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Bad UI Design in just three widgets

Sometimes you come across a bit of UI design so boneheaded you just have to tell the world...

Tuesday, March 4, 2003

That's genuis at work.

Surprisingly, there are more bits of bad UI design out there in the field than you'd believe. Cast your mind back a few years to the .com / IT boom. It was an employee's market, and so the good people went to the best offers. The rest took whatever else they could find. Some people just rejected 99% of candidates (which I see no problem with). Others, desparate to get someone - anyone - to complete a project, had to settle for bozos who couldn't use a bit of common sense about UI design. (They should have read "About Face" by Alan Cooper, that would have drilled some fear into them that they weren't doing the right thing!)

Now the market's swung the other way, and we're finding competent developers are spotting obvious UI bloopers in released products.

(Or at least I am. Frequently...)

Better than being unemployed...
Tuesday, March 4, 2003

more at the User Interface Hall of Shame

(site seems to be down - anyone know if its moved?)

Pete Robinson
Tuesday, March 4, 2003

I haven't been able to get into for two months. I sure hope someone archived it somewhere...


Philip Janus
Tuesday, March 4, 2003


Tuesday, March 4, 2003

Boy, is that a gem of a bad UI or what!!! I don't think onc can do worse if you try!!!

As for that hall of shame site? Yes, it  has been down for a long time now. I think it is gone.

However, is there is the internet archive, and it is great for looking at those sites that disappear.


You can get to the site by:*/

It is great site on UI stuff.

Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada

Albert D. Kallal
Tuesday, March 4, 2003

There's another copy over here...

...but that might not be too useful to you ;-)

Tuesday, March 4, 2003

I remeber a program with a textual interface that contained the following UI gem:

"Do you want to input distance in meters or feet [y/n]:"

Since the program used a Boolean variable to indicate the choice, the programmer selected a yes/no question ...

Dan Shappir
Tuesday, March 4, 2003

The webarchive's no good - the images still link to, and the images are 80% of the content. :-/


Philip Janus
Tuesday, March 4, 2003

Reminds me of the time I learned not to use a boolean to represent a 'sex' field - I was writing an application documenting racehorses...

Max Hadley
Tuesday, March 4, 2003

Dan, it took me a minute to see the problem with the example you showed. I really need to get back to bed.

Tuesday, March 4, 2003

Philip: I have no problems viewing the site on webarchive... the images are just a bit slow to load

Mike McNertney
Tuesday, March 4, 2003

Actually I like snotmonster's UI example. It reminds me of playing Myst.

"We dare you to solve the mystery of the interface!"


Dennis Atkins
Tuesday, March 4, 2003

That could have been programmed by one of our engineers.

It would be funny if it weren't so depressing.

Tuesday, March 4, 2003


We must have worked at the same place. This is precisely why engineers shouldn't be allowed anywhere near UI design activites.

UI Designer
Tuesday, March 4, 2003

There's nothing wrong with engineers doing design.  That is, if you take the opposite of what they consider "good design."  The way I did it was, I emailed coworkers' opinion on a screenshot I made.  Usually the engineers would agree with me and the others wanted something else.  So obviously I went with the NON-engineers.

Engineers side too much on elegance and idioms.  We like "clean" things that may not be so good for endusers.  For example, the little picture of a hallway on the top left of the screen I'm on, might be meaningless to many nontechnical users, who don't know it would take them back to the forum mainpage.

It actually helped in that someone might volunteer to help me out further with the design, doing some photoshop wizardry.  Some of my happiest work, because morale was low and doing nonapproved work was so fun.

Tuesday, March 4, 2003

>This is precisely why engineers shouldn't be allowed anywhere near UI design activites

Or perhaps you just need better engineers. I know plenty of engineers who can design great user interfaces (and plenty who can't). User interface design is a skill like any other and nothing says that you can't have more than one skill.

The problem is that many engineers are happy to learn a single skill and expect that to be all they need. That's a problem with those engineers and it's not fair to make the sweeping statement you made.

John Burton
Wednesday, March 5, 2003

The Interface Hall of Shame can now be found here:

David Person
Thursday, March 6, 2003

It's not by the same people though, is it?

John Topley
Thursday, March 6, 2003

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