But It's Just One More

The Windows Live Local mapping service is surprisingly difficult to use. It certainly looks simple enough:

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2006/03/but-its-just-one-more.html

If your adding UI elements, consistance is the key. But so is discoverability.
However, any different interface in the case cited would arguably be more clicks, more possibly unecessarily verbose. Yes, it’s jarring the first time. But once you learn it, and it’s quick to learn, then it’s possibly the cleanest interface.
The only other interface of worth, and possibly better, would be to place the decision at the point of action. i.e. let the user make the decision by having two differently, succinctly labeled buttons. But there is a whole slew of problems with that too.
Slightly off topic maybe, and maybe completely wrong. Feel free to correct me, I’m willing to learn.

I did the exact same thing.

For this particular case, put the “Where” first since if I’m using a map application that’s more likely to be what I’m after (even more so considering that I’m coming from the competition like MapQuest).

And if I do type something in the wrong box which yields “no results found”, assume I typed into the wrong box and run the query again for me automatically.

Also, be smart and see if what I typed in looks like a street address.

I agree with J.D.S. Putting the “Where” first fixes the problem. Microsoft Streets and Trips gets it right with a single box. Enter a location or address and it does the rest. If it gets more than a single hit it presents a list with possible matches that you can pick from. Nice.

ICR makes a good point about it being quick to learn. Making you fail the first time forces you to read and then, in my experience anyways, the user has the “oh, ain’t I a dumb bunny for putting it in the wrong box” reaction. Obviously, switching the order of the boxes is preferable but I don’t think the current state is the disaster you make it out to be.

I don’t think the current state is the disaster you make it out to be

If your user’s first experience with your product is “now I feel like an idiot”, it’s all downhill from there.

Oddly enough, about two minutes ago my wife had a panic attack: Outlook was saying something to her and she desparately needed my help. Why? Because it had downloaded what it thought was spam and put it in the junk email folder. Big deal? No. Had she actually read what it was saying she would have understood quite easily. My wife isn’t completely computer illiterate - like most users she just won’t put in the time to read and understand. It’s the “Just make it go” mentality.

apart from the ui problem, it’s also finding funny places. try searching for munich. or paris. well, it does know about paris.

paris, illinois. wow.

thomas woelfer

You work at Microsoft yes? no? You could um like you know mention it to the windows live folx.

The position of the where box probably tells you something of the target audience, and I wouldn’t be suprised if they had done the research into the matter. I’m far more likely to use a service to find some form of buisness. Yes, I might test it with an address, but in the long term I would more use the service for locating buisnesses. I would hazard a guess that is their target audience.

Not that that excuses the confusing situation. There have been a few ways mentioned above that would have solved the problem.

This really annoys me. I use Windows Live Hotmail and the new design has two search boxes annoyingly close to each other.

See image (http://twitpic.com/15gm9)

One for searching the web and one for your email.

I have never intentionally searched the web from hotmail as I would navigate away from Hotmail and that’s what tabs are for. I have however put my email search term in there lots of times and left hotmail.


Similarly confusing is the Get updates button on the new whitehouse.gov site. It’s enabled by default, and after I clicked it, I expected to see options (RSS, email, etc.). Instead, it turns out you have to input your email address and zip code before clicking the updates button. http://www.whitehouse.gov/

I’m color blind and find it very difficult to spot red in the scenario you pointed out without having it pointed out to me. :slight_smile:

Before this, my brain makes assumptions and says black, black, green.

Actually it more accurately says dark, dark, bright

Also the buttons are in the wrong order (in a western oriented (read Left to Right) world anyway)

Should be green, red, black :stuck_out_tongue:

Does the captcha always say orange?

@Rory - because it’s the worst captcha ever.

That IS extremely confusing and I would have fallen for it the same way. Another irritation is two submit buttons on the same page.

I’m a big fan of watermarking my text boxes so the user has no choice but to read what they should be entering.