User hostile software
October 18, 2006
Are there ever sound reasons for deliberately making a user interface unintuitive and inconsistent ? For deliberately making life difficult for the user ? I know I’m drifting off topic here, but the thought crossed my mind as I used our corporate web based expense reporting system to file a claim for a conference I went to earlier this month.
This expenses system is terrible. The help is cryptic, and the workflow seems wilfully obscure. Is it just bad design, or should an expenses system be designed like that to cut down on employee claims ?
At another bank in the late 90s we all used a timesheet system called Agresso. It had an appallingly clunky Windows GUI that violated every possible expectation you might have about the interface – like TAB going to the next field. It was infuriating. Take a look at Agresso‘s stupid raging bull logo. No doubt it’s designed to appeal to alpha male senior managers. Ironically, it perfectly captures the mental state of a user after sustained exposure to its late 90s GUI. I guess that’s what happens when there’s a disconnect between purchasers and users. If we foisted crap like that on our traders, by golly we’d know about it pretty quick. They insist on minimal and intuitive keystrokes and mouse gestures.