UIs that are designed to confuse and irritate

Let’s have a moan about poor UI design that’s just a little bit confusing shall we?

So the point of using a computer at work is to get your damn job done, right? Like, you’re maybe a teacher who has to write 22 student reports by last Friday except you’ve not started them yet because of the other random tasks you need to complete. Or it’s 10pm and you need to quickly make a little worksheet for your crazy year 8 class tomorrow morning. You’d do this tomorrow, only there isn’t time.

So the emphasis is on getting idea out of brain, into computer, making it look nice, printing, job done.

Not playing “let’s find the buttons I want to click to complete my 10 minute task”

Here’s MS Publisher’s* lovely Ribbon toolbarribbon 3


And here it is again, in a different form

ribbon 1So to change fonts, I can either go to the HOME menu, or I can click the FORMAT menu. OK, so changing the fonts of things lives under “FORMAT” righto, I suppose I am formatting the text. But then what’s the HOME menu all about? “Stuff we just put in there because it might be used frequently”?

Also, notice how there’s TWO FORMAT MENU OPTIONS… That isn’t at all confusing to describe to a 13 year old class of kids – “Right kids, to make your text look more interesting, click on the format button… no no, the other one… no you lot over there are right, you three down here it’s the purple one”

ribbon 2Hyphenation controls… they were on the far left, under the big green FILE button, right? oh, wait… they moved it in this toolbar to be under the orange TABLE TOOLS button.

Since you know, if you put an autoshape down it has a DRAWING TOOLS FORMAT option… until you type into it, and then it gains a TEXT BOX TOOLS FORMAT option. But tables don’t. Tables aren’t text boxes, they’re tables. So they need their own special set of options, none of which are called FORMAT – that stuff lives back under the main HOME menu.

And do you see that tiny little arrow under the arrow under “Cell Margins”? That’s a button full of mostly redundant options, but redundant options that most of the online help wants you to click on when you’re stuck looking for “how do I make the images go behind the text”.

* Don’t give me grief about using Publisher, because that’ll cause me to go on at length about people who use Word or PowerPoint to do DTP… And I work in a place that still uses Pentium D computers in some rooms and Adobe Creative Suite CS3 so buying specialist DTP software isn’t happening.




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