Sergey Shishkin

on agile software development

Archive for January 2008

Combine that!

Nobody likes waiting, that’s why the key software usability feature is responsiveness – an application must response to user’s actions in timely fashion. When an application faces a very time consuming operation it usually tries to report its progress back to the user. That is where all the progress bars come from.

The only good implementation of a progress bar is one that continuously increments from 0% to 100% accurately reporting the progress of the operation in real time. Everything else is just a circumstantial evidence that the application is not dead but hopefully is doing something. Anyway, implemented good or bad, waiting is painful.

Isn’t it amazing how a very distracting usability anti-feature can turn out a painful progress bar to be one of the brightest usability solutions I have ever seen?

The anti-feature is called “Tip Of The Day” – the grandfather of the famous Clippy. It shows every time you don’t want it – on the startup of an application, competing with the application itself for user’s attention.

The wise combination is worth to see:

This is a cropped shot of a loading screen from the popular online game World of Warcraft. Sometimes I was even disappointed that the game has loaded too fast and I didn’t have time to read a tip! Have you ever been disappointed that the progress bar was too fast?

I think it is a beginning of a new trend in UI design. The idea to integrate a help system in a progress bar is brilliant – nobody otherwise reads the documentation anyway! And what about short video tutorials instead of text? Won’t that be cool?


Written by Sergey Shishkin

08.01.2008 at 10:16

Posted in Uncategorized