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Jamil Shehadeh

Every now and then when using some of our favourite, well-established pieces of software, apps and websites, I notice fiddly interfaces, misleading labels or obvious missing features. It seems churlish to criticise Microsoft, eBay or Google and the like – companies who have created great pieces of software and changed the way most of us find out stuff, shop and work – but I’m quite picky, so I like to do it anyway.

This could be fun – let the naming and shaming commence!

The empty search box

Perform a search in Microsoft Windows (using the main search bar next to the Start button). You’ll enter your search term, choose an option and off you go. Five minutes later you might dive back into the search box to look for the same thing or something with a similar name, but the search box is empty, making you type it out again. Bad show…

Come on Microsoft, at least present the last few searches, as you do when searching within a folder. Gmail in a browser doesn’t show your previous search entries either and Google are the search experts, so clearly I know nothing.

And the same goes for all those mobile apps that behave the same way – don’t make my fat thumbs type that out again!

I’m not interested in that!

Am I the only person who thinks eBay needs a ‘don’t show me this item again’ option. That would be useful for times when you’re looking at a lot of similar items. It goes a bit like this: Ooh, that one looks perfect. Oh yeah, I looked at it last night. It is perfect, but it’s 150 miles away and the seller won’t post it.

Which brings me on to my next missing eBay option: ‘Don’t show me items that sellers aren’t willing to post’. Such an option wouldn’t be necessary if there’s likely to be plenty of what you’re looking for locally. For niche items however, you don’t want to limit your options by reducing your search area and equally, some items aren’t worth a 150-mile drive or booking a courier, so I’d rather just not see what I can’t have. Am I right or am I right?

And how about all those sites that display out-of-stock items in their search results? That’s fine because it’s good to see the full catalogue of products, but at least give us the option to hide those items in case our purchase is urgent and we want to choose and buy something today.

Who missed that call?

The last time I used Skype (remember Skype?), if the person you were calling didn’t pick up, the thread for that contact would say ‘Missed call’. Missed call? I didn’t miss a call, surely you mean ‘No answer’. Sometimes, hours or days later I would look at that contact and wonder if I’d missed a call from that person.

Rota non bene

Google Photos is an amazing resource. We quickly forget how much of a faff it was to keep freeing up your phone memory so you could keep taking photos. It’s now so easy to see all your photos on your laptop even without having transferred your photos to it! That’s something you’d have to pay good money to be able to do only a few years ago.

Google Photos also lets you organise your photos into albums, as you might expect, but the process can be time consuming if you want to add a photo to an album you created a while ago. The ‘Add to album’ dialogue does put your recently visited albums to the top of the list but it needs a search box so you can quickly get to albums you made in the past.

And why make us click all the way through the Edit menu just to rotate a photo? Surely that common requirement justifies being a maximum of two clicks away? I’d like to see a Rotate icon sitting right there on the main interface, but if everyone’s favourite feature was treated in the same way, there would no room to show the photo! So two clicks is fine: Edit > Rotate, but actual option is burried too far in and it’s fiddly and frustrating. Although you can use Shift + R to rotate when using the browser app. I know, right! You’re welcome.

Finally, every time you delete a photo in Google Photos you get a “Move to bin?” prompt. Well, yes, move it! Do it now! I clicked the Bin icon so that’s what I wanted to do. I know it will be “removed from this device and all other connected devices”, you told me last time and the time before that – you’ve been telling me for about five years. I also know that I have a 30-day window in which to go into the bin and restore if I need to. How about adding a “Don’t show me this (ever!) again” option?

In conclusion

Perhaps I’m just too fussy (possibly), too impatient and too easily frustrated (probably) or just too set in my ways (definitely!), but there’s no denying that the changes suggested above would make the user experience better, and that can only be a good thing. I’m just trying to make the world perfect – that’s not too much to ask, is it?

Luckily, the team at Coast Digital has the same ambition and we strive to make your UX as good as it can be. If you’d like to know see how we can help, give us a call on 0845 485 1853.

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