'The more painful the UI is, the more satisfied users are.'

'The more painful the UI is, the more satisfied users are.'

Summary: Can a poor user interface actually be a selling point for a product? For financial information services company Bloomberg, it can.

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TOPICS: Banking, Browser
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Can a poor user interface actually be a selling point for a product?

For financial information services company Bloomberg, it can. The company's iconic data-spewing terminals offer streams of info in yellow and orange text on a black background, among other design no-nos.

But when a global design firm attempted to revamp the terminal in 2007, they discovered that Bloomberg's users were very, very attached to its poor usability.

Want to know more? Read the rest on SmartPlanet's Smart Takes blog.

Topics: Banking, Browser

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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48 comments
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  • Explains how MS gets away with it

    XP is Horrible by default.
    So is Vista.
    Win 7 is decent but by no means good
    Office 2007 is a usability NIGHTMARE.
    itguy08
    • Explains how Apple gets away with it

      Oh really? I thought the Apple users were the fanatically devoted crowd. Aren't they supposed to be the most satisfied users?

      Or are you admitting MS customers are the most satisfied (sticking to the headline of this story?) Please don't try to talk out of both orifices at once.
      hickum
      • I didn't say MS users were satisfied.

        Pointing out that crummy UI's sell. MS's UI's are crummy yet they sell.

        It's only recently that people are seeing there is a better way than the Crapware that is Windows and Microsoft. This trend will continue.

        Looking at the IT industry it runs in cycles. MS had its run at the top and the tide is declining for them. It will be a long slow road but they will end up an also-ran.
        itguy08
        • What did they do?

          What did Microsoft do to piss you off?
          rjohn05
          • Selling Vi$ta

            What a rip off.
            still not nice
        • Well then you just contradicted yourself {nt}

          :(
          WinTard
    • Old versions of MS software

      So if XP (assuming Win XP) is Horrible and Win 7 is decent, but Office 2007 is a usability nightmare what is Office XP? I beg to differ, Office 2007 is a good step in the right direction and Office 2010 looks to be even better. Office 2000 and Office XP are not great interfaces now, though they were fine at the time. User interfaces have evolved over time, for which I am glad. I would rather not have to use several keyboard combinations or a command-line prompt when two mouse clicks would work. UIs will continue to evolve as new hardware provides new ways to interact with computers (touch screens, webcams, microphones, etc.).
      gcomputeronet@...
      • Actually previous versions were better

        The "hiding" of menu options was/is DUMB, DUMB, and DUMB.

        The ribbon is a waste of space and time.

        The replacing of the file, edit, view, etc menu with the Office Orb is a nightmare. How are we supposed to know to click there?

        I could go on and on.
        itguy08
        • As a mac user...

          Apple ain't nothin to write home about.
          rjohn05
          • As a (dummy) Mac User

            Sometime everyone needs to ask for help, most of us know how to use
            Apples "Finder" Did you know, They have Books for dummies!

            http://ca.dummies.com/search.html?query=mac

            After you had a some time reading it, let us know how you made out!
            MacNewton
        • I disagree

          Hiding menu options is great. If I do not use menu option I do not want to see them every time I click on the menu.
          Ribbon is nice too. Office orb is nightmare? :) Just click it once and you know it is there.
          I do not see problems there at all.
          paul2011
          • Or get an Apple iPad

            The UI in the iPad is made for people that can't use a Mac or a PC. It's
            really simple to use, just tap the App icon and your on your way.

            But For you, a "iPad for Dummies" book may be helpful
            MacNewton
          • Don't knock it

            [i]The UI in the iPad is made for people that can't use a Mac or a PC.[/i]

            Which is great for seniors.

            Oh that's right...you'll never be a senior. You'll die young, instead.
            still not nice
        • For Word the ribbon is WONDERFUL

          Once you get used to it the ribbon offers two huge advantages.

          1) It allows you to apply the most common styles with a single click. This is a huge advantage if you use styles (and if you don't, you don't know how to use Word properly). Not to mention the "hover over style" to preview...

          2) It *easily* exposes all Word's enormous functionality to the user.

          I don't understand the hate for the ribbon, really. At worst it's a neutral change. You have to learn it, but the ribbon is the idealized version of the "all functions exposed" ideal that Apple's been pushing since 1984.

          And yes, hidden menu items was a dumb idea, the exact *opposite* of the ribbon constantly exposing everything.
          wolf_z
          • Ribbons are wonderfully slow

            If you don't know how to use Word, ribbons work. If you know what you are
            doing they do nothing but slow you down and take tons of screen space.
            Bruizer
          • Slow you down? Quite the opposite

            For very common functions (Save, Bold/italics/underline, Search, Replace, etc) there are keyboard shortcuts--which have not changed since the earliest days of Word.

            The ribbon is a mouse motion away for everything else. How, exactly, does this slow you down?

            Styles are FAR faster in 2007 than they were in 2003, especially because A) multiple styles are presented as mouse targets and B) each of those mouse targets are far larger than the single small target available in 2003. Since you normally use less than 5 styles in a typical document, ALL your styles are nice large targets for a swoop and a click.

            This is slower? :)

            And again, "tons of screen space" is relative. If you're on a netbook, sure. If you're on a 22" LCD monitor, not so much. :)
            wolf_z
        • Please do go on, actually.

          "The 'hiding' of menu options was/is DUMB,
          DUMB, and DUMB."

          The menu options were DUMB, DUMB, and DUMB.
          Designed in the early days for word processors
          with small feature sets and for systems with
          very little graphical capability.

          Today, it's very different. The modern word
          processor has become very complex, with a large
          number of features, and we have systems with
          far more powerful graphical capabilities.

          "The ribbon is a waste of space and time."

          Nope, it isn't. It's far more task oriented,
          and the ribbon does a far better job of making
          visible many useful features of Office.

          "The replacing of the file, edit, view, etc
          menu with the Office Orb is a nightmare. How
          are we supposed to know to click there?"

          Take a look at Office 2010. They changed that.
          Yeah, the orb was a bit of a mistake.

          "I could go on and on."

          Please do. So far, you've described one feature
          Microsoft fixed, and the rest seems to be hand
          waving and vague generalities. It would be
          really nice to know specifically what your
          major complaints are.
          CobraA1
          • Office 2010 ain't out yet

            And yeah, the orb blows...

            [i]Take a look at Office 2010. They changed that.
            Yeah, the orb was a bit of a mistake.[/i]
            still not nice
      • @gcomputeronet

        I disagree. I have a computer here at work that has Office 2007 installed and even though I went through several classes at a local college on Office 2007, I still think it is very poorly designed and greatly hinders my productivity. It seems no matter what I'm doing in a document, the option I need is buried in a different tab. What I find really, really bone headed dumb, is the is no "text" tab, instead it's called "Home". Not only that, the ribbon gobbles up all kinds of screen real estate. I could go on and on, It's frustrating. It's almost like using Word 6 on the Mac back in 1994. Crappy!
        Axsimulate
        • What, are you using a netbook?

          "Not only that, the ribbon gobbles up all kinds of screen real estate."

          I can see on a 600 pixel high screen it would be a problem, but I'm using an inexpensive 22" screen with 1680x1050 resolution, and don't even notice the real estate the ribbon claims.

          As for your complaint of "being constantly on the wrong tab" you do know the ribbon responds to the scroll wheel, right? Just hover over the Ribbon and scroll up (left) to return to the Home tab. Just a good shove of the scroll wheel gets you there, the ribbon doesn't wrap around, no matter how far you scroll up it stops at home (or View if you scroll down (right)).

          Ergonomically this is very fast and fluid.

          The other tabs aren't used that often, and even when they are they're just an easy mouse-motion+scroll up/down away.

          "It seems no matter what I'm doing in a document, the option I need is buried in a different tab."

          See above. Plus, you must have a *really* strange working pattern if you're constantly changing tabs.

          "Buried" implies a function is difficult to reach, and with the ribbon, that's just not true.

          Word 2007 isn't Word 2003. You use it differently, the same way you don't use a circular saw the same way you do a hand-saw.

          Learning the ribbon isn't hard, it's just a matter of retraining your muscle memory and learning a couple of new motions.

          Also--if you don't have a mouse with a scroll wheel, get one. This is 2010, mice are cheap and scroll wheels are nearly universal. There's a reason for that...
          wolf_z