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Dilbert on UI

2009-03-21 12:10:10.505526+00 by meuon 4 comments

Todays Dilbert strikes a chord. We've been comparing a current project of mine to some competitors systems and literally asking random people to perform some basic tasks in each. ie: Find customer, take payment. change services.. As we do this, we realize how obfuscated and abstract the other systems are. Now I understand why. (laughing..) It's also an interesting way to check a users manual, "normal" people ask questions that we don't think of addressing.

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comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2009-03-21 18:11:57.537849+00 by: andylyke

Yeah - for example, why the h**l do dialogues asking for phone numbers or social sec #s or credit card #s insist on only numerals? It would be trivially simple for the programmer to allow us to enter numbers in groups, separated by spaces or hyphens, so we can verify them more easily, and then strip the "offending" characters. It really seems to me that this would be a "duh" issue.

Just a random example.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-03-21 18:42:06.492413+00 by: meuon

Answer: Because the biz-dev-marketting types hype that functionality as a feature. It's usually a bunch of front end JavaScript that is not verified on the server end for being correct.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-03-21 19:34:25.047104+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yep. If your interface uses JavaScript for field filtering or focus movement, you're doing it wrong. And if your interface doesn't work with JavaScript turned off, you're definitely doing it wrong.

And thinking of interfaces in terms of task completion is absolutely the way to evaluate a system. I also find it interesting that no matter how hard people try to break away from it, two interfaces stay around: The command line (these days, that's Google, including the Google calculator), and the "enter data, press enter" model, known by Microsoft as "Wizard"s. Despite the GUIfication of the world, the interface models that users seem to like most could be written in Applesoft BASIC, the way we used to.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-03-21 21:40:09.470204+00 by: meuon [edit history]

My "Oh Crap SysAdmin Screen" is reached by SSHing into the box, and is some perl with ANSI colors that gives you an instant picture of what is working (or not) and a few simple single char commands to fix just about anything.

The two "sysadmins" in the world currently using it sighed a big relief when they saw it.