Uncertainty and Ambiguity in web design


A friend of mine sent me this capture of a web form. We both agreed that what at first appears to be a terrible mistake is actually a pretty interesting piece of accidental design. Think about trying to fill this out. There’s ambiguity, but if the user is forced to make a choice, there’s no reason s/he shouldn’t be able to make the appropriate selection. The extraneous elements might leave you wondering about the possibility of subtle variations in what appear to be redundancies.

Since web design has been taken over by functional concerns we haven’t seen enough of this sort of experimentation. I am always excited to see media that challenge the audience, that allow for ambiguity, uncertainty, and interpretation, and I think this does just that. This reminds me of the sort of web work I used to see a lot of in the 90’s, back when there was experimentation and no one was very concerned with monetizing through click conversions.

Additionally, the rhythmic quality of the radio buttons is actually interesting. My friend suggested that its actually somewhat musical, a notation or musical score perhaps? If someone was able to decode it and assign some sort of aural meaning I can imagine a very listenable melody coming out of this. I can only believe this is an accident, especially since it would take a lot of work to do a thing like this on purpose, but I’d like to think that someone would go to the trouble.