Clues your UI doesn't work

Category: Tim's Blog
Published: Friday, 05 April 2013 11:38
Written by Tim Walls
Hits: 6136

So, it's the end of the financial year, and time to grovel through assorted online service providers' billing systems to make sure all the invoices have been correctly recorded in my finance system for tax purposes.

And while I'm fighting with one particularly bad example of such an online system, who shall remain nameless (unless you're reading my twitter feed,) I come upon this gem of UI design.  To get a printable PDF of your invoice you need to...

It is actually quite difficult to imagine how you could make this whole endeavour worse.  But here is a particular golden rule I think comes out of this:

If your user interface requires a video tutorial to show people how to use it, then your user interface is irredeemably broken.

Also, I'd add this:

When considering using a proprietary plugin/web application on your website, ask yourself if it actually adds any value to the end user whatsoever?

All modern browsers & operating systems have excellent facilities for dealing with things like PDFs downloaded from the web.  Is a plugin that replicates - badly - the existing functionality that the operating system/browser already provides really adding any value?

No, it isn't.  All you've done is create a usability nightmare for your users, and a support nightmare for your web team, who have to make sure the thing works on all the browsers out there for ever more (or in the case of this nameless company, evidently does not make sure it works.)

That whole farrago could be replaced with a simple link to download a PDF file.

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