Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I Hate Scrollbars

I have a big post I'm working on about the Microsoft Sync Framework, but I'm working on some UI mockups right now, and realized that I have something to rant about.

In general, I HATE scrollbars. I hate including them in my UI designs, because in my mind, they represent a failure to display all the necessary information in a neat, compact manner. Don't get me wrong, in many instances, they're perfectly acceptable, but with what I'm working on (rich interet applications,) if your user has to scroll, and it's not because of their content (and sometimes even if it is,) you've probably messed up somewhere. The extra effort a user has to exert by scrolling better be worth it, and in many cases, it isn't.

Prime example: Blogger. My browser is fullscreened, on a monitor with a resolution of 1280x1024. There's tons of whitespace to the right of and below the edit window. However, by the time I finish this line (* right there, actually,) I have not only a vertical scrollbar, but a horizontal one. Google has all sorts of Javascripty-Ajaxified coolness on this page. Why can't they resize the editing iframe? Or wrap properly. 

Part of it is the inability of developers to come up with interesting ways to display information. That inability is partially from the fear that users will reject what is new and strange. That's bull. When I first started using Office 2007, for about the first week I had a hard time adjusting to the "Ribbon" UI. Nowadays, I can do what I need to a lot faster, and Office 2003 does nothing but remind me that sometimes Microsoft products DO get better with newer versions. Good UI will keep it's users, even if it's initially a little bit different.

That's the end of my first real rant, I'm sure there'll be more to come.

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