Adobe is really persistent about updating

Problem

Adobe Acrobar reader has this update dialog that shows up every now and then. The dialog has a Yes and No button but that’s just an illusion. The No button is practically not clickable and not focusable! But if you keep clicking on it eventually the dialog disappears. This has happened several times and every time I have to press the No button harder! So I decided to take a snapshot, blog about it and contact Adobe regarding this issue.

Adobe Acrobat update dialog

Adobe Acrobat update dialog

I personally don’t like it when a part of the system is aggressively asking for update. Particularly when it is Adobe. We haven’t forgotten Flashback, one of the biggest Mac security issues. I know the virus wasn’t made by Adobe, but when an application trains the user’s mind that it needs to be updated often, that very user experience will be an easy target for hackers.

Even though this dialog has a No button, Adobe is actually forcing you to press Yes. It’s not nice. It’s not intuitive. It’s not respectable. It’s annoying.

Solution

There are three solutions to this issue:

  1. First of all, improve the quality of your software to reduce the number of updates. There are many applications on a system. If each of them wants to update every now and then user experience will reduce. Remember: no one buys a computer for the purpose of updating it. People buy a computer to have some tasks done (work or game or whatever). Don’t get in their way, even for seconds.
  2. Do the updates automatically behind the scene. I really like the way Google Chrome updates itself. It’s very subtle. It’s polite. The menu icon will glow to indicate an update. The update will automatically install on your next browser lunch. It remembers the tabs and goes exactly to the state it was before the upgrade. That’s good user experience.
  3. The least you can do is to make the No button clickable. The very fact that there is a button that only works when someone is punching it angrily shows Adobe user experience designers either don’t feel responsible, or don’t care for the user’s peace of mind.

Note

Adobe’s Flash update window shows unnecessarily too often. Maybe I’m an exception, but I haven’t bought my computer for spending time updating system software. I happen to own a copy of Cretive Cloud as well. Adobe updates happen so often that sometimes I think updates are being pushed for the sole purpose of advertisement.

Adobe Flash Update Screen

Adobe Flash Update Screen

Inconsistency in a basic function of Adobe package

Problem

Many designers are familiar with Adobe Creative Suit software package. it is comprised of a set of design tools that are sold together (something like Microsoft Office but for the designers): Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, Flash, etc.

But despite of being parts of one package, many things are different among these programs. For example the Undo function is usually Ctrl+Z (on Windows) but Photoshop’s undo only has one level. If you want to do an undo like the other software in this package you have to use the rather hard to press Alt+Ctrl+Z for this common and basic functionality.

Here are some pictures from the software in Adobe CS5.5. The good thing about the undo feature of most of them is that they mention the type of action that is going to be undone. But Dreamweaver is an exception to this role!

Image

It’s also good to mention that the Redo function has a different key combination in some of them!

Solution

When releasing software as a package it is important to respect consistency. I suggest changing Alt+Ctrl+Z in Photoshop to Ctrl+Z and use another key combination for Step Backward. I also suggest Ctrl+Y for Redo function in all of them. At least these two keys are standard key combinations in most software.

Read more: Guidelines for keyboard user interface design (Windows)

Note

Look at the order of “Edit” and “View” menus in the above pictures. Probably this level of inconsistency in such a professional product exists because different independent teams work on each product and no one is responsible to check their integration. However designers typically work with more than one of these software at the same time. That is why they are sold in a package! Adobe knows that. Yet it doesn’t try to give a unified user experience to its designers. They may argue that these pieces of software come from different companies (Adobe bought Micromedia a few years ago), but that’s not a valid excuse to keep the new generation of designers confused.

Is it updating or advertising?

Problem

You’re probably familiar with this screen:

With every new release Adobe shows this dialogue on your screen expecting you to tick that check-box and press the install button. If you have several computers you have to deal with this dialogue on all those computers every time a new update is ready. But recently Adobe has increased the frequency of these updates so it’s really becoming a unnecessary, annoying distraction. Just looking at how the screen real estate is used in the above dialogue, one can conclude that more than 50% of the dialogue is used for the logo and branding. Can it be that Adobe is using this dialogue as an advertisement?

Solution

Put a little check box that reads like: “Update automatically to the future releases” and let the software upgrade in the background! After all, Flash is not the reason many people use their computer. Google Chrome does a good job when updating! Many people even don’t know what is their Google Chrome version number. They don’t need to! They just focus on what matters: browsing.

Note

Java suffered from the same poor design in its updating process. Guess what? Many people (including me) uninstall it after we see the annoying update message. I used to be a Java programmer, nevertheless I don’t have time to update the JRE with every new minor release. Flash however is still more practical in a day to day browsing experience, so uninstalling it is not a wise choice now.

Update

Today (2012-04-02) after updating Flash, I was presented with this dialog box that shows Adobe now cares more about the user experience of the update procedure:

Adobe Flash auto-update dialogue