Thursday, March 20, 2008

Bad User Interface: Microsoft Outlook 2007

Check out this screenshot from office 2007. Most user interface designers know that you can give the user a sense of progress by giving them some kind of motion on the screen. A little spinning disk, an hourglass that rotates every few seconds, or a never-ending progress bar.

The office team decided that for their search interface, they would let us know that the search is proceeding by putting the word "Searching..." in light gray text, on a white background... The most prominent item in the UI is actually a link that that will widen the search criteria... but the original search hasn't even finished yet. I guess they want us to try another search before the original one has even finished.

I see this UI several times a week, and every time I do, it takes me a few moments to remember what the heck is going on.

For a software release that was touted as being mostly about user interface redesign this seems like a big step backwards to me.