Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Spelling Check is Complete

Dialogs for dialog...

"Yesterday, I mentioned the new contextual spelling feature that is part of Office 2007. Writing the post reminded me of a story from years past...

One of the things we've tried to do from time to time is reduce the number of modal alerts that pop up as part of working with Office. Most people don't spend the time to read the text of message boxes--as a result, unless there's an action that needs to be taken, most people just click OK.

Long before we had the Customer Experience Improvement Program in Office 2003, we relied on data from something called the "instrumented version." This was a special build of Office we gave to a few hundred test subjects to collect a small amount of objective information on how people used the software. It was not nearly as complete or as representative as the CEIP data, but it was better than nothing.

So, when a team was tasked with reducing the number of alerts, they developed a magic formula for deciding which alerts to target: look for the most frequently-appearing alerts (based on the data) which contained only an OK button. Because we know that any alert with just an OK button is simply informative, and we know that most people don't read the text of alerts, knocking just the first 10 or 20 off the list held the promise of reducing the number of dumb alerts seen by Office users by billions and billions.

Dutifully, the team removed these seemingly useless alerts. The very top one on the list seemed like an absolute slam-dunk to remove: "The spelling check is complete." It's a totally unactionable alert--just an extra click people have to do every time they check their spelling. A perfect example of a useless, intrusive dialog box, interrupting your work and getting in your way. Bad design. Right?"   continued ...   (Via Jensen Harris)

The importance of this dialog was overlooked- User Interface Design, Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Ergonomics

The importance of this dialog was overlooked


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