Modern software sucks

We have fantastic and beautiful devices but horrifying usability.

I’ve been nagging everybody I know about these things for ages. On a regular basis I witness friends and relatives suffer inconveniences and even data losses that are caused entirely by bad software and bad software design. Many features are either unnecessarily hard to use or even just plain impossible to discover. Inconsistency is the rule of the day. Modern software just plain sucks.

Turns out, it isn’t just me and my lot.

Today, the products are beautiful, but for many of us, confusing. The fonts are pleasant to the eye, but difficult to read. The principle of "discoverability" has been lost. The only way to know what to do in many situations is to have memorized the action. The screens offer no assistance in remembering whether one should swipe left or right, up or down, one finger or two. Or three. One tap or two. I frequently have to "re-read the manual," which means going back to the control panel to review the multiple finger swipes -- which are not even the same for all devices: the magic mouse is different from the trackpad which is different from the iPad.

Inscrutable icons litter the face of the devices even though the research community has long demonstrated that people cannot remember the meaning of more than a small number of icons. Icon plus label is superior to icon alone or label alone. Who can remember what each icon means? Not me.

Why are Apple’s products so confusing? They ignore design principles by Don Norman (583 words).

Norman, Apple lost direction when it forgot design’s three most essential principles: discoverability, feedback and correction. He explains this as discovering what users can do, understanding what has happened and getting back to where the user previously was.

“All this is gone and those are very important critical parts of design,” he says. “I actually think the company that is doing the best job today in terms of usability is Microsoft. Microsoft lost out on this attempt to make everything beautiful and simple but I think they have done the best job in making things that we can understand how to use.”

Design guru Don Norman slams Apple’s ease-of-use ‘disservice’ by Ayesha Salim (1256 words).