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Ovid (2709)

Ovid
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Stuff with the Perl Foundation. A couple of patches in the Perl core. A few CPAN modules. That about sums it up.

Journal of Ovid (2709)

Saturday March 12, 2005
01:11 PM

UI gone bad ...

[ #23624 ]

Have you checked out MySpace lately? A ridiculously cute friend of mine invited me to join and I, being the guy I am, agreed. That's when I encountered one of the worst user interfaces I have ever seen.

After you sign up, you want to edit your profile, so I clicked on the "Edit Profile" link. The first time I did that, I got an error page. The second time, I got a page with a bunch of fields:

        Headline:  ____________________
                                 (Edit)
        About Me:  ____________________
                                 (Edit)
I'd like to meet:  ____________________
                                 (Edit)

(etc.)

At first it seemed reasonable, but it turns out that you can't edit those fields. Instead, you have to click the appropriately named edit link. Then you go to a page where you can edit one and only one field:

Headline:  [______________________]
                 [Cancel] [Preview]

See the "Preview" button? Not only am I forced to edit everything one item at a time, I am forced to preview all of it. Then, and only then, can I click "Submit". Now a forced preview is not that bad, but when you're forced to edit every item individually, the term "big bucket of suck" comes to mind. Now, with nine items I can edit in my profile, rather than allow me to enter them and have one "preview" and one "submit" click, I am forced to click at least 18 times to enter all of the items.

Why do people not care about interface design? With most software, people never see the code. The only way they have to evaluate the software is how easy it is to use. Frankly, from the customers perspective, that's a perfectly reasonable evaluation. Most code sucks. Regardless of whether the internals are a mess or a thing of sublime beauty, don't make the people using your code suffer. Instead, watch people use your software and figure out what they do the most. Once you have that figured out, do everything in your power to make that really, really easy. That's how you get good word of mouth instead of the rants like you're reading now.

I should also mention that they allow HTML and CSS, but no javascript. If they can't figure out their UI, I wonder how carefully they thought through this decision. Hmm ...

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  • A friend of mine uses that site, so I checked it out. Ugly, ugly, ugly. Oh, and it's not pretty to look at either.

    The notion of clicking an "Edit" button to enable form fields is just wrong.

    If anyone cares, I'm there under my real name and city (brian d foy in Chicago). I never check the account unless my friend wants me to look at some guy she's drooling on.
  • It's Not Just Usability [joelonsoftware.com], by Joel Spolsky. And then note what purpose one of his chosen example interfaces is used for and compare to your experience… Funny that Paul Graham talks about the same class of services in his current How to start a startup [paulgraham.com] article as being worth a lot of money once someone does it well. Coincidence?