Bad Interface Design

April 9, 2010

Now, I’m am in no way a specialist in user interface design, but as a designer and more importantly as a user, I find this example to be particularly annoying.

What’s wrong with this picture?

eRoom Interface Example

Look closely at the positions of the “Next” and “Previous” buttons. See what I’m getting at? In our western, left to right reading world, the “Next” button should be on the right to indicate, well, the next item. Items position on the left indicate “back” or in this case “Previous”. Look at the position of the back button on your web browser. On the left, correct? And the forward button on the browser? Yeah, it’s on the right.

For someone unknown reason, the buttons used in this interface are reversed. And it’s annoying. Not that I spend time clicking the wrong button, but more that I have to actually take a second to ensure I’m clicking the correct one. It’s a small detail, but why would you go against convention and standards and make your product more confusing to use.

Some background on the example. It’s from a product called eRoom from EMC which is basically a web based content management system. The interface isn’t the only flaw — they call the Windows-only .EXE application a “plugin” and they do not yet, despite many years on the market, have a Macintosh version of the app. Mac users (such as myself and my team) can still use the CMS — but without many of the features of the full application.

This is exactly the kind of thing corporate users are forced to deal with on a regular basis. Software that seems to be missing key thinking in it’s initial design. It’s what they complain about (and I hear them). You don’t need a focus group or a board meeting to figure out that the “next” button is intuitively in the wrong position. You need a designer.