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

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HTC Sense Pushes Minimalism too far

Problem

HTC has customised the standard Android user interface with its proprietary product called Sense. This probably gives a competitive edge to HTC products, but it also introduces a level of independence from mainstream standards to HTC designers. This is powerful, but as I always say “with power comes corruption” and this one is no exception. Being the proud owner of various top HTC phones for the past 6 years, I feel disappointed about the recent bold decisions in the design of their flagship product HTC One.

The problem is that HTC designers have decided to remove one of the 3 crucial Android controls from the bottom of the screen. Most android phones have these 3 buttons as seen in the following image:

Image

From left to right they are:

  • Back: goes to the previous screen (or activity in Android programming terminology)
  • Home: returns you back to the home screen where you can see your desktop, widgets and run programs
  • Switch app: allows you to switch between running apps, kinda like ALT+TAB on PC or CMD+TAB on Mac.

Now somehow HTC designers figured out that they can remove the “Switch app” button and make room for their logo instead. The user is expected to double tap the home button in order to switch between apps. By the way the above image is from HTC One X, that is the father of HTC One. So here is how HTC One’s buttons look like:

Image

In the latest HTC phones you are supposed to double tab the home button quickly to be able to switch between apps. That is nothing new. iPhone works exactly the same. However, this has three issues:

  1. This behaviour is not consistent with other Android phones
  2. This introduces a mapping issue where two irrelevant actions are mapped to one control
  3. After 4 months of using this phone I still haven’t got used to double-tapping the right bottom corner of my phone so often so I have to use two hands (and have dropped the phone enough to justify spending 200 SEK on a protective shell)

Solution

The obvious solution is to return the Switch app button. There is a reason it was there, and let’s face it, removing a button to open up space for the logo isn’t the best way to keep the customers happy. Nor is it the best example of minimalist design.

Another solution would be to have the “Home” functionality when the user presses on the HTC logo while the Switch button is back to where it was before. So again we’ll have three buttons but the home button is “covered” with the HTC logo. That is an acceptable for the users. It’s not the best interaction but it’s still better than what we have now.

If you want to turn it off, press “start”

Problem

When it comes to interaction design Windows has a bunch of popular examples how not to do it. Many of us are so used to these problems that we no more remember how much problem we went through to find our way. One classic example is that you have to press the start button if you want to shut down the computer.

Shutting down Microsoft Windows 7

It is a subtle problem but breaks the grammar of the visual interaction language. In the grammar of visual interfaces, a button is a verb (an action). A menu item is the same.

When the user presses Start and then “Shut Down”, he is actually saying “start to shut down”. This is Microsoft’s documentation about how to shut down a Windows machine:

Microsoft documentation about shutting down Windows 7

It refers to “The Power button” which doesn’t even exist in that shape with that icon anymore. So the newbie user (who is probably the audience of that documentation) keeps looking for that button and ends up frustrated. Anyway even with the power button it would read as “start power”. Little things like this make the users dislike a product or at least not be emotionally attached to it.

Technically it’s not wrong but wouldn’t it be more beautiful to say “shut down the computer”? Apple for example has a better visual grammar. First click the Apple logo (which is a representation of your computer) then choose shut down from the menu:

Shutting down Apple Mac OS X

It is read as “shut down my apple computer”. Similar, but more meaningful. Read on to know why.

Solution

This problem was more obvious in Windows 95 to XP where the “start” button still had a label in English saying “Start”. Today, that button can also be safely called the “Windows button”. At least I hope it’s like that because it makes many other things under that menu have the right visual grammar. For example “Help and Support of Windows”.

If the “Start button” is called “Windows button”, everything works just fine. The user click sequence for shutting down means “shutdown the Windows” rather than “start shutting down” (the article “the” comes from the fact that it is a logo, not a generic noun or verb).

The documentation needs to be updated accordingly. There is no power button in that shape.