Friday, March 20, 2009

G is for Gripe: Program close dialogs; Modal dialogs with typical Yes followed by typical No (or vice versa)

I recently installed the excellent program "taskbar shuffle".  It lets you re-order the items in your task bar.  Even better, it lets you middle click a task bar item to close it.

Most programs respond nicely to this treatment and quietly close.  But many throw up "do you want to save your changes" type dialogs you must respond to.  I appreciate what these dialogs are about, but I am a habitual saver, and almost never actually need this dialog.  It just creates an extra step for me.  I can't say that any time in recent memory I have lost work due to not closing things-- in fact, I often close slow-closing programs via killing them Task Manager (I know this is shockingly bad hygiene but I have not seen any ill effects except for Outlook). Anyway, I wish all programs would have a configuration option which said basically "Close without prompting".

Meanwhile, a second gripe is routine sequences of modal dialogs where the answer to one is routinely "Yes" and the other is "No".  The SQuirrel SQL client (excellent in many ways*) when closed, asks you first if you really want to close the session ("Yes") and then if you want to save your session (always "No" for me).  But I often click "Yes" twice, and then get shunted off into a slow to show set of File save screens.  I also see this pattern at the grocery store: Do you want cash back "No", Is this amount correct, "Yes".  And at the gas station: Do you want a car wash "No", Do you want a receipt: "Yes".  I appreciate that sometimes the answers will differ.  

But UI designers should identify the most common responses and try to line up the responses.  How about "Do you want cash back?" and "Is this amount incorrect?".  I could answer "No" to both.

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