2013-12-24

Terrible User Experience - There's Only One Major Application I Know That Does This

Perhaps the most terrible example of all user experience (UX) an application/program can give to users, is to shut down the program when the user is in the middle of working. Case study: Windows. I just got auto-updated.

In Windows 7, there is a small window that pops up that says the computer will restart in 15 minutes, in order to install updates. After that message is postponed, it doesn't pop up in the front any more. In my multiple monitor setup, I don't always pay attention to all of them. There is just typically one main monitor I work with. My current work involved having about 20 tabs in a browser open and a few more large RAM-hungry application, so I didn't want to have to re-setup my workspace. So, I was able to postpone the auto-update a few times. But, when I was really into my work on one monitor, the auto-shut-down prompt I assume was ominously counting down on my other monitor, behind everything. In the middle of typing, sudden the document disappears. There goes all the work (if I was working in a program without autosave).

I am a UX designer and have many recommendations to improve this "feature" in Windows 7. I'm glad my biggest recommendation is taken care of in Windows 8: Make the death prompt more visible. Just having that one change would save me from more trouble.

I understand where Microsoft and other companies are coming from. They want to make sure that updates are installed so that users are protected from even worse virus/malware attacks. I'm sure they've done their research to learn that many people unfortunately don't install the updates in a timely manner, if at all. So, in order to protect users from worse troubles, Microsoft has by default decided to be more aggressive in getting the updates installed.
I had to throw in that "by default" in the last sentence because I know there is the option to disable all automatic updates. But, good UX and good customer service wouldn't put the blame on the user/customer. If the user does something "wrong", then it is only because the application allowed the user to do so.

Bonus: Here's a copywriting tip: Never have long chunks of words/paragraphs.

~ Danial Goodwin ~



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