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Last post Author Topic: Worst. Interface. Ever.  (Read 22161 times)

zridling

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Worst. Interface. Ever.
« on: September 02, 2005, 10:23:16 PM »
In his latest column, mouser talks about how marketing gets in the way of good design. In addition to his thoughts, I'm wondering, What program has the worst user interface you've ever encountered?

mouser

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Re: Worst. Interface. Ever.
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2005, 12:31:46 AM »
its hard to remember them because i usually run (not walk) to the uninstall control panel :)
but i do have to say i have a personal hatred for photoshop interface, even though i know its not the worst i've seen by far.

im not a fan of skinned stuff like winamp - i find it very painful to use.

zridling

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Re: Worst. Interface. Ever.
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2005, 01:03:48 AM »
Well, if we went back to the Windows 3.1 days, there was some awful stuff back then, but I'm talking today. Yea, DivX has some completely alien interfaces too — where's the damn play button!

I listed Gimp/Photoshop in the column, but I'll have to review this. As a class of software, I'd have to say some of the Duplicate File Finder applications are case studies in bad design.

Sentinel

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Re: Worst. Interface. Ever.
« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2005, 01:51:30 AM »
I always found Apple QuickTime appallingly bad, especially considering that Apple are meant to be the masters of 'form & function' UI design.  A flat, grey, confusing and ugly mess.

An Apple representative recently tried to give me QuickTime 7 Pro for free and I declined simply because of the interface.  ;D
Designated "proofreading free" zone.

mouser

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Re: Worst. Interface. Ever.
« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2005, 02:06:18 AM »
hahaha.
i agree quicktime sucks.
in fact count me among the apple haters.

i think the whole debacle with apple mice shows exactly what the company focuses on - appearance over function.

nudone

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Re: Worst. Interface. Ever.
« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2005, 04:23:18 AM »
like mouser, i hate apple. absolutely everything they do, without exception. i can't wait for ipods to become the most uncool item on the planet - in around 12 months i'd say.

as for Photoshop, as i use it all the time, it just feels natural. the abundance of keyboard controls are obviously there to make the work flow quicker (toggling between functions without having to keep flicking around the screen clicking on buttons).

using the alt key to reset, that mouser pointed out, does seem like taking things too far but i guess it just seemed natural for the adobe design team as they were so used to incorporating keyboard controls.

it looks to me that Adobe know their customers. they expect them to be using something like Photoshop day in and day out and therefore will be wanting the most efficient way of performing a task. if that means using both hands to get it done then so be it. if it means having to memorise keyboard controls then it's worth it as it speeds up the work flow afterwards.

Photoshop has acquired buttons over the years to accommodate non keyboard controls but i have to admit things like hit alt for reset are still strangely dominant. in defence of not having a button for every possible function i'd have to say try using something like 3D Studio Max or other 3D apps. if you want to see how many buttons can fit on an interface at one time then they are a good place to look.

i know Photoshop isn't an intuitive interface at first glance (or several glances) but after making the effort and treating it as a serious application that may even require training to use, it does become intuitive and quite natural to work with.

let's not forget that all sophisticated programs are completely unintuitive to the newcomer. i have no idea how to navigate around any code writing software but i wouldn't expect them to be any less complicated in their layout. i respect that all/many complex applications can't be mastered within a couple of sittings and that the designers behind them never intended them to be.

high end progs that do clever things require time to be understood. they aren't aimed at the casual user so it seems unfair to me to expect them to have a simple interface. the balance that they strike between usability and functionality no doubt seems skewed in the wrong direction to the novice user but after a few hours/days/weeks the same user will appreciate why the interface is the way it is.

having said all that, i still don't know why alt means reset in Photoshop. Maybe it's like an initiation process to the Adobe clan. if you don't know about such things then you obviously haven't earned your stripes - it's a way of making people like me think i've got some kind of superior knowledge over people that haven't read the manual.

mouser

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Re: Worst. Interface. Ever.
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2005, 05:37:13 AM »
all good points nudone, and in fact i am coming to realize the probably unavoidable tension between having an efficient user interface for both firsttime users and longtime users.  some things just do not work for both, and clearly photoshop, justifyably so, is an extreme example of a program designed for hardcore daily users, rather than making it easy to use the first time you use it.

however i find myself wondering the same thing as you:
Quote
having said all that, i still don't know why alt means reset in Photoshop. Maybe it's like an initiation process to the Adobe clan. if you don't know about such things then you obviously haven't earned your stripes - it's a way of making people like me think i've got some kind of superior knowledge over people that haven't read the manual.

which is really too much.

tinyvillager

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Re: Worst. Interface. Ever.
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2005, 08:56:02 AM »
Real Player or Real one or whatever they call it now, gets my vote for worst interface.
And it's a real shame(pardon the pun)cause the format,real media,isn't all that bad.
They've tone down their spyware practices a little which is a plus.My first experience
with streaming media was with Real Player back in the mid 90's and it was pretty
cool back then.Maybe google should buy them ;)Actually google's video service
is a horrible let down and could actually benefit from them.

mouser

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Re: Worst. Interface. Ever.
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2005, 09:28:08 AM »
tiny villager - i think i agree with you 100%.
a lot of people hate on real format - i actually am quite fond of it, and cspan realmedia has been one of the best things i can think of.
and furthermore i dont find it too hard to turn off all their spy stuff, and have never been very annoyed with it.
but the damn controls on the player to bring up menus and stuff are annoying as hell.
of course i play winamp, they started this insane practice of skinning audio apps and now everyone has to do it.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Worst. Interface. Ever.
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2005, 09:59:45 AM »
Try Real Alternative - can't get any simpler interface and works great. Minimal impact too.

tinyvillager

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Re: Worst. Interface. Ever.
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2005, 10:05:44 AM »
Oh, i have,that's what i use now with either winamp as a frontend or media player classic.The
same goes for quicktime.

jpfx

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Re: Worst. Interface. Ever.
« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2005, 07:19:21 AM »
Most skinned interfaces that cannot be switched off I can't abide. Media players that try to emulate the machine I dislike too. Microsoft's media player being an outstanding example. The compact skin is the closest to usable.
In fact I dislike eye candy of any sort. I hope the candyfied Windows Vista gui can be switched off.
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Sentinel

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Re: Worst. Interface. Ever.
« Reply #12 on: September 04, 2005, 02:43:32 PM »
Can I buck the trend and say I really LOVE WinAmp's interface?  I've never been a big fan of skinning, but the default WinAmp 5 skin is attractive, intuitive, functional and a model for other applications to strive for.  In my opinion at least.

Perhaps we should also have an 'Interfaces we love' thread.  ;)

In fact, here it is: http://www.donationc...ndex.php?topic=830.0

As for terrible interfaces, as Zaine mentioned earlier, I also hate DivX 6 with a vengeance.  Dr DivX had a functional and understandable interface (though I would far from call it a good one), but 6.0 of any of the DivX products makes me feel like I've been lobotomised.  How do I do anything?

I also hate Microsoft Media Player (it seems media players and creators are often the worst culprits for this).  Frankly the interface it so bad it galls me to actually launch it.  Where am I going?  What am I meant to do?  Why, when I am in full screen does it take forever to get rid of the extra bits of interface clogging up my screen and why does the smallest interaction make it all pop back into view?  Grrrr.  I'm glad I switched to BSPlayer.
Designated "proofreading free" zone.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2005, 03:56:20 PM by Sentinel »

kfitting

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Re: Worst. Interface. Ever.
« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2005, 03:35:51 PM »
Worst interface?  ... hmmmmmmm, there are a bunch that aren't that great.  Seems like most of my bad experiences are with programs I use for work (PTC Intralink v3.4 being a prime example of having to click the mouse 40 times to move a file around a server).  Although I must say that many Open Source programs I've used for Linux have to be contenders in this area as well.  I don't know if it's just because the people that write them only pay attention to function and not usability or what, but they are downright ugly and obtuse.  Thinking here of gSchem (circuit layout), PCB (printed circuit board layout software), etc. 

Overall, as someone pointed out above, most current windows apps aren't too bad.  They don't tend to go out of their way to be obvious, but they aren't all that obtuse.  One thing that annoys me is how many different places people put the program options.  Some like it under 'view,' others like it under 'tools,' still others under 'Files - preferences" ... sheesh. 

I can't say I'm a big fan of Photoshop/Gimp interafaces... could be because I've only used them a couple times!  They just seem to clutter up the screen. 

Good discussion.  This is one area I cannot believe M$, Apple, and Linux Developers haven't addressed yet.  Seems interface improvement would be a huge advancement for the personal computer.

Kevin

mouser

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Re: Worst. Interface. Ever.
« Reply #14 on: September 04, 2005, 08:19:06 PM »
btw for people who like this kind of discussion, there are some really fun user interface books:
http://www.usernomic...terface-design1.html

Carol Haynes

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Re: Worst. Interface. Ever.
« Reply #15 on: September 04, 2005, 08:20:49 PM »
PhotoShop's interface is coming in for some stick here ...

I must say I use it a lot and really like it.

The screen really isn't overclutter - you can toggle most of the 'screen clutter' on/off simply by pressing tab, and a single mouse click makes the work area full screen.

There is a bit of a learning curve (mainly because it does absolutely everything anybody would ever want to do with digital images) and you need to get to know the keyboard shortcuts. Once you do it is really slick and well thought out. It is also common to just about all the Adobe products so you only need to learn once.

The other thing is PhotoShop really isn't designed for mouse use (why would you want to use a mouse for photo retouching etc) and once you use a tablet with one hand and the keyboard with the other you quickly find you use it most of the time with just the image filling 100% of the screen ...
« Last Edit: September 05, 2005, 05:48:36 AM by CarolHaynes »

Veign

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Re: Worst. Interface. Ever.
« Reply #16 on: September 05, 2005, 02:16:29 PM »
Wanna see bad interfaces then check out the Interface Hall of Shame

(fixed link)
« Last Edit: September 05, 2005, 04:03:36 PM by Veign »

Carol Haynes

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Re: Worst. Interface. Ever.
« Reply #17 on: September 05, 2005, 03:58:20 PM »
That link doesn't seem to work

Correct link is: http://homepage.mac....iarchitect/shame.htm

Edvard

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Re: Worst. Interface. Ever.
« Reply #18 on: September 09, 2005, 02:09:03 PM »
Much as I love Powerpro, the configuration interface is akin to flying a space shuttle to get down the block. (what do I want it to do, how do I make it do it, can it even DO that? and what do all these OTHER buttons do?) and ZoneAlarms control panel looks more like a CNet advertisement for it than a way to configure it.
[soapbox]
AND MAY I ADD A BIG FAT BOO AND HISS to applications that do not include a full complement of icons and cursors? I mean really NOT EVERYBODY is fortunate enough to have XP for their daily work, and making at least two sizes of each as well as 8- and 24-bit icons is not asking too much in my opinion. I can't reshack everything just to have usable cursors. I find it ironic that the most annoying culprit in this department is SnicoEdit, an Icon Editor, fer pete's sake.
[/soapbox]

Renegade

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Real, QuickTime, WMP
« Reply #19 on: September 19, 2005, 06:54:07 AM »
Man... Some harsh words here...

I'm going to have to disagree about QuickTime and RealPlayer being that bad.

Years ago, I would have agreed that RealPlayer was total crap. However, Real One has a much better interface than QuickTime, but both applications are a bit misunderstood by 99.9% or more of everyone out there.

Windows Media Player also falls into the same category as those 2 players, but it has an infinitely better user interface.

All three of those players are more than just simple "media players" - they are development platforms. There is a lot that you can do with them. I've worked with all of them, and RealPlayer and Windows Media Player in a great deal of depth. There are lacking things in there, but they are far superior to most other players.

Let me pick on myself for a bit... Take a jaunt over to view my MP3 player GDT and look at the screen shot. It's pretty damn ugly, but it's actually very easy to use for what it is designed for. It's a special purpose player, and not meant for a broad audience like Real One, QuickTime, or WMP. (Hereafter RO, QT, WMP)

My application does what it is meant to do, and does it very well - I won the Shareware Industry Awards Foundation award for Best Application Using .Net - It has to have some merit... But, as a general purpose media player it sucks. Completely horrid.

Now, take a look at something like Foobar2000 - great for audio, but it has a wickedly miserable interface - worse than my own! But it is highly functional and a great player.

Now, try to do with Foobar2000 what you can do with WMP, RO, or QT - you can't. Those are development platforms with a very very deep level of thought put into them.

So far, I think MS has done the best job with creating something useful, but without a doubt, Apple has created the best stuff for professional applications (of the 3). Nobody uses WMP for post-production work - everyone uses QT stuff - usually with an SGI box or Final Cut or something like those. (There are a few more.)

If you're going to do any development with a media player, those 3 rock. The interfaces are very good and you can do a lot with them. That's a very important part of their interface that is not well known. If I were to choose one... hard choice. I like Real a lot for development, but WMP is ok for some things. I don't really like the interface for QT that much, but it is very good. (I'm not a fan of C based or C reliant things... Too retro for me.)

Well, I suppose you'll have to look at the SDKs for those players to know what I mean. Anyways, they aren't all that bad.

Cheers,

Ryan


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Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

Carol Haynes

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Re: Real, QuickTime, WMP
« Reply #20 on: September 19, 2005, 02:37:05 PM »
I'm going to have to disagree about QuickTime and RealPlayer being that bad.

Years ago, I would have agreed that RealPlayer was total crap. However, Real One has a much better interface than QuickTime, but both applications are a bit misunderstood by 99.9% or more of everyone out there.

Hmmm ... and whose fault is that ..... ;)

nikkho

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Re: Worst. Interface. Ever.
« Reply #21 on: September 29, 2005, 06:38:05 AM »
For me Total Commander has the worse interface.

mouser

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Re: Worst. Interface. Ever.
« Reply #22 on: September 29, 2005, 06:55:34 AM »
nikkho i'm with you about total commander,
though in fairness its one of the most beloved programs by a large number of people,
so i think it's one of those programs you either totally love, or totally can't bear to use.

rjbull

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Re: Worst. Interface. Ever.
« Reply #23 on: September 29, 2005, 11:12:59 AM »
nikkho i'm with you about total commander,
though in fairness its one of the most beloved programs by a large number of people,
so i think it's one of those programs you either totally love, or totally can't bear to use.

I love it - mainly because I started with DOS programs (hello, you newbies), command lines, XTree Pro, TSRs, the wonderful DESQview, and eventually a series of twin-pane file managers.  Norton Commander clones are probably a bit like WordStar editing commands: once you've learnt how, everything else looks cackhanded, cumbersome and slow.  This could be a form of kinaesthetic memory, like walking downstairs at home without needing to watch your feet.  Your muscles know how to do it without conscious intervention.

Worst interface?  Worst to look at, worst for newbies, or worst for for long-term heavy users?

Carol Haynes

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Re: Worst. Interface. Ever.
« Reply #24 on: September 29, 2005, 12:27:12 PM »
DOS command lines, XTree Pro, TSRs, WordStar

Nostalgia .... glazed look ... the good old days  :eusa_boohoo: