I decided to start to collect some examples of bad UI design in my blog.
It happens more and more frequently to have funny | boring experiences while interacting with User Interfaces (UI) which are provided by so many devices that we use daily.
Being a techie user and since I am working in the Hi-Tech business, I am very interested in UI design and I recognize how difficult is to design a UI that is both easy to use and error safe.
This is also the reason I don’t like to design UIs as making a good one it’s a time consuming activity which typically requires knowledge in several multidisciplinary topics such as: Ergonomic, Human factors, Typography, FMEA etc.
My time is limited and if I can choose I prefer much longer to move GPIOs or acquire data from a sensor.
As the rest of this blog, what I write is my personal opinion, it does not pretend to be the Truth and it is not related to my employer.
Cars are not Web Browsers
Some time ago I had a discussion in a LinkedIn forum about the image below:
Unfortunately I lost the linkedIn post, but the image originated from a BMW user forum where the user was asking what was the meaning of the message.
Some people in the LinkedIn thread were fine with this message as it is formally correct (they were web designers). Others, like me, thought that was bad.
If you are in the Internet business the message is quite clear:
The (expensive) car was unable to establish a secure (encrypted) connection with BMW and it notified the issue also describing the reason of the failure (SSL certificates are fundamental blocks of a secure communication over the Internet, at least web communications)
So it seems that the BMW on board computer is exchanging data with some BMW servers using encrypted Internet connection, the purpose is not relevant (after all I have a compact car).
I am very happy to know that such communication is encrypted, I would not share information regarding my car (usual routes? home address?) with everybody but I don’t think that typical BMW customers are web designers, and if I paid a lot of money for a car full of safety features I could be worried for a message like this:
“What the hell does it means? Is it my car safe to drive? SSL could be something like ABS, ESP…”
This could generate paranoia in some users and potentially lot of complains to the BMW assistance center just for a temporary and, most likely, not relevant problem.
My opinion is that this UI was designed (or partly designed) by an Engineer that did not care about the end user.
Since a car is not a web browser there should be a better way to manage it, I would rather print a more generic and assuring message, like:
“BMW Live service is temporarily unavailable”
maybe adding some more information but not using acronyms that are not familiar to the user, and maybe even not mentioned in the car manual.
When designing a graphical UI:
- Review the design with a UI/UX expert, don’t let the SW Engineer alone
- Don’t assume that the final user has your same knowledge/culture
- Avoid using language or jargon that are outside the intended application
Please let me know your opinion and if you would like to see another episode of this series. Consider that this post remained in draft for nearly 2 years