Avoiding The Uncanny Valley of User Interface

Valid point, but fairly awful example.

Outlook fills me with a sense of unease (and dread). It is hardly surprising that a clone, whether web-based or otherwise, should have the same effect.

It’s a sort of digital Zeno’s Paradox. The more accurate your digital representation of a person, the more visible the subtle imperfections become.

Not as good as the whole P / NP debacle, but this is still pretty good :slight_smile:

Yeah, we all hated Data. The skin and eyes just didn’t look right. He was simply too disgusting. That’s why that new Star Trek show with the bald captain never really took off.

I’m glad to see I’m not the only one getting annoyed by web sites pretending to be desktop applications.

The other day I tried to scroll down my list of subscriptions in Google Reader, only to discover that I had missed the scroll thumb and accidentally dragged an item in the list (which is actually a tree) over to a different category. This was confusing because the behavior of the GUI was unexpected. A normal (Windows) tree view only activates drag/drop when you actually click on an item in the tree, not when you accidentally click in the margin.

I accidentally click outside the scroll thumb all the time on my desktop, but that (usually) doesn’t result in my data being reorganized–and when it does I can just hit the Undo button.

Yeah, that Google Maps web app thing that acts like a desktop app, that’ll never work. People only want web apps that act like web apps damn it! And all the cool AJAX features in Facebook/MySpace/Gmail, no one really wants those. They would prefer to wait for the entire page to refresh every time they make any kind of change. Or wait for a huge page to download just to make sure the page contains every bit of data that they could possibly want. Because they would prefer their web apps to act just like the crappy 1st generation web apps that were around before they even knew what the Internet was. Pfft.

I came across a Mozilla Labs project last week called Prism which, as far as I can tell, wraps a single website up in native desktop chrome and presents it as a desktop app. In that way (and if the site is scripted to react to events in the same way as the native OS) then perhaps web apps do have potential to make it to the desktop.


Nowhere near topic…
Just got to the bottom of the page and noticed it again; is the CAPTCHA always orange?

On a more serious note - although went round the trees a little - I do agree that desktop-style web apps annoy the hell outa me; although I can’t wait for them to merge and all this mess will just go away :-p

mmm… Considering hear it spoken link doesn’t have anything specific and doesn’t require my name; I’m guessing orange is just hard-coded. Nice :-p

that pic makes me feel good as well as your point.

@chris - don’t underestimate the orange! The font type and the fact it’s an image has made for a very affective captcha…

Glad you’re touching on this. I’ve been working with ExtJs and this morning I was just thinking about how some clients tend to expect desktop application look and performance from their web applications that use this library.

Thank you! I’ve been trying to find that term recently, Uncanny Valley that is.

Roddy: Modern desktop Java apps made by anyone with even a tiniest bit of taste can be hardly distinguished from native ones.

Valid interesting points, as so often, but I’m disappointed about the boorishness. The packaging of your posts, too, will drive people away or attract them. For my part, cheap nudge-nudge jokes about members of the sex I happen to belong to will do the former.

Too bad some podcasters and their sponsors hawk frameworks for creating such monstrosities at every turn.

Good post Jeff. Admittedly I have been shooting at designing my web apps like desktop programs because I initially thought it was more intuitive for them. But I was probably wrong oh well.
BTW I would definitely like to know more about that first
chick’s ‘uncanny valley’. Oh man the pathetic feeling of wanting to mate with a cartoon…

I think the uncanny valley for web apps works a lot like the one for robots and CGI. Adding AJAX-y goodness works great, but when you try to get 100% like a desktop app, the problems ‘around the edges’ drive you nuts.

iTunes on PC is an excellent example. They brought the Apple UI to the PC and it annoys in a lot of little ways. For example, using ‘shift+down arrow’ to select a list of songs. Go too far? Hitting ‘shift+up arrow’ doesn’t unselect the bottom song. It selects the song above the start of your list. Argh!!!

I’m surprised you didn’t take the opportunity to talk about the ridiculous avatars in the XBox XNE.

Man, I wish my clients would read and UNDERSTAND this post. It would make my life a lot easier.

Now I know why I just can’t fall in love with RIAs built with Flex or Silverlight, even though those technologies themselves are very cool.

Thank you, Jeff.

That shot of Jessie is worth at -least- 250 PP.