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I love the Spaces feature on my Mac. It allows me to have one desktop that’s focused on web use (Chrome), another for my communication/productivity (Slack, 1Password, Wunderlist), and a third for music (Sonos/iTunes).

And, the above is how I like them ordered. However, I increasingly found Desktop Three (music) positioning itself in the second Space (where my communication/productivity Desktop is supposed to stay).

I figured that I was somehow inadvertently changing their positions when switching between desktops; even thought this made no sense to me.

In reality, what was happening was that these Spaces were being arranged based on usage. It makes sense; I do use my Music Desktop more frequently due to switching tracks, etc., but it’s not as important to me as my Productivity Desktop, and so I didn’t want this auto organization.

To turn it off: System Preferences>Mission Control>Uncheck “Automatically rearrange Spaces based on most recent use.”

Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 1.43.48 PM

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One of my favorite sites, Digg, recently made a subtle change to their top nav. They moved the navigation element for the link to the RSS reader from the left of the page to the right.

Clearly, they did this to emphasize their video product, which is now where the RSS product (“Reader”) was.

My typical Digg behavior is to quickly scan the top stories, and then go to my RSS feed, via clicking the Reader link. It was a habit I had developed a sort of muscle memory around.

Since the recent nav switch, I now have to look around for the “Reader” link. I’ll get used to it, of course, but why should I have to?

Why can I not manipulate the order of the Nav items in the same way I customize my browser bar? In this manner, I could simply drag the “Reader” link back where it was, and where I want it, and – yes – subjugate the Video product (which I doubt I’ll ever use).

Certainly, the tech is available for this type of implementation.

Beyond the relative technical ease of such UI/UX implementation, there could be a lot of useful learnings to be gleaned.

As web developers, we make a lot of assumptions. Some are based on “best” practices and heat maps, etc., and some are based on experience, and many – as I suggest Digg’s recent change was – are based on business objectives (i.e. highlighting assets). However, as we do with so many business assumptions, we make our SWAGs (sophisticated wild ass guesses) and then – over time – learn what customers want by observing how they are interacting with our products.

It seems to me that observing how people re-arrange certain elements of a website – top nav, in particular – could, therefore, not only serve the purpose of allowing users to customize a site in a manner that works best for them, but also provide valuable optimization information to companies based on actual usage.

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