… web developer, writer, and consultant based in Hveragerði, Iceland.

I write about web dev, interactive media, digital publishing, and product development.

I’m available for consulting and hire.

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.

With this, I predict the return of usability as a virtue and a concern, with work for usability specialists again. https://t.co/lNmgB98XRt

— Christina Wodtke (@cwodtke) August 14, 2015

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).


Tech worshipped "design" - a facile, surface design- too long, and forgot we make things people use. Not hang on a wall.

— Christina Wodtke (@cwodtke) August 14, 2015

These are the products tech is turning out: handsome, sound good, but once you spend any time with them, you realize how annoying they are.

— Christina Wodtke (@cwodtke) August 14, 2015

The most frustrating thing is there is no reason to choose between beautiful and usable. They belong together.

— Christina Wodtke (@cwodtke) August 14, 2015


Remember when @mikeyk noticed how many reviews on Yelp's App Store page aren't actually for the app? https://t.co/b6YdlXZzsy

— Dan Loewenherz (@dwlz) May 30, 2015

It's easy to jump right to "people are stupid lol," but it turns out it's actually a huge Apple Maps UX issue. pic.twitter.com/8yeaNSnb0A

— Dan Loewenherz (@dwlz) May 30, 2015

  1. Search for a place on Apple Maps. 2. Choose place and tap "Write a Review" w/o Yelp.app installed. 3. Yelp App Store page opens.

— Dan Loewenherz (@dwlz) May 30, 2015

It's not unreasonable to think the "Reviews" tab is where you'd write your review for the place you were just viewing on Maps.app. UX fail.

— Dan Loewenherz (@dwlz) May 30, 2015


If software is still eating the world it appears to be taking very tiny bites

— Pinboard (@Pinboard) August 20, 2015


User interfaces are fucking complex, get over your "but this time, this new framework will solve all problems" attitude and just do the work

— Thomas Fuchs (@thomasfuchs) August 21, 2015


Apple has user-centered culture but mediocre UX design. MSFT has anti-user culture and it doesn't matter how wonderful their UX design is.

— Alan Cooper (@MrAlanCooper) July 30, 2015


Apple is NOT a great design company, they are a graphic design company, they are an industrial design company, but they fail epically on ux.

— Christina Wodtke (@cwodtke) July 30, 2015

@kirkbushell @MrAlanCooper Apple is competent when things are actually simple, but fail once they get complex, such as many data types.

— Christina Wodtke (@cwodtke) July 30, 2015

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