Time I think for an indulgent digression on user interface design. Firstly I should make it clear, I’m not a designer… but I have been responsible for implementing plenty of designs and using a bit of my own creative inspiration for user interfaces. Also this is pure personal opinion, though I’ve discussed these features with others who agree they are problematic.
5. Chunky buttons
The rationale is that presumably the bigger you make things, the more obvious the area you have to click in is, this seems to hold particularly well in relation to sites that are selling something (they really want you to click on the big ‘Buy Now’!) Allow me to illustrate with a simple example:
I feel like I’m being assaulted by this web site, and there’s no way I’m clicking that big button the first time I’ve entered the landing page of this site so why does it even need to be there?
4. Massive menus AKA ‘MegaMenus’
I’m referring to those huge expansive menu’s where the categories are listed fully expanded with sub items, generally in no particular order taking up the whole width of the screen.
You may have gathered by now that I don’t like excessive use of screen real estate!
3. Unnecessary animation
A fairly generic one, but it does irritate me when an animation on a page doesn’t convey any real meaning. I get menus that slide out from where you have to hover to make them appear. I don’t get an arrow that rotates 90 degrees when I click on it to expand a node… what’s wrong with the old school plus and minus?
2. Confusing galleries (where you have to click on the image to get it to go away)
Title says it all really, the first time I saw these I didn’t know what to do to hide the image. I click on a thumbnail, the large image is displayed but no cross is presented – I instinctively try the ‘escape’ key but that doesn’t work either. Eventually I figure out, you have to click on the image to hide it. That seems to make more sense on a touch screen, when I’m using a mouse it just doesn’t seem intuitive. Maybe it is just me being stupid, but I’ve since seen many other smart folks having the exact same problem, so I don’t feel so bad.
1. Instant search
This needs no introduction: you start typing in a Google search and ooh – there’s the exact page you’re after, but… you carried on typing, D’oh! So you lost that search result and have to back space and wait for every previous instant search result to check for the page you’re looking for.
I know, you can turn this feature off on Google, really the problem for me is that I actually genuinely like the idea. I think implementations of this feature have improved over time and suit some sites very well. The thing that I think is lacking is integration with the browser’s ‘back’ button. I wish I could get the previous search results back in a straightforward way like this.
Well there you have it, a fairly unintelligent rant about my gripes with some of the popular user experience features we see today. I’m sure everyone has their own issues they face with certain web UI components and I’d be interested to hear others’ experiences.