User interface critique

Joel D Nordell (
Wed, 25 Feb 1998 14:10:26 -0600 (CST)

Date: Wed, 25 Feb 1998 14:10:26 -0600 (CST)
From: Joel D Nordell <>
Subject: User interface critique
Message-Id: <>

Here is a summary of my experience with your user interface, followed by
specific critiques I have come up with. The first thing I saw upon
sitting down to the program was a window, with about 6 tabbed dialogs,
and the first one was active. I remember there was a lot of text in the
window. So my first impression was it seemed rather cluttered; perhaps
this was due partly to the "construction lines" around all the frames.

The first task I was asked to do was to create a simple archive from one
mail file. This was accomplished pretty easily, no particular obstacles.
However, one thing I noticed is that once I saw the content of each tab,
it appeared as though they were meant to be in chronological order,
almost like a "Wizard" of windows 95 fame. This was not apparent to me
until I made the connection that I started at the leftmost tab and ended
up at the rightmost tab. The tabs indicate that there is no particular
order to the dialogs, when in fact there is. I would suggest using a
Wizard-style interface, with no tabs and "Next" and "Previous" buttons to
switch between the various 'phases' of the task.

The task I had great difficulty with was that of creating an archive
containing all messages except those containing the word "fun." I looked
through about 3 different tabs until I realized I had to go all the way
back to the leftmost tab, check the appropriate checkbox and then go to
the filters tab. Once in the filters tab, I proceeded to create a filter
to remove all messages containing "fun" in the subject. However, I
didn't see any option for "Subject CONTAINS" just "Subject matches" .. so
I did not feel that I was cabable of just doing subjects containing
certain keywords. I later found out you are planning on using some form
of regular expressions to create those filters, but since I have very
little knowledge of regular expressions that would not be too helpful.
Another problem I had with the Filters tab was that it was not apparent
to me that I had to give my filter a name. The input box requesting a
name was simply labeled "New Filter" so I assumed it would fill that in
for me when I complete my filter. Especially since the "Add" button was
right next to it, on the left, I assumed clicking Add would fill in the
box for me. So, then once I was instructed to add a name, I finished
adding the filter and went on to the Generate tab. Apparently I missed
the tab after "Filters" that I needed to go to to activate my new filter.
The primary reason I skipped over this tab is that tabs do not indicate
to me any particular order. Again, a Wizard interface would have helped

That's about all I can think of off the top of my head -- hope it helps.