The score is tied though, because that software had been bugging me for ages to upgrade. I refused, because it intended to install an extraneous third-party product I didn't want. Down the track, it was pleading the subsequent upgrade - without the third party. Oh, all right.
But it’s like someone phoning me every day: do you want to upgrade? No. I'll call you.
Further examples of bad design:
- your mobile phone
- web sites lacking any of: site map, phone number, email address, physical address
- manuals: second-language English; unclear prose; poor indexing; incompleteness
- software that requires startup manuals (software needs to be as intuitive as possible, needs to piggyback on familiar paradigms)
- software installs (too many steps and the user misses crucial actions: "do you want me to take over all these file types? Heh heh heh!")
All these reek of shoddy (or non-existent) user testing.
Software is just an easy target. The buffer between English-dropout computer geek and end-user is simply too thin. Sometimes the geeks even write the manuals and online help. Eek!
And I'm speaking as an I.T. professional. For the non-professional, computer life is surely pain from beginning to end. Online help that doesn't tell you anything you need to know. Gibberish, disorganised manuals (manuals should be relegated to reference material: quick start diagrams at the front; comprehensive detail at the back. Some do.)
An example of the converse: I have a panasonic dvd player. It has an on button and an eject button. I can press the eject button when it’s off: it turns on and ejects. I can press the off button when the tray’s out: it quietly shuts shop and goes to sleep. Now that’s good design: task-oriented rather than process-oriented.
(Remember to praise good design.)
Don’t blame the software per se. It’s just a blind for the people who wrote it. But it's not just the geeks who are culpable. They should have a whole company structure wrapped around them to protect the real world from them.
Hold accountable the manufacturers/publishers for the poor design, the poor documentation, for inadequate user testing.
It can be much better.