another one. Say for example, I need the following for my website’s header:
- Fixed-height header
- Responsive width
- The content of the header are all vertically-aligned in the middle
- If the content of the header exceeds the fixed height, then it will respond
What kind of solution does this need and what can we name the technique?
The success of a product’s interface was dependent upon how well the designer understood 2 parties: the human using it, and the capabilities of the machine on which the software ran.
Here’s my fashionista grandma with my grandpa’s 1974 Benz.
A common problem in apps is when active elements have active areas the size of the content.
For example, a small text at around 12px will be easy to miss when tapped. Apart from this, it presents anxiety to the user that he/she might miss it when it needs to be tapped.
The solution is simply increasing the size of the active area thru Padding.
See the Pen Increasing the Active Area of FB Likes and Comment by Brian Dys Sahagun (@BrianSahagun) on CodePen.