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In Appreciation Of World Usability Day...  (View post)

Tony Ruscoe [PersonRank 10]

Tuesday, November 14, 2006
13 years ago4,935 views

In general, I agree with everything you've said there.

However, I disagree with point 5:

<< Links or buttons should never read "click here", as it's non-descriptive >>

I might be more inclined to agree if you'd said:

<< Links or buttons should never read *only* "click here", as it's non-descriptive >>

But that isn't the case as "Click here to open message" is pretty descriptive.

We have to remember that some users are idiots. If the link just said "Open message" some users may think it was merely telling them that the message was open – especially since the link's not underlined. (And not underlining links is another issue entirely!)

I've written more on this here:
ruscoe.net/blog/2006/05/why-is ...

/pd [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

That was a good read!! You must do a live vs gmail feature metric .. that would be nice to see..

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

Tony, my opinion is "show, don't tell": if you want something to be clickable, *make it look clickable*. Did you see the Live Mail link wasn't underlined? So Microsoft didn't do everything to make it look clickable. However, what they did is add two words – and every interface word added decreases usability (if ever so slightly, but as I said, these were only tiny barriers forming a bigger whole).

In one of my old agencies, the customer was always worried users wouldn't "get" it. This resulted in a lot of help text added to the application. So you'd have explanations everywhere: choose there, click here, do this, do that, and so on, view the 1-2-3 steps tutorial, read the intro to prepare you for the app. Did it increase the usability? No, it decreased it, immensely, because suddenly the application was cluttered, and users would need to see through the clutter.

So, I think you're right that the "click here" may be necessary on *this type of non-underlined link on yellow background*... but the perfect solution would be to make it look more clickable (via an arrow icon, a button shape, an underline, different colors, white background, etc.) and then remove the "click here". In this specific case, the action was actually "opening a message"; if we assume it was a necessary action (which I think it wasn't, as the mail should've been open already), then IMO you have to think about how to visualize this to make the message look more "openable". As an example, Gmail does this very well: they have this "- Show quoted text -" link, and it's exactly in the position where the thing will be opened, too... exactly where you're *looking* for it... and the horizontal lines slightly indicate the direction of the "border" upon which you expand/ collapse this.

Ron Davis [PersonRank 0]

13 years ago #

Also, don't forget that it doesn't *really* work well unless you're using IE. It works in Firefox, but not well. Maybe that's to be expected with web sites designed by the Microsoft camp, but I think it's worth mentioning.

Ryan [PersonRank 0]

13 years ago #

Speaking of usability... Philip,
how about this blog?

Can we get the post to display above the comments on the same page.... and the RSS feed to point to that.

As it is now, I have to click on my rss link, then cilck comments to come here... and If I want to reference the post in my comments, it's another click away.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

Yes, I realize that's a problem Ryan. It comes with the bonus of having the forum work as it does (and the frontpage also works nicer this way), but it's still a problem.

paxik [PersonRank 1]

13 years ago #

Well, all those pictures in this post sure are very usability-friendy, right? ;)

Tony Ruscoe [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

Philipp – I agree with everything you said.

<< In one of my old agencies, the customer was always worried users wouldn't "get" it. This resulted in a lot of help text added to the application. [...] Did it increase the usability? No, it decreased it, immensely, because suddenly the application was cluttered, and users would need to see through the clutter. >>

I've experienced that first hand too. In fact, I'm sure I'm still guilty of this sometimes. But web development would be so much easier if users learnt how to us a PC before browser the web. When a user doesn't even know how to copy and paste, yet they're perfectly willing to enter their credit card details into a website, it's just frustrating...

<< Well, all those pictures in this post sure are very usability-friendy, right? ;) >>

Good usability? Yes. Good accessibility? Maybe not. Many people often confuse the two...

Jack Hynes [PersonRank 6]

13 years ago #

Interesting post which addressed all the issues that I hate about Live Mail. More reason to use Gmail as nearly all of those issues are resolved/don't come up in Gmail.

Nathan White [PersonRank 1]

13 years ago #

Looks like Hotmail Live's biggest problem is that it isn't Gmail.

Ionut Alex. Chitu [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

Windows Live has improved a lot. It still has some annoyances, but it keeps evolving (much faster than Gmail).

Ratatösk [PersonRank 2]

13 years ago #

Gmail forever;) it's just sooooo much user friendlier

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

> << Well, all those pictures in this post
> sure are very usability-friendy, right? ;) >>
>
> Good usability? Yes. Good accessibility? Maybe
> not. Many people often confuse the two...

Well spotted Tony – and I half expected this to be spotted by someone! Take a look at the post's source and tell me if you spot something included with the image... a long forgotten attribute I took extra care preparing before I posted (the attribute is actually inferior to CSS layers positioned over the image, at least in most real world contexts, but this is only half serious) :)

Tony Ruscoe [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

Some good thinking there PL... ;-)

andrew [PersonRank 0]

13 years ago #

I don't use live mail because I cann't bear its speed. It's too slow.

James [PersonRank 0]

13 years ago #

My main problem with Windows Live Mail is selecting multiple emails – the checkbox target is too small, and if you miss it, you deselect all the emails and view the current one. This is a real pain when deleting spam, which is the other problem I have, their spam filter isn't good enough.

Wouter Schut [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

Digg: digg.com/software/In_Appreciat ...

Very good article!

Here in the Netherlands 90% use hotmail as their personal e-mail account. If only they allowed people to forward their mail. Grrr.

Balakumar Muthu [PersonRank 1]

13 years ago #

Good one, check out similar thing about Hotmail at:

i5bala.blogspot.com/2006/07/hi ...

Venu [PersonRank 1]

13 years ago #

Also if you open Live Mail in Firefox, you can't even resize the panes!! </a>And this is what MS has to say about windows live mail
<blockquote>
It’s all-new Web mail, built from the ground up. Preview your e-mail without loading a new page each time (like Outlook®) drag and drop messages into folders, and generally power through your e-mail in a flash.</blockquote>

My take on Live Mail here:
venukb.com/blog/2006/08/12/win ...

Silvio Rodrigues [PersonRank 0]

13 years ago #

I'd say, in my poor English, that I use hotmail and Yahoo Mail since 1999. Both services evolved, but everytime Hotmail (now Live) "evolves" it takes a long time, and nothing good happens, instead of Yahoo Mail, every time making the webmail experience as new as possible.

As we say in Portuguese, "Hotmail é uma bosta!" (Hotmail stinks!)

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