25 Jul 2009

A 2-line user's manual

Enough has been discussed about user interfaces for decades!  Even now, machines (or rather, the people who make those machines, programmers like me) haven't learned to say only what is required to be said.

This UI has four buttons and a tiny "user manual" besides the buttons.  The manual only describes two buttons -- OK and Next buttons.  God knows what Exit and Ignore buttons do.  I have used this UI maybe 50 times in the past one year, and I still cannot figure out what Next and OK buttons do without reading the "manual"!

If I were designing this UI, I would simply list all the available trays with the corresponding paper type/size and let the user pick one.  If that design is not possible for some reason I would only have two choices: one that says "Use paper from this tray" and another that says "Find another tray".

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