We take user interface quite seriously at Happen. The Jim2®
user interface for example. The work in regard to actually visually how it
looks, but more importantly how it works, and how consistent it is, is ongoing.
One area that is a personal pet peeve, is when to hide things from the
Wishing for my Wishlist
I have an Apple TV at home, and as we all know Apple
spends a significant amount of time designing their UI's. So, the Apple TV
has a Wishlist feature. I find a movie that I want to watch at some point,
usually when it is available to rent, and I add it to my favourites. I had to reload my Apple TV as I changed my ITunes
computer, and I went to the movies menu and the Wishlist menu selection is
missing. What on earth happened to Wishlist?
I check I have the latest update and spend 5 or 10 minutes trying to
work out what's going on. Eventually I give up, and check out some movies, see
one I like, and add it to my Wishlist. Now Wishlist is displayed in the movie
menu. So the Wishlist menu doesn’t appear, and the UI is changed, if I don’t
have anything in my Wishlist.
What Apple should have done is if the Wishlist is empty;
simply display a message explaining how to add things to your Wishlist. At the
very least the Wishlist menu can be displayed but disabled. Instead, they
changed the UI.
Hidden, but not from view
In Jim2® we decided not to hide things from the ribbon
interface but disable the menu option with an explanation of why in the related
screentip. For example, it is disabled because of your security settings, or
because a particular option is not licensed. That way the UI is always
consistent, and it makes it a lot easier to support and document the
application. As an added commercial benefit, the customer is aware of features
that they may not have been.
Screentip shows why a particular menu item is disabled: in this case, the Security level of the user is not high enough
That is not to say that some things should not be hidden.
For example, if you do not have multicurrency enabled in Jim2®, we do not
display anything related to multicurrency. This is more a screen real estate
issue. There is no point displaying multicurrency if it is not used, but
multicurrency related features, like current exchange rates, are still
displayed in menus, but disabled with an explanation as to why. If we did not
do this you would assume Jim2® does not handle multicurrency (which it does
particularly well, by the way) and the UI would change depending if you are using a
multicurrency database or not.
It’s a debated point, and even with Happen it’s often a
topic of discussion, but since in the end it’s up to me, I reckon it’s the
right way to go. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter!