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What’s Wrong with this Dialog?

Pete Brown - 20 November 2008

There’s a glaring issue with this dialog from the Amazon MP3 Downloader. What is it?


For comparison, here’s another dialog in Windows


And a third


I won’t fault you if you don’t happen to see the problem. In fact, you really need to have the mouse in your hand before your muscle memory points out the issue.

posted by Pete Brown on Thursday, November 20, 2008
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23 comments for “What’s Wrong with this Dialog?”

  1. Pete Brownsays:
    D'oh! Everyone but Cory got it. Sorry Cory :)

    We get hung up on conventions such as colors and shapes, but one of the most important conventions is position. People generally look for menus and navigation starting at the top left, and for dialog buttons on the bottom right. The position of those buttons is also important, as you have to do a double-take otherwise.

  2. Davesays:
    lol... I had a peer write a tool to support some work I was doing, and she put the OK button to the right of Cancel. I ran it three times and actually told her it wasn't working for me before I realized I was Cancelling out of the thing instead of pressing OK!
  3. Kevin Lesays:
    Advanced? Is this only for users who have PhD degrees? How about something like "Additional settings" or simply "More" or something like that? Microsoft, I believe, is guilty of that and if memory serves me right, that nomenclature was started by Microsoft 13, 14 years ago (around Windows 95), and was unfortunately followed by everyone else.
  4. Piccolo Principesays:
    In Gnome (for instance Ubuntu) there's no such a thing like Ok or Cancel... only Close buttons and the configuration is applied instantly. So Gnome users don't have the "muscle memory" needed...
  5. Richardsays:
    RealPlayer is a culprit of this as well. I've lost count of the times I've inadvertently clicked "OK" instead of "Cancel" in the "Do you want RealPlayer to steal all of your file associations and completely screw up your computer" dialog box!
  6. Neilsays:
    You guys use your mouse too much :) There's another problem with the dialog: the Advanced button appears to have focus by default, which means if you whack Enter on your keyboard to dismiss the dialog you'll actually get the Advanced options up instead.


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