Thanks, User Experience Guys
An open letter to all you user experience people…
I started developing applications professionally in 1993. First Mac apps in the glorious 4D programming environment, then Windows, then Web. I’m now kept a safe distance from any development environments and left to do “manager stuff”.
When I developed for the web, I created … let’s just say ‘functional’ user interfaces. My brief forays away from default styling were ugly and painful.
Fast forward to the last five years, when I’ve been inundated with all this user experience stuff. There was a time when I was proud to not even know what that phrase meant. Now, I’m surrounded … it’s everywhere I look. Jeff Patton, Jeff Atwood, Joel Spoelsky, Eric Sink, coworkers, clients, and even my darling wife.
I grudgingly accepted at first. Even when our clients say “I don’t have money to make this pretty, I just need it to work”, they still want it to be not ugly, not unintuitive. I get that. Many of our engineers at SEP have real talent in this area and started developing some beautiful applications. I still can’t create anything nice looking, but I get it now.
But there was a horrible, unexpected side effect to this awareness.
I see bad user experiences. They’re terrible. And they’re everywhere.
I see you, terrible, irrevocable button sitting next to that harmless button. I see you (well, I don’t see you actually) feature that I use all the time in application that I use all the time that’s nearly impossible to find. I see you, buttons on my PC that are so poorly labeled I couldn’t pretend to know what you do.
I see you, router configuration software. Every single one of you.
I see you Outlook, asking me to log in five separate ways every time I try to access work email via Outlook Anywhere.
I see you, smart board software with your 50 icons and no hover text. Thanks for not using any industry standard icons. Awesome of you to create all new ones.
I see you, Sirius/XM web pages for managing my account, where I COULDN’T GIVE YOU MY MONEY to turn on your streaming service.
I see you Properties settings, moved in the last version of Word, and moved AGAIN in Word 2010 now nearly invisible:
I even see (hear) you, astonishingly bad doctors office voice navigation system that made me listen to three minutes of chatter about swine flu vaccinations before I could even hear what the options were. (hint: I wasn’t calling about swine flu)
So thanks, UX people. Really, from the bottom of my heart. I was happily ignorant, blissfully unaware. You’ve shattered that. I hope you’re happy with yourself.