Posted by Tony Davis on Simple Talk See other posts from Simple Talk or by Tony Davis
Published on Thu, 09 Dec 2010 14:11:26 GMT Indexed on 2010/12/09 22:18 UTC
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Surely the next radical step in the development of User-interface design is for applications to react appropriately to the rising tide of bewilderment, frustration or antipathy of the users. When an application understands that rapport is lost, it should respond accordingly. When we, for example, become confused by an unforgiving interface, shouldn't there be a way of signalling our bewilderment and having the application respond appropriately?

There is surprisingly little in the current interface standards that would help. If we're getting frustrated with an unresponsive application, perhaps we could let it know of our increasing irritation by means of an "I'm getting angry and exasperated" slider. Although, by 'responding appropriately', I don't include playing a "we are experiencing unusually heavy traffic: your application usage is important to us" message, accompanied by calming muzak.

When confronted with a tide of wizards, 'are you sure?' messages, or page-after-page of tiresome and barely-relevant options, how one yearns for a handy 'JFDI' (Just Flaming Do It) button. One click and the application miraculously desists with its annoying questions and just gets on with the job, using the defaults, or whatever we selected last time.

Much more satisfying, and more direct to most developers and DBAs, however, would be the facility to communicate to the application via a twitter-style input field, or via parameters to command-line applications ("I don't want a wide-ranging debate with you; just open the bl**dy PDF!" or, or "Don't forget which of us has the close button").

Although to avoid too much cultural-dependence, perhaps we should take the lead from emoticons, and use a set of standardized emoti-phrases such as 'sez you', 'huh?', 'Pshaw!', or 'meh', which could be used to vent a range of feelings in any given application, whether it be SQL Server stubbornly refusing to give us the result we are expecting, or when an online-survey is getting too personal. Or a 'Lingua Glaswegia' perhaps:

  • 'Atsabelter' ("very good")
  • 'Atspish' ("must try harder")
  • 'AnThenYerArsFellAff ' ("I don't quite trust these results")
  • 'BileYerHeid' or 'ShutYerGub' ("please stop these inane questions")

There would, of course, have to be an ANSI standards body to define the phrases that were acceptable. Presumably, there would be a tussle amongst the different international standards organizations. Meanwhile Oracle, Microsoft and Apple would each release non-standard extensions. Time then, surely, to plant emoti-phrases on the lot of them and develop a user-driven consensus. Send us your suggestions! The best one will win an iPod nano!



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