Pain is temporary, failure lasts forever

Lean, agile living for the running mother of Peter

2008-09-13

Stopped talking about usability

How often do you want to save an unsaved document when you close it? How often do you want to discard your changes? If I exclude every time I give up when the mysterious formatting rules of MS Word plays me a trick, I most of the time want to save my changes. From usability point of view, it should probably be better if my changes were saved per default and that I used another command for closing and discarding. (the example is from the exellent book, About Face 3. And yet, why doesn't this feel right?

Yes, making save when closing would exclude a lot of keyboard pushing or mouse clicking, depending on which kind of person you are. But still...

It is called expected behaviour, and when I talk about these issues with users and developers, I've stopped using the terms usability and user friendly and I talk a lot more about expected behaviour: what does users expect when they do X?

And this is the problem with the default save on close: people expect to be prompted and would probably get nervous if they weren't. This should probably be changed in future UI:s, but this should probably have to be a global change. Otherwise you get confusion. Like with the card machines in the stores where there is no standard so you have to take a look at the actual machine in the store how to draw your card. We don't know what to expect.

One example of annoyance is in Windows Mobile, where clicking the X in the upper right corner according to UI guidelines is closing without saving. How expected is that?

I like surprices, but in the form of a nice gift or a clean home when I get home, not that my document hasn't been saved.

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