Archive for August, 2008

All or nothing


When looking at how different people design the same type of interface, I’m usually surprised to see certain elements that all the designs have in common — especially when those elements are of little value to users. Take the “Play all” option that you see in DVD menus. Have you ever used this? Who watches […]

In my experience, it’s very difficult to compare two items that you’ve created in a given software program. You know, trying to see if the first one matches the second one, or if a new entry is the same as the ones you made last year. Usually this involves loading up each of the items […]

Have you ever gotten one of those statements from your health insurance company that tries to show you a breakdown of your recent claims? This type of document is one of the most convoluted things around. For any given visit to the doctor, they might show you the retail price of the visit, the discount […]

Hearing voices


While watching Season 1 of Battlestar Galactica on DVD (it’s been a few years since I first saw it), I came across a positively idiotic menu design. You see, there’s a menu where you can turn on the audio commentary. That part works fine. But once you turn it on, you can’t turn it off. […]

I installed some backup software over the weekend, and it reminded me of the reasons why traditional computer software sucks: – Updates are a pain in the ass and the automatic ones never work right. – The user interfaces are typically very crude and confusing when compared to web-based software. – The pricing models don’t […]

If you’ve ever used a Polycom IP phone, you may be aware of a somewhat strange behavior. When you pick up the handset, you hear a dial tone. The problem is, you hear the same dial tone nearly all the time — even if the network connection is down and the phone can’t make calls. […]

At most supermarkets, you can choose which type of bag you want: paper, plastic, or both. You can even bring your own bag if you’re so inclined. But these choices are entirely absent from online shopping, and the packing materials tend to be pretty random as well. For example, my most recent Amazon order came […]

If your so-called “web application” only runs in Internet Explorer, it’s not a web application. Rather, it’s an “Internet Explorer application”. I was reminded of this simple fact while looking for a new software package the other day. One of the products on my short list was web-based and looked pretty solid. But when I […]

Maybe it’s the type of sites that I’ve been looking at lately, but the “Contact” link seems to be disappearing. Meanwhile, the contact page is getting buried several levels deep in weird places like Company or About Us. Or, they’ve moved it to a hard-to-find spot at the bottom of the page. Perhaps I’m old-fashioned, […]

I’ve noticed a lot of variance in how retailers report the sizes of their items. Usually, the dimensions shown will reflect the product itself, but sometimes they’re actually describing the shipping box or a carton that contains more than one unit of the product. Worse, for items that have an inside measurement or carrying capacity […]