Examples of bad interface design



  • Hi guys.

    I'm putting together few slides and I need some 'bad' examples, to illustrate what not to do in your UI.
    I'm after horrible mess of an interface, poorly labeled buttons, comic sans, etc
    Anything loosely related to the subject is also very welcome.



  •  Googlin' "interface hall of shame" should net you a lot of stuff to start off.



  • @xchaotic said:

    Hi guys.

    I'm putting together few slides and I need some 'bad' examples, to illustrate what not to do in your UI.
    I'm after horrible mess of an interface, poorly labeled buttons, comic sans, etc
    Anything loosely related to the subject is also very welcome.

    Have access to a Lotus Notes install? You could fill a whole presentation using it alone.

    I don't have any handy-dandy screenshots, but here are a few classes of error which bug me beyond all measure. In rough order of annoyance factor. And I name-names:

    Focus-stealing

    You'd think focus-stealing would be a memory by now, but no. Microsoft Security Essentials not only steals focus when beginning its (timed, automated) updates, but doesn't even have the courtesy of displaying a window to steal focus to!

    Developers who don't know how the OS they're writing for works

    Windows applications that don't use the Registry or MSI installers, and thus make themselves impossible to remotely-administer through a network. Firefox is a huge offender here, and what's even worse is that we get constant Slashdot threads like, "why is Firefox adoption so slow in large businesses?" (The only possible answer is: "duuuuh, you retards.")

    Developers who don't know what hardware is available

    Applications which don't respect output devices like screen-readers, or input devices like touch-screens. This one is especially bad because:
    1) It makes your application invisible to disabled users
    2) Frequently entire UI frameworks will lack support for this, meaning a wide swath of applications also inaccessible through no real fault of their own (except to trust the idiot UI framework author to do their job)
    Name-naming? GTK+ is my nemesis.

    Until recently, Zune couldn't cope with a USB headset being unplugged while it was playing a movie or music. Apparently, of the team of 50 developers working on the project, *none* of them had ever seen a USB headset, and it didn't occur to *any* of them to actually test that scenario-- inexcusable for an application that is otherwise excellent. (It's competitor, iTunes, similarly exhibited the exact same bug. It's fixed in the latest Zune; I couldn't tell you if it's fixed in the latest iTunes.)

    Developers who re-implement functionality the OS already has, but in a worse way

    Sure Windows has tooltips that activate when you hover your mouse over a UI element. But that wasn't good enough for Slysoft AnyDVD... they had to re-implement tooltips that activate on a right-click! Not only making it impossible to use right-click for any other purpose, but also confusing the hell out of anybody who tries. (Also: anybody who's looking for actual hover tooltips, which don't work.)

    Also: cram GTK+ in here as well, since they re-implement Open and Save dialogs, and their version is significantly worse than the one the OS gives you for free.

    Microsoft being fucking retarded

    Here I refer to the standard Windows folder browser. That thing is fucking awful, and not going away. Why won't Microsoft write something better? Why does the newest, nicest, web forms still have that fucking widget? Ugh!


    You can take a look in my screenshots folder, I have a lot of screenshots of particularly buggy applications I've made over the years, although none of them are probably any good for a PowerPoint: http://schend.net/images/index.php?path=screenshots/


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @blakeyrat said:

    Also: cram GTK+ in here as well, since they re-implement Open and Save dialogs,
    and their version is significantly worse than the one the OS gives you for free.
    +1. I dislike GIMP for this reason. Under both Windows and Linux. WTF were they thinking? If they were...



  • On top of what blakeyrat said keep in mind there are now certain assumptions that come with dealing with GUI applications. Some are more subtle than others. Some that I've noticed violations of:

    • If a window has a scrollbar it should be resizable (AD user settings dialog, Windows file ACL)
    • If an application has some sort of tabbed interface CTRL+Tab will cycle through them (Excel and anything that mimics it)
    • Frequently accessed information is burried deep (keep in mind different user types will have different definitions of "frequently accessed information")
    • Screen space is to be used by the application, and function (ISA Server 2004's [IIRC] admin UI; it has a huge useless banner)
    • Keep the UI consistant with the rest for the application (Vista control panel, some icons will use the control panel window, others would pop up an XP-style dialog for the settings)
    • OS' UI guidelines, or visible traits common to all windows in the OS (WinAMP, Windows Media Player [at least in XP])
    • Perform no action that is clearly wanted (Tivoli Service Desk, there was a 5 drop-down selection for where to categorize the ticket, this would get cleared whenever a change was made to the ticket body)
    • If you open a window that isn't confied to another it should have its own task-bar item or it should check to see if it's actually visible when the user asks for it to appear (the phone software I used at IBM had a fairly important sub-window [or whatever the fuck they're called] which I had set a coordinates like (2500, 40), now clearly this isn't visiable if you have one monitor, but when I had set it I had three. Yet I wasn't able to retrieve it when I was temporarily forced to use a single monitor, the taskbar entry should've enabled me to move the window without seeing it [but as it didn't have one I couldn't do that])
    • Keep the UI in a seperate thread from anything that could be bottleneck intensive, and use more than one lock (Lotus Notes apparently uses a single Mutex throughout the entire application [I can not confirm this, this is what I was told when I worked at IBM], thus the UI freezes frequently)
    • If you have a tabbed application where each tab is drasticly different from the others the state of one tab will not vastly affect another (Can't remember the application that did this fuckup)
    • The application will use placeholder images if there are images that take a long time to render and are not required for the application (E16's background selector UIs, they will read all possible images, get their thumbnails _then_ render the UI to select the BG. Use a placeholder image and delay the rendering of the actual thumbnail so the rest of the UI comes up quicker [this also helps with the previous point])

    There are others, I used to have a list of UI grievances, but I can't find it.



  • @Lingerance said:

    • If you open a window that isn't confied to another it should have its own task-bar item or it should check to see if it's actually visible when the user asks for it to appear (the phone software I used at IBM had a fairly important sub-window [or whatever the fuck they're called] which I had set a coordinates like (2500, 40), now clearly this isn't visiable if you have one monitor, but when I had set it I had three. Yet I wasn't able to retrieve it when I was temporarily forced to use a single monitor, the taskbar entry should've enabled me to move the window without seeing it [but as it didn't have one I couldn't do that])

     

    Alt, Space, M, cursor keys to move it around, Enter to fix it in place.

    Sometimes I wonder about you mouseoholics.



  • @da Doctah said:

    @Lingerance said:

    • If you open a window that isn't confied to another it should have its own task-bar item or it should check to see if it's actually visible when the user asks for it to appear (the phone software I used at IBM had a fairly important sub-window [or whatever the fuck they're called] which I had set a coordinates like (2500, 40), now clearly this isn't visiable if you have one monitor, but when I had set it I had three. Yet I wasn't able to retrieve it when I was temporarily forced to use a single monitor, the taskbar entry should've enabled me to move the window without seeing it [but as it didn't have one I couldn't do that])

     

    Alt, Space, M, cursor keys to move it around, Enter to fix it in place.

    Sometimes I wonder about you mouseoholics.

    The point is every bit of functionality should be available via the mouse or the keyboard. If you're required to use the keyboard to move a window, you're covered in failsauce.

    What do your applications look like, Da Doctah?

    @PJH said:

    Advertising bollocks - suggestions welcome.

    Why the hell would you advertise that?



  • @da Doctah said:

    @Lingerance said:

    • If you open a window that isn't confied to another it should have its own task-bar item or it should check to see if it's actually visible when the user asks for it to appear (the phone software I used at IBM had a fairly important sub-window [or whatever the fuck they're called] which I had set a coordinates like (2500, 40), now clearly this isn't visiable if you have one monitor, but when I had set it I had three. Yet I wasn't able to retrieve it when I was temporarily forced to use a single monitor, the taskbar entry should've enabled me to move the window without seeing it [but as it didn't have one I couldn't do that])

     

    Alt, Space, M, cursor keys to move it around, Enter to fix it in place.

    Sometimes I wonder about you mouseoholics.

    Tried that. Didn't work. It's one of those mini window things (with the smaller than normal titlebar).



  • My biggest UI pet peeve is this:



    Resizable windows that are missing the minimize and maximize buttons. Visual studio does this (in various flavors) and it drives me insane.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @da Doctah said:

    @Lingerance said:

    • If you open a window that isn't confied to another it should have its own task-bar item or it should check to see if it's actually visible when the user asks for it to appear (the phone software I used at IBM had a fairly important sub-window [or whatever the fuck they're called] which I had set a coordinates like (2500, 40), now clearly this isn't visiable if you have one monitor, but when I had set it I had three. Yet I wasn't able to retrieve it when I was temporarily forced to use a single monitor, the taskbar entry should've enabled me to move the window without seeing it [but as it didn't have one I couldn't do that])

     

    Alt, Space, M, cursor keys to move it around, Enter to fix it in place.

    Sometimes I wonder about you mouseoholics.

    The point is every bit of functionality should be available via the mouse or the keyboard. If you're required to use the keyboard to move a window, you're covered in failsauce.

    What do your applications look like, Da Doctah?

     

    The parts of them that are invisible and unmouseable because they're off the edge of the screen probably look just like yours.



  • Has anyone actually read what the OP asked? 

    @xchaotic said:

    Hi guys. I'm putting together few slides and I need some 'bad' examples, to illustrate what not to do in your UI. I'm after horrible mess of an interface, poorly labeled buttons, comic sans, etc Anything loosely related to the subject is also very welcome.

    He wants examples, not elements.



  • @b-redeker said:

    Has anyone actually read what the OP asked? 

    He wants examples, not elements.

    Thank you.

    Yes, I want concrete screenshots, so that I can refer to specific elements of that, but like i said in the OP all comments are welcome - for instance with Lotus I can ask a friends to do some screenshots for me.



  • @b-redeker said:

    Has anyone actually read what the OP asked?

    He wants examples, not elements.

    I don't know about the OP, but I for one, have recently started working on desktop apps (as opposed to websites) and this thread has been pretty interesting



  • Here's a screenshot of various states of Outlook. Don't tire your users with severe quantities of modal sub-dialogs.



  • @xchaotic said:

    @b-redeker said:

    Has anyone actually read what the OP asked? 

    He wants examples, not elements.

    Thank you.

    Yes, I want concrete screenshots, so that I can refer to specific elements of that, but like i said in the OP all comments are welcome - for instance with Lotus I can ask a friends to do some screenshots for me.

    I already linked it, but there's about 48 (wild-ass guess) things wrong in this screenshot if you have a careful eye. The "status log kept in pop-up menu" being the most egregious, but also look at the window resize disaster in the back.

    Also maybe this post on my blog is worth putting in? (I forgot to mention "dialogs that lie to the user." Major pet peeve of mine! Hey Zune: there's a huge difference between "your computer has no sound card" and "I'm too fucking stupid to check for another sound card after you unplug the one I was using."

    Unfortunately, I haven't really been collecting screenshots (despite experiencing tons of shitty software.) I really should, though.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Here I refer to the standard Windows folder browser. That thing is fucking awful, and not going away. Why won't Microsoft write something better? Why does the newest, nicest, web forms still have that fucking widget? Ugh!

    Actually they fixed it (made a new Dialog) in Windows 7 which works like the new Open File Dialogs (access to libraries/favorites/... on the left), allows you to paste a complete directory, etc. BUT this is a new class and therefore all old code doesn't use the new dialog, you have to specify that you want to use it.



    The Windows API Code Pack allows you to use the new dialog in .NET.



  • @XIU said:

    @blakeyrat said:

    Here I refer to the standard Windows folder browser. That thing is fucking awful, and not going away. Why won't Microsoft write something better? Why does the newest, nicest, web forms still have that fucking widget? Ugh!

    Actually they fixed it (made a new Dialog) in Windows 7 which works like the new Open File Dialogs (access to libraries/favorites/... on the left), allows you to paste a complete directory, etc. BUT this is a new class and therefore all old code doesn't use the new dialog, you have to specify that you want to use it.



    The Windows API Code Pack allows you to use the new dialog in .NET.

    Do you know any quick&easy way to pop it up in Windows 7 so I can evaluate it? Does it give a preview of the files in each folder? Does it let you select multiple folders at once? Map network folders? ... any of the 30,000 things it couldn't do before?

    It's great to hear Microsoft is finally paying attention to that damned thing.



  • Microsoft "Lab Launcher" tool used in their official training classes.

    When you minimize a window, it records the position screen position -32000, -32000 in the config file.  If you close the window by right clicking on the taskbar icon and choosing "Close", then this entry is the final stored window position.  Next time you open the window, it comes up and a normal window, thirty two thousand pixels away from the visible desktop.  The only way to ever see the window again is to manually modify the config file.



  • @Jaime said:

    Microsoft "Lab Launcher" tool used in their official training classes.

    When you minimize a window, it records the position screen position -32000, -32000 in the config file.  If you close the window by right clicking on the taskbar icon and choosing "Close", then this entry is the final stored window position.  Next time you open the window, it comes up and a normal window, thirty two thousand pixels away from the visible desktop.  The only way to ever see the window again is to manually modify the config file.

    Or use the alt-tab, alt-space, move (or right click taskbar button, move) option. But that's only one of maaaany WTFs in this tool, so we usually used it once to start all machines, then killed the process so it did not delete the *.vmc files back as it usually does on close, and loaded them in VMRCplus. ;)





  • @GiantVentilatorFan said:

    [swamp options]

    Epic.



  • Check out the interface for linking tables in Access 2000....


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